Bowl game roundup: 4 games to watch for college football’s holiday season

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Baylor safety Jairon McVea (42), linebacker Terrel Bernard (2), running back Abram Smith (7), wide receiver R.J. Sneed (0) running back Trestan Ebner (1) and safety Jalen Pitre (8) celebrate with the trophy after defeating Oklahoma State in an NCAA college football game for the Big 12 Conference championship in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Tim Heitman)

(KXAN) — Opt-outs and injuries can’t take the luster off college football’s bowl season. The bowl season is in full swing with 44 games over three weeks, which culminates at the College Football Playoff National Championship game Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.

The bowl season has changed with the evolution of the CFP and the importance of the NFL draft. Teams will look much different from their true form during the regular season.

Sure, some games will be duds, but there are still some great matchups to enjoy during the holiday season. Here are some of the must-see matchups, excluding the College Football Playoffs.

Birmingham Bowl: Houston vs. Auburn is a classic power 5 vs. non-power 5 showdown where motivation means everything. It’s even more interesting because of the defections from Auburn’s roster. Quarterback Bo Nix went to the transfer portal and ended up in Oregon. Houston’s defense is great on a national level. The Cougars will look to harass backup quarterback TJ Finley for a big win over an SEC program. Auburn will have the home field advantage with a bowl game in Alabama.

Liberty Bowl: It will be a Mike Leach reunion in Memphis. The Mississippi State head coach faces off against Texas Tech in a SEC-Big 12 showdown. Leach enjoyed an extremely successful tenure with the Red Raiders. It’s been 12 years since Leach was fired, so any hostility between the two sides has likely faded.

Duke’s Mayo Bowl: The battle of the Carolinas has some zip to it. The Tarheels and Gamecocks will meet in Charlotte. Both teams finished the season at 6-6, but there will be plenty of motivation in this rivalry game. Allegedly, the winning head coach will receive a mayo bath rather than the standard Gatorade bath. That should be enough incentive for even the casual college football fan.

Sugar Bowl: Baylor is back in a New Year’s Six bowl game for the second time in three years. The Bears top defense will go against Ole Miss’ high-flying offense and quarterback Matt Corral. Corral will likely be the first quarterback drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft, but he plans to play in the game from New Orleans. Baylor is riding high off its Big 12 championship over Oklahoma State in head coach Dave Aranda’s second season.

College football bowl schedule

Friday, Dec. 17

Bahamas Bowl
Middle Tennessee State 31 | Toledo 24

Tailgreeter Cure Bowl
Northern Illinois 41 | Coastal Carolina 47

Saturday, Dec. 18

RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl
Appalachian State 38 | Western Kentucky 59

Cricket Celebration Bowl
South Carolina State 31 | Jackson State 10

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl
UAB 31 | BYU 28

PUBG Mobile New Mexico Bowl
UTEP 24 | Fresno State 31

Lending Tree Bowl
Liberty 56 | Eastern Michigan 20

Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl presented by Stifel
Utah State 24 | Oregon State 13

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana 36 | Marshall 21

Monday, Dec. 20

Myrtle Beach Bowl presented by TaxAct
Tulsa 30 | Old Dominion 17

Tuesday, Dec. 21

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Wyoming 52 | Kent State 38

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl
UTSA 24 | San Diego State 38

Wednesday, Dec. 22

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl – 7 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Missouri vs. Army (-6.5)

Thursday, Dec. 23

Frisco Football Classic – 2:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)
North Texas vs. Miami (Ohio) (-2.5)

Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl – 6 p.m. CT (ESPN)
UCF vs. Florida (-7)

Friday, Dec. 24

EasyPost Hawai’i Bowl – 7 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Memphis (-8.5) vs. Hawai’i

Saturday, Dec. 25

TaxAct Camellia Bowl – 1:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Georgia State (-6) vs. Ball State

Monday, Dec. 27

Quick Lane Bowl – 10 a.m. CT (ESPN)
Western Michigan (-6.5) vs. Nevada

Military Bowl presented by Peraton – 1:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Boston College (-3) vs. East Carolina

Tuesday, Dec. 28

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl – 11 a.m. CT (ESPN)
Houston (-2.5) vs. Auburn

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl – 2:15 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Air Force vs. Louisville (-1.5)

AutoZone Liberty Bowl – 5:45 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Mississippi State (-9.5) vs. Texas Tech

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl – 7 p.m. CT (FOX)
UCLA vs. North Carolina State (-1)

Guaranteed Rate Bowl – 9:15 p.m. CT (ESPN)
West Virginia vs. Minnesota (-4.5)

Wednesday, Dec. 29

Wasabi Fenway Bowl – 10 a.m. CT (ESPN)
SMU vs. Virginia (-2.5)

New Era Pinstripe Bowl – 1:15 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Maryland (-3.5) vs. Virginia Tech

Cheez-It Bowl – 4:45 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Clemson (PK) vs. Iowa State

Valero Alamo Bowl – 8:15 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Oklahoma (-4.5) vs. Oregon

Thursday, Dec. 30

Duke’s Mayo Bowl – 10:30 a.m. CT (ESPN)
North Carolina (-9.5) vs. South Carolina

TransPerfect Music City Bowl – 2 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Tennessee (-5) vs. Purdue

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl – 6 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Michigan State (-3) vs. Pittsburgh

SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl – 9:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Arizona State vs. Wisconsin (-7)

Friday, Dec. 31

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl – 1 p.m. CT (CBS)
Washington State vs. Miami (-1)

Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl – 1 p.m.
Central Michigan vs. Boise State (-8.5)

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (College Football Playoff semifinal) – 2:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Cincinnati vs. Alabama (-13.5)

Capital One Orange Bowl (College Football Playoff semifinal) – 6:30 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Georgia (-7.5) vs. Michigan

Saturday, Jan. 1

Outback Bowl – 11 a.m. CT (ESPN)
Penn State (-1) vs. Arkansas

Vrbo Citrus Bowl – 12 p.m. CT (ABC)
Iowa vs. Kentucky (-3)

Playstation Fiesta Bowl – 12 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Notre Dame (-1.5) vs. Oklahoma State

Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X – 4 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Ohio State (-6.5) vs. Utah

Allstate Sugar Bowl – 7:45 p.m. CT (ESPN)
Ole Miss vs. Baylor (PK)

Tuesday, Jan. 4

TaxAct Texas Bowl – 8 p.m. CT (ESPN)
LSU vs. Kansas State (-3.5)

Monday, Jan 10

College Football Playoff National Championship game – 7 p.m. CT (ESPN)

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