Eggnog, a roaring fire, a glowing HD TV with college football on, your Uncle John getting a little too deep into the eggnog. Yes, it’s Bowl Season once again and while not everyone’s alma mater is in the CFB Playoff, we can all sit down and enjoy some fun football with our relatives. Here is SiriusXM’s top ten most-watchable college bowl games this season. Enjoy and be sure to check out SiriusXM’s entire college bowl broadcast schedule here.
10. Holiday Bowl, San Diego, Calif. – USC vs. Wisconsin
Dec. 30, 10:30 pm ET, SiriusXM channel 80
In a “Rose Bowl-lite” matchup, 8-5 USC heads down the coast to meet the 9-3 Badgers in what could be a surprisingly low-scoring game. While the Trojans’ offense has been explosive at points throughout the year, Wisconsin boasts the second-best scoring defense in the nation. Meanwhile, the Badgers’ offense has struggled this season; however if ballyhooed Badger running back, Corey Clement, returns in time for the game, after missing nine games, a rejuvenated Wisconsin ground game could give USC fits.
9. Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla. – Michigan vs. Florida
Jan. 1, 1 pm ET, SiriusXM channel 81
Two blue bloods of college football that have had tremendous bounce back seasons led by new head coaches? With both offenses being somewhat lackluster and inconsistent this season, Michigan and Florida have leaned heavily on their respective defenses to find their success and that should continue in what projects as a low-scoring game. Still, the star draw of Jim Harbaugh on the sideline (and the potential for ripping clothing apart) and watching two of the country’s elite defenses is enough to make this appointment TV.
7.Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, La. – Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss
Jan. 1, 8:30 pm ET, SiriusXM channel 80
Ole Miss was a bizarre 4th and 25 play against Arkansas from playing in the SEC Championship Game. While no means a flawless contender (see: losses to Florida and Memphis), fans have to be wondering what could have been for this high-octane offense after a second-straight win over Alabama had the Rebels as high as No. 3 in the AP poll. That being said, a Sugar Bowl invite and a date with Oklahoma State is a very nice consolation prize for Ole Miss and its fans. While both the Pokes and Rebels feature very strong passing games; Ole Miss has the better defense by default, thanks to an Oklahoma State defense that has bled points and yardage in their games against Baylor and Oklahoma to close out the season.
6.Rose Bowl Game, Pasadena, Calif. – Stanford vs. Iowa
Jan. 1, 5 pm ET, SiriusXM channel 80
“The Grandaddy of Them All” hosts Iowa and Stanford on New Year’s Day. While Stanford is making their third appearance in four years at the Rose Bowl, the Hawkeyes and their faithful haven’t been to Pasadena since their 1990 Big Ten championship. And while a dream ending to Iowa’s long Rose Bowl absence would be a win; Stanford, in spite of being lower ranked, is favored by 6.5 with an offense anchored by Christian McCaffrey. With Iowa’s strong defense McCaffrey will be working for those yards and offensively Iowa is no slouch. Unfortunately for Cardinal backers, Stanford is not so good at the defense and the game could bend on Iowa exploiting Stanford’s defensive deficiencies.
5. Russell Athletic Bowl, Orlando, Fla. – North Carolina vs. Baylor
Dec. 29, 5:30 pm ET, SiriusXM channel 80
Featuring two teams that flirted with the CFB Playoff for much of the season before injuries (Baylor) and Clemson (North Carolina) derailed those hopes; the Russell Athletic Bowl is arguably the biggest pre-New Year’s Eve game of the Bowl Season. The Tar Heels boast one of the best and most explosive offenses and Baylor, when not sporting a thrid-string quarterback, is right there with them. The Bears and their fans should be asking for a healthy Jarrett Stidham for Christmas as that’s the only way Baylor will be able to keep up with Carolina’s blur of an offense.
4.Alamo Bowl, San Antonio, Texas – Oregon vs. TCU
Jan. 2, 6:45 pm ET, SiriusXM channel 80
In recent years, viewers have been accustomed to seeing both TCU and Oregon (and their ever-evolving uniforms) in New Year’s Day games. Following a season of some injuries to key players and unexpected losses, both the Horned Frogs and Ducks unexpectedly find themselves in San Antonio for the holidays in what should be a very entertaining Alamo Bowl. TCU will be seeing the return of their star QB Trevone Boykin from a midseason injury that arguably derailed the Frogs national championship aspirations. Boykin’s return could spell doom for the very iffy Ducks’ defense and while Oregon’s offense should be able to points up against even TCU, look for the Frogs to win in an entertaining shootout.
3.Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz. – Notre Dame vs. Ohio State
Jan. 1, 1 pm ET, SiriusXM channel 80
In a rematch of the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, the Buckeyes enter as six-point favorites over the Fighting Irish. On paper, Ohio State would appear to have something of a cakewalk against Notre Dame; of course, the Fighting Irish have punched above their weight-class all season in games against the likes of Clemson, Stanford, et al. Still, Brian Kelly and the Irish have not faced a team defense as devastatingly fast and powerful as Ohio State’s. Furthermore, Notre Dame’s defense against the run, while not pedestrian, could be destroyed by Ohio State’s freak of a running back, Ezekiel Elliot, in what will be his last game for the scarlet and gray.
2.Orange Bowl, Miami Gardens, Fla. – College Football Playoff Semifinal
No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 Clemson
Dec. 31, 4 pm ET, SiriusXM channel 80
The offensive shootout yin to the Cotton Bowl’s defense-minded yang; Oklahoma and Clemson are both running impossibly efficient and explosive offenses. While, yes, as a matter of fact, Oklahoma’s defense has impressed at times this season, the biggest gripe is that they missed Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State at full strength. No problem with Clemson in that department as Heisman finalist, Deshaun Watson, will be under center for the Tigers and all too happy to introduce himself and Clemson’s spread offense to the Sooners. The Tigers can beat you inside with power running lanes carved by their formidable o-line, or, they can beat you by going wide with an empty backfield. No one has really slowed down Watson and the Tigers so far, Oklahoma will be hard-pressed to be the first to do so.
1.Cotton Bowl, Arlington, Texas – College Football Playoff Semifinal
No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Alabama
Dec. 31, 8 pm ET, SiriusXM channel 80
By reputation this game seems to be a sledgehammer vs. a sledgehammer. While both squads do boast the traditional reputation of “defenses [manly noises]” and the Big Ten/SEC pedigree of mountainous linemen, power running game, etc; Alabama is clearly the favorite (9.5 points) and the MSU Spartans, to take nothing away from their Big Ten Championship victory over previously undefeated Iowa, are two lucky plays away from not being here at all. I really don’t see how this game will be more competitive for more than a half and I wish I thought otherwise. Crimson Tide should roll to the Championship Game against the Clemson-Oklahoma winner.