The Citrus Bowl appears to be must-see TV.
Michigan (9-3) and Alabama (10-2) square off Jan. 1 in Orlando in a game that's considered among the top five matchups of the bowl season.
Yahoo! and Athlon Sports each listed the Citrus Bowl fourth among 39 bowls in their bowl-game rankings, while CBS Sports has the showdown at No. 5.
"Michigan, Alabama, Jim Harbaugh, and Nick Saban," writes Steven Lassan of Athlon Sports. Do we really need anything else? This game features two iconic brands in college football, and two teams looking to rebound after disappointing losses in rivalry games."
The rest of the bowl games involving state teams, meanwhile, reside in the bottom half of the rankings, with Central Michigan (8-4) and San Diego State's appearance in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 21 generally considered the most attractive. It checks in at No. 20 on Yahoo's list, and No. 24 with Athlon Sports and CBS Sports.
"The Aztecs aren’t exactly the most exciting team to watch," Yahoo's Sam Cooper and Nick Bromberg write. "San Diego State (9-3) averages just 19 points per game and gives up 12. Central Michigan scores a lot more (30 points per game) but also gives up a lot more too. This could be a sneakily competitive bowl game and you should pick it over Christmas shopping."
Michigan State (6-6) takes on Wake Forest (8-4) in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 27 in New York, a game that doesn't move the needle much for those compiling the rankings. It ranks as low as No. 32, according to Yahoo, while Athlon lists it at No. 26.
"Let's see, either Michigan State gets its way and turns this into a slow, churning death march, or Wake takes control and wins by 25," writes Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports, who has the game 29th in his bowl rankings. "Some bonus points were awarded for the tweets from media members complaining about the open-air press box at Yankee Stadium during the game."
Detroit's entry in the bowl extravaganza ranked near the bottom, with the Dec, 26 Quick Lane Bowl pitting Eastern Michigan (6-6) and Pitt (7-5) coming in last in Yahoo's rankings, 38th in Athlon's rankings, and 35th in the CBS Sports rankings.
"I am looking forward to the crowd shots in this game," Fornelli writes. "There are going to be a whole lot of empty seats and enthusiastic fans because if you're driving to Detroit to watch Pitt and Eastern Michigan, you're going to be excited, damn it."
Eastern Michigan's campus is less than 40 miles from Ford Field.
Western Michigan (7-5) faces Western Kentucky (8-4) in the First Responder Bowl on Dec. 30 in Dallas, a game that comes in at No. 25 (CBS Sports), No. 27 (Yahoo), and No. 30 (Athlon).
"This game did not make it into the second quarter last year because of severe weather," Cooper and Bromberg write, "so the battle of Western Kentucky and Western Michigan does not have a high bar to clear. And if there are no weather issues, the game features two very solid G5 programs."
Michigan vs. Alabama
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Jan. 1, Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
Records: Michigan 9-3, Alabama 10-2
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Michigan State vs. Wake Forest
Kickoff: 3:20 p.m., Dec. 27, Yankee Stadium, New York
Records: Michigan State 6-6, Wake Forest 8-4
Quick Lane Bowl
Eastern Michigan vs. Pittsburgh
Kickoff: 8 p.m. Dec. 26, Ford Field, Detroit
Records: Eastern Michigan 6-6, Pittsburgh 7-5
New Mexico Bowl
Central Michigan vs. San Diego State
Kickoff: 2 p.m., Dec. 21, Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.
Records: Central Michigan 8-5, San Diego State 9-3
First Responder Bowl
Western Michigan vs. Western Kentucky
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m., Dec. 30, Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas
Records: Western Michigan 7-5, Western Kentucky 8-4