College Football Bowl Games: Ranking All 43. How Good Is Your Bowl?

Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

College Football Bowl Games: Ranking All 43. How Good Is Your Bowl?

Bowls College Football Playoff

College Football Bowl Games: Ranking All 43. How Good Is Your Bowl?

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How good are all the bowl games? How good are the matchups? We rank all 43 from the best-looking to the worst. How good is your bowl game?


College Football Bowl Games: Ranking Every Bowl, Pre-Bowls

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There won’t be a ton of bowl games canceled. There won’t be a slew of loser teams getting in just to fill spots, and there aren’t teams tapping out after getting an invite.

After 2020, this should be a lot more fun. Sort of.

Now we have a new problem. Coaching changes.

So many teams have new coaches, lost assistants, transfers, opt-outs, and all because they can leave and it doesn’t really matter. College football is the one sport that plays its exhibition season at the end of the year …

And we LOVE it.

43 games – plus the national championship – mean 43 games to watch, 43 reasons to be distracted from your family, 43 investment opportunities, and 43 more moments of college football to enjoy.

Are there too many bowl games? Of course not. No one’s making you watch them – that’s what we’re here for.

Below are the bowl games you have to go out of your way to watch, and the ones you can skip if you have something better to do – like caroling, or needlepoint.

Here’s how the bowls are categorized as we ask the question. How good is your bowl? (We’ll revisit at the end and rerank based on how good they actually were.)

Deep Cuts (Bowls 32-43)
Nothing Better To Do (25-32)
Bowls. Just Bowls (17-24)
Restaurant Quality Bowls (9-16)
Watch or Die (1-8)

Bowl Game Rankings: Deep Cuts

Here’s how you do these bowls. Start watching, and if you’re digging the groove, stay with it. If not, get out fast and save yourself for the bazillion other bowl games being thrown at you.

43. PUBG New Mexico Bowl

Saturday, December 18
ESPN, 2:15 pm
Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, NM
UTEP vs Fresno State 

Great for UTEP to be a part of the bowl world again, and great that it’s been able to have a strong season after so many years of pain and suffering. However, even without head coach Kalen DeBoer – who’s off to Washington – Fresno State should rip this game apart from the start if it comes in focused. And why? QB Jake Haener – who was originally going to leave for Washington – is back.

Line: Fresno State -11.5, o/u: 51
Last Year: Hawaii 28, Houston 14
Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2020: 21, 2019: 36
Post-Bowl Ranking: 2020: 21, 2019: 37

42. Bahamas Bowl

Friday, December 17
ESPN, 12:00 pm
Thomas Robinson Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas
Middle Tennessee vs Toledo 

This actually might be a little bit of fun – it’s the fist game of the bowl season – but can Middle Tennessee hold up against a Toledo offense that should roll? Let’s put it this way – if the Blue Raiders do what they do and take the ball, this will be interesting. If they don’t, this could be rough.

Line: Toledo -10.5, o/u: 52.5
Last Year: Canceled
Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2020: NA, 2019: 28
Post-Bowl Ranking: 2020: NA, 2019: 24

41. Cricket Celebration Bowl

Saturday, December 18
ABC, 12:00 pm
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
South Carolina State vs Jackson State 

Everything about the game is always fun, but this year, Coach Prime’s team should roll at will. Jackson State brings a great defense and might not crank up the offense with a whole lot of chances, but if this goes the way the respective seasons went for both sides, you’ll be okay to move along after the halftime show.

Last Year: Canceled
Line: Jackson State -10.5, o/u: 42.5

40. EasyPost Hawaii Bowl

Friday, December 24
ESPN, 8:00 pm
Clarence TC Ching Complex, Honolulu, HI
Memphis vs Hawaii

It’s the only college game on Christmas Eve, and it might be something to have on in the background when other stuff is happening, but don’t expect a wild shootout. Hawaii will be a bit more grinding than we all might like, but on the plus side, neither defense can come up with a third down stop.

Line: Memphis -7, o/u: 59.5
Last Year: Canceled
Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2020: NA, 2019: 36
Post-Bowl Ranking: 2020: NA, 2019: 37

39. Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl

Friday, December 31
CBS, 12:30 pm
Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, TX
Miami vs Washington State 

Give Miami credit for fighting through adversity all year, and now it has to do it again. There’s a shot that this follows form and is close like seemingly every other Hurricane game was over the second half of the year, but Washington State has its parts in place – including a settled coaching situation – and Miami is waiting for the Mario Cristobal era to get going.

Line: Miami -2.5, o/u: 59
Last Year: Canceled
Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2020: NA, 2019: 19
Post-Bowl Ranking: 2020: NA, 2019: 21

38. Valero Alamo Bowl

Wednesday, December 29
ESPN, 9:15 pm
Alamodome, San Antonio, TX
Oklahoma vs Oregon 

This would’ve been one of the games of the year in college football if it happened in the regular season, and there but for a few twists and turns, thing might have been a College Football Playoff matchup.

But who’s left? Both head coaches are gone, key players are missing, and this matchup is Exhibit A of why bowl games sometimes feel like exhibitions. It might be an entertaining game, though, depending on who’s out there.

Okay, okay, so Bob Stoops coaching Oklahoma is going to be cool – but do you really watch a game because of a head coach? There’s a great chance this gets ugly one way or another.

Line: Oklahoma -4.5, o/u: 61.5
Last Year: Texas 55, Colorado 23
Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2020: 17, 2019: 13
Post-Bowl Ranking: 2020: 18, 2019: 38

37. Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl

Tuesday, December 21
ESPN, 7:30 pm
Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX
UTSA vs San Diego State 

This is going to be a good game, but it just won’t be all that interesting for the average fan because – at least until its last two games against Boise State and Utah State, with a slew of players out with covid in the latter – every San Diego State game feels like the final score was 2-1. If you like great defense and amazing punting, this is the game for you.

Line: UTSA -2.5, o/u: 49.5
Last Year: Canceled
Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2020: NA, 2019: 32
Post-Bowl Ranking: 2020: NA, 2019: 8

36. Frisco Bowl Classic

Thursday, December 23
ESPN, 3:30 pm
Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX
Miami University vs North Texas

This is a last-second made-up bowl so two more bowl eligible teams could get an extra game – and for ESPN to shoehorn in another bowl game with nothing happening on a Thursday December afternoon. Cool – more college football – but the matchup will be a tough sell. There’s a chance for enough offense to make this one-off bowl interesting, though, as a lead-in to the Florida-UCF Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla.

Line: Miami University -3, o/u: 54


Bowl Schedule | Bowl Confidence Picks
Expert Picks: CFP & NY6Dec 17-27 | Dec 28-Jan 4


35. Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl

Saturday, December 18
ABC, 3:30 pm
Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA
UAB vs BYU 

Here’s the problem. BYU deserves to be in a New Year’s Six bowl. It knows it, and it’s going to play like it.

Here’s the other problem – the Independence Bowls have been next-level awful over the last several years. The last four have been blowouts, and seven of the last nine were decided by double-digits. Hopefully UAB surprises, but …

Line: BYU -7, o/u: 54.5
Last Year: Canceled
Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2020: NA, 2019: 34
Post-Bowl Ranking: 2020: NA, 2019: 20

34. LendingTree Bowl

Saturday, December 18
ESPN, 5:45 pm
Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL
Liberty vs Eastern Michigan 

This should be higher if Liberty is a bit more entertaining. A total dud over the final few weeks of the season, it struggled to score even with several good veterans on offense. On the plus side, Eastern Michigan has an offense and usually plays tight games, but if Liberty finds its groove early, uh oh.

Line: Liberty -9, o/u: 58.5
Last Year: Georgia State 39, WKU 21
Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2020: 23, 2019: 37
Post-Bowl Ranking: 2020: 23, 2019: 28

33. Mercari Texas Bowl

Tuesday, January 4
ESPN, Time 9:00 pm
NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
Kansas State vs LSU 

LSU is waiting for the Brian Kelly era to get going, a slew of NFL bound players either tapped out at some point during the season, transferred away, or will likely be opting out, and … the team will play really, really hard for interim head man Brad Davis.

There’s a chance this could be an interesting game, but if Kansas State is playing at its highest level and LSU just doesn’t have the parts – or vice versa – this could go south quickly. No matter what, though, it’s the next-to-last college football game of the year, so you’ll watch.

Line: Kansas State -1, o/u: 47
Last Year: Canceled
Pre-Bowl Ranking: 2020: NA, 2019: 14
Post-Bowl Ranking: 2020: NA, 2019: 14

How Good Is Your Bowl?   
Nothing Better To Do (25-32)
Bowls. Just Bowls (17-24)
Restaurant Quality Bowls (9-16)
Watch or Die (1-8)

NEXT: Bowl Game Rankings: Bowls. Like You Have Anything Better To Do.

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