Bowl Games 2023: Happy New Year!

Updates will be posted to the bowl page soon. In the meantime, here’s the last batch of previews.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 30

Noon: Pennsylvania State vs. Mississippi (Peach Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): For whatever reason, I still strongly associate the Peach Bowl with New Year’s Eve, and it still throws me a bit when it kicks off at noon Eastern. With regards to this game, I think Penn State is still a good team. The offense struggles, yes, but ultimately they occupy a relatively unique tier wherein, yes, they’re not as good as the elite teams in their conference, but they’re clearly better than everyone else. Ole Miss fancies that they’re like that, but for the SEC, but I don’t think they’re quite at Penn State’s level yet.
SP+ line: Nittany Lions -10
Vegas line: Nittany Lions -3.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is Penn State’s third bowl game in a row. They lost 24-10 to Arkansas in the 2021-22 Outback bowl, and beat Utah 35-21 in the 2022-23 Rose Bowl. This will be the fourth in a row for Ole Miss, dating to a 26-20 win over Indiana in the 2020-21 Outback Bowl. Last season they lost 42-25 to Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl.
Announcers: Mark Jones, Louis Riddick, and Quint Kessenich

2:00: Maryland vs. Auburn (Music City Bowl @ Nashville, TN; ABC): I am having a very time getting excited for this one. Mostly because both of these teams had super weird seasons. We talked about September Maryland a bit on this site, but I think I still like them over a team that should’ve won their one-game season back on Thanksgiving weekend.
SP+ line: Terps -1.1
Vegas line: Tigers -2.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: Three, but it’s been a while. The first was a 13-7 Maryland win in 1952. The most recent was a 35-23 Auburn win in 1983, which broke the tie to give the Tigers a 2-1 advantage.
Last bowl game: For the Terps, this is their third in a row. They beat Virginia Tech 54-10 in the 2021 Pinstripe Bowl. Last season, they beat NC State 16-12 in the Mayo Bowl. Auburn last made a bowl game in 2021, losing 17-13 to Houston in the Birmingham Bowl.
Announcers: Taylor Zarzour, Matt Stinchcomb, and Alyssa Lang

4:00: Florida State vs. Georgia (Orange Bowl @ Miami Gardens, FL; ESPN): I like this broadcast crew as much as anyone, but the incredible levels of awkwardness that are likely going to be generated by the inevitable conflict that arises from ESPN both making news and reporting news, well, I’m not looking forward to it. (And no, I am suggesting the Playoff Committee is in ESPN’s pocket, but were they sequestered from all media suggestions a 1-loss Bama should get in over an undefeated FSU? I don’t know.) So here it. There’s a raft of transfers and opt-outs. Neither team will be at full strength. But if FSU wins and goes 14-0, and they should totally claim a title. And I think they will.
SP+ line: UGA -5.8
Vegas line: UGA -14
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: These teams have met eleven times, though all but two occurred in 1965 or earlier. The series started with a 5 straight Georgia wins, beginning with a 14-0 win in 1954. FSU reversed that trend and won 4 straight from 1961-65, but the series then went dormant. They met a for a 17-17 tie in the 1984 Citrus Bowl. Their most recent match was a 26-13 Georgia win in the 2002-03 Sugar Bowl, giving them a a 6-4-1 overall record.
Last bowl game: FSU beat Oklahoma 35-32 in last season’s Cheez-It Bowl. Much to my chagrin, Georgia owns the longest active bowl streak in the country. Their streak started with a 33-6 win over Wisconsin in the 1997-98 Outback Bowl, meaning it’s all the way up to 27 games now. Last season, they escaped Ohio State 42-41 in the Peach Bowl and took care of TCU 65-7 in the CFP Championship Game.
Announcers: Joe Tessitore, Jesse Palmer, and Katie George

4:30: Toledo vs. Wyoming (Arizona Bowl @ Tucson, AZ; The CW): I can’t think of a game that’s more of a polar opposite to the Orange Bowl than this one. But hey, at least it’ll give you something to put on during halftime. That said, there’s a little bit to talk about here. For starters, this is finally the season Toledo put it all together. Wyoming isn’t good… but they seem to be able to win games somehow. It could be fun, and it may be worth a look.
SP+ line: Rockets -7.8
Vegas line: Pokes -3
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: Just two: a 20-15 Wyoming win in 2010, and then a 34-31 Toledo win in 2012.
Last bowl game: The Rockets have made three bowls in a row. In 2021 they lost 31-24 to MTSU in the Bahamas Bowl, and beat Liberty 21-19 in last season’s Boca Raton Bowl. The Mountain Pokes have made three in a row. In 2021 they beat Kent State 52-38 in the Potato Bowl, and last season they lost 30-27 to Ohio in this very game.
Announcers: Jake Marsh, Dave Portnoy, Dan Katz, Caleb Pressley and Adam Ferrone

Monday, January 1

Noon: Wisconsin vs. Louisiana State (ReliaQuest Bowl @ Tampa, FL; ESPN2): LSU is all offense and no defense. Fortunately for them, Wisconsin is still figuring some things out. I have no idea if Jayden Daniels is playing, but either way, this figures to be a win for the Tigers.
SP+ line: Tigahs -8.8
Vegas line: Tigahs -11
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: These teams have met 4 times: a home-and-home in 1971 and 1972, and then with some neutral site kickoffs in 2014 and 2016. LSU won the first won 38-28, and Wisconsin won the last 16-14, resulting in an overall 3-1 record for the Tigers.
Last bowl game: The Badgers have the country’s third longest active streak, dating to a 31-28 win over Colorado in the 2002 Alamo Bowl. Last season, they beat Oklahoma State 24-17 in the Guarnteed Rate Bowl. This will be their 22nd consecutive appearance. This is LSU’s third bowl game in a row. In 2021 they lost 42-20 to K-State in the Texas Bowl, and last season they beat Purdue 63-7 in the Citrus Bowl.
Announcers: Brian Custer, Rod Gilmore, and Lauren Sisler


  • Iowa vs. Tennessee (Citrus Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ABC): I did Joe Milton isn’t playing in this one for Tennessee. I don’t think it would’ve been a fun assignment and I absolutely don’t blame him, but man a backup QB going against the Iowa defense seems less than ideal. That said, Tennessee at least knows how to play offense, so I’m still giving them an edge over the Hawkeyes.
    SP+ line: Vols -4.9
    Vegas line: Vols -8.5
    Watchability tier: Yes, ha ha ha, yes!!
    Previous meetings: Three, all in special games. The first was a 28-22 Iowa win in the 1982 Peach Bowl. Next up was a 23-22 season opener win for the Vols in the Meadowlands. And most recently, the Vols win 45-28 in the 2014-15 TaxSlayer Bowl.
    Last bowl game: The Hawkeyes didn’t play a bowl game in 2020 (for completely understandable reasons), but if they had this would be their 11th bowl game in a row, dating to the 2013-14 Outback Bowl. Instead, they lost to Kentucky 20-17 in the 2021-22 Citrus Bowl and beat Kentucky 21-0 in last season’s Music City Bowl.
    Announcers: Dave Flemming, Brock Osweiler, and Kayla Burton
  • Liberty vs. Oregon (Fiesta Bowl @ Glendale, AZ; ESPN): I don’t see any scenario where this is anything other than absolute asskicking by the Ducks.
    SP+ line: Ducks -13.2
    Vegas line: Ducks -18.5
    Watchability tier: II
    Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
    Last bowl game: This is the fifth bowl game in a row for the Libs, dating to a 23-16 win over Georgia Southern in the 2019 Cure Bowl. Last season they lost 21-19 to Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl. This is the seventh bowl in a row for the Ducks, dating to a 38-28 loss to Boise State in the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl. Last season they beat UNC 28-27 in the Holiday Bowl.
    Announcers: Bob Wischusen, Robert Griffin III, and Kris Budden

5:00: Michigan vs. Alabama (Rose Bowl @ Pasadena, CA; ESPN): There’s going to be a lot written about this game, even though I think the Sugar Bowl is going to be the better game. (For an example of what I mean, see what I wrote below for the “Previous meetings” section for this game.) What can I say? Basically every available metric favors Michigan, including the metric known as “what I’ve watched of both of these teams throughout the season”. That said, it definitely is reasonable to say that Michigan has only truly been tested a few times, and they have not seen the kind of defense that Alabama will bring to the table in Pasadena. I have picked Michigan to win, but that is mostly on what can perhaps best be described as “hope”, that is, the hope that they’ll realize that to win this game they’re going to need to do something different than what they’ve done all year. Just leaning on this Bama squad and hoping they’ll break… will not work. I know that worked against Penn State. I know that worked against Ohio State. But that idea is what has failed them in their last two playoff appearances. They need to bring something different to the table, and they need to realize it from the start of the game. If they wind up chasing this game the way they did against TCU last year, I’d expect a similar result.
SP+ line: Michigan -8.4
Vegas line: Michigan -1
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: This will be the sixth all-time meeting between two of college football’s most storied teams. Despite being college football royalty for more-or-less the entire history of the sport, the first meeting wasn’t until a matchup of two 7-4 versions of these teams in the 1987-88 Hall of Fame Bowl. Michigan won 28-24. The next met in the 1996-97 Outback Bowl, a classic in the “remember some guys” genre featuring touchdowns from Brian Griese and Shaun Alexander. The Tide won 17-14. Speaking of which, they next met in the 1999-2000 Orange Bowl, which featured some guy named Tom Brady throwing for 4 TDs and a 35-34 Michigan overtime win that was sealed by Bama missing the PAT. Next up, they kicked off the 2012 season with a game in Jerry Jones’s Intergalactic Space Palace, where Bama won 41-14. Most recently, they played in the 2019-2020 Citrus Bowl, where Bama cruised a 35-16 win, breaking the tie and giving the Tide a 3-2 series lead.
Last bowl game: This is Michigan’s third bowl game in a row. In 2021 they lost 34-11 to Georgia in the Orange Bowl, and last season they lost 51-45 to TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.
Announcers: Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Holly Rowe, and Laura Rutledge

8:45: Washington vs. Texas (Sugar Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): I hope you like points, because, yo, this game is going to have some points. Okay, yeah, Texas has some dudes on the defensive line, but if there’s a team that’s shown they can scheme around that issue, it’s the Huskies. Honestly, I think Texas has plenty of talent, but it feels like next year is going to be their year. I’m a lot more sure about UDub coming out of this one than I am about the result of the Rose Bowl.
SP+ line: Horns -6
Vegas line: Horns -4
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: This game may seem somewhat familiar. And indeed, these two met a year ago in the 2022 Alamo Bowl, which has a close final score (27-20) but the Huskies went up 27-10 early in the 4th quarter and that was pretty much it. They first met in 1974, where the Horns won 35-21. Overall, Texas leads the series 3-2.
Last bowl game: The Dubs beat Texas 27-20 in last season’s Alamo Bowl. The Horns lost 27-20 to Washington in last season’s Alamo Bowl.
Announcers: Sean McDonough, Greg McElroy, Molly McGrath, and Katie George