Detroit News bowl primer: What’s worth watching, missing
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):
FIVE TO WATCH
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.
FIVE TO MISS
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.
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.
Connecticut vs. Marshall, 11 a.m. Dec. 26
It could be an ugly game in an ugly stadium.
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.
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.
UNDER THE RADAR
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.
NFL IS WATCHING
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.
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.
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.