Bowl Games 2019-20: Predictions for Most Exciting Matchups on the Schedule

Jake RillSenior Analyst IDecember 13, 2019

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (10) talks with head coach Nick Saban during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Auburn, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 48-45. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

Everybody knows the College Football Playoff is going to be exciting. How could it not be?

In the semifinals, No. 1 LSU is facing No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl, while No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Clemson are going head-to-head in the Fiesta Bowl. Both games should be two of the best of the season.

Although the playoff will determine which team ends the season with the national championship, there are a lot of other intriguing bowl matchups on the schedule this year. And some of those shouldn't be overlooked, even if the stakes aren't quite as high.


2019-20 Bowl Schedule

All Times ET.

Friday, Dec. 20

Bahamas Bowl (2 p.m., ESPN): Buffalo vs. Charlotte

Frisco Bowl (7:30 p.m., ESPN2): Utah State vs. Kent State


Saturday, Dec. 21

Celebration Bowl (noon, ABC): North Carolina A&T vs. Alcorn State

New Mexico Bowl (2 p.m., ESPN): Central Michigan vs. San Diego State

Boca Raton Bowl (3:30 p.m., ABC): SMU vs. Florida Atlantic

Camellia Bowl (5:30 p.m., ESPN): Florida International vs. Arkansas State

Las Vegas Bowl (7:30 p.m., ABC): No. 19 Boise State vs. Washington

New Orleans Bowl (9 p.m., ESPN): No. 20 Appalachian State vs. UAB


Monday, Dec. 23

Gasparilla Bowl (2:30 p.m., ESPN): UCF vs. Marshall


Tuesday, Dec. 24

Hawaii Bowl (8 p.m., ESPN): Hawaii vs. BYU


Thursday, Dec. 26

Independence Bowl (4 p.m., ESPN): Louisiana Tech vs. Miami (Fla.)

Quick Lane Bowl (8 p.m., ESPN): Pittsburgh vs. Eastern Michigan


Friday, Dec. 27

Military Bowl (noon, ESPN): North Carolina vs. Temple

Pinstripe Bowl (3:20 p.m., ESPN): Michigan State vs. Wake Forest

Texas Bowl (6:45 p.m., ESPN): No. 25 Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M

Holiday Bowl (8 p.m., Fox Sports 1): No. 22 USC vs. No. 16 Iowa

Cheez-It Bowl (10:15 p.m., ESPN): Air Force vs. Washington State


Saturday, Dec. 28

Camping World Bowl (noon, ABC): No. 15 Notre Dame vs. Iowa State

Cotton Bowl (noon, ESPN): No. 17 Memphis vs. No. 10 Penn State

College Football Playoff semifinal: Peach Bowl (4 p.m., ESPN): No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 LSU

College Football Playoff semifinal: Fiesta Bowl (8 p.m., ESPN): No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 2 Ohio State


Monday, Dec. 30

First Responder Bowl (12:30 p.m., ESPN): Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan

Music City Bowl (4 p.m., ESPN): Mississippi State vs. Louisville

Redbox Bowl (4 p.m., Fox): California vs. Illinois

Orange Bowl (8 p.m., ESPN): No. 9 Florida vs. No. 24 Virginia


Tuesday, Dec. 31

Belk Bowl (noon, ESPN): Virginia Tech vs. Kentucky

Sun Bowl (2 p.m., CBS): Florida State vs. Arizona State

Liberty Bowl (3:45 p.m., ESPN): No. 23 Navy vs. Kansas State

Arizona Bowl (4:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network): Wyoming vs. Georgia State

Alamo Bowl (7:30 p.m., ESPN): No. 11 Utah vs. Texas


Wednesday, Jan. 1

Citrus Bowl (1 p.m., ABC): No. 14 Michigan vs. No. 13 Alabama

Outback Bowl (1 p.m., ESPN): No. 18 Minnesota vs. No. 12 Auburn

Rose Bowl (5 p.m., ESPN): No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 8 Wisconsin

Sugar Bowl (8:45 p.m., ESPN): No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 7 Baylor


Thursday, Jan. 2

Birmingham Bowl (3 p.m., ESPN): No. 21 Cincinnati vs. Boston College

Gator Bowl (7 p.m., ESPN): Indiana vs. Tennessee


Friday, Jan. 3

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (3:30 p.m., ESPN): Ohio vs. Nevada


Saturday, Jan. 4

Armed Forces Bowl (11:30 a.m., ESPN): Southern Mississippi vs. Tulane


Monday, Jan. 6

LendingTree Bowl (7:30 p.m., ESPN): Louisiana vs. Miami (Ohio)


Monday, Jan. 13

College Football Playoff National Championship (8 p.m., ESPN): Winner of No. 1 LSU-No. 4 Oklahoma vs. Winner of No. 2 Ohio State-No. 3 Clemson



Citrus Bowl: No. 14 Michigan vs. No. 13 Alabama

Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

One of the best things about this New Year's Day game is the coaching matchup. A pair of veteran head coaches, Michigan's Jim Harbaugh and Alabama's Nick Saban, will face off for the first time.

Of course, both are disappointed that their respective team is in this game, rather than playing for an opportunity at the national title in the College Football Playoff. But the Wolverines and Crimson Tide both lost crucial games against conference opponents, which leaves them facing off in the Citrus Bowl.

Alabama lost to SEC rivals LSU and Auburn this season, while Michigan fell to Big Ten rivals Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State.

This should still be a fun game, even though the Crimson Tide are without star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. That may make this a closer matchup, as Alabama will have Mac Jones leading its offense.

It won't change the fact that the Tide, who are ranked seventh in the country in total offense (513.3 yards per game), are the better team. Plus, Wolverines quarterback Shea Patterson knows how tough Alabama is—he faced the Tide on Sept. 30, 2017, while playing at Ole Miss, and lost 66-3.

Expect the Crimson Tide to take control in the second half and not look back.

Prediction: Alabama 38, Michigan 24


Sugar Bowl: No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 7 Baylor

John Bazemore/Associated Press

Georgia's stingy defense versus Baylor's high-powered offense? That should be fun to watch.

The Bears are averaging 35.2 points and 431.2 total yards per game, but they're going to have to find a way to score against a Bulldogs defense that ranks fourth in the nation with 274.2 total yards allowed per game. That's better than any unit Baylor faced this season, and much better than any of its Big 12 opponents.

Both teams had playoff aspirations entering conference championship weekend. But Georgia lost to LSU in the SEC Championship Game, while Baylor fell to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game. However, both teams are 11-2 and among the best in the country this season.

It wasn't the best year for Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm, who passed for 2,610 yards, 22 touchdowns and five interceptions, but he led the team to a strong season, helping it find ways to win games. That should be what fans should expect from him and Georgia's offense against Baylor.

As the Bulldogs' defense shuts down the Bears, their offense will score a pair of second-half touchdowns to come away with the victory in what should be a thrilling game that comes down to the wire.

Prediction: Georgia 21, Baylor 20


Cotton Bowl: No. 18 Memphis vs. No. 10 Penn State

Barry Reeger/Associated Press

This bowl typically gives a Group of Five school the chance to prove itself. Sure, Memphis has had a great season, going 12-1 and winning the AAC title. But how will the Tigers fare against one of the best Power Five schools in the nation?

Penn State could have been in the CFP conversation late in the year. But after the Nittany Lions won their first eight games of the season, they lost to Minnesota and Ohio State in the final month, which kept them out of the Big Ten title game and the playoff.

This is still a talented team, though, and easily the best Memphis will have faced this season. Penn State may have lost those two important games late, but it defeated strong teams such as Michigan and Iowa earlier in the year.

The Tigers should keep this game closer than many expect. They have some exciting players, such as junior quarterback Brady White (3,560 passing yards, 33 passing touchdowns) and freshman running back Kenneth Gainwell (1,425 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns).

But there's a reason the Nittany Lions are a top-ten team—they're really good. They should pull away late in this one, ending their season with a bowl victory.

Prediction: Penn State 31, Memphis 17