2013 College Football Bowl Game Rundown


For the average football fan whose TV finds itself landing on one of this years bowl games, most of the matchups will look the same after a while, save for the BCS games. So to simplify your holiday bowl watching lifestyle we’ve separated the bowls into “Tiers Of Watchability” complete with at least three reasons to watch the game and one or two reasons why you might be better off skipping it altogether.

Tier 1: The Best of the Best

If you don’t watch these from start to finish (or until a romp becomes obvious), you’re not allowed to call yourself a college football fan.

VIZIO BCS National Championship, January 6th, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Florida State (-7.5) vs Auburn, Over/Under 67.5

Reasons to watch:

  1. There will be no controversy over who finishes number one this year; every other contender had their moment to prove they deserved to face the undisputed best team for the title, and Auburn was the only one who shone through (as always, losing early is so much better than losing late).
  2. FSU’s ability to throttle the football down their opponents throats with Devonta Freeman (5.8 yards per carry), then throw haymakers with Karlos Williams (8.2 YPC) and James Wilder Jr. (7 YPC).
  3. Auburn’s beautiful high school offense, which happens to be 4th in the nation in YPC even though they run the ball on every freaking down.
  4. Jameis Winston’s total command of his offense.
  5. Nick Marshall’s blinding open field speed.
  6. Kelvin Benjamin’s “HOLY CRAP DID HE JUST DO THAT!?!?”
  7. Tre Mason’s cutback ability.

Reasons to not watch:

  1. Auburn had a so-so year stopping the run, allowing 4.6 YPC (86th in the nation), while the Seminoles finished 9th in the nation, allowing 3.1 YPC; so on paper, this looks to be a bit of a mismatch (if Auburn can’t run the ball effectively, goodnight Irene).
  2. If you’re an Alabama fan and you’re not ready to rejoin society just yet.

Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO, January 1st, 5:00 p.m., ESPN

Stanford (-4.5) vs Michigan State, Over/Under 43.0

Reasons to watch:

  1. If you like watching old NFL films clips where players run into each other in slow motion while horns blast in the background, then this is the game for you. Both defenses pride themselves on being physical, and both offenses are built around running between the tackles.
  2. Other than the national championship, this is the game that is most likely to be a classic.
  3. So you can watch Kevin Hogan doing Kevin Hogan things.
  4. Ty Montgomery’s day at the races.
  5. Darqueeze Dennard island.
  6. The matchup between the aforementioned two stars.
  7. Large, strong men hitting each other for four solid hours.

Reasons to not watch:

  1. You hate real football and wish that every game finished 70-66 (although that does sound like a lot of fun…).
  2. Michigan State struggled to score in the red zone this year, scoring 80% of the time (79th in the nation), so who knows what Spartan team will show up on New Year’s Day.

Discover Orange Bowl, January 3rd, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Ohio State (-2.5) vs Clemson, Over/Under 68.0

Reasons to watch:

  1. On paper, this game has the most talent out of any bowl.
  2. Tajh Boyd and Braxton Miller are both worth the price of admission by themselves.
  3. So you can see how Ohio State’s bruising offensive line deals with Clemson’s stellar pass rush.
  4. If you do want to watch a 70-66 contest, this is probably your best bet.
  5. Because we will be talking about Miller, Boyd, Sammie Watkins, Carlos Hyde, Corey Brown, Bradley Roby, Vick Beasley and a few others from this game for at least the next five years or so. Again, there is some serious talent on this football field.

Reasons to not watch:

  1. With how good these offenses are, and how bad the defenses have been on occasion, either team could run away with this by the middle of the 3rd quarter.
  2. Because you hate offensive football and wish that every game could finish like that great 6-3 Alabama-LSU showdown a few years ago (which means that you probably don’t watch that much football anymore).

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, January 1st, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Baylor (-17) vs Central Florida, Over/Under 69.0

Reasons to watch:

  1. Because this is arguably the biggest game in the history of both programs (Baylor is debatable, UCF is not; they didn’t win a bowl game until 2005).
  2. Because this is a “kitchen sink” game (if you don’t know what that is, here’s the best example of what a “kitchen sink” game looks like, nothing in the playbook is off the table).
  3. Baylor’s “Eff you, we’re airing it out on every single play” offense (featuring future first round pick Bryce Petty).
  4. UCF’s surprisingly stout defense.
  5. If you root for a team that needs help at quarterback and is looking to draft one towards the end of the first or beginning of the second round, Blake Bortles is a guy who you should become familiar with.
  6. Lache Seastrunk runs very very angry (that dude who ran for a 76 yard TD even though he got picked off by a sniper 30 yards into it).

Reasons to not watch:

  1. As the line suggests, this is a mismatch (although the motivation UCF has to win mitigates some of that) so Baylor could easily squish UCF like a bug.
  2. Because you can’t watch college football between two teams with little to no tradition.

Tier 2: The Rest of the Best

Games that you should at least check in on periodically, remember, football is gone on February 3rd.

AT&T Cotton Bowl, January 3rd, 7:30 p.m., FOX

Missouri (-1.5) vs Oklahoma State, Over/Under 61.5

Reasons to watch:

  1. So you can sound smart around your friends when you say things like “Ladamian Washington has all the tools to be a top-flight NFL receiver” or “Michael Sam is one of the quickest guys off the line in the country.”
  2. Add Dorial Green-Beckham to the “top-flight NFL WR tools” list.
  3. Because this could be the springboard for the Henry Josey story to go from a heart-warming comeback to a Heisman campaign.
  4. Because Oklahoma State is almost always entertaining and watchable on offense.
  5. Because the Cotton Bowl is a de facto BCS bowl.
  6. BECAUSE I’M A MAN AND I’M 40!!!

Reasons to not watch:

  1. To avoid the potential weirdness of Mizzou fans chanting “SEC!” at Cowboy fans.
  2. So you won’t be blinded by the sea of bright orange, yellow, and black that will envelop “The House That Doak Built.”

Allstate Sugar Bowl, January 2nd, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Alabama (-16) vs Oklahoma, Over/Under 51.5

Reasons to watch:

  1. Nick Saban, Nick Saban, and Nick Saban.
  2. So you can see Oklahoma’s reaction to having to face an honest to god defense.
  3. So you can better appreciate C.J. Mosley and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix’s (yes, that’s actually his name, and he’s really friggin good) domination of the 2nd and 3rd levels of the defense.
  4. To see if Blake Bell can continue his career as the college version of the professional version of Tim Tebow.

Reasons to not watch:

  1. If you’re an Alabama fan and you’re still stuck in the wall that you punched your fist through after the Auburn game.
  2. Because, well it probably won’t be that close; Alabama will win for the same reason that erosion always wins. Oklahoma won their Super Bowl last week, they’re fat and happy and the Tide are royally pissed off; not a good combo for a competitive bowl game. Alabama minus the points is free money.

Capital One Bowl, January 1st, 1:00 p.m., ABC

South Carolina (-1) vs Wisconsin, Over/Under 51.0

Reasons to watch:

  1. Both programs always show up to play every weekend.
  2. So you can see what a well-executed run-first offense looks like at all times.
  3. Jadaveon Clowney.
  4. Wisconsin’s two headed monster of Melvin Gordon (8.1 YPC) and James White (6.4 YPC).
  5. Because you never know what the ‘Ol Ball Coach will pull out of his bag of tricks at the end of the season.
  6. So you can see images of some of the best barbecue on planet Earth.
  7. Jadaveon Clowney again just for good measure. Need I remind you what he did in South Carolina’s bowl game last year?

Reasons to not watch:

  1. You can’t appreciate a football game unless someone throws a pass over 15 yards every other play.
  2. You’re so hungover that you’re pretty sure that you saw a tiger in your hotel bathroom.

Tier 3: Well, this is disappointing

Welcome to where you didn’t want to be at the end of this season.

Valero Alamo Bowl, December 30th, 6:45 p.m., ESPN

Oregon (-14.5) vs Texas, Over/Under 68.0

Reasons to watch:

  1. It’ll be the last time you’ll ever get to make fun of Mack Brown’s game management skills.
  2. You’ll see a lot of guys in burnt orange playing the hardest they ever have.
  3. Oregon’s offense is worth the price of admission by itself.
  4. Texas fans should ensure that San Antonio will be a loud and rocking home field advantage for Mack Brown’s sendoff.
  5. Marcus Mariota; like Colin Kaepernick, but better.

Reasons to not watch:

  1. Because Oregon has every reason to stay home in Eugene and they just might.
  2. If you’re one of those people who needs to start getting ready for New Year’s Eve 24 hours before you actually go out (we all know someone like this).

TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, January 1st, 12:00 p.m., ESPN2

Georgia (-9.5) vs Nebraska, Over/Under 61.0

Reasons to watch:

  1. It’s a rematch from last year’s Capital One Bowl, so the motivation is a little higher than you would expect for two teams who are unhappy to be here.
  2. You get to see two NFL-caliber running backs square off between Todd Gurley and Ameer Abdullah.
  3. Bo Pelini is like George Costanza when he worked for Kruger Industrial Smoothing right now; just doing his thing and generally not giving a shit. He’s liable to do anything within the realm of possibility.

Reasons to not watch:

  1. Both teams are incredibly banged up, all the way down their starting quarterback, and have every reason to quit (the 12 pm start time on New Year’s Day being a main one). Under 61 points is free money.

Russell Athletic Bowl, December 28th, 6:45 p.m., ESPN

Louisville (-3.5) vs Miami, Over/Under 56.0

Reasons to watch:

  1. Teddy Bridgewater, the presumptive #1 pick, is playing in his last collegiate game against his hometown team.
  2. Duke Johnson (seriously, you need to check this guy out if you haven’t seen him yet).
  3. You like free money and bet on Louisville.

Reasons to not watch:

  1. Just look at the name of the bowl.

Tier 4: The Mercy Killings

These two games feature two SEC teams who had dreams of a national title appearance, and instead are going to have to spend their New Year’s with lesser football teams who are ecstatic to be where they are.

Chick-fil-A Bowl, December 31st, 8:00 p.m., ESPN

Texas A&M (-13) vs Duke, Over/Under 75.0

Reasons to watch:

  1. Unless the NCAA decides to start paying players, this will be the last we see of Johnny Manziel in an Aggie uniform.
  2. This will also be the last we see of Johnny Manziel dominating like this. The NFL can run with him.
  3. To see how Duke would celebrate if they put a gigantic exclamation point on top of what is already one of the most successful seasons in program history.
  4. Because Johnny Manziel isn’t the only player who can produce an abundance of “holy shit!” moments in this offense. His buddy Mike Evans ain’t half bad (he leads the nation by averaging 20 yards per play).

Reasons to not watch:

  1. Johnny Football could very easily make the outcome obvious before halftime.
  2. Because Duke is kind of boring to watch; its style of play (which deliberately matches its talent level) could best be described as “successfully desperate.”

Outback Bowl, January 1st, 1:00 p.m., ESPN

LSU (-8) vs Iowa, Over/Under 49.0

Reasons to watch:

  1. Because it’s always fun to see that exact moment in B1G vs SEC games where the B1G defense realizes that it’s dealing with an entirely different animal than it’s used to.
  2. Because Zach Mettenberger, Jarvis Landry, and Odell Beckham Jr. are one of the best QB + #1 & #2 WR groups in the country (The top 5 off the top of my head: 1. Florida State 2. Mizzou 3. Baylor 4. LSU 5. Clemson).
  3. Odell Beckham Jr. whenever he has the ball in his hands.
  4. Jarvis Landry’s miniature Anquan Boldin impression (right down to the “I will rip your face clean off” mentality).

Reasons to not watch:

  1. The fact that there’s really nothing about Iowa to get excited about; they’re the quintessential B1G team: big, tough, slow, and whatever the opposite of explosive is (plodding?).

Tier 5: The Best of the Rest

Underappreciated and weirdly named with lesser known performers, this is the indie-scene of the bowl season. Most people will pay these games no mind, but if you want to join the fraternity of college football junkies, these are the bowls to tune in to.

Hyundai Sun Bowl, December 31st, 2:00 p.m., CBS

UCLA (-7.5) vs Virgina Tech, Over/Under 47.5

Reasons to watch:

  1. Brett Hundley doing his poor man’s Jameis Winston impression.
  2. Myles Jack’s contempt for players who take breaks during football games.
  3. Logan Thomas’ quest to not go from 1st round pick to undrafted.
  4. Both teams are well-coached so the likelihood of either throwing in the towel seems low.

Reasons to not watch:

  1. UCLA and VT are young, and immature teams have a habit of dicking around in these games, especially as we get closer to the New Year (this is the consequence of scheduling mostly meaningless contests at the end of the season so several corporations, schools, conferences, and networks can make some scratch).

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, December 21st, 3:30 p.m., ABC

USC (-6) vs Fresno State, Over/Under 62.5

Reasons to watch:

  1. This is a good year for quarterbacks in the NFL draft, and Derek Carr is another one you need to familiarize yourself with.
  2. If you haven’t seen it, you need to watch USC’s experiment where they observe what happens when you take an otherwise outstanding football team and pair it with someone who provides negative value at quarterback. So long as you’re not a USC fan, it’s pretty fascinating.
  3. Because this might be Marqise Lee’s last game at USC before he jumps to the NFL where he will almost surely become one of the best receivers in the league.

Reasons to not watch:

  1. Now that they have their coaching staff in place, this is one last formality USC must go through before moving on to presumably reclaim their throne atop the college football landscape; if Derek Carr starts balling all over the place, they may just pack up and get ready for the 2014 Sarkisian regime (and for all that “win this meaningless bowl so we can have some momentum going into next year” crap, I don’t buy it here, not in a game like this, not with a program like USC…take the points my fellow degenerates).

National University Holiday Bowl, December 30th, 10:15 p.m., ESPN

Arizona State (-14) vs Texas Tech, Over/Under 70

Reasons to watch:

  1. Actually this game might have the best chance of ending up 70-66; neither team can play defense and both offenses are fast-paced and explosive.
  2. Marion Grice’s effort to drag Arizona State’s offense into an area where it doesn’t belong (he finished 4th in all purpose yards per game in the nation).
  3. To check and see if Texas Tech’s players are people or robots since they always have the same high scoring offense regardless of who is coaching or playing.

Reasons to not watch:

  1. You know why Arena football sucks? Because even though we like seeing high scoring games, we only enjoy it only if it feels like there is some resistance that validates the skill that leads to all the scoring. We don’t want to watch people just walking up and down the field. Arena football doesn’t provide enough resistance to make the scoring exciting, and that’s what this game could easily devolve into.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, December 28th, 10:15 p.m., ESPN

Kansas State (-3.5) vs Michigan, Over/Under 56.5

Reasons to watch:

  1. This feels like one of those contests where several 10 yard runs get busted for 30+ yard runs because of poor tackling; sometimes games like that are fun.
  2. To see how Michigan responds after the gut punch that was the end of the Ohio State game.
  3. Stud Kansas State wideout Tyler Lockett versus a somewhat stingy Michigan pass defense.

Reasons to not watch:

  1. Neither team could be described as “exciting” and both teams are eagerly anticipating a day where they will get to laugh at the scrubs playing in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (I can’t say the name of the bowl without laughing, can you?)

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsetta Bowl, December 26th, 9:30 p.m., ESPN

Northern Illinois (-2.5) vs Utah State, Over/Under 58.0

Reasons to watch:

  1. This will be Jordan Lynch’s last game (one of the best players of the past five years in all of college football. Do some YouTubing if you haven’t seen him yet).
  2. Utah State has been one of the better “mid-major” teams (to use a college basketball term) over the past few years.
  3. Because this is the ultimate bowl game for college football hipsters.

Reasons to not watch:

  1. This game is so prestigious, the San Diego County Credit Union decided to break the bank so they could sponsor it.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, December 30th, 3:15 p.m., ESPN

Mississippi (-3) vs Georgia Tech, Over/Under 57.5

Reasons to watch:

  1. Talent-wise, Mississippi is one of the top teams in the nation; their problem this year was that the talent they had were stupid freshman, save for Donte Moncrief (another receiver you’ll see playing on Sundays).
  2. So you can watch Georgia Tech demonstrate what Auburn’s offense looks like when it struggles.
  3. This has the potential to be a fairly high scoring game.

Reasons to not watch:

  1. Remember that thing about young football teams not caring in meaningless bowls? Yeah, Ole Miss hits all those checkmarks here (however, what separates them from USC in the “win this meaningless bowl so we can have some momentum going into next year” crap is that with such a young team, the coaching staff still needs as many teachable moments as they can get, and also because Mississippi isn’t USC).

Tier 6: The Rest

If the bowl you were looking forward to watching isn’t on this list, then you have at least one of the following

  1. Literally nothing else to do with your life
  2. A gambling problem
  3. A degree from one of the two schools who are playing
  4. No remote and the TV has been on ESPN since the day you moved in

I could preview the riveting Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl between Middle Tennessee and Navy or the titanic clash in the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman between Marshall and Maryland (I think they just named these two in order to guilt you into watching crappy football), or the prestigious Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl between East Carolina and Ohio (actually, Ohio alum and founder of The Chiefly, Matt Turer probably would want me to preview this game…real quick: it’s gonna be bad football, and East Carolina is probably going to win since they’re 14 point favorites).

Jacob Weindling
Pure bred Coloradan with a dash of Masshole (go UMass). Sports and politics junkie. If I've learned one thing in life to this point, it's that stupid loses more games than smart wins.
Jacob Weindling
Jacob Weindling

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