While bowl season really is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” we can all get real here for a second and admit the following: Not every matchup is, ahem, all that exciting. Now please understand that’s no disrespect to East Carolina and whoever the hell they’re playing in the Buffalo Wild Wings Cool Ranch Dipping Sauce Bowl presented by Vizio. But it is the reality of the situation.
Thankfully, that’s why I’m here. Because while every bowl might not carry the excitement and bluster of the BCS title game, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason to watch each and every postseason game this winter. There are plenty of reasons, which is why today I am presenting you “Aaron Torres’ Ultimate Bowl Viewing Guide: A Reason to Watch Every Bowl Game This Holiday Season.”
Ok, so the title needs a little work, but the concept does not.
We have 35 games left of college football this season and I plan to enjoy each and every one of them.
Here’s why you need to watch, and as always, you're encouraged to share what bowl games you're most excited about either in the comments section or on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.
New Mexico Bowl: Nevada vs. Arizona
Saturday, December 15 1:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because any time Rich Rodriguez’s Arizona Wildcats take the field there’s a chance they put up 45 points. Also, because any time Rich Rodriguez’s Arizona Wildcats take the field there’s also a chance they give up 50.
Either way, expect a lot of points. And a lot more fun.
I mean seriously, what better way to start the bowl season than with this game?
Quick Pick: Nevada 42, Arizona 38
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Toledo vs. Utah State
Saturday, December 15: 4:30 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because Utah State’s Gary Andersen is one of the best coaches you’ve never heard of. And because in three years when he’s running amok in a BCS conference, you can say “Hey, I knew him when!”
Quick Pick: Utah State 34, Toledo 13
Poinsettia Bowl: BYU vs. San Diego State
Thursday, December 20 8:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because this is a sneaky good matchup between a really good offense (San Diego State) and a really, really good defense (BYU).
And because with the way conference realignment is going, who knows, this could potentially be a 2014 Big Ten Championship Game preview.
Quick Pick: San Diego State 24, BYU 16
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl: Central Florida vs. Ball State
Friday, December 21 8:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because with an NCAA investigation looming, there’s a chance that this could be the last time Central Florida plays in the postseason for a while. Not that anyone would notice if they weren’t there. But still.
Quick Pick: Central Florida 31, Ball State 24
New Orleans Bowl: East Carolina vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Saturday, December 22 12:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because on the Saturday before Christmas Day, this game will break up the monotony of your last minute holiday shopping.
And also, if you don’t watch, who will?
Quick Pick: Louisiana Lafayette 30, East Carolina 24
Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Washington
Saturday, December 22 3:30 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because this is the third straight year Boise State will finish their season in Las Vegas. And because crap, if you have to spend the holidays in one place for three straight years, Vegas sure beats going to your in-laws in Sheboygan. Am I right?
Quick Pick: Boise State 28, Washington 16
Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State vs. SMU
Monday, December 24 8:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because there isn’t a better team that no one knows about than Fresno State. The Bulldogs have won seven of their last eight games, with all seven wins coming by double-digits.
And also because it’s Christmas Eve, and well crap, we both know you’re not going to church.
Quick Pick: Fresno State 34, SMU 24
Little Caesars Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Central Michigan
Wednesday, December 26 7:30 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because Western Kentucky is playing in a bowl game for the first time ever, which admittedly, is pretty damn cool.
And also, because this game will kick off your, “It’s the week after Christmas, I took a bunch of time off of work…and crap, I have nothing to do” schedule with a bang.
Quick Pick: Central Michigan 24, Western Kentucky 21
Military Bowl: San Jose State vs. Bowling Green
Thursday, December 27 3:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because playing a pre-New Year’s Bowl game, in the middle of the week, 3,000 miles from home, San Jose State may set a record for the “Fewest Fans Any Team Has Brought to a Bowl Game, Ever.”
So I guess what I’m trying to say is: Hey, residents of D.C., if you have nothing better to do, why not show up and support Mike MacIntyre’s boys, huh?
Quick Pick: San Jose State 41, Bowling Green 24
Belk Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Duke
Thursday, December 27 6:30 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because while “Cincinnati vs. Duke” sounds much better on the basketball court than the football gridiron, let’s give the Dukies a little love for making their first bowl game since 1994. To give that some perspective, Duke’s last bowl game came two years after Christian Laettner beat Kentucky with the most famous shot in college basketball history.
Think about that for a second.
Quick Pick: Cincinnati 34, Duke 14
Holiday Bowl: UCLA vs. Baylor
Thursday, December 27 9:45 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because two weeks ago I found out I was credentialed for this game. And because when these two teams were announced as the 2012 participants, well, it was the best early Christmas present I could’ve ever gotten.
Yeah, I’m being selfish, but who cares? This is going to be a really fun game whether you’re watching on TV or in the press box.
Quick Pick: Baylor 48, UCLA 41
Independence Bowl: Ohio vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Friday, December 28 2:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because remember when Ohio beat Penn State on and everyone assumed the Bobcats would be this year’s BCS bowl buster? And remember when they ended up as what, the sixth best team in the MAC?
Speaking of which, how good was the MAC this year?
Why You Should Watch: Because Rutgers is way better than you realize. And because actually, Virginia Tech is a little worse than you probably realize too.
Otherwise, that’s basically all I’ve got.
Quick Pick: Rutgers 21, Virginia Tech 10
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
Friday, December 28 9:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because it’s Friday night, and… well, umm, maybe you should just skip this one and go hang out with your friends instead.
I promise you won’t be missing much.
Quick Pick: Who cares?
Quick Pick: Texas Tech 41, Minnesota 10
Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force vs. Rice
Saturday, December 30 11:45 a.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because if you’re fiending for triple-option football, who needs to wait for Georgia Tech to play the following day?
Also because… wait, what’s “Rice?” That school just sounds made up to me.
Quick Pick: Air Force 24, Rice 14
Pinstripe Bowl: West Virginia vs. Syracuse
Saturday, December 30 3:15 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because with the credibility of the Big East disappearing faster than the California coast-line, this game will bring us back to a simpler time. To a time when these schools were both members of the Big East, and the conference had a single shred of self-respect remaining.
(And for those wondering, yes, I’m just a bitter UConn fan still upset that the ACC didn’t select us as their 14th team.)
Quick Pick: West Virginia 45, Syracuse 28
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Navy vs. Arizona State
Saturday, December 30 4:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because when Todd Graham parlays a win here into the head coaching job in the Canadian Football League, well… who’s GOING TO GET THE LAST LAUGH THEN? Huh?
Quick Pick: Arizona State 35, Navy 14
Alamo Bowl: Texas vs. Oregon State
Saturday, December 29 6:45 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because while I’d actually like to make a joke here, umm, this is actually going to be a really good game.
Also, in the lead-up to this game the Longhorn Network will set a record for “Most hours of pre-bowl coverage that no one is able to watch” in television history. Good times!
Quick Pick: Oregon State 28, Texas 24
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan State vs. TCU
Saturday, December 29 10:15 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because this game has the single greatest sponsor in bowl history. It is also might have one of the single most uncompelling matchups this bowl season as well. Don’t let the pundits fool you: This isn’t a matchup of two “great defenses” as much as it is a matchup of two highly unwatchable offenses.
First one to kick a field goal wins!
Quick Pick: TCU 17, Michigan State 9
Music City Bowl: North Carolina State vs. Vanderbilt
Monday, December 31 12:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because any time James Franklin is coachin’, I’m watchin’.
It really is that simple.
Quick Pick: Vanderbilt 27, NC State 14
Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. USC
Monday, December 31 2:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because with CBS broadcasting this game, it’ll be the last time until September we get to see Gary, Verne and Tracy in the booth together (//single tear rolls down cheek//).
Also, could there be a more fitting way for Monte Kiffin to finish his time at USC than by allowing Georgia Tech to put up 600 yards of offense in a 41-38 loss?
I think not.
Quick Pick: USC 31, Georgia Tech 14
Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs. Tulsa
Monday, December 31 3:30 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times…. I AM SO PROUD OF YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!
Quick Pick: Tulsa 31, Iowa State 24
Chick Fil-A Bowl: LSU vs. Clemson
Monday, December 31 7:30 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because there wasn’t a more fun team to watch on a week-to-week basis in 2012 than Clemson.
Also, because with the passing of Dick Clark, all I’ve got to say is… “Les Miles’ Rockin’ New Year’s Eve!”
Who’s with me on that one?
Quick Pick: LSU 21, Clemson 17
Gator Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Northwestern
Tuesday, January 1 12:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because it’s New Year’s Day. Because you’re violently hungover. And because there will be nothing more fun than to once again see Mississippi State get exposed as the most overrated team in college football.
Quick Pick: Northwestern 31, Mississippi State 21
Heart of Dallas Bowl: Purdue vs. Oklahoma State
Tuesday, January 1 12:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because every time Oklahoma State takes the field, there’s a chance the Pokes put up 60 points. And because every time Purdue takes the field, umm…
Hey, did I mention Oklahoma State might put up 60?!?!?
Quick Pick: Oklahoma State 45, Purdue 14
Capital One Bowl: Georgia vs. Nebraska
Tuesday, January 1 1:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because Georgia is the ultimate, “Will they actually have the motivation to show up for this one” team of the 2012-2013 bowl season. And because for Nebraska, well, at least it can’t get worse than the Big Ten Championship Game for Big Red. Right?
Quick Pick: Georgia 24, Nebraska 21
Outback Bowl: Michigan vs. South Carolina
Tuesday, January 1 1:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because after four really enjoyable years, this will be the last time we ever see Denard Robinson put on a Michigan uniform. It just won’t be the same when he’s a backup cornerback on the Houston Texans next year.
But hey, we’ll always have the memories, right?
Quick Pick: South Carolina 20, Michigan 17
Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Wisconsin
Tuesday, January 1 5:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because if there was an actual college football playoff this season, Stanford would be the proverbial “Team no one wants to play right now” in this year’s tournament. And because I don’t care what their record is, Wisconsin has been one of the 10 best teams in college football over the last month.
And also because I’ll be attending this game and yes, I’m trying to come up with any excuse I can to get myself excited for this one.
And because umm, slow down Herbie!!! Who would you rather see in this game, Oklahoma? That’s right, I’m on #TeamJordanLynch.
Quick Pick: Florida State 31, Northern Illinois 14
Sugar Bowl: Louisville vs. Florida
Wednesday, January 2 8:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because while this might not be a matchup of Top 5 teams, it is undoubtedly a matchup of Top 5 “Coaches I’d never want to bump into in a dark alley.”
Can’t you practically feel the anger coming out of Will Muschamp and Charlie Strong already?
Quick Pick: Louisville 20, Florida 13
Fiesta Bowl: Oregon vs. Kansas State
Thursday, January 3 8:30 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because, for the second straight year the Fiesta Bowl hit pay-dirt, with what is undoubtedly the single best matchup outside the BCS title game.
If you haven’t already cleared your schedule to watch this one, well, you’re doing it all wrong.
Quick Pick: Oregon 42, Kansas State 31
Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma
Friday, January 4 8:30 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because, ahem, have you heard of Johnny Manziel? And because as much as I make fun of him, Landry Jones has been way better in 2012 than I care to give him credit for.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: This is going to be a fun one!
BBVA Compass Bowl: Pitt vs. Ole Miss
Saturday, January 5 1:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because man, it’s Freaky Friday for Pitt, who is going to this bowl for what, the 398th straight year? Meanwhile, how excited is Ole Miss just to be going to any bowl, after missing the postseason for the last two years?
Quick Pick: Ole Miss 38, Pitt 24
GoDaddy.com Bowl: Kent State vs. Arkansas State
Sunday, January 6 9:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because while the name, date and location may make this bowl seem small-time, there is nothing small-time about this matchup, or the two rising coaches it will feature. You probably already know Arkansas State’s Gus Malzahn, but do yourself a favor and get to know Kent State’s Darrell Hazell. He’s the next big thing in college coaching.
Quick Pick: Kent State 31, Arkansas State 28
BCS National Championship Game: Notre Dame vs. Alabama
Monday, January 7 8:00 p.m.
Why You Should Watch: Because it’s Alabama and Notre Dame. And the winner will be crowned the 2013 BCS National Champion.
What more could you ask for?
Quick Pick: You’ll have come back soon to find out!
(*** Note: if you enjoyed this article, Aaron has now started a once-weekly e-mail newsletter for updates on all his writing, podcasts and giveaways. Sign-up where it says “Aaron Torres Mailing List” on the right side of this website or e-mail him at ATorres00@gmail.com to be added to the list.
And finally, remember Aaron will be releasing an eBook in early December of all his best work of the 2012 calendar year. For more details, click here.)
About Aaron Torres
Aaron Torres works for Fox Sports, and was previously a best-selling author of the book 'The Unlikeliest Champion.'
He currently uses Aaron Torres Sports to occasionally weigh-in on the biggest stories from around sports.
He has previously done work for such outlets as Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and Slam Magazine.