Yearly Archives: 2020

Bowl Games 2020: Happy New Year!

The page is updated, and 2020 is almost over. Thank goodness.

Thursday, December 31

12:00: Tulsa vs. Mississippi State (Armed Forces Bowl @ Fort Worth, TX; ESPN): This one is mostly a high watchability tier because Tulsa should put on a display in terms of shutting down a 3-7 Miss State team. I have the Golden Hurricane all the way here.
SP+ line: Tulsa by 6.9
Vegas line: Tulsa -2.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: Tulsa’s last bowl game was the 2016 Miami Beach Bowl, where they beat Central Michigan 55-10. And thanks to 2020 rules, 3-7 Miss State will be heading to their eleventh straight bowl game. The streak started with a 52-14 win over Michigan in the 2010-11 Gator Bowl, and last season they lost 38-28 to Louisville in the Music City Bowl.
Announcers: Chris Cotter, Mark Herzlich, Ian Fitzsimmons

2:00: San Jose State vs. Ball State (Arizona Bowl @ Tuscon, AZ; CBS): We’ve got a battle of champions here! And it could be good! But you’ll also have overlap between the earlier game and the later game, and this one may lose out. Plus, I like San Jose to cover here. The Spartans just flat out won the Mountain West this year and while their success seems a bit out-of-nowhere, they definitely earned it.
SP+ line: SJSU by 6
Vegas line: SJSU -7
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: For the Spartans, this is their first bowl game since the 2015 Cure Bowl, where they beat Georgia State 27-16. For Ball State, this is their eighth bowl appearance all-time, with the most recent being a 23-20 loss to Arkansas State in the 2013-14 Bowl.
Announcers: Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson, Jamie Erdahl

4:00: West Virginia vs. Army (Liberty Bowl @ Memphis, TN; ESPN): Look down at the announcers. It’s cool, I can wait. Okay, now that you’re back, I AM SO PSYCHED. Former Voice of the Yellow Jackets Wes Durham will be on the call, along with former Yellow Jacket Roddy Jones! Talk about a perfect duo to call some flexbone offense. I am here for this. So… the awkward part is that West Virginia is a touchdown favorite even by the advance metrics. And I’m here to say, look, Army probably wanted to play in a bowl game this year more than any team not in the playoff, and maybe more than one or two of those teams. I think they will show up ready, while West Virginia will not. Against an option team, this is deadly.
SP+ line: WVU by 6.8
Vegas line: WVU -7
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: Three, and they were all a long time ago. Army won the first two meetings in 1941 and 1946, 7-6 and 19-0 respectively. The last meeting was in 1961, where WVU won 7-3.
Last bowl game: West Virginia’s last bowl appearance was the 2018 Camping World Bowl, where they lost 34-18 to Syracuse. Army’s last bowl appearance was the 2018 Armed Forces Bowl, a 70-14 rout of Houston.
Announcers: Wes Durham, Roddy Jones, Eric Wood

Friday, January 1

12:00: Cincinnati vs. Georgia (Peach Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): Hoping this is more like Georgia’s game against Texas two years ago rather than their game against Baylor last year. Cincy’s certainly got the defense to pull this off, and I don’t buy this business about UGA’s offense suddenly being competent. I’m taking Cincy straight-up here.
SP+ line: Cincinnati by 1.4
Vegas line: UGA -7
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: Just one, in 1976. Georgia won 31-17.
Last bowl game: Cincy’s made three straight bowl games. In 2018 they beat Virginia Tech 35-31 in the Military Bowl, and last season they beat Boston College 38-6 in the Birmingham Bowl. For Georgia, this is their 24th straight bowl game, dating back to the 1997-98 Outback Bowl, where they beat Wisconsin 33-6. Last season they beat Baylor 26-14 in the Sugar Bowl.
Announcers: Mark Jones, Dusty Dvoracek, Kris Budden

1:00: Northwestern vs. Auburn (Citrus Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ABC): This is certainly a bowl game that will probably happen. Auburn did finally do the thing and Fire Gus, but in the end they wound up making a sensible hire, so that’s not even that funny. That said, it’s not like Harsin will be coaching this game, and let’s see who will be on the sidelines for the Tigers instead…ah right, it’s the guy who tried to start a coup, Kevin Steele. Wonder how he feels about not getting the big job? I’ll take Northwestern to come out ready to play and to hold on to win.
SP+ line: Auburn by 0.7
Vegas line: NU -3.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: Just one, a 38-35 Northwestern victory in the 2009-10 Outback Bowl.
Last bowl game: Northwestern’s last bowl game was the 2018 Holiday Bowl, a 31-20 win over Utah. Auburn’s been to seven straight bowls, going back to the a 34-31 loss to Florida State in the 2013-14 BCS Championship Game. Last season they lost 34-24 to Minnesota in the Outback Bowl.
Announcers: Dave Flemming, Rod Gilmore, Paul Carcaterra

4:00: Alabama vs. Notre Dame (Rose? Bowl @ Arlington, TX; ESPN): This is just wrong, but apparently the city of Pasadena is getting $2 millions for the use of the Rose Bowl name, so I more power to them I guess. That said, I don’t have a lot of reason to think this will be anything other than a dominant Alabama victory. Thanks for playing, Irish.
SP+ line: Bama by 13.3
Vegas line: Bama – 19.95
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: Seven. The first was in the 1973 Sugar Bowl, a 24-23 Notre Dame win. They met a few times in the regular seasdon in the 80’s, and you probably already know about their most recent meeting, a 42-14 Alabama win in the 2012-13 BCS Championship Game. Notre Dame holds an overall 7-2 advantage in the series, though.
Last bowl game: In 2004, Alabama lost 20-16 to Minnesota in the Music City Bowl, a return of sorts after improving to 6-6 from 4-9. They’ve gone to the postseason every year since then. Last season, they didn’t make a New Year’s Six bowl, but beat Michigan 35-16 in the Citrus Bowl anyway. The Irish have been to four straight bowl games, dating to the 2017-18 Citrus Bowl, where they beat LSU 21-17. Last season they beat Iowa State 33-9 in the Camping World Bowl.
Announcers: Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Todd McShay, Allison Williams

8:00: Clemson vs. Ohio State (Sugar Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): I think Clemson will win, but I am tired of hearing so far in bowl games about how Ohio State hasn’t played enough games and blah-blah-blah. So I essentially hope this is (yet again) the best bowl game of the season and it entirely proves the Buckeyes deserve to be here.
SP+ line: Clemson by 1.8
Vegas line: Clemson -7.5
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: These two have played each a few times recently. Their first meeting was a 17-15 win Clemson back in the 1978 Gator Bowl. The previous three have all also been Clemson wins, most recently 29-23 in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl, you know, last season’s playoff semi-final. Clemson therefore has a 4-0 overall series lead.
Last bowl game: Clemson beat Colorado 19-10 in the 2005 Champs Sports Bowl, and including that they’ve been to bowl games in 16 straight seasons. Last season, they beat Ohio State 29-23 in the Fiesta Bowl and then were felled by LSU 42-25 in the CFP Championship Game. Ohio State has been to eight consecutive postseasons, dating to a 40-35 loss to… Clemson in the 2013-14 Orange Bowl. And as previously stated, they lost 29-23 to Clemson in last year’s excellent Fiesta Bowl. Let’s hope this is more of the same.
Announcers: Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor, Tom Rinaldi

Saturday, January 2

12:00: North Carolina State vs. Kentucky (Gator Bowl @ Jacksonville, FL; ESPN): This game exists purely to hold you over until the fireworks start at the bottom of the hour. I have NC State here.
SP+ line: NCSU by 4.3
Vegas line: UK -3
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: Just one, a 1970 27-2 win for NC State.
Last bowl game: The Wolfpack were last seen in the postseason as participants in the 2018 TaxSlayer Bowl, where they lost 52-13 to Texas A&M. Kentucky have been to five straight bowl games, starting with a 33-18 loss to Georgia Tech in the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl (woo). Last season they beat Virginia Tech 37-30 in the Belk Bowl.
Announcers: Anish Shroff, Tom Luginbill, Lericia Harris

12:30: Indiana vs. Mississippi (Outback Bowl @ Tampa, FL; ABC):  HERE WE GO. Indiana is a fun team that, while missing their all-time great QB, is still fun to watch and pretty good. Ole Miss, meanwhile, runs what I am calling the “YOLO Offense” because their playcalling is essentially “eh, screw it, throw it deep”. And it seems to work! This game should have all the points. Well, hopefully. That said, Indiana actually plays a little defense, so I think the Hoosiers will get a spot and pull out a win.
SP+ line: Indiana by 7.2
Vegas line: Indiana -7
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: Indiana’s making their second consecutive bowl season, after last season’s narrow loss to Tennessee in the Gator Bowl, 23-22. Ole Miss is appearing in their first bowl game since the 2015-16 Sugar Bowl, where they beat Oklahoma State 48-20.
Announcers: Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic

4:00: Oregon vs. Iowa State (Fiesta Bowl @ Glendale, AZ; ESPN): Iowa State has had an all-time great season by their standards, and I think they’ll carry that all the way through to a victory.
SP+ line: Iowa State by 2.9
Vegas line: Iowa State -4.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This will be the fourth straight bowl appearance for the Ducks, dating to a 38-28 loss to Boise State in the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl. Last season, they beat Wisconsin on a perfect day in Pasadena, 28-27. The Cyclones have now been to four straight bowls, dating to a 21-20 win over Memphis in the 2017 Liberty Bowl. Last season they lost 33-9 to Notre Dame in the Camping World Bowl.
Announcers: Dave Pasch, Mike Golic, Quint Kessenich

8:00: North Carolina vs. Texas A&M (Orange Bowl @ Miami Gardens, FL; ESPN): And finally, what will probably be the last bowl game before the title game. And boy howdy I hope Carolina wins, because the TAMU whining after not getting in the playoff was awful. That’s not a great basis for prognostication, but it’s what I’ve got.
SP+ line: UNC by 2.5
Vegas line: TAMU -6
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: UNC won last year’s Military Bowl 55-13 over Temple. TAMU has been to 12 straight bowl games, dating to the 2009 Independence Bowl, a 44-20 loss to Georgia. Last season they beat Oklahoma State 24-21 in the Texas Bowl.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen, Dan Orlovsky, Katie George

Bowl Games 2020: Four Games, but I Wish There Were More

The latest schedule and picks can be found here in convenient table form. As you might have surmised, I’m posting these at a trickle so I don’t spend a bunch of time researching stuff for games that get canceled. So let’s talk about the games for Tuesday and Wednesday.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Tuesday, December 29

5:30: Miami vs. Oklahoma State (Cheez-It Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ABC): There’s been one constant this season, and that’s the incessant parade of Cheez-It commercials during games. It all culminates right here, right now. Formerly, they sponsored what would’ve been the Guaranteed Rate Bowl this year, but that game won’t be played, so here we are with what used to the Camping World Bowl. So yeah, what’s your favorite flavor? Me, I love white cheddar anything, but I usually get the reduced fat ones because… oh, right, there’s a football game. Both these teams head into this game going backward, especially since the Canes were most recently seen getting their doors blown off by North Carolina. Also, Miami has recently been hot garbage in bowl games. For those reasons, I’m going against the numbers and picking Oklahoma State.
SP+ line: Miami by 1.8
Vegas line: OSU -3
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: Just one, a regular season matchup back in the Orange Bowl in 1991. Miami won 40-3.
Last bowl game: While Miami still isn’t back, they’re definitely on a consistent bowl streak now. This will be the eighth straight bowl game for the Canes, dating to the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl, where they lost to Louisville 36-9. Last season they lost 14-0 to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl. For Oklahoma State, this will be their 15th consecutive bowl game, going back to the 2006 Independence Bowl, 34-31 win over Alabama. Last season they lost 24-21 to Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl.
Announcers: Dave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck, Katie George
Fun fact: Did you know that this is the first Power 5 vs. Power 5 matchup of the 2020 season?

9:00: Texas vs. Colorado (Alamo Bowl @ San Antonio, TX; ESPN): I was supposed to travel a lot this year, but as with most things 2020 those plans have gone by the wayside. Instead, of the two times I’ve left California this year, one of them was to go to San Antonio. Anyway, that’s about my entire connection this. I don’t think I watched Colorado at all this year, so I don’t have a great read on them. That said, if Texas has done anything consistently under Tom Herman, it’s “show up for bowl games”, so I’m picking the ‘Horns.
SP+ line: Texas by 12
Vegas line: Texas -12.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: There’s been 18 meetings between the Longhorns and the Buffs all-time. 6 of those were before the implosion of the Southwest Conference, and the other 12 were when they were both in the Big 12. Texas won the first meeting back in 1940 39-7. The last time they met was also a Texas victory, 38-14 in 2009. Overall, Texas has a 11-7 record in the series.”
Last bowl game: “This will be Texas’s fourth straight bowl game, dating to the 2017 Texas Bowl, where they beat Mizzou 33-16. Last season they beat Utah in the Alamo Bowl 38-10. For the Buffs, this is the first bowl game since the 2016 Alamo Bowl, where they lost 38-8 to Oklahoma state.
Announcers: Jason Benetti, Mike Golic, Kris Budden

Wednesday, December 30

12:00: Wake Forest vs. Wisconsin (Mayo Bowl @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): Sure, it’s officially the “Duke’s Mayo Bowl”, but a) I’m from the South and I’ve never heard of Duke’s Mayo before I saw the announcement for the title sponsor of this bowl game and b) it’s always more fun to have just the product if possible. Anyway, I’m not sure there’ll be much to this game, which is maybe why ESPN is leaving it at noon even though the in-between game for today, the Music City Bowl, was canceled when Mizzou pulled out. I’m off work this week and I’m still on the West Coast, so this one may be over before I even wake up.
SP+ line: Wisky by 14.5
Vegas line: Wisky -7
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is Wake’s fifth straight bowl game, going back to the 2016 Military Bowl, a 34-26 win over Temple. Most recently, they lost 27-21 to Michigan State in the Pinstripe Bowl. The Badgers are meanwhile appearing in their 19th consecutive bowl game, dating to the 2002 Alamo Bowl, where they beat Colorado 31-28. Last season they lost 28-27 to Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
Announcers: Taylor Zazour, Matt Stinchcomb, Marty Smith

7:15: Oklahoma vs. Florida (Cotton Bowl @ Arlington, TX; ESPN): After several Florida players opt-ed out today, I thought about maybe taking this game down a notch, but I think this will still be pretty good regardless. The Sooners are extremely young, so there is still a risk of Florida pulling away, but I’ve actually got this down as a close Sooners win.
SP+ line: Florida by 1.9
Vegas line: Florida -3
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: Just one, the 2009 BCS Championship Game. The Gators won 24-14.
Last bowl game: This is Oklahoma’s 22nd consecutive bowl game, dating to the 1999 Independence Bowl, where they lost to Ole Miss 27-25. Last season they lost to LSU in the Peach Bowl, 63-28. This is the third straight bowl game for the Gators. They beat Michigan 41-15 in the 2018 Peach Bowl and beat UVA 36-28 in last season’s Orange Bowl.
Announcers: Joe Tessitore, Greg McElroy, Holly Rowe

Bowl Games 2020: Boxing Day

The picks have been updated and put here. I probably won’t be projecting too far out this year, just because whether a given game will happen or not is, well, not a given.

As usual, times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 26


  • Texas-San Antonio vs. Louisiana (First Responder Bowl @ Dallas, TX; ABC): The main reason this isn’t a I on the watchability tier is because, well, UTSA is kinda good this year and you almost certainly haven’t seen them. But that said, the Cajuns (who are, we’re being told, are ragin’) have earned the right to be just Louisiana, and I suspect that will continue after this game.
    SP+ line: Louisiana by 15.6
    Vegas line: Louisiana -13
    Watchability tier: II
    Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
    Last bowl game: This is UTSA’s second ever bowl game, after the 2016 New Mexico Bowl, which they lost 20-16 to the hometown Lobos. This is Cajuns’ third straight bowl game. They lost 41-24 to Tulane in the 2018 Cure Bowl, and beat Miami (the one in Ohio) 27-17 in last season’s Mobile Bowl.
    Announcers: Anish Shroff, Tom Luginbill, Quint Kessenich
  • Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State (LendingTree Bowl @ Mobile, AL; ESPN): This is game that may be close by virtue of neither team being especially good, but hey, at least we’ll have a brief moment of being able to flip between two games this bowl season. I’ve got the Hilltoppers coming out on top here.
    SP+ line: WKU by 0.9
    Vegas line: GSU -4.5
    Watchability tier: I
    Previous meetings: Two. The first was a 44-28 WKU win in 2013, and in 2017 Georgia State won 27-17 in the Cure Bowl.
    Last bowl game: Western Kentucky beat Western Michigan 23-20 in last year’s First Responder Bowl. The Panthers, meanwhile, lost last year’s Arizona Bowl 38-17 to Wyoming.
    Announcers: Mike Couzens, Jay Walker, Dawn Davenport

7:30: Liberty vs. Coastal Carolina (Cure Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ESPN):  Yesterday I got so old
I felt like I could die
Yesterday I got so old
It made me want to cry
Go on go on
Just walk away
Your choice is made
Go on go on
And disappear
Go on go on
Away from here

And I know I was wrong
When I said it was true
That it couldn’t be me and be her
In between without you
Without you

Yesterday I got so scared
I shivered like a child
Yesterday away from you
It froze me deep inside
Come back come back
Don’t walk away
Come back come back
Come back today
Come back come back
Why can’t you see
Come back come back
Come back to me

And I know I was wrong
When I said it was true
That it couldn’t be me and be her
In between without you
Without you

Like most of the college football Internet, I’m hoping this one is an absolute rout by Coastal Carolina.
SP+ line: CCU by 6
Vegas line: CCU -6
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: They’ve met several times when one, the other, or both were in FCS, but this is their first meeting as FBS teams.
Last bowl game: Liberty ventures to their second consecutive Cure Bowl, after last year’s 23-16 win over Georgia Southern. Meanwhile, this is the first bowl game ever for the Chanticleers.
Announcers: Roy Philapott, Kelly Stouffer, Alex Chappell

Bowl Games 2020: Opening Slate

Oh, right, the bowl games start today. I should’ve anticipated this since these games were generally announced last week, but here we are. At any rate. I’ve been in this bowl game business since 1999. The last time we had 28 regular bowl games, it was 2005, likely more famously known for Vince Young singlehandedly leading Texas over the pre-anointed Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl, which unlike this year’s Rose Bowl was actually in the Rose Bowl.

Anyway, I’ve got this whole thing put together at pretty much the last minute, at least for these pre-Christmas games. So let’s get crackin’. First, though, let’s also examine a 2020-adjusted version of the Watchability Rankings:

  • I: Something to have on on the background while reading the Wikipedia article about “Timeline of the Far Future” and trying not have an existential crisis while doing so.
  • II: Decidedly less existential, this tier starts to get into stuff that could be interesting, or might just go totally sideways for one team or the other. Either way, it’s worth at least having on for the first half.
  • III: This is a game I will definitely be watching, but isn’t a “mainstream pick”, as in, “yeah man, I knew about Coastal Carolina before knowing what a Chanticleer was was cool”.
  • IV: Playoff games, well, the championship game at least, and anything else of important note.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Monday, December 21
2:30: North Texas vs. Appalachian State (Myrtle Beach Bowl @ Conway, SC; ESPN): Okay, let’s get this thing started… with a game that kicks at 11:30 AM on the West Coast and one team is heavily favored. Yeah, this is what Watchability Tier I was invented for. But hey, App State is a fun team, and you’ll be free to enjoy your evening.
SP+ line: App State by 21.3
Vegas line: App State -21
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is North Texas’s first bowl game since a 52-13 loss to Utah State in the 2018 New Mexico Bowl. This is the sixth straight bowl game for App State, going back to a 31-29 win over Ohio in the 2015 Camellia Bowl. Last year they bet UAB 31-17 in the New Orleans Bowl.
Announcers: Courney Lyle, Eric MacLain, Marty Smith, Ryan McGee

Tuesday, December 22
3:30: Tulane vs. Nevada (Potato Bowl @ Boise, ID; ESPN): This one could actually be pretty cool. Tulane’s offense is just plane fun, and it’s been good to see Nevada be kind of decent again. The forecast this game calls for snow in the morning, but cold and clear by kickoff, so that’s less than ideal, but the blue turf will be a different vibe for your TV. I wonder if Tulane will wear their all-green uniforms… at any rate, I expect the Green Wave to win in the end.
SP+ line: Tulane by 5.7
Vegas line: Tulane -3
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: Once, back in 1992. The Green Wave washed over Reno 34-17.
Last bowl game: This is the third straight bowl game for the Green Wave. They won the 2018 Cure Bowl over Louisiana, and beat Southern Miss in last season’s Armed Forces Bowl. This is also the third straight bowl game for the Wolf Pack. In the 2018 Arizona bowl they beat Arkansas State 16-13, and last season they lost this very bowl game to Ohio, 30-21.
Announcers: Chris Cotter, Mark Herzlich, Taylor Davis

7:00: Central Florida vs. Brigham Young (Boca Raton Bowl @ Boca Raton, FL; ESPN): UCF looked like world beaters when they played us, and I know we’re not good or anything, but they still dominated in a way that no on else did outside of Clemson against us. At any rate, I expect this game to fun and poinsty, but with BYU playing enough defense to win in the end.
SP+ line: BYU by 9
Vegas line: BYU -7
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: Twice, and relatively recently. The first meeting was a 24-17 BYU win in 2011, followed by a 31-24 overtime win for the Knights in 2014.
Last bowl game: This is the fifth straight bowl game for UCF, dating to a 31-13 loss to Arkansas State in the 2016 Cure Bowl. Last season they bulldozed Marshall in the Gasparilla Bowl, 48-25. This is the third straight bowl for BYU. They beat Western Michigan 49-18 in the 2018 Potato Bowl, and lost last year’s Hawaii Bowl to Hawaii, 38-34.
Announcers: Dave Neal, DJ Shockley, Lericia Harris

Wednesday, December 23
3:30: Louisiana Tech vs. Georgia Southern (New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): Start your Christmas Eve Eve off right with… well, okay, this is probably not so great. Southern is favored by multiple scores, and I have no reason to doubt that.
SP+ line: GSU by 11
Vegas line: GSU -6
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: Louisiana Tech has a good streak going for themselves, as this is their seventh straight bowl game. They beat Illinois 35-18 in the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl, and more recently they shut out the Miami Hurricanes in last season’s Independence Bowl by a score of 14-0. Georgia Southern is making their third straight bowl game. In 2018 they beat Eastern Michigan in the Camellia Bowl, 23-21. Last season they lost to Liberty 23-16 in the Cure Bowl.
Announcers: Matt Barrie, Mike Golic Jr, Dawn Davenport

7:00: Memphis vs. Florida Atlantic (Montgomery Bowl @ Montgomery, AL; ESPN): This game was originally supposed to be the new Fenway Bowl, but now I sort of wonder if that will come back, pandemic notwithstanding. Fenway’s an awkward fit for a football field and, well, it’s Boston in December. For the game itself, FAU wasn’t really that good this year, and while Memphis has come down from the high of last year, I think they’ve got this game easily.
SP+ line: Memphis by 7.2
Vegas line: Memphis -9
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: Once, back in the 2007 New Orleans Bowl. FAU won 44-27.
Last bowl game: Memphis is appearing in their seventh straight bowl game, dating to the legendary (and no, I’m not being sarcastic) 2014 Miami Beach Bowl, where they beat (heh) BYU 55-48. Last season they tried their shot at the big guys, but came up short 53-39 to Penn State in the Cotton Bowl. FAU is making a second consecutive bowl game. Last season they beat SMU 52-28 in the Boca Raton Bowl.
Announcers: Clay Matvic, Rock Boiman, Lauren Sisler

Thursday, December 24
3:30: Hawaii vs. Houston (New Mexico Bowl @ Frisco, TX; ESPN): The Rainbow Warriors get the leave the island for a bowl game for the first time in a while (largely because the Hawaii Bowl itself was canceled, but still), and they wind up against a team that sort should eat their lunch. But you know what, if I have to be on the West Coast and watch a game that starts at 12:30 on Christmas Eve, well, I’ll do just that. Besides, Houston still figures to be rusty, anything could happen! (They’re probably going to win easily.)
SP+ line: Houston by 13.7
Vegas line: Houston -13
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: Once, in the 2003 Hawaii Bowl. Hawaii won 54-48 in overtime.
Last bowl game: Hawaii’s made three straight postseason contests, but this will be their first outside the state. In 2018 they lost to Louisiana Tech 31-14, and season they beat BYU 38-34. Houston last appeared in a bowl game back in 2018, where they got walloped 70-14 by Army in the Armed Forces Bowl.
Announcers: TBA

Friday, December 25
2:30: Buffalo vs. Marshall (Camellia Bowl @ Montgomery, AL; ESPN): I can’t say that I know much about Marshall this year, but I do know that Buffalo is fun, so once you’re done unwrapping presents over Zoom, grab yourself a beverage and hop over to ESPN. This one could be good by virtue of the two teams apparently being even according to SP+, so I’ll take it, but I still like the Bulls better in the end.
SP+ line: Buffalo by 0.3
Vegas line: Buffalo -3.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: Nine times, going all the way back to 1959. Buffalo won that meeting 37-12, but the Bull have gone 0-6 ever since. The most recent was a 48-14 Marshall win in 2004.
Last bowl game: The Bulls are buffaloing their way to a third straight bowl game. They appeared in the 2019 Dollar General Bowl, where they lost 42-32 to Troy. Last season they beat Charlotte in the Bahamas Bowl, 31-9. Marshall is thundering their way into a fourght straight bowl game, dating to the 2018 New Mexico Bowl, where they beat Colorado State 31-28. Last season they lost the Gasparilla Bowl 48-25 to UCF.
Announcers: TBA