Even the worst college football bowl game is better than no college football at all — a sentiment that will be tested thoroughly by a few dreadful matchups that landed in this season’s 40-bowl lineup.
The top might be stronger than ever. The Orange, Fiesta, Cotton and Rose landed the top eight teams in The Associated Press Top 25.
The bottom might be weaker than ever. Three games include 5-7 teams and one features a matchup between Mountain West members.
In between, you’ll find some unexpected gems — the quarterbacks at Memphis (Paxton Lynch), Bowling Green (Matt Johnson) and Western Kentucky (Brandon Doughty), for example.
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Here, with exactly six words each, are my takes on this year’s bowl games in order of attractiveness.
1. Orange — No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 Clemson: Victor will win the title game.
2. Fiesta — No. 8 Notre Dame vs. No. 7 Ohio State: Ratings bonanza on New Year’s Day.
3. Alamo — No. 15 Oregon vs. No. 11 TCU: Vernon Adams vs. Trevone Boykin. Fun.
4. Cotton — No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Alabama: Good matchup. High stakes. Low score.
5. Rose — No. 5 Stanford vs. No. 6 Iowa: Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey needs an odometer.
6. Russell Athletic — No. 18 Baylor vs. No. 10 North Carolina: No punts. No FGs. Just touchdowns.
7. Peach — No. 14 Houston vs. No. 9 Florida State: Statement game for fast-rising Cougars.
8. Las Vegas — No. 20 Utah vs. BYU: “You’re a dirty team,” BYU. Gutsy.
9. Sugar — No. 16 Ole Miss vs. No. 13 Oklahoma State: Watch Rebels for NFL Draft preview.
10. Holiday — No. 23 Wisconsin vs. USC: Badgers’ wins vs. winning teams: Zero.
11. Outback — No. 12 Northwestern vs. Tennessee: Vols’ trend — heartbreakers vs. ranked teams.
12. Foster Farms — UCLA vs. Nebraska: Watch the final minute. Right, Huskers?
13. Sun — Miami (Fla.) vs. Washington State: WSU’s Luke Falk, one tough QB.
14. Armed Forces — California vs. Air Force: Pass, pass, pass. Run, run, run.
15. Texas — No. 22 LSU vs. Texas Tech: Favorable matchup for LSU’s Leonard Fournette.
16. Citrus — No. 17 Michigan vs. No. 19 Florida: Could be playoff preview for 2017.
17. TaxSlayer — Georgia vs. Penn State: Penn State’s Carl Nassib, 15.5 sacks.
18. Liberty — Kansas State vs. Arkansas: Razorbacks finished on 5-1 hot streak.
19. Hawaii — San Diego State vs. Cincinnati: No. 5 defense, No. 5 offense.
20. Military — Pittsburgh vs. No. 21 Navy: Rare Top 25 season for academy.
21. Boca Raton — Toledo vs. No. 24 Temple: Their CFP consolation prize: the beach.
22. Poinsettia — Boise State vs. Northern Illinois: Down year for G5’s best programs.
23. Belk — North Carolina State vs. Mississippi State: Last game for QB Dak Prescott.
24. Cactus — West Virginia vs. Arizona State: Last bowl before the title game.
25. New Mexico — Arizona vs. New Mexico: Arizona State beat Lobos by 24.
26. GoDaddy — Georgia Southern vs. Bowling Green: BG’s Johnson-to-Lewis connection, spectacular.
27. Music City — Texas A&M vs. Louisville: Want to play QB for A&M?
28. Birmingham — Auburn vs. Memphis: Memphis’ Lynch — 28 TDs, 3 INTs.
29. Miami Beach — No. 25 Western Kentucky vs. South Florida: 45 TD passes for WKU’s Doughty.
30. Heart of Dallas — Washington vs. Southern Miss: Watch out for Huskies in 2016.
31. Pinstripe — Indiana vs. Duke: Hoosiers haven’t won bowl since 1991.
32. Independence — Tulsa vs. Virginia Tech: Frank Beamer’s last stand with Hokies.
33. Camellia — Ohio vs. Appalachian State: App State is 10-2. Yes, really.
34. New Orleans — Arkansas State vs. Louisiana Tech: Bryan Harsin’s former team, champs again.
35. Famous Idaho Potato — Akron vs. Utah State: Zips no longer references team’s prospects.
36. Bahamas — Middle Tennessee vs. Western Michigan: Did Broncos row boat to Bahamas?
37. St. Petersburg — Connecticut vs. Marshall: UConn, lowest-scoring bowl team (17.8).
38. Quick Lane — Central Michigan vs. Minnesota: Seven straight bowl losses for Gophers.
39. Cure — San Jose State vs. Georgia State: At least GSU won six games.
40. Arizona — Nevada vs. Colorado State: Winner gets third place in MW?