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Ranking all 41 bowl games from best to worst

Credit: Michigan athletics

There are 41 bowl games, starting early Saturday morning and wrapping on New Year's Day - with basically major college football on virtually every day from now until the end of 2023.

So with so many big games what are the best ones to watch?

Here are our annual rankings of bowl games from best to worst. Enjoy.

41. Quick Lane Bowl, Bowling Green vs. Minnesota (12/26 2PM, ESPN)

This game features a 5-7 Minnesota team that is as boring to watch any in the country, against a MAC team, in Detroit.

But hey, it's the day after Christmas and what else will you be doing?!

40. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Georgia State vs. Utah State (12/23 3:30 PM, ESPN)

Not even a french fry bath can save this game, which is on during the same time as a much higher ranked bowl game on a day that also has NFL games. Nobody is going watch this.

39. Camellia Bowl, Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois (12/23 Noon, ESPN)

Like the previous game, it’s on at the same time as a better game, on a day with a lot of football. Nothing is appealing about it, and I think your time would be spent better elsewhere.

38. Wasabi Fenway Bowl, No. 24 SMU vs. Boston College (12/28 11AM, ESPN)

SMU is fun to watch, and it’s cool to see Boston College in a bowl game, but a game on before Noon with three good games to watch the rest of the day in a baseball stadium is not particularly appealing.

37. Radiance Tech Independence Bowl, California vs. Texas Tech (12/16 9:15PM ET, ESPN)

Two mediocre college football teams on at the same time as an important NFL game? Hey, at least with a 9:15 start, it might be something to flip on after Broncos-Lions is done on Saturday night. So yeah, it's got that going for it!

36. Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl, Toledo vs. Wyoming (1/1 1PM, ESPN)

Depending on how much you do or don’t like Barstool, this could be a fun game to enjoy. But, on college football’s biggest day, Toledo and Wyoming aren’t exactly pulling you away from better competition.

35. TransPerfect Music City Bowl, Auburn vs. Maryland (12/30 2PM, ABC)

It’s not that this game is bad. But, it overlaps will two of our top five games, and we can’t recommend picking this game over those two.

One thing that can't be denied: Auburn fans are traveiling WELL for this one.

34. Taxslayer Gator Bowl, No. 22 Clemson vs. Kentucky (12/29 Noon ESPN)

This is the first game that I think is probably worth your time to watch. But, for those of us that like to see a lot of points, this game likely won’t produce many.

33. 68 Ventures Bowl, South Alabama VS Eastern Michigan (7PM 12/23, ESPN)

Eastern Michigan arguably is as tough of a job as any in the country, so it’s cool when they make a bowl game. But, it’s a pretty blah matchup, and only the most hardcore college football fans will watch this over and NFL game on at the same time.

On second thought, the NFL game at that time is Steelers-Bengals, so maybe this one really isn't that bad after all. You know, unless you're into Jake Browning.

32. AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Memphis vs. Iowa State (12/29 3:30, ESPN)

Tt’s overshadowed by the Sun Bowl at the same time, but this is an intriguing game. Matt Campbell did another excellent job at Iowa State this year and with Memphis playing in its home stadium, it should be a good crowd. This one could be more fun than expected.

31. Starco Brands LA Bowl, UCLA vs. Boise State (12/16 7:30, ESPN)

These two teams had two of the weirdest seasons in the country. Boise State fired head coach Andy Avalos mid-season before winning the Mountain West, and UCLA nearly fired coach Chip Kelly. For UCLA, this is a pseudo-important game to build some momentum heading into next year and avoid making this a long, painful off-season.

30. Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl, Georgia Tech vs. UCF (12/22 6:30PM, ESPN)

In a year full of great candidates for National Coach of the Year, Georgia Tech’s Brent Key did as good of a job as anyone. It is the only game of the day, which helps. It won’t be great football, but it will be football.

29. SERVPRO First Responder Bowl, Texas State VS Rice (12/26 5:30PM, ESPN)

247Sports’ Josh Pate jokes that it’s never good to lose to food. Six teams did just that this year, making Rice bowl-eligible. And, Texas State head coach GJ Kinne is coming to a big-time program very soon as an offensive whiz-kid. It’s a standalone game ahead of Monday Night Football the day after Christmas. Go ahead and sign me up.

28. ReliaQuest Bowl, Wisconsin vs. No. 13 LSU (1/1 Noon, ESPN2)

A good game on its surface, but there are so many other good games that day. What's worth watching with this one is whether Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels plays, as he's been non-committal as to whether he's playing or not.

27. TaxAct Texas Bowl, Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State (12/27 9PM, ESPN)

Two former Big 12 Rivals adds some intrigue, but the question is what Texas A&M will look like after so many portal defections. Safe to say the fan-base - understandably - isn't happy with former defensive line coach Elijah Robinson (who has since taken the Syracuse defensive coordinator job) still coaching this team. And in the process, recruiting for Syracuse off A&M's roster.

26. Isleta New Mexico Bowl, New Mexico State vs. Fresno State (12/16 5:45PM, ESPN)

New Mexico State is a very difficult job, but Jerry Kill has made it look easy. It’s great to see one of the nation’s best coaches in good health and winning football games again. Because of that, this game gets a bump above where you may think it should be.

25. Boca Raton Bowl, USF VS Syracuse (12/21 8PM, ESPN)

Don’t love NFL Thursday Night Football? This game provides a good alternative and is the only college football game of the day.

Also, it actually should be a pretty good crowd with USF selling a boatload of tickets.

24. EasyPost Hawai’i Bowl, Coastal Carolina vs. San Jose State (12/23 10:30PM, ESPN)

The Hawai’i Bowl is cooler when it falls on Christmas Eve. But, due to that being a Sunday this year, it is on the 23rd. Still, it’s a really cool setting, and the late-night time slot on a Saturday rocks.

23. VRBO Fiesta Bowl, No. 23 Liberty vs. No. 8 Oregon (1/1 1PM, ESPN)

This is a really low ranking for a New Year’s Six Bowl. But, we just didn’t find this game all that enticing, and there are a lot of other games on New Year’s Day that should be more competitive.

22. Famous Toastery Bowl, WKU vs. Old Dominion (12/18 2:30PM, ESPN)

Football in The Bahamas on a Monday at 2:30? It beats actually working on the last Monday before Christmas.

21. Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl, Rutgers vs. Miami (12/28 2:15PM, ESPN)

Points off for the baseball stadium, but anytime a school like Miami has to play in the cold, it’s worth watching. Rutgers could dominate this game up front, especially if Miami is unmotivated.

20. SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl, Utah vs. Northwestern (12/23 7:30PM, ESPN)

Will there be a lot of points scored? No. But, given the offseason they had, nobody expected Northwestern to win 7 games this year, and they’re as well-coached as any team in the country this year.

19. Myrtle Beach Bowl, Georgia Southern vs. Ohio (12/16 11AM, ESPN)

Normally, this game would get a low ranking. But, it’s the first bowl game of the season, and that has to count for something.

18. Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl, No. 19 Oregon State VS Notre Dame (12/29 2PM, CBS)

These two teams played in arguably Oregon State’s biggest win ever, the 2001 Fiesta Bowl. Neither fan base has forgot.

17. R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Jacksonville State vs. Louisiana (12/16 2:15PM, ESPN)

Two really fun offenses square off in the second bowl game of the bowl season, and it should be a raucous crowd with Louisiana fans making the two-or-so hour drive to New Orleans and Jacksonville State playing in their first ever bowl game.

16. Scooter’s Coffee Frisco Bowl, UTSA VS Marshall (12/19 9PM, ESPN)

The matchup itself is not at all appealing. The fact that it’s the only game on a Tuesday means you will probably watch it.

15. Military Bowl, Virginia Tech vs. Tulane (12/27 2PM, ESPN)

The first of four games on the Wednesday after Christmas features a resurgent Virginia Tech team against a really good Tulane offense led by quarterback, Michael Pratt.

14. 76 Birmingham Bowl, Troy VS Duke (12/23 Noon, ESPN)

Troy is the best team you haven’t paid attention to this year. The 11-2 Sun Belt Champions are worth your attention. They could be in the College Football Playoff next season.

13. Avocados From Mexico Cure Bowl, Miami (OH) VS Appalachian State (12/16 3:30PM, ABC)

These are two of the premier G5 teams in the country, and it’s the best game of the first day of Bowl Games.

12. DIRECTV Holiday Bowl, No. 15 Louisville vs. USC (12/27, 8PM FOX)

This is a really fun matchup in a pretty fun time slot. It's safe to assume there will be plenty of points scored in this matchup, no matter how poorly Louisville's offense looked in the ACC Championship Game.

11. Cheez-It Citrus Bowl, No. 17 Iowa vs. Tennessee (1/1 1PM, ABC)

Could there be two more different teams in America? Certainly not many. Iowa has an all-time bad offense that is truly fun to watch fail over and over. Meanwhile, Tennessee, in theory has an explosive offense. But, they could be bullied up front by Iowa's front.

Games like these is why college football is so much better than the NFL.

10. Guaranteed Rate Bowl, Kansas vs. UNLV (12/26 9PM, ESPN)

If you haven't seen UNLV's "Go-Go" offensive scheme yet, it's worth a watch. Kansas is really fun to watch, too. And, it's Tuesday night football. What more could you ask for?

9. Pop-Tarts Bowl, No. 18 North Carolina State vs. Kansas State (12/28 5:45PM, ESPN)

Top 25 matchups are always great and NC State's Dave Doeren is one of the most underrated coaches in the country. But, the intrigue here is mainly about Kansas State's true freshman quarterback Avery Johnson, who will likely make his first start.

Plus, there’s going to be an edible Pop-Tart as a mascot. No, really. That's happening.

8. Duke’s Mayo Bowl, North Carolina vs. West Virginia (12/27 5:30PM ESPN)

Is this game really that appetizing on paper with UNC star QB Drake Maye opting out? No. Is the prospect of a tub of mayonnaise being dumped on Mack Brown's head must-watch? Yes.

7. Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, James Madison VS Air Force (12/23 3PM, ABC)

These are two of the best teams many people haven't seen this year. The color matchup is great, Air Force runs a cool scheme, and it's the best of all the early bowl games.

6. Valero Alamo Bowl, No. 14 Arizona VS No. 12 Oklahoma (12/28 9:15PM ESPN

This is the most intriguing of any non NY6 bowl game. Arizona coach Jedd Fisch has done a remarkable job and freshman quarterback Noah Fifita is a breakout star. Meanwhile, true freshman Jackson Arnold will likely make his first start for Oklahoma. He has the potential to be the next great Sooner quarterback.

5. Goodyear Cotton Bowl, No. 9 Missouri vs. No. 7 Ohio State (12/29 8PM, ABC)

Well, Ohio State fans wanted Kyle McCord out - now they get to see what they have in redshirt freshman Devin Brown. Also, we know Emeka Egbuka will play in this game, TreyVeon Henderson might too, and hey, we still haven't officially heard word from Marvin Harrison Jr.!?

So you're saying there's a chance?!

By the way, even if/when Harrison doesn't play, remember the Rose Bowl two years ago was a breakout game for Harrison, when Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave opted out. Could the same happen two years later with Carnell Tate or any of the Buckeyes' other star receivers?!

The thing is though, the Buckeyes better be careful, as Missouri played great ball down the stretch and have a potent, balanced attack with Brady Cook, Cody Schrader and Luther Burden.

4. Chick-FIl-A Peach Bowl, No. 11 Ole Miss VS No. 10 Penn State (12/30 Noon, ESPN)

Any game Lane Kiffin is involved in automatically gets a boost when it comes to entertainment factor. And, if you didn't watch the nation's top-ranked defense in Penn State yet, you're in for a treat. It feels like a big game for both programs, too, as both need a signature win this year.

3. Capital One Orange Bowl, No. 6 Georgia VS No. 5 Florida State (12/30 4PM, ESPN)

Both of these teams were in the top four of every College Football Playoff ranking this season until the one that mattered most. Florida State will get a chance to prove that it was robbed of a chance to win a national title.

If the Seminoles pull it out, a lot of people will have plenty of egg on their face.

2. Allstate Sugar Bowl, No. 3 Texas vs. No. 2 Washington (1/1 8:45PM, ESPN)

The other College Football Playoff Semifinal ranks above it. But Texas and Washington is still, on paper, one of the best semifinals we've had to date. Look for an all-time great quarterback duel between Texas's Quinn Ewers and Washington's Michael Penix Jr.

1. Rose Bowl, No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 1 Michigan (1/1 5PM ESPN

The Granddaddy of them all hosts arguably the most-anticipated College Football Playoff Semifinal of all time. Could this be the last time we see Nick Saban? Will it be the last game Jim Harbaugh ever coaches at Michigan?


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