Bowl season: What you need to know about all 42 games

ByESPN staff ESPN logo
Thursday, December 15, 2022

The most magical time of the year is finally here. It's bowl season.

The 2022 season of bowls, featuring 43 games, kicks off Friday with Miami (Ohio) facing UAB in the Home Lenders Bahamas Bowl on Friday and lasts all the way to Jan. 9 when college football will claim a national champion at SoFi Stadium in the College Football Playoff National Championship game.

Our writers gathered together to break down every single bowl game ahead of all the action on the field.

College Football Playoff

Dec. 31

CFP semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Georgia Bulldogs vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, Georgia) | Tickets

Jalen Carter is finishing strong -- and reminding everyone why scouts claimed he was the most talented player on last year's star-studded Georgia defense. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound defensive lineman was injured for most of the first half of the season. But he worked his way back and is making a case to be the first non-quarterback taken in next year's draft. During the last five games, he has 23 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 14 quarterback hurries. --Alex Scarborough

CFP semifinal at the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl: Michigan Wolverines vs. TCU Horned Frogs

State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Arizona) | Tickets

This year's David-Goliath match up is TCU, from a 10,000-student private school that last won a national title in 1938, against Michigan, with 45,000 students and boasting one of the most storied programs in college football history. It's Sonny Dykes in Year 1 with the Horned Frogs against Jim Harbaugh, the former Bo Schembechler quarterback who returned from the NFL to restore the Wolverines to glory. Can TCU withstand Michigan's Big Ten strength? Can Michigan keep up with TCU's Texas speed? The Horned Frogs will have a well-rested Heisman runner-up inMax Duggan, who took punishment all year, while Michigan's Heisman contender, running back Blake Corum will miss the game with a knee injury. TCU's quick-strike offense will face a major challenge against a Michigan D that allows just 13.4 points and 85.2 rushing yards per game. Cincinnati held strong against Alabama last year in the semifinal, but never threatened to win the game. Can this year's Cinderella continue its improbable run and make history? --Dave Wilson


Dec. 16

Hometown Lenders Bahamas Bowl: Miami (Ohio) Redhawks vs. UAB Blazers

Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium (Nassau, Bahamas)

Chase Brown, Blake Corum and Bijan Robinson deserve accolades for the seasons they put together, but how UAB's DeWayne McBride didn't make the cut as a Doak Walker Award finalist this season is puzzling. All he did was lead the FBS in rushing yards (1,713) -- and he hit that mark in one fewer game than Brown, Corum and Robinson. Among the top 10 rushers this season, McBride's 7.35 yards per rush was the best by nearly a yard. Against a Miami (Ohio) defense that gives up an average of 135.8 rushing yards per game, McBride should pad his totals. -- Scarborough

Duluth Trading Cure Bowl: Troy Trojans vs. UTSA Roadrunners

Exploria Stadium (Orlando, Florida) | Tickets

Two programs on a heater collide in Orlando, each on a 10-game winning streak. UTSA has one of the nation's most dynamic offenses. Frank Harris is sixth in the FBS with 3,865 passing yards and completing 71.1% of his throws, and WR Zakhari Franklin's 14 TDs rank third nationally. Troy, meanwhile, has the eighth-best scoring defense in the FBS, allowing just 17.5 points per game and 4.7 yards per play -- ninth best in the country. --Wilson

Dec. 17

Wasabi Fenway Bowl: Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Louisville Cardinals

Fenway Park (Boston, Massachusetts) | Tickets

It's the Scott Satterfield Bowl ... without really being the Scott Satterfield Bowl. The now former Louisville head coach agreed to be Luke Fickell's replacement at Cincinnati, where the team's last game as a non-Big 12 member will be in the Fenway Bowl. Former Cardinals star and Super Bowl MVP with the New England Patriots Deion Branch will be coaching Louisville, while Kerry Coombs will lead Cincinnati. The game will likely be a low-scoring affair, featuring two of the nation's best linebackers in Cincinnati's Ivan Pace Jr. and Louisville's Yasir Abdullah. --Harry Lyles Jr.

Cricket Celebration Bowl: Jackson State Tigers vs. NC Central Eagles

Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, Georgia) | Tickets

Obviously Deion Sanders' departure as Jackson State's head coach is dominating the Celebration Bowl headlines, but there are a couple of other interesting storylines to follow here. First, you've got the QBs: JSU's Shedeur Sanders and NCCU's Davius Richard have combined for 5,889 passing yards, 60 touchdown passes and 18 rushing TDs and won their respective conferences' offensive player of the year awards. Then you've got the redemption angle: JSU underachieved and got thumped by SC State in its only Celebration Bowl appearance (2021), and NCCU has had to wait six years for a chance to avenge a one-point heartbreaker to Grambling State in the 2016 game.--Bill Connelly

New Mexico Bowl: BYU Cougars vs. SMU Mustangs

University Stadium (Albuquerque, New Mexico) | Tickets

BYU and SMU meet for the first time since the 1980 Holiday Bowl, known as the "Miracle Bowl" after BYU came back from 20 points down with four minutes left to win 46-45. Both teams are trying to recapture past glory, with BYU trying to build to its Big 12 entrance and SMU trying to win its first bowl game since 2012 as it continues piling up new players in the transfer portal. SMU QB Tanner Mordecai is just one touchdown pass shy of tying the school record (71) for his career but will be without receiver Rashee Rice (1,355 yards this year), who'll sit out with an injured toe before heading to the NFL. BYU's star QB Jaren Hall is also unlikely to play with an ankle injury after throwing 31 TD passes this year. --Dave Wilson

Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented by Stifel: Fresno State Bulldogs vs. Washington State Cougars

SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, California) | Tickets

Wazzu hasn't won a bowl game since 2018, and if there's a player that will help them break that streak, it's quarterback Cameron Ward. After transferring from Incarnate Word to Pullman last offseason, Ward totaled just over 3,000 passing yards and 23 touchdowns this season. It wasn't quite the output the sophomore had at Incarnate Word, but the good news for the Cougars is Ward has at least one more year in Pullman. This game will likely be a battle of quarterbacks between Ward and Jake Haener, who is a great story and player in his own right and led the Bulldogs to another 9-4 season, including a Mountain West title. If Haener doesn't opt out, prepare for a shootout. --Paolo Uggetti

LendingTree Bowl: Southern Miss Golden Eagles vs. Rice Owls

Hancock Whitney Stadium (Mobile, Alabama) | Tickets

Frank Gore Jr. is making a name for himself while following in the footsteps of his famous father. Gore Jr., a sophomore, ended the year for Southern Miss (6-6) with a career-high 199 yards in a win over UL Monroe. He'll be looking to build on that effort and head into the offseason on a high note as the Golden Eagles meet Rice (5-7). Southern Mississippi's running game (122.6 YPG) will aim to move the ball against a Rice defense that allowed 166.8 rush yards per contest. -- BlakeBaumgartner

SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl: Oregon State Beavers vs. Florida Gators

Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas, Nevada) | Tickets

Oregon State is going for its first 10-win season since 2006 after a surprising season, one that earned coach Jonathan Smith a new six-year contract. While the Beavers should be close to full strength, the opposite is true for Florida, which will be without starting quarterback Anthony Richardson, All-American guard O'Cyrus Torrence and a host of other players who have either decided to opt out of the game or enter the transfer portal. Jack Miller III is expected to make his first career start for the Gators at quarterback after Jalen Kitna was dismissed from the team. Miller threw only 14 career passes at his previous stop, Ohio State. --Andrea Adelson

Frisco Bowl: Boise State Broncos vs. North Texas Mean Green

Toyota Stadium (Frisco, Texas) | Tickets

Boise State (9-4) is a win away from its first 10-win season since 2019. The Broncos' offense (29.1 PPG) faces a North Texas (7-6) defense that gives up 460 yards a game, and junior running back George Holani (1,133 yards, 10 TDs) will look to exploit that. The Mean Green hired Washington State offensive coordinator Eric Morris as head coach on Dec. 13 following Seth Littrell's dismissal after seven seasons. North Texas junior quarterback Austin Aune's (3,309 yards) 32 TDs were eighth in FBS, but he will be tasked with moving the ball against a tough Boise State pass defense (160.7) that's ranked fourth best in the FBS. --Baumgartner

Dec. 19

Myrtle Beach Bowl: UConn Huskies vs. Marshall Thundering Herd

Brooks Stadium (Conway, South Carolina) | Tickets

Jim Mora's resurrection of UConn has been one of the season's better stories -- from 1-11 to bowl eligibility. It's truly been a team effort in Storrs as they've found ways to win. The Huskies (6-6) haven't been bowling since 2015 and last won a bowl game in 2009. They now face a Marshall team that beat Notre Dame in South Bend back in September. The Thundering Herd (8-4) bring a stingy defense (16.2 PPG) and a stout running back (senior Khalan Laborn; 1,423 yards, 16 TDs) to the party. -- Baumgartner

Dec. 20

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: San Jose State Spartans vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles

Albertsons Stadium (Boise, Idaho) | Tickets

San Jose State (7-4) prefers to move the ball through the air (263.9 YPG) more than on the ground (92.5 YPG). Whether the Spartans are successful in beating Eastern Michigan (8-4) may depend on the ability of senior Kairee Robinson (696 yards, 10 TDs) to find holes against a defense that surrenders 158.1 rush yards a game. Eagles senior running back Samson Evans (1,084 yards, 13 TDs) goes opposite a Spartan run defense (122.1 YPG) that'll provide a stiff push. Eastern Michigan's only previous bowl win came in 1987 against San Jose State (California Bowl). --Baumgartner Boca Raton Bowl: Toledo Rockets vs. Liberty Flames

FAU Stadium (Boca Raton, Florida) | Tickets

It's a much different Liberty team that will play in the Boca Raton Bowl than the one that beat BYU and Arkansas in back-to-back games in late October and early November. Gone is coach Hugh Freeze, who left Nov. 29 to take the Auburn job. As speculation swirled that he might be leaving, the Flames faltered down the stretch and lost their last three games, including a 49-14 beatdown at home to New Mexico State in the finale. Josh Aldridge will serve as interim coach for the Flames, who will go up against a Toledo team that won the MAC championship thanks to a strong running game (236 yards). Liberty struggled to stop the run in each of its last three losses. --Chris Low

Dec. 21

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. South Alabama Jaguars

Caesars Superdome (New Orleans, Louisiana) | Tickets

He didn't make the cut as one of the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year finalists, but South Alabama's Kane Wommack certainly stood out during his second year on the job. The 35-year-old led the Jaguars to 10 regular-season wins -- their most since South Alabama became an FBS program in 2012, and a far cry from 2019, when the team finished 2-10. A former defensive coordinator, Wommack has helped put together a defense that gave up the third fewest yards per game in the Sun Belt (304.5). --Scarborough

Dec. 22

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force Falcons vs. Baylor Bears

Amon G. Carter Stadium (Fort Worth, Texas) | Tickets

These two haven't met since 1977, and have just three times in history (Baylor has won all three). Air Force running back Brad Robertsis third among FBS running backs in total yards (1,612) and has 15 TDs. The Falcons led the FBS with 330 rushing yards per game, which will test Baylor, a team that ranked 44th and allowed 137.6 rushing yards per game. The Bears will also be replacing defensive coordinator Ron Roberts, who was dismissed after the regular season. Air Force is trying to complete its second straight 10-win season since 1997-98 while Baylor is seeking to avoid its second losing season in three years.Richard Reese has become a breakout star for the Bears, already rushing for a school freshman record 962 yards, and will force the Falcons defense to make plays. --Wilson

Dec. 23

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl: Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns vs. Houston Cougars

Independence Stadium (Shreveport, Louisiana) | Tickets

Michael Desormeaux's first year replacing Billy Napier at Louisiana resulted in the school's fifth consecutive bowl game, where it will be going up against a Houston team that was picked to win the American Athletic Conference in the preseason. The Cougars won five of their last seven games, with quarterback Clayton Tune having thrown for over 2,600 yards, 28 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in that span. He'll be the player to watch in this one. --Lyles Jr.

Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl: Missouri Tigers vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Florida) | Tickets

On paper, it's difficult to find a more even matchup, but how much might end-of-season momentum matter in a bowl game? The answer will dictate the advantages in the land of Gasparilla Pirate Fest: Missouri won four of its last six games to rally to 6-6, while Wake Forest lost four of five to slump to 7-5. Mizzou quarterback Brady Cook averaged 238 passing yards and 105 rushing yards over his last three games as the Tigers' offense found its footing, but Mizzou has been hit harder than Wake by early transfer portal entry, and QB Sam Hartman appears to be sticking around for at least one more game in a Demon Deacons uniform. --Connelly

Dec. 24

EasyPost Hawai'i Bowl: Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders vs. San Diego State Aztecs

Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex (Honolulu, Hawai'i) | Tickets

There might not be a single 2022 bowl with a wider array of realistic potential outcomes than this one. Middle Tennessee blew out Miami but got blown out by a bad Louisiana Tech team. All of the Blue Raiders' seven wins came by double digits, as did all of their five losses. SDSU still has one of the best defenses in the Group of Five and still has one of its worst offenses, too. The Aztecs have won four games by at least 16 and lost three by at least 18. Name the result -- a 49-16 MTSU win? a 20-0 SDSU win? -- and it could absolutely happen. What more could you possibly want to distract you from family festivities on Christmas Eve? --Connelly

Dec. 26

Quick Lane Bowl: Bowling Green Falcons vs. New Mexico State Aggies

Ford Field (Detroit, Michigan) | Tickets

New Mexico State (6-6) rebounded in its first year under Jerry Kill after combining to win just seven games in the last four years. The Aggies haven't been to a bowl game since 2017. The running game may dictate things. Bowling Green (6-6) had trouble running it (100.8 YPG) and trouble stopping the run (163 YPG) this season. New Mexico State's sophomore running backs, Star Thomas (477 yards, five TDs) and Jamoni Jones (368 yards, six TDs), have an opportunity to break out in the bowl game. --Baumgartner

Dec. 27

Camellia Bowl: Buffalo Bulls vs. Georgia Southern Eagles

Cramton Bowl (Montgomery, Alabama) | Tickets

Georgia Southern (former Buffalo) quarterback Kyle Vantrease is the player to watch in this game. Vantrease started 25 games for Buffalo over five years before ultimately making the move to Statesboro. In 2022, Vantrease completed over 61% of his passes for 3,895 yards, 25 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Clay Helton has helped him get the most out of his talent this season, and Vantrease will certainly be hoping to do his best against his former team. --Lyles Jr.

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl: Utah State Aggies vs. Memphis Tigers

Gerald J. Ford Stadium (Dallas, Texas) | Tickets

It was a rollercoaster of a season for Memphis, who started off 4-1, before ultimately finishing the year 6-6. Seth Henigan didn't take quite the leap the Tigers had hoped he would after a standout 2021 season, but it's understandable given the weapons lost (like Calvin Austin III). Regardless, you should still expect to see flashes of greatness from Henigan, who has tons of potential. Utah State, on the other hand, started 1-3, and lost quarterback Logan Bonner for the season after their loss to UNLV. Since then, Cooper Legas has been running things at quarterback, where the Aggies have been 5-3 since. Expect to see some fight from two teams who had challenging seasons. --Lyles Jr.

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl: East Carolina Pirates vs. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Protective Life Stadium (Birmingham, Alabama) | Tickets

This battle of the Carolinas features a pair of teams that overcame some tough losses to finish with winning records. East Carolina (7-5) had won four of five games, but lost 42-3 to Houston on the road in the next to last game of the regular season. Running back Keaton Mitchell is ECU's go-to guy on offense and piled up 300 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns in the 49-46 win over Temple to close the regular season. Coastal Carolina will be led by interim coach Chad Staggs, who's filling in for Jamey Chadwell, who left to take the Liberty head job. The Chanticleers (9-3) lost in the Sun Belt championship game to Troy after losing 47-7 to James Madison the week before. The health of Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall and his status will be key in this game. --Low

Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Wisconsin Badgers

Chase Field (Phoenix, Arizona) | Tickets

The only thing certain for this matchup is uncertainty. Both teams' veteran starting quarterbacks -- Spencer Sanders at Oklahoma State and Graham Mertz at Wisconsin -- have entered the transfer portal. The Badgers' two backups, Chase Wolf and Myles Burkett, have attempted a combined 11 passes this season. True freshman Garret Rangel started two games for the Cowboys this season filling in for the injured Sanders, a four-year starter. New Badgers coach Luke Fickell said he will act as head coach for the game alongside six of the assistants who have been with the team this year. --Wilson

Dec. 28

Military Bowl Presented by Peraton: Duke Blue Devils vs. UCF Knights

Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (Annapolis, Maryland) | Tickets

While UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee might be the more well-known dual-threat QB in this game, nobody should sleep on Duke quarterback Riley Leonard -- a huge reason why the Blue Devils are in a bowl game for the first time since 2018. Leonard threw for 2,794 yards, 20 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, while adding 636 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Plumlee was banged up for the last month of the season, so this game will be his opportunity to showcase his best -- especially since he announced he will return for 2023. -- Adelson

AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Kansas Jayhawks

Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium (Memphis, Tennessee) | Tickets

Two 6-6 teams, two teams that feel very differently about that record. For Kansas, this is a step on the climb, a chance to beat an SEC opponent for the first time since beating Vanderbilt in 1985 (of course, it hasn't played an SEC member since 1988). For Arkansas, it marks the end of a disappointing season against one of the toughest schedules in the country, losing four of its six games by a total of nine points. The Hogs' All-American linebacker, Drew Sanders, is not playing and Arkansas just lost defensive coordinator Barry Odom, who became the new head coach at UNLV. Star linebacker Bumper Pool is out with injury and leading receiver Jadon Haselwood is also bypassing the game after declaring for the draft. --Wilson

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: Oregon Ducks vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

Petco Park (San Diego, California) | Tickets

Both the Ducks and the Tar Heels had opportunities this season to emerge as fringe playoff contenders. Both got off to 8-1 starts before faltering late in the season and ending up here. It's partly why the Holiday Bowl matchup between them feels fitting. The tone of this game will shift if quarterback Bo Nix decides to return to school for another season. Meanwhile, UNC has a rising Drake Maye on their side. Should Nix run it back for one more year, not only will this game look a lot different given that Oregon will have new offensive coordinator Will Stein, but the Ducks will be looking forward to building on the offensive foundation Nix and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham (now the head coach at Arizona State) built this past season. --Uggetti

TaxAct Texas Bowl: Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Ole Miss Rebels

NRG Stadium (Houston, Texas) | Tickets

These two teams, both of whom finished 7-5, were going in opposite directions when the regular season concluded. Ole Miss was trying to navigate through a wave of coaching drama surrounding Lane Kiffin. Was he going to Auburn or was he staying? He wound up staying and signing a new contract that will pay him $9 million per year, but the Rebels lost four of their last five games. The Red Raiders, meanwhile, played their way into the postseason by winning their last three games, capped by a thrilling 51-48 win against Oklahoma in overtime. Texas Tech had a tough schedule and played six teams nationally ranked at the time of the game. One of the key matchups in this game will be sensational freshman Quinshon Judkins and that Ole Miss running game against a Texas Tech defense that finished 90th nationally against the run (166.4 yards per game). --Low

Dec. 29

Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse Orange vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Yankee Stadium (New York, New York) | Tickets

This game is an enigma because neither team has been easy to predict all season. Few schools were as confounding in 2022 as Minnesota, which statistically speaking had one of the nation's top defenses, a solid offense and a top-20 ranking in both ESPN's FPI and SP+. On the field, however, that all added up to just an 8-4 record, and none of those eight wins came against an opponent who finished the regular season better than 6-6. Meanwhile, Syracuse opened the year 6-0 and nearly got a win at No. 7 Clemson before succumbing to the Tigers' backup QB in the fourth quarter. After that, the Orange looked like a shell of a team, dropping five straight before a win over Boston College in the regular-season finale. Syracuse also lost both coordinators since the season ended. So, who exactly will show up here? The Minnesota that the deep-dive stats loved or the one that mustered just 10 points in a loss to Iowa? The Syracuse that started off the season 6-0 or the one that stumbled to the finish and then waved goodbye to two essential assistant coaches? It's anyone's guess. --David M. Hale

Cheez-It Bowl: Oklahoma Sooners vs. Florida State Seminoles

Camping World Stadium (Orlando, Florida) | Tickets

This has to qualify as a dream matchup for the Cheez-It Bowl organizers -- two storied programs, with fan bases that love to travel. The excitement is on a different level for Florida State and understandably so. The Seminoles are in their first bowl game since 2019, and their fans from across the state can easily get to Orlando. With quarterback Jordan Travis already announcing he will be back for 2023, and All-ACC players Jammie Robinson and Jared Verse saying they will play in the bowl game, this is a game the team itself is geared up to play in, as they have a chance to win 10 games for the first time since 2016. --Adelson

Valero Alamo Bowl: Texas Longhorns vs. Washington Huskies

Alamodome (San Antonio, Texas) | Tickets

Outside the New Year Six bowls, the Alamo Bowl matchup between these two teams might be one of the best on the slate. The matchup between Quinn Ewers and Michael Penix Jr. alone will be worth the price of admission, and both programs will be looking to prove they are headed in the right direction. The Longhorns had their usual up-and-down campaign but ended on a two-game winning streak and a promising look ahead to next season. The Huskies, meanwhile, were turned around from a 4-8 team to a Pac-12 contender overnight by new head coach Kalen DeBoer and the addition of Penix Jr. Both teams should be intriguing heading into next season and it should make for an entertaining high-scoring affair in San Antonio. --Uggetti

Dec. 30

Duke's Mayo Bowl: NC State Wolfpack vs. Maryland Terrapins

Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, North Carolina) | Tickets

Two former ACC rivals will get together with the winner getting a giant vat of mayonnaise dumped on them. What's not to like here? NC State and Maryland have a long -- and occasionally colorful -- history but have not faced off since the Terrapins left the ACC for the Big Ten in 2014. Maryland struggled down the stretch this season, dropping three of its last four games. The Terps didn't beat a bowl-eligible Big Ten team, but there remains a big question about how much gas is left in the tank for an NC State team beset by injuries in 2022. The Wolfpack had four different starting QBs win games this year, but lost two different starters to injury at the position and relied heavily on a defense that was among the ACC's best. The matchup between Maryland's talented QB, Taulia Tagovailoa, and a dominant NC State linebacking corps led by Drake Thomas should go a long way in determining who will finish the season with a win. --Hale

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl: UCLA Bruins vs. Pitt Panthers

Sun Bowl Stadium (El Paso, Texas) | Tickets

For the second straight year, Pitt will play its bowl game without its starting QB. Last year, Kenny Pickett opted out of the Peach Bowl to prepare for the NFL draft. This year, Kedon Slovis hit the transfer portal. Against Michigan State last season, Pickett's loss -- as well as backup Nick Patti in the fourth quarter -- proved Pitt's downfall, but this is a much different Panthers team. Rather than rely on their QB, the Panthers have routinely been a run-first offense, led by star tailback Israel Abanikanda, who finished with 1,431 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground. That should make for an interesting matchup against UCLA's defense, which ranked second in the Pac-12 in yards per rush allowed this season, but gave up 565 yards and seven TDs on the ground in its three losses. --Hale

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl: Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. South Carolina Gamecocks

TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, Florida) | Tickets

South Carolina's Shane Beamer did one of the best coaching jobs in college football this season. The Gamecocks (8-4) suffered some serious beatdowns (48-7 to Georgia and 38-6 to Florida), but got back up off the ground to finish the season with back-to-back wins over top-10 teams Tennessee and Clemson. Notre Dame, in its first season under Marcus Freeman, also finished 8-4. But much like the Gamecocks, the Irish played their best football down the stretch. Their only loss in their last six games was on the road to USC to close the regular season. Both teams will be without talented players. South Carolina tight end/running back Jaheim Bell entered the transfer portal. Notre Dame All-America tight end Michael Mayer and linebacker and career sacks leader Isaiah Foskey opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. --Low

Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl: Ohio Bobcats vs. Wyoming Cowboys

Arizona Stadium (Tucson, Arizona) | Tickets

Both the Bobcats and Cowboys stumbled late in the regular season -- Ohio lost star quarterback Kurtis Rourke to injury, then lost the MAC championship to Toledo; Wyoming won four straight to move to 7-3 but lost a shot at a division title with a home loss to Boise State, then got thumped by Fresno State. This is definitely a "Who wants it more?" bowl, but the matchup of Ohio's run game against Wyoming's run defense could still be a delight, and both of these teams tend to deliver in the postseason: They're both riding three-game bowl win streaks. --Connelly

Capital One Orange Bowl:Clemson Tigers vs. Tennessee Volunteers

Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Florida) | Tickets

The ultimate battle of orange should undoubtedly take place in the Orange Bowl. This will also be a battle of quarterbacks who didn't open the 2022 season as the starter. True freshman Cade Klubnik will make his first career start for Clemson. He came off the bench to replace DJ Uiagalelei in the season-ending loss to South Carolina. Uiagalelei then announced he was entering the transfer portal. Joe Milton III will be the starter for Tennessee after Hendon Hooker, the SEC's Offensive Player of the Year, suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the loss to South Carolina. Milton, who has an incredibly strong arm, started in the regular-season finale against Vanderbilt. He also started the first two games of the 2021 season before being replaced by Hooker. The ACC champion Tigers are trying to win 12 games or more for the sixth time in the last eight seasons. The Vols are trying to win 11 games for the first time since 2001. --Low

Dec. 31

TransPerfect Music City Bowl: Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Kentucky Wildcats

Nissan Stadium (Nashville, Tennessee) | Tickets

Who gets a chance to play quarterback for Iowa before former Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara comes in next year? Fifth-year senior Spencer Petras' shoulder injury and junior Alex Padilla entering the transfer portal has the Hawkeyes (7-5) scrambling. Iowa's defense (277.9 YPG, 14.4 PPG), led by senior linebacker Jack Campbell (115 tackles, two interceptions), will go up against a Wildcats' offense (336.3 YPG, 22.1 PPG) that ranked last in the SEC and will be without senior quarterback Will Levis. Kentucky (7-5) has a defense that isn't a slouch either as it ranked second in the SEC in passing (173.4) and points (19.1). --Baumgartner

Allstate Sugar Bowl: Kansas State Wildcats vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Caesars Superdome (New Orleans, Louisiana) | Tickets

Will the Wildcats mix it up with a two-quarterback system against Alabama? Will Howard will be the starter, that much seems sure. Ever since he came in for an injured Adrian Martinez against Baylor, he's been terrific. Kansas State is 4-0 and won a Big 12 championship as Howard threw a combined nine touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for two scores during that time. But Martinez is healthy enough that he nearly appeared in the Big 12 title game. With an extended layoff, he could be called upon as a change-of-pace back against a tough Alabama defense. --Scarborough

Jan. 2

ReliaQuest Bowl: Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Florida) | Tickets

Illinois junior running back Chase Brown (1,643 yards, 10 TDs) needs 54 yards to eclipse Mikel Leshoure's single-season school record. The Fighting Illini (8-4) have been a force on defense (12.3 PPG) all year but will have to deal with Mississippi State's potent offense that averaged 314.3 passing yards per game. Junior quarterback Will Rogers (3,713 yards, 34 TDs) had a great year for the Bulldogs (8-4) but will need to find a way to solve the fifth-best pass defense (165.4 YPG) in FBS. --Baumgartner

Cheez-It Citrus Bowl: LSU Tigers vs. Purdue Boilermakers

Camping World Stadium (Orlando, Florida) | Tickets

Nine wins is already more than many LSU fans could have hoped for, especially after a sloppy loss to Florida State in the season-opener. Brian Kelly was able to turn things around, beat Alabama and get all the way to the SEC championship in his first season in Baton Rouge. But after an inexplicable loss at Texas A&M to end the regular season and a 20-point loss to Georgia in the SEC title game, LSU needs to get a bad taste out of its mouth. The Tigers also need quarterback Jayden Daniels to get healthy again, the passing game to make strides and the defense to bounce back -- in particular the front seven vs. the run -- to feel better about the team's chances heading into next season. It needs a win. --Scarborough

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: USC Trojans vs. Tulane Green Wave

AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas) | Tickets

All eyes may still be on Heisman winner Caleb Williams once the Trojans suit up to play the Cotton Bowl, but the player to watch may be running back Raleek Brown. A five-star prospect who had flashes of serious speed and agility this season in limited carries could be fully deployed in this game. A lot will likely change on USC's roster between now and next season, but Brown's role will only grow. The Green Wave won't make it easy for Lincoln Riley and Co., though. Tulane will be hoping to close out their storybook 11-2 season with a statement win over a program that, as Tulane athletic director Troy Dannen pointed out last week in Las Vegas, has "no business going up against financially." On the field come Jan. 2, the two will be able to face off as equals. --Uggetti

Rose Bowl Game: Utah Utes vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

Rose Bowl (Pasadena, California) | Tickets

Utah made a resounding statement with its rout of USC for the Pac-12 title. Back in the Rose Bowl for a second straight year, the Utes (10-3) have unfinished business after losing to Ohio State. Junior quarterback Cam Rising (2,939 yards, 25 TDs) leads Utah's offense against a Penn State defense (317.9 YPG) that was seventh in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions (10-2) only lost to Michigan and Ohio State. Their revived running game behind freshmen Nicholas Singleton (941 yards, 10 TDs) and Kaytron Allen (830 yards, nine TDs) tangles with the Pac-12's best run defense (107 YPG). --Baumgartner

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