College Football Bowl Games: 7 Matchups to Watch + 2019 Bowl Schedule

Jonathan Taylor and the Wisconsin Badgers make our best bowl matchups to watch

MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 12: Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor (23) celebrates a touchdown during a Big Ten college football game between the University of Wisconsin Badgers and the Michigan State University Spartans on October 12, 2019 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, WI. (Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire)

Bowl season is upon us. That means conference pride and afternoon football on your TV on a weekday. You can see all of the bowl matchups for the 2019-2020 bowl season below. You can also check out our Bowl Picks for recommendations for your bowl pool pick contests.

But first, let’s talk about some of the matchups that have us ready to carve out couch time. Sure, we will be watching the Bahamas Bowl open things up on December 20th just for the festivities, but these seven bowl games provide some of the more interesting bowl matchups this holiday season.

1. Ohio State vs. Clemson, Fiesta Bowl, December 28

Let’s not get too fancy with our first pick. Ohio State and Clemson are the top two power rated teams in our predictive ratings. Clemson is the defending champion. Ohio State has won every game by double digits while playing a tough schedule. Both teams are undefeated and have plenty of offensive firepower. For NFL fans, you will see lots of these guys playing soon on Sunday, including defensive end Chase Young of Ohio State and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. This is the heavyweight matchup we all want in our bowls, so make sure you have the calendar cleared for this one.

After the 2016 season, Clemson beat Ohio State 31-0 in the playoff semifinal, but this one should hopefully be far more competitive. (Though we should note that Clemson was a one-point underdog entering that game).

2. Alabama vs. Michigan, Citrus Bowl, January 1

Remember when bowl season used to be all about clearing off your New Year’s Day schedule and watching football from the time you groggily climbed out of bed (or wherever you crashed) to the end of the night? There are only four New Year’s Day bowl games now, but you can still get the day started off right with a narrative game between Alabama and Michigan.

We’ve got Nick Saban versus Jim Harbaugh and two of the most storied football programs. Can Harbaugh win a big game? Will it be a big game if Alabama plays poorly? Will the excuse be that Alabama is not motivated since they are not in the playoff for the first time since it began in 2014? Add in a heavy dose of SEC versus Big Ten pride and this one checks off all the storyline boxes.

3. Wisconsin vs. Oregon, Rose Bowl, January 1

Yes, we are a sucker for the Rose Bowl, the late afternoon sun shining over the field, and the old Keith Jackson “Whoa Nellies.” So the “Grandaddy of Them All” is always going to rank highly on the bowl watch list.

This year’s matchup between Wisconsin and Oregon features two teams that were only a few plays from making the college playoffs. It’s the only bowl matchup (besides the Fiesta Bowl between Ohio State and Clemson) featuring two teams in the Top Ten in Scoring Defense. Add in Wisconsin star running back Jonathan Taylor, who has 1,909 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns this year, and this one looks like a great Rose Bowl matchup between two fairly even teams.

4 (tie). Air Force vs. Washington State, Cheez-It Bowl, December 27

4 (tie). Navy vs. Kansas State, Liberty Bowl, December 31

We are grouping these two games together. You get the two service academies running their relatively rare triple-option attacks, and going against opponents from the power conferences. Both of these games are also among the closest (by point spread) games of the bowl season.

The Air Force-Washington State matchup features quite the style contrast. You have Air Force’s ground attack going against Washington State’s Air Raid with head coach Mike Leach. Air Force ranks 2nd in rushing yards per game this year while Washington State is 1st in passing yards per game.

Navy, meanwhile, is 1st in rushing yards per game, so expect lots of running in Memphis. Kansas State has been a tough opponent who gave Oklahoma their only loss and also went on the road in the non-conference and beat Mississippi State.

6. Washington vs. Boise State, Las Vegas Bowl, December 21

One of the great things about bowl season is getting one of the top teams from the other conferences getting to prove themselves against the big boys. Boise State just missed out on getting to the Cotton Bowl (that went to Memphis) so we instead get an early matchup with the Pac-12.

Washington had a tough season in close games, and head coach Chris Petersen stepped down after the regular season ended, citing stress. The Huskies went 0-4 in one-score games, and lost at home to Oregon, Utah, and California by a combined 10 points. That’s why, despite their 7-5 record, Washington comes into this one as the favorite over 12-1 Boise State. But expect the Broncos to be ready to go against a regional neighbor and big name program.

7. SMU vs. Florida Atlantic, Boca Raton Bowl, December 21

Of all the bowl matchups between two schools outside the Power Five, this one looks like the most attractive matchup. It would have provided even better storylines, but Lane Kiffin left Florida Atlantic to coach at Ole Miss.

Still, you have SMU, who has had a great offensive year and is 5th in points per game, and Florida Atlantic, who went 10-3 and has been rolling after opening the season with losses to Ohio State and Central Florida.

Full 2019 College Bowl Schedule & Matchups

Here is a full list of all the 2019 college football bowl games. And remember, if you are in bowl pick’em contests, check out our Bowl Pick’em Picks for customized advice that gives you the best chance to win your pool.

Bowl GameDateFavoritePoint Spread (as of 12/9)Underdog
FriscoDecember 20, 2019Utah State-9.5Kent State
BahamasDecember 20, 2019Buffalo-6Charlotte
New OrleansDecember 21, 2019Appalachian State-17UAB
Las VegasDecember 21, 2019Washington-3.5Boise State
CamelliaDecember 21, 2019Arkansas State-3Florida International
Boca RatonDecember 21, 2019SMU-3.5Florida Atlantic
CureDecember 21, 2019Georgia Southern-5Liberty
New MexicoDecember 21, 2019San Diego State-4.5Central Michigan
CelebrationDecember 21, 2019North Carolina A&T-1Alcorn St
GasparillaDecember 23, 2019Central Florida-18Marshall
HawaiiDecember 24, 2019BYU-1.5Hawaii
Quick LaneDecember 26, 2019Pittsburgh-10.5Eastern Michigan
IndependenceDecember 26, 2019Miami-6.5Louisiana Tech
Cheez-ItDecember 27, 2019Air Force-3Washington State
HolidayDecember 27, 2019Iowa -1.5USC
TexasDecember 27, 2019Texas A&M-6Oklahoma State
PinstripeDecember 27, 2019Michigan State-3Wake Forest
MilitaryDecember 27, 2019North Carolina -5Temple
Camping WorldDecember 28, 2019Notre Dame-3.5Iowa State
RedboxDecember 30, 2019California-6.5Illinois
Music CityDecember 30, 2019Mississippi St-3Louisville
First ResponderDecember 30, 2019Western Kentucky-2.5Western Michigan
AlamoDecember 31, 2019Utah-7Texas
ArizonaDecember 31, 2019Wyoming-7Georgia State
LibertyDecember 31, 2019Kansas State-1Navy
SunDecember 31, 2019Arizona State-5.5Florida State
BelkDecember 31, 2019Virginia Tech-3Kentucky
CitrusJanuary 1, 2020Alabama-7Michigan
OutbackJanuary 1, 2020Auburn-7.5Minnesota
GatorJanuary 2, 2020Tennessee-1.5Indiana
BirminghamJanuary 2, 2020Cincinnati-7Boston College
Famous Idaho PotatoJanuary 3, 2020Ohio-6.5Nevada
Armed ForcesJanuary 4, 2020Tulane-7Southern Miss
LendingTreeJanuary 6, 2020Louisiana-14Miami (OH)
NEW YEARS SIX BOWLS
CottonDecember 28, 2019Penn State-7Memphis
OrangeDecember 30, 2019Florida-13.5Virginia
RoseJanuary 1, 2020Wisconsin-2.5Oregon
SugarJanuary 1, 2020Georgia -7.5Baylor
CFP PLAYOFFS
FiestaDecember 28, 2020Clemson-2Ohio State
Chick-Fil-ADecember 28, 2020LSU-12.5Oklahoma