On the 13th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Another Clemson-Alabama showdown.
OK, so it doesn’t roll exactly off the tongue like the “12 Days of Christmas.” Still there is reason for excitement when it comes to the 2018 bowl season. As of this writing, the Vegas betting odds have all of the non-New Year’s Six bowls inside single digits. The only game that isn’t is BYU vs. Western Michigan in the Idaho Potato Bowl.
So this could line up as one of the more entertaining bowl seasons we’ve seen in a while. Thirteen days full of matchups that we’ve been wanting to see all season .... or in some cases make you say, “Wait, that team made a bowl game?!?”
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Day 1-Dec. 15
Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl (9:00 AM on ABC)
North Carolina A&T (9-2) vs. Alcorn State (9-3)
Autonation Cure Bowl (10:30 AM on CBS Sports Network)
Tulane (6-6) vs. Louisiana (7-5)
New Mexico Bowl (11:00 AM on ESPN)
North Texas (9-3) vs. Utah State (10-2)
MITSUBISHI MOTORS LAS VEGAS BOWL (12:30 PM on ABC)
No. 21 Fresno State (11-2) vs. Arizona State (7-5)
RAYCOM MEDIA CAMELLIA BOWL (2:30 PM on ESPN)
Georgia Southern (9-3) vs. Eastern Michigan (7-5)
R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL (6:00 PM on ESPN)
Middle Tennessee (8-5) vs. Appalachian State (10-2)
Day one thoughts: With a total of six games to start off the day, you’re guaranteed to have maybe a dud or two but overall the matchups are pretty even across the board. Although the Celebration Bowl isn’t apart of the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision, this game is always good for a few fireworks. One game I’m interested in watching is the New Mexico Bowl with North Texas facing Utah State. The matchup could feature two schools who are looking for new head coaches. Utah State head coach Matt Wells is headed to Texas Tech and North Texas head coach Seth Littrell has garnered interest from Kansas State.
Day 2-Dec. 18
CHERIBUNDI BOCA RATON BOWL (4:00 PM on ESPN)
UAB (10-3) vs. Northern Illinois (8-5)
Day two thoughts: One of the best stories in college football this decade has been the death-then rebirth of the UAB Football program. After ending the program in 2014, the program has returned in reached, now two bowl games under head coach Bill Clark. A win in the Boca Raton Bowl would cap off what has to be college football’s Cinderella story of the decade.
Day 3-Dec. 19
DXL Frisco Bowl (5:00 PM on ESPN)
San Diego State (7-5) vs. Ohio (8-4)
Day three thoughts: Really like this matchup. You’ve got two schools with very good “Group of 5” programs. There could be plenty of eyes on this one as both the college basketball and NBA schedules are lacking quality games that night.
Day 4-Dec. 20
BAD BOY MOWERS GASPARILLA BOWL (5:00 PM on ESPN)
Marshall (8-4) vs. South Florida (7-5)
Day four thoughts: Bowl games are pretty strange sometimes. For example, South Florida is basically getting another home game vs. Marshall. Poor Thundering Herd, you work all season long to reach a bowl game and what happens? You get South Florida and you have to play them at their home field. Once again, bowl games are weird.
Day 5-Dec. 21
MAKERS WANTED BAHAMAS BOWL (9:30 AM on ESPN)
Florida International (8-4) vs. Toledo (7-5)
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL (1:00 PM on ESPN)
Western Michigan (7-5) vs. BYU (6-6)
Day five thoughts: Honestly, I’ve got no thoughts. The only thing I’m looking forward to seeing is Spuddy Buddy. That’s right, a potato mascot. Like I’ve said, bowl games are weird.
Day 6-Dec. 22
JARED BIRMINGHAM BOWL (9:00 AM on ESPN)
Memphis (8-5) vs. Wake Forest (6-6)
LOCKHEED MARTIN ARMED FORCES BOWL (12:30 on ESPN)
Houston (8-4) vs. Army (9-2)
DOLLAR GENERAL BOWL (4:00 PM on ESPN)
Buffalo (10-3) vs. Troy (9-3)
SOFI HAWAI’I BOWL (7:30 PM on ESPN)
Hawaii (8-5) vs. Louisiana Tech (7-5)
Day six thoughts: This is the final bowl day before the Christmas break and it comes with a good news-bad news. The good news is that there’s going to be football on all day long. The bad news is all the more interesting games are the first two; after that there’s not much. Maybe you can get to that holiday shopping you’ve been putting off.
Day 7-Dec. 26
SERVPRO FIRST RESPONDER BOWL (10:30 AM on ESPN)
Boston College (7-5) vs. No. 25 Boise State (10-3)
QUICK LANE BOWL (2:15 PM on ESPN)
Minnesota (6-6) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)
CHEEZ-IT BOWL (6:00 PM on ESPN)
California (7-5) vs. TCU (6-6)
Day seven thoughts: This is where the good stuff begins, power five schools going at it and a few fascinating story lines. The Quick Lane Bowl will feature Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson in his final game as head coach. Then you’ve got a school on the rise in Cal, a win in the Cheez-It Bowl (yes, that’s the name) could mean big things for this program as they try to turn the corner.
Day 8-Dec. 27
WALK-ON’S INDEPENDENCE BOWL (10:30 AM on ESPN)
Temple (8-4) vs. Duke (7-5)
NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL (2:15 PM on ESPN)
Miami (7-5) vs. Wisconsin (7-5)
ACADEMY SPORTS + OUTDOORS TEXAS BOWL (6:00 PM on ESPN)
Baylor (6-6) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)
Day eight thoughts: The highlight of this day’s slate of games is easily the Orange Bowl rematch from a year ago between Wisconsin and Miami. Both teams didn’t expect to be playing each other at this game but here they are. Can Miami avenge their loss to the Badgers from a year ago?
Day 9-Dec. 28
FRANKLIN AMERICAN MORTGAGE MUSIC CITY BOWL (10:30 AM on ESPN)
Purdue (6-6) vs. Auburn (7-5)
CAMPING WORLD BOWL (2:15 PM on ESPN)
No. 16 West Virginia (8-3) vs. No. 20 Syracuse (9-3)
VALERO ALAMO BOWL (6:00 PM on ESPN)
No. 24. Iowa State (8-4) vs. No.13 Washington State (10-2)
Day nine thoughts: First things first, Washington State got screwed. OK, now that we’ve got that straight the second and third games of the day could be some of the more entertaining non-New Year’s Six games on the schedule. Not saying that Purdue and Auburn is going to be bad but it’s just how good the other two bowl games are shaping up to be.
Day 10-Dec. 29
BELK BOWL (9:00 AM on ABC)
South Carolina (7-5) vs. Virginia (7-5)
CHICK-FIL-A PEACH BOWL (9:00 AM on ESPN)
No. 10 Florida (9-3) vs. No. 7 Michigan (10-2)
NOVA HOME LOANS ARIZONA BOWL (10:15 on CBS Sports Network)
Arkansas State (8-4) vs. Nevada (7-5)
GOODYEAR COTTON BOWL CLASSIC - CFP SEMIFINAL (1:00 PM on ESPN)
No. 2 Clemson (13-0) vs. No. 3 Notre Dame (12-0)
CAPITAL ONE ORANGE BOWL - CFP SEMIFINAL (5:00 PM on ESPN)
No. 1 Alabama (13-0) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (12-1)
Day 10 thoughts: Michigan-Florida for breakfast, then you’ve got College Football Playoff Semifinals for lunch and dinner. You don’t need much else. If you’re into watching Arkansas State and Nevada then I mean, weird flex, but OK.
Day 11-Dec. 31
MILITARY BOWL PRESENTED BY NORTHROP GRUMMAN (9:00 AM on ESPN)
Cincinnati (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)
HYUNDAI SUN BOWL (11:00 AM on CBS)
Stanford (8-4) vs. Pittsburgh (7-6)
REDBOX BOWL (12:00 PM on FOX)
Michigan State (7-5) vs. Oregon (8-4)
AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL (12:45 PM on ESPN)
No. 23 Missouri (8-4) vs. Oklahoma State (6-6)
SAN DIEGO COUNTY CREDIT UNION HOLIDAY BOWL (4:00 PM on FS1)
No. 22 Northwestern (8-5) vs. No. 17 Utah (9-4)
TAXSLAYER GATOR BOWL (4:30 PM on ESPN)
NC State (9-3) vs. No. 19 Texas A&M (8-4)
Day 11 thoughts: It’s going to be very hard being the follow-up from CFP semifinals but this slate of games does a good job in getting you set to close out 2018.
Day 12-Jan. 1
OUTBACK BOWL (9:00 AM on ESPN2)
No. 18 Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Iowa (8-4)
PLAYSTATION FIESTA BOWL (10:00 AM on ESPN)
No. 11 LSU (9-3) vs. No. 7 Central Florida (13-0)
VRBO CITRUS BOWL (10:00 AM on ABC)
No. 14 Kentucky (9-3) vs. No. 12 Penn State (9-3)
ROSE BOWL GAME PRESENTED BY NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL (2:00 on ESPN)
No. 9 Washington (10-3) vs. No. 6 Ohio State (12-1)
ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL (5:15 PM on ESPN)
No. 15 Texas (9-4) vs. No. 5 Georgia (11-2)
Day 12 thoughts: College Football on New Year’s Day, doesn’t get any better than that. We start the day with Central Florida looking to gain more respect. Then we’ve got the Huskies and Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl, like the college football gods intended. Then Georgia vs. Texas in the Sugar Bowl to end the night? #blessed
Day 13-Jan. 7
CFP NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP PRESENTED BY AT&T (5:00 PM on ESPN)
Clemson/Notre Dame Winner vs. Alabama/Oklahoma Winner
Day 13 thoughts: All roads lead to Santa Clara and the National Championship. Another Alabama title? Could Clemson have their second title in three seasons? Or do Oklahoma and Notre Dame shock the world and win it all?