As Doctor Strange might say: “We’re in the endgame now.”
Yep, this is the last chance for every team with more than six wins to show their stuff. ESPN even sprung for another bowl so that every bowl team would have somewhere to play.
Yeah, some big name players might opt out, and some coaches have left for greener pastures. But that’s not the point, really. Bowl games are a celebration of the season that was, a fun final party for the fans and a reward for the best teams in the sport.
But there’s, like, 43 games. And they occur at weird times over the course of several weeks. How can you figure out what’s worth watching and worth skipping?
Well, let me help. Every week, I’ll let you know what bowl games look exciting. If I don’t mention a game, feel free to still watch, but you can safely skip it.
Boca Raton Bowl
Western Kentucky @ App State (Sat 12/18, 11a/10a, ESPN) leads off my recommended slate, emanating from the picturesque Miami area and boasting two legitimately good teams. All year, the Hilltoppers have ridden Bailey Zappe’s arm to victories and league-topping offensive stats. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers rely on Chase Brice to sling the ball and Nate Noel (mostly) to run it, cobbling together a balanced attack. And that balanced philosophy extends to App State’s defense. It’s talented and stout across the board. What about WKU’s defense, you ask? Never heard of it.
UAB @ BYU (Sat 12/18, 3:30p/2:30p, ABC) is probably a game you didn’t expect to show up here. And if you’re looking for a Window of Opportunity this Saturday, this is it. But there’s some reason to watch. First off, it’s played in America’s saddest major city, Shreveport! Also, and now I promise I’m not being facetious, the Blazers are a legit fun team to watch. Aside from a really bad-looking loss to Rice, they’ve looked pretty alright! Their run attack isn’t bad, and their defense holds teams down. But BYU is battle-tested, with a great offense spearheaded by the pass. The Cougar D, though? Not fantastic. That could be the story of this one.
Utah State @ Oregon State (Sat 12/18, 7:30p/6:30p, ABC) face off in a bowl sponsored by late night personality Jimmy Kimmel, of all things. Hilarious. Oregon State’s been a big story all year, hanging on well in a tough Pac-12 division. The Beavers’ offense is led by BJ Baylor, a dynamic runner who gets things done. Their defense has notable issues in the secondary, which could be just what the Aggies need. Logan Bonner’s put up great passing numbers against stout defenses, most recently against formidable San Diego State in the Mountain West championship.
New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana @ Marshall (Sat 12/18, 9:15p/8:15p, ESPN) face off in the Big Easy. It looks like a mismatch on paper. The Ragin’ Cajuns lost a grand total of once, to Texas, all year long. They run the ball well and boast a lockdown defense, especially on the back end. That could conceivably give Marshall fits, as their offense relies on a blistering passing attack. But the X-factor here is Billy Napier leaving for Florida. The Thundering Herd could take advantage of a coach-less Louisiana if they game-plan well.
UTSA @ San Diego State (Tue 12/21, 7:30p/6:30p, ESPN) come to blows in the game in Frisco that isn’t the one ESPN invented out of thin air. This one’s tough when you look at the stats. The Aztecs do basically nothing well on offense besides run. Their defense has been great all year, but then didn’t show up against Utah State. It’s hard to know how seriously to take that performance, considering the Covid outbreak that hit San Diego State a few days before the game. And the Roadrunners are proven winners. Sincere McCormick has been a true beast on the ground. The game’s about 5 hours north for UTSA, so if you’re picking I’d pick them, but this could be close. SDSU has something to prove.
That’s all for now! Follow me on Twitter if you want to hear more, and as always, happy watching!