5 Best Days of College Football Bowl Season

Jeff Bell@@JrayBellCorrespondent IDecember 19, 2013

5 Best Days of College Football Bowl Season

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    The Rose Bowl
    The Rose BowlStephen Dunn/Getty Images

    After another thrilling season of college football, all eyes have turned to the bowl games, of which there are plenty.

    You have the headliner in Auburn-Florida State, the powerhouse matchups like Clemson-Ohio State and Michigan State-Stanford and a number of other games that should spark the interest of fans around the country.

    With so many exciting contests on this year's docket, it's going to take some planning to make sure you don't miss out. In fact, starting Thursday, Dec. 26, there are games being played every day up until the BCS title on Jan. 6.

    And though real fans of the sport will have the man-caves all set up for several weeks of gridiron hibernation, some days will almost certainly be better than others.

    Here now are the Top 5 days of bowl season. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

    A complete schedule of bowl games can be found here.

5. Saturday, Dec. 21

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    QB Cody Kessler and USC will be playing on opening day of Bowl season
    QB Cody Kessler and USC will be playing on opening day of Bowl seasonRon Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    The opening Saturday of bowl season is very much like the first Thursday night of the regular season—the anticipation for football, any football at all, is at a peak, and regardless of which teams are playing, there's an overwhelming satisfaction when you turn on the television and see college teams duking it out once again.

    Sure, it's only been a few weeks since a full slate of games, and Dec. 21 brings us only the first four bowl matchups, but you never know what to expect in the postseason. Just last year, Arizona was topping Nevada 49-48 in a thriller on the first Saturday of bowl season.

    We can't convince you that the schedule on Saturday is anything you'll remember years from now, but there's still enough football intrigue to take you from your morning cup of coffee to your last sip of eggnog at night.

    Washington State and Colorado State kick things off in the New Mexico Bowl, and then, it's USC and Fresno State doing battle in the Las Vegas Bowl. As the evening rolls around, you can also catch Buffalo-San Diego State as well as Tulane-Louisiana Lafayette.

    There are better days and bigger games during bowl season, but there's something special about the start of all the madness.

4. Friday, Jan. 3

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    Can coach Urban Meyer and Ohio State score a win against Clemson?
    Can coach Urban Meyer and Ohio State score a win against Clemson?Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    Sometimes, more games aren't always a good thing, and Friday's two-game slate is the perfect appetizer to the grand finale three days later.

    The first game pits together Oklahoma State and Missouri, two teams vying for conference bragging rights in a perfect end to terrific seasons. Plus, they'll be playing in the Cotton Bowl, which is full of history and tradition.

    The second game, which starts just a half-hour later, is the Orange Bowl featuring Clemson and Ohio State. The Buckeyes were one win a way from a likely berth in the national championship before falling to Michigan State, so it remains to be seen how motivated they'll be.

    As for the Tigers, they lost their final game of 2013 to South Carolina, and you know quarterback Tajh Boyd will be looking to cap off his career with the biggest win of his tenure as the teams's starting signal-caller.

    The best part about this particular Friday? Being able to switch back and forth between two games that are almost guaranteed to excite. Whether you're out with friends or at home relaxing, you'll have two big-time matchups to choose from.

    If either of these games took place during the regular season, they would almost certainly be the highlight of the day. In bowl season, fans get them at practically the same time, which puts Friday, Jan. 3, on the list of days to mark on your calendar.

3. Tuesday, Dec. 31

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    Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
    Texas A&M QB Johnny ManzielPeter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    There's nothing like closing out the year with some college football, and New Year's Eve gives us all a chance to do just that.

    With four games played on the final day of 2013, Dec. 31 easily makes the list of best days during bowl season. The madness begins bright and early with Arizona-Boston College, which is followed shortly by UCLA-Virginia Tech. This gives the Pac-12 a chance to make a pair of statements before the final two games begin.

    Then, we'll see Rice taking on Mississippi State, and if you don't think the Owls stand a chance against a team from the mighty SEC, you probably missed the video capturing the moment the team accepted its bowl bid.

    Finally, Texas A&M takes on Duke in what could be Johnny Manziel's final game in college. Last season, the former Heisman Trophy winner racked up over 500 yards of offense against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, and it's anybody's guess as to what he'll do for an encore. Duke looked completely outmatched against Florida State, but the Blue Devils will be more motivated than ever to score what would be their biggest win in recent memory.

    To top it all off, almost everyone is in a good mood on New Year's Eve. Pairing a party holiday with a great slate of college football is tough to beat.

2. Monday, Jan. 6

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    Can Florida State beat Auburn and capture the national title?
    Can Florida State beat Auburn and capture the national title?Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    Championship Monday is the day that all teams hope to be playing on when the season begins in late August.

    After several grueling months of crazy upsets and insane finishes, Florida State and Auburn have emerged from the rubble to square off for the right to be called national champion.

    The final day of bowl season may only have one game, but it's obviously the biggest contest in college football and one that everyone will be watching, regardless of having an affiliation with either team.

    Last season, we unfortunately were treated with a blowout in the season finale as Alabama throttled Notre Dame. Crimson Tide fans weren't complaining, but the rest of us had to be hoping for something a little more memorable.

    We can't guarantee the Seminoles and Tigers will give us that, but here's a guess that the game itself will not be nearly as one-sided.

    This is the one day that every college football fan has marked down when the season begins, which makes Championship Monday the second best day of bowl season.

1. Wednesday, Jan. 1

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    Michigan State after winning the Big Ten championship
    Michigan State after winning the Big Ten championshipAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    You won't see a team crowned as national champion on New Year's Day, but you also won't find a bigger stage for the sport of college football. Call me a traditionalist, but there isn't a better day of football than the first day of each new year.

    As the nation awakens following New Year's Eve celebrations, college football trots out an all-star lineup of games that rarely disappoints.

    UNLV and North Texas kick things off if you're into that sort of thing. The Rebels and Mean Green are then followed by Nebraska-Georgia, Iowa-LSU and Wisconsin-South Carolina.

    The Grandaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl, then takes center stage as Stanford and Michigan State do battle. The day concludes with the Fiesta Bowl featuring Baylor and UCF.

    Not only are there more games on New Year's Day than on any other day during bowl season, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a better rundown of matchups as well. If reaching the national championship is the ultimate goal, playing a bowl game on New Year's Day isn't far behind.

    While no game is bigger than the BCS title, no single day is bigger than Jan. 1 in the college football world. Fans dream all year of waking up that morning, making a pot of coffee and settling into what typically amounts to a roller-coaster ride of great gridiron action.

    New Year's Day is the absolute best day of bowl season, and it's the biggest day in college football.