There are 41 bowl games.
It’s borderline offensive.
Rice even made a bowl even though they lost more games than they won.
With so many games, deciding which are worthwhile can be a seemingly overwhelming task. But fear not. While plenty of these games will probably be awful due to a myriad of reasons (players opting out, lack of motivation, tickets selling for less than a dollar, etc.) some should be fine—even good!
With that in mind, here are a few bowl games that, in my approximation, will not suck.
When to watch: Wednesday, December 21 at 9 p.m. ET
Why it’s worth watching: Two really good teams you probably haven’t watched.
South Alabama finished 10-2, their best record in school history. They have a great young coach Kane Wommack who you can expect to be rumored for bigger roles in the very near future. And overall this is a fun contrast of styles. Western Kentucky’s quarterback Austin Davis flirted with the transfer portal before deciding to stick with the Hilltoppers. Davis threw for 36 touchdowns and nearly 4,300 yards this season, so his deciding to stick around for this game doesn’t suck for them. Meanwhile, South Alabama, who nearly upset UCLA earlier this season, boasts a stout defense that should be an interesting test for Western Kentucky’s explosive passing attack.
When to watch: Wednesday, December 28 at 5:30 p.m. ET
Why it’s worth watching: Kansas is the best comeback story in college football (no offense, UConn)
For the first time since 2009, Kansas is playing in a bowl game. That’s crazy. After a monumental overtime upset against Texas to close out the 2021 season, Lance Leipold’s team proved the Jayhawks are no fluke by fielding one of the best offenses in college football this year. Due to the novelty of playing in the bowl game, expect Kansas to have an edge in terms of fan engagement and general motivation. Arkansas’s big advantage however is that they’re a better team with better players. But beating teams with better players is kind of Kansas’ whole deal, soooooo.
When to watch: Thursday, December 29 at 5:30 p.m. ET
Why it’s worth watching: It’s called the Cheez-It Bowl
This is a great matchup between two college football bluebloods who will be looking to win this game to get some momentum heading into next season. But also it’s called the Cheez-It Bowl, which even by bowl standards, is hilarious. And they really lean into it too. Arguably too much. As part of the promotion for the game, two players will be staying in an entirely Cheez-It themed hotel room. It honestly seems like a pretty haunting experience (or a dream come true if you’re super into orange cheese dust) but between the name, the crazy trophy, and the lodging, this bowl is among the goofiest and thus for sure worth watching.
When to watch: Thursday, December 29 at 9 p.m. ET
Why it’s worth watching: Points. Points. Points.
This game is headlined by a couple of quarterbacks you’ll probably want to keep in mind for the 2023 NFL Draft: Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. and Texas’ Quinn Ewers. While Penix led the nation in passing this season, Ewers came out of high school as the most touted quarterback prospect since Trevor Lawrence. To add another layer of intrigue, Texas’ head coach Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski used coach at Washington but, like many Seattleites, decided to make the move to Austin.
When to watch: Friday, December 30 at 12 p.m. ET
Why it’s worth watching: They’re probably going to do a lot of weird stuff with Mayo (again).
Maryland is led by Taulia Tagavailoa (better known as Tua’s brother) who can absolutely sling it and should face a great test from N.C. State’s tough defense. But that’s not why you should watch this game. Last year the Duke’s Mayo Bowl announcers passed most of the game dipping various items into mayo on air before eating them. It was pretty gnarly. And while I’m not sure if this tradition will continue, last year’s winning coach had a cooler full of mayo dumped on them. Football’s fine and all but that’s the content I truly need.
When to watch: Friday, December 30 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Why it’s worth watching: Two teams to look out for next year
This is a fascinating matchup because both programs took similar trajectories this season, starting relatively slow before turning it on late. They’re also led by two of the most charismatic young coaches in the sport between ND’s Marcus Freeman and USC’s Shane Beamer. Both teams are ranked, and motivated and will return most of their talent next season. For those reasons all signs point to this being a tight, competitive game that should give us a glimpse of two programs on the rise and, hopefully, won't suck.
When to watch: Saturday, December 31 at 12 p.m. ET
Why it’s worth watching: Will a point be scored?
Iowa is slightly favored to win this game, but the number truly worth paying attention to is the total which sits at only 31.5 points. That's a hilarious number. But if you’ve watched these teams play at all, you’ll understand why it's both that low and yet still feels too high. Iowa’s offense was legitimately a joke this season, and they’re coming into this game down their top 2 quarterbacks—who, it should be noted, were not good. Despite that, they’re still favored because Kentucky is also without several players including their quarterback Will Levis. For those reasons, this game could end up being very, very funny to watch and probably won’t take up much of your time.
When to watch: Saturday, December 31 at 12 p.m. ET
Why it’s worth watching: Deuce Vaughn is going to put on one last show before becoming your favorite NFL player.
There’s probably not a single player on Kansas State that was close to being considered by Alabama during the recruiting process. Nobody embodies this better than Deuce Vaughn, all 5-foot-6 and 176 lbs of him. Deuce was very lightly recruited out of high school and morphed himself into one of the most electrifying talents in college football at Kansas State. The Wildcats junior running back is now a two-time first-team All-American and it’s only fitting that he gets to show off on the national stage against Alabama’s tough defense. You can expect Kansas State to enter this game with a chip on its shoulder and ready to play. If Alabama doesn’t come into this contest motivated, expect Nick Saban to get very, very, very angry during and after this game. Which, of course, is what bowl season is all about.