Only 41 games remain in the 2019 college football season.
Yes, it’s nearly bowl season, but all bowls aren’t created equal. That means you’ll need to know which games are can’t-miss and which games you can just leave on in the background.
Some games need no introduction — the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Day 6 — while others, like the Gator and Holiday bowls, provide intrigue beyond championship contention. Others, only fans of the teams playing would enjoy.
Sporting News is here to help you prioritize which games to watch. With that, SN’s rankings for the 2019-20 bowl season.
MORE: Picks for all 40 bowl games in 2019-20
40. Arizona Bowl: Wyoming vs. Georgia State
A meeting of 7-5 teams that combined to beat SEC East teams in Missouri (Wyoming) and Tennessee (Georgia State) this season.
39. Cure Bowl: Liberty vs. Georgia Southern
Another pair of 7-5 teams meet up for the Cure Bowl, but at least you can watch Liberty receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden (74 receptions for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns).
38. Potato Bowl: Ohio vs. Nevada
Ohio coach Frank Solich will look to win his 113th game as the Bobcats’ coach, extending what is already a MAC record.
37. Frisco Bowl: Utah State vs. Kent State
This could be the last time we see Aggies quarterback Jordan Love in a Utah State uniform. If he plays well enough in the Frisco Bowl, he could use it as a springboard into the 2020 NFL Draft.
36. Quick Lane Bowl: Pitt vs. Eastern Michigan
How will Pitt fare against Eastern Michigan in what amounts to a final home game for the Eagles?
35. Bahamas Bowl: Buffalo vs. Charlotte
This is Charlotte’s first-ever bowl, and it’s in the Bahamas! That’s reason enough to watch.
34. Armed Forces Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Tulane
This meeting of former Conference USA foes will be the teams’ first game since 2010.
33. Camellia Bowl: FIU vs. Arkansas State
Arkansas State receiver Omar Bayless (84 receptions, 1,473 yards, 16 touchdowns) will have to contend with FIU’s sixth-ranked pass defense.
32. Pinstripe Bowl: Michigan State vs. Wake Forest
Mark Dantonio’s Michigan State team will attempt to plod its way to a win, while Dave Clawson’s Wake Forest will try to jump out with a more explosive offensive attack.
31. Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii vs. BYU
Anyone who needs convincing Hawaii vs. BYU can be an exciting game need only watch these teams’ early-season matchups between Arizona and Tennessee, respectively.
MORE: Full College Football Playoff rankings
30. First Responder Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan
The Hilltoppers have some impressive wins this season against UAB, Army and Arkansas. So do the Broncos, who boast wins over Central Michigan, Miami (Ohio) and Ohio. This game should be competitive throughout.
29. Redbox Bowl: Illinois vs. Cal
Illinois and Cal have both had streaky up-and-down seasons, so what better way to end the season than against each other?
28. New Mexico Bowl: Central Michigan vs. San Diego State
The Aztecs boast the nation’s No. 5 total defense (288.7 yards per game). It will be a tough challenge for Jim McElwain to crack.
27. LendingTree Bowl: Louisiana vs. Miami (Ohio)
Not to be confused with the Independence Bowl between Louisiana Tech and Miami (Fla.). The MAC-champion RedHawks will face a Louisiana team that gave App State everything it could handle in the Sun Belt championship game and has flirted with the top 25 all season.
26. Gasparilla Bowl: UCF vs. Marshall
The Knights have lost three games this season by a combined seven points. UCF will be favored, but don’t discount a Marshall team that won six of its last seven games to earn its bowl bid.
25. New Orleans Bowl: No. 20 Appalachian State vs. UAB
App State is talented enough to have earned a New Year’s Day 6 bid, having beaten Power 5 opponents this season in South Carolina and North Carolina. How will they play without coach Eli Drinkwitz against a UAB team that won the C-USA West Division?
24. Music City Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Louisville
It’s worth noting Louisville coach Scott Satterfield and Mississippi State Joe Moorhead enter this game on different terms at their respective schools. Satterfield turned a 2-8 team in 2018 into a seven-win team this season; a terrible, terrible penalty on Ole Miss helped secure the Bulldogs’ bowl eligibility in a 6-6 season.
23. Birmingham Bowl: No. 23 Cincinnati vs. Boston College
Cincinnati is looking for its second consecutive 11-win season under Luke Fickell. Look for Eagles running back AJ Dillon (1,685 yards, 13 touchdowns) to add to his already-impressive totals.
22. Independence Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. Miami
The Hurricanes under-performed their way into this bowl while the Bulldogs earned their way in via a 9-3 record. Miami has more talent, but they’ll need to show up and play up to it if they want to beat La Tech.
21. Sun Bowl: Florida State vs. Arizona State
Herm Edwards’ Sun Devils team has been good at playing spoiler this season — just ask Oregon. They’ll look to do the same for an FSU team that will likely try to make a good first impression for new coach Mike Norvell.
MORE: Offenses rule latest Playoff pairings
20. Military Bowl: North Carolina vs. Temple
The 6-6 Tar Heels have been an interesting team all season under Mack Brown, and should get a good fight from 8-4 Temple. Keep an eye on quarterback Sam Howell, who could be one of the ACC’s best next year.
19. Gator Bowl: Indiana vs. Tennessee
Props to Tennessee for making such a high-quality bowl after the disastrous way the season started. They’ll face a quality Indiana team led by quarterback Peyton Ramsey.
18. Texas Bowl: No. 25 Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M
We obviously would have preferred the Longhorns to the Cowboys in this Texas-sized bowl, but we’re happy to see a Big 12 reunion between Oklahoma State and the Aggies regardless. Cowboys running back Chuba Hubbard is 64 yards away from breaking the 2,000-yard mark this season.
17. Belk Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Kentucky
This will be the final game of longtime Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster, and that is reason enough to tune in and watch. He’ll have his hands full in Kentucky receiver-turned-quarterback Lynn Bowden, who has 1,235 rushing yards and 348 receiving yards this season.
16. Liberty Bowl: No. 21 Navy vs. Kansas State
Chris Klieman’s coaching prowess is already on display with an 8-4 season, and he can cap it with a win against Navy and its top-rated rush offense (360.8 ypg).
15. Camping World Bowl: No. 14 Notre Dame vs. Iowa State
Matt Campbell’s Iowa State team is better than its 7-5 record, so hopefully it will give 10-2 Notre Dame a competitive game. The Fighting Irish will have to keep an eye on quarterback Brock Purdy (3,760 yards, 27 touchdowns, nine interceptions).
14. Cheez-It Bowl: No. 24 Air Force vs. Washington State
Air Force’s third-ranked rush attack (292.5 yards per game) vs. Washington State’s top-ranked aerial onslaught (444.3 ypg) should make for a wonderful contrast in styles. Let’s just hope it’s not quite as sloppy as last year’s Cheez-It Bowl.
13. Boca Raton Bowl: SMU vs. FAU
It’s a shame Lane Kiffin won’t be on hand for what could be one of the best bowl matchups of the season. SMU has more firepower than does FAU, but the Owls showed in their 49-6 rout of UAB in the C-USA title game that they know how to score points. This could be a fun back-and-forth affair between these teams.
12. Holiday Bowl: No. 19 Iowa vs. No. 22 USC
By the time this game is over, this might be the most highly scrutinized meeting in Holiday Bowl history. USC coach Clay Helton did just enough at the end of the season to avoid getting fired by new boss Mike Bohn, but a loss to a 9-3 Hawkeyes team will do little to engender confidence heading into what is undoubtedly a make-or-break 2020 season.
11. Las Vegas Bowl: No. 18 Boise State vs. Washington
Chris Petersen’s final game — for the foreseeable future, at least — will pit his current team against the team he helped elevate into the national college football consciousness. The emotions will be high in this one, but the 12-1 Broncos would love nothing better than to send Petersen out with a loss.
HOW TO WATCH:
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10. Alamo Bowl: No. 12 Utah vs. Texas
Utah is likely kicking itself for its subpar performance in the Pac-12 title game that cost it a shot at the Playoff. But a win in the Alamo Bowl against a name-brand team in Texas would be a great way to end the season.
9. Orange Bowl: No. 6 Florida vs. Virginia
Florida enters this game as a heavy favorite thanks in part to the strength of its defense, which allows on average 299 yards and 14.4 points per game this season. How will they handle Cavs quarterback Bryce Perkins, who has 3,960 total yards and 29 touchdowns this season?
8. Outback Bowl: No. 9 Auburn vs. No. 16 Minnesota
Minnesota’s offensive linemen enter this game with an average measurable of 6-6, 340 pounds. How will they fare against one of college football’s best defensive lines, which features Marlon Davidson, Derrick Brown and Tyrone Truesdell? On the other side, how will the Gophers’ 15th-ranked defense handle Gus Malzahn’s offensive play calls?
7. Cotton Bowl: No. 13 Penn State vs. No. 15 Memphis
The Tigers have been explosive on offense this season, averaging 480 yards and 40 points per game with quarterback Brady White and running back Kenneth Gainwell. How will they fare against a Penn State defense that features defensive ends Yetur Gross-Matos and Shaka Toney and linebacker Micah Parsons (32.5 tackles for loss, 17.5 sacks)?
6. Sugar Bowl: No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 8 Baylor
Could we call this the anti-Peach Bowl? Two of the country’s best defenses square up in a battle of runner-ups between the SEC and Big 12, respectively. Expect players such as Georgia’s J.R. Reed and Baylor’s James Lynch getting their name called off. Moreover, the Bulldogs will want to prove they can finish a season after last season’s disastrous outing vs. Texas, while Baylor will want to show it can compete with the nation’s best.
5. Citrus Bowl: No. 9 Alabama vs. No. 17 Michigan
There’s no telling how many Alabama players will sit out of this game due to the 2020 NFL Draft. Regardless, these are two of college football’s premier programs with coaches in Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh who create headlines with mere utterances. It’s a must-watch game, especially if it’s as competitive as the last time these teams met in the postseason (a 35-34 overtime win for the Wolverines in the 2000 Orange Bowl).
4. Rose Bowl: No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 11 Wisconsin
“The Granddaddy of Them All” features a team in Oregon with explosive offensive talent in Justin Herbert and CJ Verdell and a tough ground-it-out team in Wisconsin. The difference in styles will be fun to watch, and it’s worth keeping an eye on Jonathan Taylor, who is a mere 91 yards away from breaking the 2,000-yard mark again in consecutive seasons.
3. Peach Bowl: No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Oklahoma
Two of college football’s most explosive offenses meet up in what could be a barn-burner. Joe Burrow (4,715 passing yards, 48 touchdowns, six interceptions) is the country’s best player, but Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts (4,914 total yards, 50 touchdowns) is no slouch either. The Heisman Trophy finalist also has experience beating LSU before. The battle of Biletnikoff finalists Ja’Marr Chase and CeeDee Lamb should be fun, too, but don’t discount the defenses wholly in this game: The Sooners made it here after a strong defensive performance in the Big 12 championship and the Tigers have surrendered just two touchdowns in their last games.
2. Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson
Clemson beat Ohio State 31-0 the last time these teams met, which also happened to be in a Playoff semifinal; that shouldn’t be the case this year. This Buckeyes team is loaded with talent, from quarterback Justin Fields (40 touchdowns, one interception), running back J.K. Dobbins (1,829 yards, 18 touchdowns) and defensive end Chase Young (16.5 sacks). But Clemson is riding a 28-game win streak and features quarterback Trevor Lawrence (34 touchdowns, eight interceptions), running back Travis Etienne (1,500 yards, 17 touchdowns) and linebacker Isaiah Simmons. They’re all NFL-caliber players, and that makes this one of the most anticipated semifinal matchups in the Playoff’s six-year history.
1. College Football Playoff national championship
It’s the final game of the 2019 season, and the culmination of every every single game up to that point. Will it be an all-Tigers meeting between LSU and Clemson? Will Burrow meet his old team? Or will Hurts have one final shot at leading a national title victory?