by Eric Fulton
The 2023 college football regular season has come to an end. Conference champions have been crowned. Individual awards have been decided. Now it is time for bowl season. There will be 43 games played between December 16th through the National Championship game on January 8th. The majority of fans will not have a chance to watch every single game of bowl season, so here are a few bowl games you should mark on your calendars as “can’t miss.”
Goodyear Cotton Bowl: Missouri (No. 9) vs. Ohio State (No. 7)
December 29 at AT&T Stadium – Arlington, Texas 7:00 PM CST on ESPN
Tony the Tiger Bowl: Oregon State (No. 19) vs. Notre Dame (No. 16)
December 29 at Sun Bowl – El Paso, Texas 1:00 PM CST on CBS
Vrbo Fiesta Bowl: Liberty (No. 23) vs. Oregon (No 8)
January 1 at State Farm Stadium – Glendale, Ariz. noon CST on ESPN
Now here are my top five games to watch:
5. Valero Alamo Bowl: Arizona (No. 14) vs. Oklahoma
December 28 at Alamodome – San Antonio, Texas 8:15 PM CST on ESPN
The matchup between the Wildcats and Sooners is the only non-New Year’s Six bowl game that made the list because of the potential to be a very high-scoring affair. Arizona averaged 34 points per game in the regular season while Oklahoma averaged 43 points per game. The Alamo Bowl has produced some great games in the past and this year’s game should be no different.
4. Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: Ole Miss (No. 11) vs. Penn State (No. 10)
December 30 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta 11:00 AM CST on ESPN
If two teams in college football mirrored each other to nearly a T this season, it would be Ole Miss and Penn State. Both teams won 10 games in the regular season. While there are similarities between the two teams, the key matchup will be Ole Miss’s high-powered offense versus Penn State’s tough defense. Who will have the better day when it comes to strength versus strength?
3. Allstate Sugar Bowl: Texas (No. 3) vs. Washington (No. 2)
January 1 at Caesars Superdome – New Orleans 7:45 PM CST on ESPN - College Football Playoff Semifinal
A matchup between the Pac-12 champion and the Big 12 champion should be exciting in the Big Easy. Both the Longhorns and Huskies had the best wins in the regular season (Texas over Alabama on September 9th and Washington over Oregon (October 14th and December 1st). Both teams feature two really good offenses led by quarterbacks Quinn Ewers (Texas) and Heisman Trophy Finalist Michael Pennix, Jr. (Washington). A win for either team will make them one step closer to the national championship. Texas last won the national championship in 2005 while Washington last won the national championship in 1991.
2. Capital One Orange Bowl: Georgia (No. 6) vs. Florida State (No. 5)
December 30 at Hard Rock Stadium – Miami 3:00 PM CST on ESPN
Both Florida State and Georgia had their national championship hopes lost on conference championship weekend. Although they won the ACC Championship, the Seminoles were not picked to be a part of final four national playoff. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs lost in the SEC Championship game against Alabama, which ended their 29-game winning streak and a bid at winning a third straight national championship. Florida State lost their star quarterback Jordan Travis to a serious injury in November, but still managed to go 13-0. But even with the undefeated mark on their resume, the College Football Playoff Committee believed they were not one of the best four teams in the game. Both teams have the motivation factor, but it will come down to who will have the determination to win this game.
1. Rose Bowl: Alabama (No. 4) vs. Michigan (No. 1)
January 1 at Rose Bowl Stadium – Pasadena, Calif. 4:00 PM CST on ESPN)
Michigan vs. Alabama. Just saying those words should make every college football fan’s hair stand up. Two of the greatest powerhouses in college football history in one of the grandest stages in the sport on New Year’s Day. Think about the history of these two teams from national championships to Heisman winners to the coaches. It is one of those you anticipate being so special that you would forget it is not a national championship. Instead, it is only for a spot in the national championship. We got the ultimate coaching dream matchup between Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh. What better way to kick off 2024 than a matchup of two iconic college football programs.
Which bowl game are you most looking forward to watching?