Detroit News bowl primer: What’s worth watching, missing

Joe Adams
The Detroit News

There are a record 40 bowls this season, not counting the championship game. How in the world can you keep them all straight? Here’s a guide (all games on ESPN unless noted):



Clemson vs. Oklahoma, 4 p.m. Dec. 31

The first half of the College Football Playoff doubleheader matches two dynamic offenses led by two dynamic quarterbacks — Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.


Michigan State vs. Alabama, 8 p.m. Dec. 31

Mark Dantonio has won four straight bowls, but Nick Saban never has lost to a protege. The Spartans are the underdog and need to stop Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry — and must have a healthy Connor Cook.


Ohio State vs. Notre Dame, 1 p.m. Jan. 1

Maybe the most glamorous matchup. With Urban Meyer, Brian Kelly, J.T. Barrett and DeShone Kizer, there is plenty of star power.


Iowa vs. Stanford, 5 p.m. Jan. 1

Two teams with similar philosophies. Do-everything Christian McCaffrey leads Stanford while Iowa, despite losing the Big Ten title, proved it can play with anybody.


Oregon vs. TCU, 6:45 p.m. Jan. 2

Two teams that could have been playing in bigger bowls if their quarterbacks had been healthy. Oregon’s Vernon Adams and TCU’s Trevone Boykin will be healthy for this game.

Detroit News bowl picks



San Jose State vs. Georgia State, 7 p.m. Saturday, CBSSN

A 5-7 team from the Mountain West faces a school that fielded its first team in 2010.

Foster Farms

UCLA vs. Nebraska, 9:15 p.m. Dec. 26

Either UCLA will win in a blowout or Nebraska will beat an uninspired team.


Akron vs. Utah State, 3:30 p.m. Tuesday

Akron lost to Bowling Green, 59-10, and Utah State is 6-6. Plus you’d have to watch a lot of those Idaho Potato commercials.


Nevada vs. Colorado State, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 29, ASN

This first-year bowl matched two Mountain West teams, something that displeased the conference’s commissioner.

St. Petersburg

Connecticut vs. Marshall, 11 a.m. Dec. 26

It could be an ugly game in an ugly stadium.


Citrus Bowl

Michigan vs. Florida, 1 p.m. Jan. 1, ABC

This game lost a lot of luster because Florida’s offense has been so awful since QB Will Grier was suspended (PED). Jim Harbaugh should be able to record a 10-win season in his first year at Michigan.

Bahamas Bowl

Western Michigan vs. Middle Tennessee State, noon Dec. 24

A nice reward for the Broncos. They face a beatable opponent, which is important since Western Michigan has lost four straight bowls.

Quick Lane Bowl

Central Michigan vs. Minnesota, 5 p.m. Dec. 28, ESPN2

This is Central Michigan’s fifth bowl at Ford Field (2-2). It has a chance if Minnesota displays the same kind of clock management it did at the end of its loss to Michigan.


Las Vegas Bowl

BYU vs. Utah, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC

The renewal of the “Holy War,” which was last played in 2013. Utah leads the series 57-34-4, but might be without RB Devontae Booker (knee surgery).

Boca Raton Bowl

Toledo vs. Temple, 7 p.m. Tuesday

Two teams that had excellent seasons but didn’t win their conference. Temple beat Penn State and played Notre Dame tough while Toledo won at Arkansas.

Russell Athletic Bowl

Baylor vs. North Carolina, 5:30 p.m. Dec. 29

Baylor is on its third quarterback but still is dangerous. North Carolina came within a blown onside-kick call of upsetting No. 1 Clemson.


Armed Forces Bowl

California vs. Air Force, 2 p.m. Dec. 29

California junior Jared Goff could be the first quarterback taken in the draft.

Texas Bowl

LSU vs. Texas Tech, 9 p.m. Dec. 29

He isn’t eligible until 2017, but you’d better believe NFL scouts have their eyes on LSU RB Leonard Fournette.

Birmingham Bowl

Auburn vs. Memphis, noon Dec. 30

If California’s Jared Goff isn’t the first quarterback taken in the draft, Memphis junior Paxton Lynch will be.