Bowl season is complicated by opt outs, coaching changes. Still, there is a reason to watch them all #Bowl #season #complicated #opt #outs #coaching #reason #watch

Bowl season is becoming increasingly complicated.

To be clear, you should watch every bowl game. When you’re down to about 40 college football games before the season ends, each should be savored.

But with so many players opting out or jumping into the transfer portal and with coaches changing jobs, the teams that show up to play in the bowls often don’t look much like the ones that played during the regular season.

So why watch? We’ve got you covered, with picks and available lines from FanDuel Sportsbook. Let’s start with Saturday’s lineup:

Myrtle Beach Bowl, Conway, S.C.

Georgia Southern vs. Ohio (plus 3 1/2)

Why watch? You can’t watch them all if you don’t watch the first one

PICK: Ohio 23-21.

Celebration Bowl, Atlanta

Howard vs. Florida A&M

Why watch? FAMU coach Willie Simmons has been one of the most successful coaches among HBCUs, 44-13 over five seasons.

PICK: Florida A&M 27-17.

New Orleans Bowl

Jacksonville State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (plus 3 1/2)

Why watch? Catch up with former West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, who led JSU to a bowl game in its first season in the Bowl Subdivision.

PICK: Jacksonville State 27-25.

Cure Bowl, Orlando, Fla.

Miami (Ohio) (plus 6 1/2) vs. Appalachian State

Why watch? Check out one of the most underrated defenses in the country. The MAC champion RedHawks rank 17th in yards per play allowed at 4.93.

PICK: Miami 23-20.

New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque, N.M.

New Mexico State vs. Fresno State (plus 3 1/2)

Why watch? New Mexico State coach Jerry Kill is a miracle worker, taking the Aggies to back-to-back bowl for first time since 1960. Plus, maybe he’ll coach in a serape.

PICK: Fresno State 34-27.

LA Bowl, Inglewood, Calif.

UCLA vs. Boise State (plus 3 1/2)

Why watch? Broncos RB Ashton Jeanty is one of the most exciting runners in the country, second in all-purpose yards at 165 per game.

PICK: Boise State 20-19.

Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La.

California vs. Texas Tech (minus 2 1/2)

Why watch? The first Independence Bowl since 2016 with two Power Five schools matches teams that struggle on defense. Shreveport score-fest!

PICK: Texas Tech 42-35.

MONDAY, DEC. 19

Famous Toastery Bowl, Charlotte, N.C.

Western Kentucky (plus 2 1/2) vs. Old Dominion

Why watch? Conference USA-Sun Belt matchup. Not sure which team is in which conference? Tune in.

PICK: Western Kentucky 34-26.

TUESDAY, DEC. 20

Frisco (Texas) Bowl

UTSA (minus 9 1/2) vs. Marshall

Why watch? To see a unicorn. UTSA quarterback Frank Harris has played seven seasons of college football without transferring. Barring an opt out, this will be his final game.

PICK: UTSA 28-17.

THURSDAY, DEC. 21

Boca Raton (Florida) Bowl

South Florida (plus 3 1/2) vs. Syracuse

Why watch? Last time most of us saw USF, the Bulls were giving Alabama fits on a rainy September day in Tampa. They went on to have a big turnaround seasons u nder first-year coach Alex Golesh, going 6-6 after 1-11 last year.

PICK: USF 31-27.

FRIDAY, DEC. 22

Gasparilla Bowl, Tampa, Fla.

Georgia Tech (plus 4 1/2) vs. UCF

Why watch? To see if the Yellowjackets can complete their first winning season since 2018.

PICK: Georgia Tech 34-27.

SATURDAY, DEC. 23

Camellia Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.

Arkansas State (minus 1 1/2) vs. Northern Illinois

Why watch: What if we told you there is a team that began the season allowing 73 points and then scored 77 late in the season? That’s Arkansas State.

PICK: Arkansas State 28-23.

Birmingham (Ala.) Bowl

Troy vs. Duke (plus 7 1/2)

Why watch? Troy RB Kimani Vidal is a third-team AP All-American who ran for 233 yards and five touchdowns in the Trojans’ Sun Belt championship win.

PICK: Troy 20-16.

Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, Texas

No. 24 James Madison vs. Air Force (plus 2 1/2)

Why watch? Patriotism. The Falcons are the only service academy in a bowl game.

PICK: Air Force 21-17.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Boise, Idaho

Georgia State vs. Utah State (minus 1 1/2)

Why watch? The winning coach gets a bucket of french fries dumped on him.

PICK: Utah State 28-23.

68 Ventures Bowl, Mobile, Ala.

South Alabama vs. Eastern Michigan (plus 16 1/2)

Why watch? Eastern Michigan OL Brian Dooley gave teammate and fellow lineman Zack Conti, a walk-on who developed into a starter, his scholarship this season. Now that’s a Christmas story.

PICK: South Alabama 28-14.

Las Vegas Bowl

Utah vs. Northwestern (plus 6 1/2)

Why watch? Utes were ravaged by injuries. Wildcats had their coach fired a few weeks before preseason practice. Two of the more resilient teams in the country.

PICK: Northwestern 23-20.

Hawaii Bowl, Honolulu

Coastal Carolina (plus 9 1/2) vs. San Jose State

Why watch? Kickoff is 10:30 p.m. EST on the night before the night before Christmas. Enjoy some alone time with the Chanticleers and Spartans during a busy holiday weekend.

PICK: San Jose State 24-16.

TUESDAY, DEC. 26

Quick Lane Bowl, Detroit

Bowling Green vs. Minnesota (minus 4 1/2)

Why watch? There hasn’t been a college football game on for TWO WHOLE DAYS!

PICKS: MINNESOTA 24-13.

First Responder Bowl, Dallas

Texas State (minus 4 1/2) vs. Rice

Why watch? See something that has never happened before: Texas State playing in a bowl game.

PICK: Texas State 38-28.

Guaranteed Rate Bowl, Phoenix

Kansas vs. UNLV (plus 12 1/2)

Why watch? Two fun teams that have shed their losing histories to find success. Also, sounds like a great NCAA men’s basketball Final Four game from the early 1990s.

PICK: Kansas 42-33.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 27

Military Bowl, Annapolis, Md.

No. 23 Tulane (plus 7 1/2) vs. Virginia Tech

Why watch? Hokies appear to be on the rise, with a 5-3 run to end the season under second-year coach Brent Pry after several years in the doldrums.

PICK: Virginia Tech 24-20.

Duke’s Mayo Bowl, Charlotte, N.C.

North Carolina vs. West Virginia (minus 5 1/2)

Why watch? West Virginia coach Neal Brown began the season on the hottest seat in college football and will now end it trying to reach nine wins.

PICK: West Virginia 34-21.

Holiday Bowl, San Diego

No. 16 Louisville (minus 7 1/2) vs. Southern California

Why watch? No Caleb Williams for USC, but Trojans freshman WR Zachariah Branch is a game-breaker and one of the most exciting players in the country.

PICK: Louisville 35-24.

Texas Bowl, Houston

No. 22 Oklahoma State (plus 2 1/2) vs. Texas A&M

Why watch? Get a look at a team that was good enough to make a bowl game, but bad enough to convince A&M to pay $76 million to fire the coach.

PICK: Oklahoma State 31-28.

THURSDAY, DEC. 28

Fenway Bowl, Boston

No. 17 SMU (minus 10 1/2) vs. Boston College

Why watch? Well, it’s a future ACC matchup.

PICK: SMU 28-14.

Pinstripe Bowl, New York

Rutgers vs. Miami (minus 1 1/2)

Why watch? Floridians going to New York for the holidays. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

PICK: Miami 17-12.

Pop-Tarts Bowl, Orlando, Fla.

No. 19 North Carolina State vs. Kansas State (minus 3)

Why watch? Two words: Edible mascot.

PICK: Kansas State 26-20.

Alamo Bowl, San Antonio

No. 12 Oklahoma vs. No. 14 Arizona (minus 2 1/2)

Why watch? See the future of Oklahoma football in five-star freshman QB Jackson Arnold, who steps in for the departed Dillon Gabriel.

PICK: Arizona 34-31.

FRIDAY, DEC. 29

Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla.

Clemson (minus 5 1/2) vs. Kentucky

Why watch? Not a great year for Clemson, but with a victory the Tigers could extend their streak of seasons finishing ranked in the AP Top 25 to 13, second longest in the nation behind Alabama’s current 15.

PICK: Clemson 24-17.

Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas

No. 15 Notre Dame (minus 6 1/2) vs. No. 21 Oregon State

Why watch? The first Sun Bowl matching ranked teams since 2008. In that game, Oregon State beat Pitt 3-0. Wait, is this actually a reason to watch?

PICK: Notre Dame 20-12.

Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn.

Memphis (plus 8 1/2) vs. Iowa State

Why watch? History suggests a good game. In 2017, the Tigers and Cyclones met in the Liberty Bowl and Iowa State won 21-20.

PICK: Iowa State 27-21.

Cotton Bowl, Arlington, Texas

No. 7 Ohio State (plus 2 1/2) vs. No. 9 Missouri

Why watch? The Buckeyes are 2-12 in bowl games against SEC teams, but 10-1-1 all-time against Missouri, which has only been in the SEC since 2012. Which trend holds up?

PICK: Ohio State 31-20.

SATURDAY, DEC. 30

Peach Bowl, Atlanta

No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 11 Mississippi (minus 3 1/2)

Why watch? Despite 10-win seasons, both the Nittany Lions and Rebels are looking for validation after each lost to the two best teams in their conferences. Plus, one of several opportunities for Big Ten-SEC bragging rights.

PICK: Ole Miss 27-21.

Music City Bowl, Nashville, Tenn.

Maryland vs. Auburn (minus 2 1/2)

Why watch? To see if coach Hugh Freeze can break Auburn out of its recent postseason funk. The Tigers have lost seven of their last nine bowl games,

PICK: Auburn 24-20.

Orange Bowl, Miami Gardens, Fla.

No. 4 Florida State (plus 14) vs. No. 6 Georgia

Why watch? Let’s find out just how important injured QB Jordan Travis is to the Seminoles.

PICK: Georgia 28-20.

Arizona Bowl, Tucson, Ariz.

Toledo vs. Wyoming (minus 3 1/2)

Why watch? Final game as head coach at Wyoming for the retiring Craig Bohl, who helped launch North Dakota State’s FCS dynasty before spending 10 years with the Cowboys.

PICK: Wyoming 20-14.

MONDAY, JAN. 1

ReliaQuest Bowl, Tampa, Fla.

No. 13 LSU (minus 10 1/2) vs. Wisconsin

Why watch? Heisman winner Jayden Daniels is undecided on playing, but how’s this for symmetry if he does: Daniels’ last game for Arizona State before transferring was a bowl game against Wisconsin.

PICK: LSU 35-23.

Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.

No. 20 Iowa (plus 7 1/2) vs. No. 25 Tennessee

Why watch? Hawkeyes only need to score 109 points to reach the total set at the beginning of the season to trigger a renewal of offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz’s contract — which explains why he has already been fired.

PICK: Tennessee 17-12.

Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz.

No. 8 Oregon vs. No. 18 Liberty (plus 18 1/2)

Why watch? One last goodbye to Oregon’s Bo Nix, who is set to make his NCAA record 61st career start at quarterback. It has been a wild ride.

PICK: Oregon 48-31.

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

College Football Playoff Semifinal

No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 5 Alabama (plus 1 1/2)

Why watch? The somewhat rare opportunity this season to see Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh actually coaching his team in a game.

PICK: Alabama 26-23.

Sugar Bowl

College Football Playoff Semifinal

No. 2 Washington vs. No. 3 Texas (minus 4 1/2)

Why watch? Michael Penix Jr. Rome Odunze. Quinn Ewers. Xavier Worthy. Playmakers everywhere and top-notch play-callers in Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian and Washington offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb.

PICK: TEXAS 35-28.

___

Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com. Get alerts on the latest AP Top 25 poll throughout the season. Sign up here. AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football


#Bowl #season #complicated #opt #outs #coaching #reason #watch

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