Boise State Football

Why watch all 39 college football bowl games? Here’s a one-word answer for each

Highlights, locker room celebration from Boise State’s big win

Check out some of the top plays and postgame scenes from Boise State’s 17-14 win over Fresno State in the 2017 Mountain West championship game. (Video Courtesy of Mountain West)
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Check out some of the top plays and postgame scenes from Boise State’s 17-14 win over Fresno State in the 2017 Mountain West championship game. (Video Courtesy of Mountain West)

Late in November, Dictionary.com named “complicit” the word of the year, for its usage in both politics and culture, defined as “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others.”

When talking about college football, let’s use words with less sinister connotations. This is the most fabulous time of the season, minus all the drama around the coaching carousel.

Bowl season is fun, and let’s have a little bit of that — one word why each of the 39 bowl games should be part of your holiday viewing.

NEW ORLEANS: Troy vs. North Texas, Dec. 16 (11 a.m., ESPN)

Future.

Troy coach Neal Brown and North Texas’ Seth Littrell will be hot commodities soon. Troy (30 ppg) and North Texas (35.9) can score.

CURE: Georgia State vs. Western Kentucky, Dec. 16 (12:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network)

Sanford.

It is hardly the most exciting matchup, as GSU is 6-5, WKU is 6-6. But see former Boise State QB Mike Sanford lead the Hilltoppers!

LAS VEGAS: Oregon vs. Boise State, Dec. 16 (1:30 p.m., ABC)

Drama.

Will the Ducks be inspired with coach Mario Cristobal? Bet you “The Punch” from the last meeting gets shown a lot. Offenses with potential.

NEW MEXICO: Marshall vs. Colorado State, Dec. 16 (2:30 p.m., ESPN)

Gallup.

The last hurrah for CSU’s great receiver, Michael Gallup, who has 1,345 yards this season. Marshall, with a top 25 defense, plays Boise State in 2019, 2020.

CAMELLIA: Middle Tennessee vs. Arkansas State, Dec. 16 (6 p.m., ESPN)

Mismatch.

Middle Tennessee once put up big numbers, but it’s just 93rd in scoring, 121st in turnover margin. Arkansas State is 15th (38.5 ppg).

BOCA RATON: Akron vs. Florida Atlantic, Dec. 19 (5 p.m., ESPN)

Kiffin.

FAU’s head coach is a great Twitter follow (@Lane_Kiffin), the Owls are No. 9 in scoring offense (39.8) and at home. Ride the Lane Train.

FRISCO: SMU vs. Louisiana Tech, Dec. 20 (6 p.m., ESPN)

New.

SMU doesn’t have to go far, neither does La. Tech, to the first-year bowl game. SMU lost coach Chad Morris but has two great receivers.

GASPARILLA: Temple vs. Florida International, Dec. 21 (6 p.m., ESPN)

Rebounding.

Both have first-year coaches (Jeff Collins and Butch Davis). Collins took over for Matt Rhule, while Davis has led FIU from four wins to eight.

BAHAMAS: UAB vs. Ohio, Dec. 22 (10:30 a.m., ESPN)

Age.

UAB’s program, which started in 1991, is 8-4 after a 2-year hiatus. Ohio coach Frank Solich is 73 years old.

FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO: Wyoming vs. Central Michigan, Dec. 22 (2 p.m., ESPN)

Quarterbacks.

Will Josh Allen play for the Cowboys? Because that would make a major difference. Ex-Michigan QB Shane Morris is solid for CMU.

BIRMINGHAM: South Florida vs. Texas Tech, Dec. 23 (10 a.m., ESPN)

Yards.

USF is No. 9 in total offense, Texas Tech is No. 17, averaging a combined 977 yards per game. Bulls run, Red Raiders throw. Fun matchup.

bowls penny
The Seahawks selected San Diego State’s All-American running back Rashaad Penny with the 27th pick in Thursday's NFL draft. Penny led the nation in rushing yards last season. Hayne Palmour IV TNS

ARMED FORCES: Army vs. San Diego State, Dec. 23 (1:30 p.m., ESPN)

Running.

There may be a dozen total passes in this game. Army is No. 1 in rushing offense, San Diego State is No. 12. Both are in the bottom 10 in pass attempts.

DOLLAR GENERAL: Appalachian State vs. Toledo, Dec. 23 (5 p.m, ESPN)

Points.

A good Group of Five matchup, with the Mountaineers scoring 33.4 ppg, and the Rockets putting up 39.2. Both can run and have good QBs.

HAWAII: Fresno State vs. Houston, Dec. 24 (6:30 p.m., ESPN)

Interior.

The Bulldogs have a good defensive tackle in Malik Forrester, and the Cougars’ Ed Oliver is outstanding. Both are in the top 40 in scoring D.

HEART OF DALLAS: Utah vs. West Virginia, Dec. 26 (11:20 a.m, ESPN)

Underrated.

The teams have a combined 13 wins, but both played some pretty good teams closely. Utah can play defense, WVU can throw it well.

QUICK LANE: Duke vs. Northern Illinois, Dec. 26 (3:15 p.m., ESPN)

Rarity.

Duke won its bowl game last year, its first since 1961. Northern Illinois has lost its last four bowls. Duke is 22nd in total defense, NIU 18th.

CACTUS BOWL: Kansas State vs. UCLA, Dec. 26 (8 p.m., ESPN)

Goodbye.

This probably will be UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen’s last game before being a first-round pick. K-State can put up some points, too (32.1 ppg).

INDEPENDENCE: Florida State vs. Southern Miss, Dec. 27 (11:30 a.m., ESPN)

Weird.

You aren’t likely to see the Seminoles here again, with Willie Taggart coming in. Southern Miss will be fired up, but will Florida State?

PINSTRIPE: Boston College vs. Iowa, Dec. 27 (3:15 p.m., ESPN)

Smashmouth.

No, not the band. Old-fashioned football, probably low-scoring. Boston College is 82nd in scoring, Iowa 68th, both relying on a strong line.

FOSTER FARMS: Arizona vs. Purdue, Dec. 27 (6:30 p.m., FOX)

Potential.

Arizona QB Khalil Tate (1,267 rushing yards his last eight games) and Purdue coach Jeff Brohm are guys who will make some noise soon.

TEXAS: Texas vs. Missouri, Dec. 27 (7 p.m., ESPN)

Rebirth.

The Longhorns are in their first bowl game under coach Tom Herman, the Tigers in their first since 2014. Teams are 9-2 combined in their last 11.

MILITARY: Virginia vs. Navy, Dec. 28 (11:30 a.m., ESPN)

Home.

Navy is playing in Annapolis. Virginia doesn’t have to go far. It’ll be interesting with Virginia’s 101st-ranked rush defense against the option.

CAMPING WORLD: Oklahoma State vs. Virginia Tech, Dec. 28 (3:15 p.m., ESPN)

Mullet.

In honor of Mike Gundy’s glorious mane, let’s mullet over a good matchup with an awesome OSU offense and Va. Tech’s typically great D.

bowls love
Stanford running back Bryce Love, a Heisman finalist, will be tested in the Alamo Bowl vs. TCU. Marcio Jose Sanchez AP

ALAMO: Stanford vs. TCU, Dec. 28 (7 p.m., ESPN)

Hard-nosed.

Stanford RB Bryce Love is a Heisman finalist and leads the run-heavy Cardinal against TCU’s rush defense, which is No. 4 in the FBS.

HOLIDAY: Michigan State vs. Washington State, Dec. 28 (7 p.m., FOX)

Motivation.

It seems the Spartans’ fans would rather be in Tampa, and the Cougars were horrible in this game last year. Will Luke Falk’s last game be big?

BELK: Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M, Dec. 29 (11 a.m., ESPN)

Transition.

Wake will be minus great WR Greg Dortch, but the Deacs can throw. A&M will be awaiting coach Jimbo Fisher. Is this WR Christian Kirk’s last game?

SUN: N.C. State vs. Arizona State, Dec. 29 (noon, CBS)

Finley.

Ex-Boise State QB Ryan Finley has been really good for the Wolfpack, and he’ll get a chance to shine against the No. 117 pass defense.

MUSIC CITY: Kentucky vs. Northwestern, Dec. 29 (2:30 p.m., ESPN)

Wildcats.

Both have the same mascot! But one has way more momentum: Kentucky is 1-3 in its last four, Northwestern has won seven in a row.

ARIZONA: Utah State vs. New Mexico State, Dec. 29 (3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network)

Aggies.

Same mascots again, old WAC foes. It’s the first bowl game for NMSU since 1960. NMSU throws it a ton, USU is decent stopping the pass.

COTTON BOWL: USC vs. Ohio State, Dec. 29 (6:30 p.m., ESPN)

Duel.

The Trojans’ Sam Darnold against the Buckeyes’ J.T. Barrett? This could be the best QB battle of the season. Both have fun offenses to watch.

bowls jackson

TAXSLAYER: Louisville vs. Mississippi State, Dec. 30 (10 a.m., ESPN)

Excitement.

Appreciate Cardinals QB Lamar Jackson while you can. He’s likely NFL-bound. Mississippi State, with an interim coach, still has a top-10 D.

LIBERTY: Iowa State vs. Memphis, Dec. 30 (10: 30 a.m., ABC)

Commodities.

The Cyclones’ Matt Campbell has led an impressive season, the Tigers’ Mike Norvell the same. Both will be highly sought after in 2018.

bowls petersen
Washington coach Chris Petersen and quarterback Jake Browning will face Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl, where Petersen led Boise State to two wins. Ross D. Franklin AP

FIESTA BOWL: Washington vs. Penn State, Dec. 30 (2 p.m., ESPN)

Pete.

Former Boise State coach Chris Petersen returns to the game in which he made his name. Huskies’ rush D vs. Saquon Barkley will be awesome.

ORANGE: Wisconsin vs. Miami (Fla.), Dec. 30 (6 p.m., ESPN)

Defense.

The Badgers’ defense is No. 1 in yards allowed, the Hurricanes’ turnover chain is famous. Miami’s basically at home, Wisconsin will travel.

OUTBACK: Michigan vs. South Carolina, Jan. 1 (10 a.m., ESPN2)

Intense.

Jim Harbaugh against Will Muschamp. The coaches will surely test their vocal chords. Michigan’s D against a team that fired its OC? Hmm.

PEACH: Auburn vs. UCF, Jan. 1 (10:30 a.m., ESPN)

Perfect.

UCF is going for an unbeaten season, trying to prove the Group of Five is worthy. Auburn lost the SEC title game. Will it be motivated?

CITRUS: Notre Dame vs. LSU, Jan. 1 (11 a.m., ABC)

Quagmire.

Both can run, both can stop the run. QB Brandon Wimbush for ND vs. RB Derrius Guice for LSU could be fun, or could be tough to watch.

ROSE BOWL (SEMIFINAL): Oklahoma vs. Georgia, Jan. 1 (3 p.m., ESPN)

Contrast.

Oklahoma can wing it with likely Heisman winner QB Baker Mayfield, and Georgia can run it against anyone. This is a great matchup of style.

SUGAR BOWL (SEMIFINAL): Clemson vs. Alabama, Jan. 1 (6:45 p.m., ESPN)

Classic.

The two have met the last two years and played incredibly memorable games. Why not expect it again with a chance for the title on the line?

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @davesouthorn

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