Bowl Games 2017-18: TV Schedule and Predictions For Top Matchups

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 4, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02:  Running back Jonathan Taylor #23 of the Wisconsin Badgers runs the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Big Ten Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The three-and-a-half-week journey known as bowl season kicks off just two weeks after the conference champions in college football were crowned. 

By the time the first set of games rolls around on December 16, we'll be craving any type of football and we'll pay more attention than necessary to a contest between six-win teams from the Sun Belt and Conference USA. 

What makes bowl season special is the midweek afternoon kickoffs, unique matchups and electric performances that come from the most unexpected sources.

While you slowly work up your excitement level for the start of bowl season, here's a look at the whole schedule plus three interesting matchups to feast on. 

                      

December 16

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (1 p.m. ET) 

Troy vs. North Texas 

TV: ESPN 

AutoNation Cure Bowl (2:30 p.m. ET )

Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State

TV: CBS Sports Network 

Las Vegas Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET) 

BOISE, ID - DECEMBER 2: Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch #38 and quarterback Brett Rypien #4 of the Boise State Broncos hoist the championship trophy at the conclusion of the Mountain West Championship game against the Fresno State Bulldogs on December 2,
Loren Orr/Getty Images

No. 25 Boise State vs. Oregon

TV: ABC 

Gildan New Mexico Bowl (4:30 p.m. ET) 

Marshall vs. Colorado State

TV: ESPN 

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (8 p.m. ET) 

Middle Tennessee vs. Arkansas State

TV: ESPN 

                  

December 19

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl (7 p.m. ET) 

Akron vs. Florida Atlantic

TV: ESPN 

December 20

DXL Frisco Bowl (8 p.m. ET) 

Louisiana Tech vs. SMU

TV: ESPN 

December 21

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (8 p.m. ET) 

Temple vs. Florida International

TV: ESPN 

December 22

Bahamas Bowl (12:30 p.m. ET) 

UAB vs. Ohio

TV: ESPN 

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (4 p.m. ET) 

Central Michigan vs. Wyoming

TV: ESPN 

                

December 23

Birmingham Bowl (12 p.m. ET) 

Texas Tech vs. South Florida

TV: ESPN 

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET) 

San Diego State vs. Army 

TV: ESPN 

Dollar General Bowl (7 p.m. ET) 

Appalachian State vs. Toledo 

TV: ESPN 

December 24 

Hawai'i Bowl (8:30 p.m. ET) 

Fresno State vs. Houston

TV: ESPN 

                 

December 26

Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl (1:30 p.m. ET) 

BOISE, ID - OCTOBER 21: Quarterback Josh Allen #17 of the Wyoming Cowboys gets a pass off during first half action against the Boise State Broncos on October 21, 2017 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)
Loren Orr/Getty Images

West Virginia vs. Utah

TV: ESPN 

Quick Lane Bowl (5:15 p.m. ET) 

Duke vs. Northern Illinois

TV: ESPN 

Cactus Bowl (9 p.m. ET) 

Kansas State vs. UCLA

TV: ESPN 

December 27

Walk On's Independence Bowl (1:30 p.m. ET) 

Southern Miss vs. Florida State

TV: ESPN 

New Era Pinstripe Bowl (5:15 p.m. ET) 

Boston College vs. Iowa

TV: ESPN 

Foster Farms Bowl (8:30 p.m. ET) 

Arizona vs. Purdue

TV: Fox

Academy Sports & Outdoors Texas Bowl (9 p.m. ET) 

Texas vs. Missouri

TV: ESPN 

                  

December 28

Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman (1:30 p.m. ET) 

Virginia vs. Navy

TV: ESPN 

Camping World Bowl (5:15 p.m. ET) 

No. 22 Virginia Tech vs. No. 19 Oklahoma State

TV: ESPN 

Valero Alamo Bowl (9 p.m. ET) 

No. 13 Stanford vs. No. 15 TCU 

TV: ESPN 

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl (9 p.m. ET) 

No. 18 Washington State vs. No. 16 Michigan State 

TV: Fox

                  

December 29

Belk Bowl (1 p.m. ET) 

Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M 

TV: ESPN 

Hyundai Sun Bowl (3:30 p.m. ET) 

MANHATTAN, KS - NOVEMBER 11:  Quarterback Will Grier #7 of the West Virginia Mountaineers throws a pass against the Kansas State Wildcats during the first half on November 11, 2017 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas.  (Photo by Peter G. Ai
Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

No. 24 NC State vs. Arizona State

TV: CBS 

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (4:30 p.m. ET) 

No. 21 Northwestern vs. Kentucky

TV: ESPN 

Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl (5:30 p.m. ET) 

Utah State vs. New Mexico State

TV: CBS Sports Network 

Goodyear Cotton Bowl (8:30 p.m. ET) 

No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 8 USC

TV: ESPN 

                  

December 30

TaxSlayer Bowl (Noon ET) 

No. 23 Mississippi State vs. Louisville

TV: ESPN 

AutoZone Liberty Bowl (12:30 p.m. ET) 

No. 20 Memphis vs. Iowa State

TV: ABC 

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl (4 p.m. ET) 

No. 9 Penn State vs. No. 11 Washington

TV: ESPN 

Capital One Orange Bowl (8 p.m. ET) 

No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Miami (FL) 

TV: ESPN 

                 

January 1, 2018

Outback Bowl (Noon ET)

Michigan vs. South Carolina 

TV: ESPN2

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (12:30 p.m. ET) 

No. 7 Auburn vs. No. 12 UCF 

TV: ESPN 

Citrus Bowl presented by Overton's (1 p.m. ET) 

No. 14 Notre Dame vs. No. 17 LSU 

TV: ABC

Rose Bowl (National Semifinal, 5 p.m. ET) 

No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Georgia 

TV: ESPN 

Sugar Bowl (National Semifinal, 8:45 p.m. ET) 

No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama 

TV: ESPN 

              

January 8, 2018

National Championship Game (8 p.m. ET)

TV: ESPN 

             

Top Matchups 

Peach Bowl: No. 7 Auburn vs. No. 12 UCF 

Each one of the New Year's Six games presents an intriguing matchup with a bevy of storylines, but only one of them will produce a David vs. Goliath clash like the Peach Bowl will. 

Every year we see one of the nation's top programs square off against that year's best Group of Five team, and for the most part the team from the lesser-known conference puts more emphasis on a victory because it has something to prove. 

No team has embraced the us-against-the-world mentality more than the UCF Knights, who were slighted throughout the playoff ranking process and ended up 12th despite an undefeated regular season. 

On the other hand, the Auburn Tigers come into the Peach Bowl off an SEC Championship loss to Georgia, a game in which a College Football Playoff spot was on the line. The Peach Bowl marks the second time in three games that the Tigers will go up against an unbeaten team. John Zenor of the AP noted the strength of Auburn's last three opponents: 

RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 25:  Will Richardson #54 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack celebrates with Nyheim Hines #7 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack after Hines' touchdown against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Carter Finley Stadiu
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

How Auburn's defense tries to stop the high-powered UCF offense led by McKenzie Milton will be interesting to watch. The Knights rank seventh in the nation in total offense with 6,485 yards and they are fifth in yards per game at 540. 

The Auburn defensive unit is 14th in FBS in yards conceded per game at 312 and it has held opponents to 177.8 passing yards per contest. Milton has thrown for more yards in the air than Auburn's per-game total in every game he's played this season. 

               

Orange Bowl: No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Miami (FL) 

Throughout bowl season, you'll witness plenty of style clashes on the field, but one that carries onto the off-field personality of both programs is the Orange Bowl.

No. 6 Wisconsin is the no-nonsense hard-working Big Ten program, while No. 10 Miami (FL) is one of the flashiest programs in the country, and it carries around the now-famous turnover chain. 

On the field, the Badgers will run their opponents to death, and expect much of the same out of Jonathan Taylor and Co., especially as they enter a potentially hostile environment in the home stadium of the Hurricanes. 

Everything seems to be aligning in Miami's way to finish off Mark Richt's second season in charge, even if it can be seen as a disappointment without an ACC Championship sitting in the trophy case. 

Miami's talented defense should throw everything into the box to stop Taylor and the Wisconsin game, which could force Alex Hornibrook to win the game for the Badgers, which is far from the ideal scenario for head coach Paul Chryst. 

Wisconsin will try to do the same to Miami's running game, and it will force Malik Rosier into stress almost immediately in the pocket. 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02:  Alex Hornibrook #12 of the Wisconsin Badgers runs with the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Ima
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The winner of the Orange Bowl will most likely be victorious in the battle of the trenches and will get the most pressure on the opposing signal-caller. 

                

Birmingham Bowl: Texas Tech vs. South Florida

If you're looking for a game in the first week of bowl season that you want to be entertained by, look no further than the Birmingham Bowl. 

The Saturday afternoon contest between Texas Tech and South Florida at Legion Field is one of two bowl games to feature a pair of top-20 offenses. The other is the Rose Bowl between No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 3 Georgia. 

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 02:  Malik Rosier #12 of the Miami Hurricanes throws a pass against the Clemson Tigers in the first quarter during the ACC Football Championship at Bank of America Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

But unlike the Sooners and Bulldogs, the Red Raiders and Bulls don't play a lick of defense. If you needed a reason to guess why they're playing in the Birmingham Bowl, that's it. 

The only teams Texas Tech held under 20 points in the regular season were Eastern Washington of the FCS and Kansas, while South Florida recorded that achievement on three occasions against Temple, Cincinnati and Stony Brook of the FCS. 

Texas Tech's 3,547-yard passer Nic Shimonek and 1,242-yard receiver Keke Coutee will be hard to stop as will South Florida dual threat quarterback Quinton Flowers, who has 2,600 passing yards and 972 rushing yards. 

                

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

All statistics obtained from ESPN.com

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