Guide to every 2019 bowl game

As a sports fan, bowl season is one of the great creature comforts of the calendar. As winter’s cold finally sets in, the bleak look ahead at the next few months of weather offers few excuses to be outside. The end of December brings with it family and travel obligations and lots of holiday parties that, honestly, maybe you’d really rather not bother with.

But it’s also bowl season.

The reliable glow of football on the television starts Friday and doesn’t stop, except for NFL Sundays and the NBA’s Christmas quintuple tacular, until Jan. 7, picking up one last time Jan. 13 for the national title game.

No matter the competition, bowl season is a constant drip of college football to get you through the snow and the sleet and the cold days you don’t want to get out of bed. It’s a built-in excuse for canceled plans — “Sorry, I’ve had the Cheez-It Bowl circled on the calendar all month” — and really, what better gift is there in the holiday season than that?

You can always go catch the latest Oscar bait at the theaters if you want, knowing the bowls will be there when you get back. In that spirit, in addition to a new anagram for each game in this year’s bowl slate, we’re bringing you the official anthem of the forgotten bowl games, there to love you even when you don’t love them back, “Being 7-5”:

“Somebody crowd me with love

Somebody force me to care

Somebody make me come through

I’ll always be there

As frightened as you

To help us survive

Being 7-5

Seven and five

Seven and fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive”

Also, that reminds me, “Rise of Skywalker” is out today — better go get tickets. (Read Jason Fraley’s review: ‘Rise of Skywalker’ plays it safe to neatly wrap up Rey’s journey)

WTOP’s Chris Cichon and Dave Preston join us in the breakdown as we give you a reason to care about each game. Alright, dude. Let’s go bowling.

Friday, Dec. 20

Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl

Buffalo (7-5) vs. Charlotte (7-5)

Anagram: Wow, a bandmaster’s bleak ham

A reason to care: I usually pooh-pooh the 40 (?!?!) bowl slate, but it’s kind of cool for the 49ers, who didn’t give up and won five straight to secure a spot in the Bahamas. — Dave Preston

2 p.m., ESPN

Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl

Utah State (7-5) vs. Kent State (6-6)

Anagram: A critical offshore composite

A reason to care: Utah State quarterback Jordan Love is one of the more polarizing draft prospects on this year’s board. We won’t know until an NFL team takes a chance whether his talent is a small school mirage or he’s a diamond in the non-Power Five rough. — Noah Frank

7:30 p.m., ESPN2

Saturday, Dec. 21

New Mexico Bowl

Central Michigan (8-5) vs. San Diego State (9-3)

Anagram: Cow elm box wine

A reason to care: The MAC is the early bowl schedule winner, with three teams playing in the first three bowls. Don’t sleep on the Aztecs, who were 13 points away from finishing 12-0. — DP

2 p.m., ESPN

FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl

Liberty (7-5) vs. Georgia Southern (7-5)

Anagram: Combat blogger curfew

A reason to care: Seven and fiiiiiiiiiiiive. — NF

2:30 p.m., CBSSN

Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl

SMU (10-2) vs. Florida Atlantic (10-3)

Anagram: Ha, coconut birdbrain below

A reason to care: Lane Kiffin coached FAU to a home bowl game…which he won’t be around to actually coach, having bolted for the Ole Miss job. — NF

3:30 p.m., ABC

Camellia Bowl

Florida International (6-6) vs. Arkansas State (7-5)

Anagram: Claimable owl

A reason to care: Red Wolves wide receiver Omar Bayless notched 1,473 yards and 16 touchdowns. — DP

5:30 p.m., ESPN

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl

No. 19 Boise State (12-1) vs. Washington (7-5)

Anagram: Solve bag laws

A reason to care: Call this the Chris Petersen retirement send-off. The former Boise State coach stepped down from the helm at Washington earlier this month. — CC

7:30 p.m., ABC

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

No. 20 Appalachian State (12-1) vs. UAB (9-4)

Anagram: Narrow cranberries sell low

A reason to care: Shawn Clark takes over as Mountaineers head coach while the Blazers try to bounce back from a 49-6 loss in the Conference USA Championship Game.

9 p.m., ESPN

Monday, Dec. 23

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl

UCF (9-3) vs. Marshall (8-4)

Anagram: Alas, grab pillow

A reason to care: When the aliens unearth the ashes of our culture, just imagine the amount of time the archeologists will spend trying to decipher what in the world this game was.

2:30 p.m., ESPN

Tuesday, Dec. 24

Sofi Hawai’i Bowl

Hawai’i (9-5) vs. BYU (7-5)

Anagram: If ibis? Wow, aloha (yes, I’m very sad Miami’s in the next game, not this one)

A reason to care: The only FBS independent with a win over both a Pac-12 and an SEC team this year? Not Notre Dame — it’s BYU, which beat USC by the same 30-27 final that the Irish did.

8 p.m., ESPN

Thursday, Dec. 26

Louisiana Tech (9-3) vs. Miami (6-6)

Walk-on’s Independence Bowl

Anagram: Been kind, cleaned snowplow

A reason to care: Fun fact: This game’s title sponsor was once Poulan-Weed Eater. — DP

4 p.m., ESPN

Quick Lane Bowl

Pittsburgh (7-5) vs. Eastern Michigan (6-6)

Anagram: Equal block, win

A reason to care: The Eagles have an easy commute, as their campus in Ypsilanti, Michigan is only 38.4 miles away from Ford Field.

8 p.m., ESPN

Friday, Dec. 27

Military Bowl, presented by Northrop Grumman

North Carolina (6-6) vs. Temple (8-4)

Anagram: Army bio twill

A reason to care: This year’s selection process for our local bowl wasn’t nearly as dramatic as last year’s, detailed here. — NF

Noon, ESPN

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Michigan State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (8-4)

Anagram: Winter’s plebian prow

A reason to care: If you’re a believer in redemption, or at least making the most of a lost season, both these teams were ranked and had high designs before tough finishes left them in this game, each with a chance to end the year on the right foot.

3:20 p.m., ESPN

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl

No. 25 Oklahoma State (8-4) vs. Texas A&M (7-5)

Anagram: Alarmed cowboys text spas

A reason to care: Texas A&M, which had one of the hardest schedules in the country (losses to Clemson, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia & LSU), squares off against OK St. running back Chuba Hubbard, the nation’s leading rusher. — CC

6:45 p.m., ESPN

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

No. 22 USC (8-4) vs. No. 16 Iowa (9-3)

Anagram: Howdy, cubical olds

A reason to care: Last time Iowa played a bowl game in California, it got real ugly (a 45-16 loss to Stanford in 2016). — CC

8 p.m., FS1

Cheez-It Bowl

Air Force (10-2) vs. Washington State (6-6)

Anagram: We echo blitz

A reason to care: The Air Raid takes on the Air Force. At least there should be more points than in last year’s mess of a game. — CC

10:15 p.m., ESPN

Saturday, Dec. 28

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

No. 17 Memphis (12-1) vs. No. 10 Penn State (10-2)

Anagram: Tiger scolds a coolant cowboy

A reason to care: Because somebody told you Memphis would be playing in this game. Please stop there and do not look at my playoff predictions. — NF

Noon, ESPN

Camping World Bowl

No. 15 Notre Dame (10-2) vs. Iowa State (7-5)

Anagram: Bland glowworm pic

A reason to care: A change of venue has hurt Fighting Irish QB Ian Book this fall — he completes 59% of his passes with 21 TD and 2 INT at home while hitting 55% with a 12-4 ratio on the road. Maybe that’s why the seven-win Cyclones are only 3.5-point underdogs. — CC

Noon, ABC

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (CFP Semifinal)

No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 LSU

Anagram: Blah, hip cowlick face

A reason to care: It’s the Playoff!

4 p.m., ESPN

Playstation Fiesta Bowl

No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 2 Ohio State

Anagram: Teapots insatiably flow

A reason to care: It’s the other Playoff!

8 p.m., ESPN

Monday, Dec. 30

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

Western Kentucky (8-4) vs. Western Michigan (7-5)

Anagram: Rover prowls, befriends sport

A reason to care: Believe it or not, WKU’s campus resides in the central time zone while WMU’s is in east.  The game’s also at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, which is not named after the 38th President. — DP

12:30 p.m., ESPN

Redbox Bowl

California (7-5) vs. Illinois (6-6)

Anagram: Bed brow lox

A reason to care: Lovie Smith’s impressive job in Champaign has been one of the feel-good underdog stories in the sport and has Illinois back in a bowl for the first time since 2014. — NF

4 p.m., FOX

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Mississippi State (6-6) vs. Louisville (7-5)

Anagram: Limy cubist cow

A reason to care: The Bulldogs are only bowling because an Ole Miss player pretended to go to the bathroom in the end zone after scoring a touchdown in the Egg Bowl. — DP

4 p.m., ESPN

Capital One Orange Bowl

No. 9 Florida (10-2) vs. No. 24 Virginia (9-4)

Anagram: Wonton peel airbag coal

A reason to care: One last chance to see Bryce Perkins at work. The senior threw for 300 yards three times while rushing for 100 yards three times despite being the Cavaliers’ only offensive threat worth worrying about. — DP

8 p.m., ESPN

Tuesday, Dec. 31

Belk Bowl

Virginia Tech (8-4) vs. Kentucky (7-5)

Anagram: None

A reason to care: The Hokies play one more game for longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster who’ll retire after the game, while their future is bright with sophomore quarterback Hendon Hooker. The Wildcats went 3-5 in the SEC but 2-0 against the MAC (beating Toledo and Eastern Michigan). — DP

Noon, ESPN

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl

Florida State (6-6) vs. Arizona State (7-5)

Anagram: Litterbug honesty now

A reason to care: Should we just call Arizona State vs Florida State the battle for best party school? — CC

2 p.m., ESPN

Autozone Liberty Bowl

No. 23 Navy (10-2) vs. Kansas State (8-4)

Anagram: Woozily notable brute

A reason to care: The Midshipmen are trying to tie the 2015 team for most wins in a season. Senior QB Malcolm Perry is averaging 150 yards per game and is 196 yards shy of reaching 2,000 for the year. — DP

3:45 p.m., ESPN

Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl

Wyoming (7-5) vs. Georgia State (7-5)

Anagram: Savannah monorail below zoo

A reason to care: One last all 7-5 matchup to keep the theme song in order. — NF

4:30 p.m., CBSSN

Valero Alamo Bowl

No. 11 Utah (11-2) vs. Texas (7-5)

Anagram: Lo, moral law above

A reason to care: Let’s just hope we don’t hear any “we’re baaaaaaaaaaack” talk even if Texas beats No. 11 Utah. — CC

7:30 p.m., ESPN

Wednesday, Jan. 1

Outback Bowl

No. 18 Minnesota (10-2) vs. No. 12 Auburn (9-3)

Anagram: Back blowout

A reason to care: The Giant-Killers Bowl. While the Golden Gophers handed Penn State its first loss of the year, the Tigers kept both Oregon and Alabama out of playoff contention. — DP

1 p.m., ESPN

VRBO Citrus Bowl

No. 14 Michigan (9-3) vs. No. 13 Alabama (10-2)

Anagram: TV bios curl brow

A reason to care: Each school is coming off of tough losses to their arch-rivals: while the Wolverines got rolled again by Ohio State the Crimson Tide were cursed by crazy plays in their loss at Auburn. — DP

1 p.m., ABC

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual

No. 6 Oregon (11-2) vs. No. 8 Wisconsin (10-3)

Anagram: Omega bowlers

A reason to care: You want guys you’ll be watching on Sunday? Get a look at Oregon QB Justin Herbert and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, both likely future first-round picks. — NF

5 p.m., ESPN

Allstate Sugar Bowl

No. 5 Georgia (11-2) vs. No. 7 Baylor (11-2)

Anagram: A bagel allows trust

A reason to care: “Jake Fromm-2019” was a step back from “Jake Fromm-2018.”  What will the 2020 vintage taste like on Jan. 1? — DP

8:45 p.m., ESPN

Thursday, Jan. 2

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl

Boston College (6-6) vs. No. 21 Cincinnati (10-3)

Anagram: Boring lamb whim

A reason to care: For those who care about old conference ties, this one features old school Big East versus new school Big East (now AAC obviously) with the Bearcats. — CC

3 p.m., ESPN

Taxslayer Gator Bowl

Indiana (8-4) vs. Tennessee (7-5)

Anagram: To raw lobster galaxy

A reason to care: Basketball school battle between Indiana and Tennessee on the football field! — CC

7 p.m., ESPN

Friday, Jan. 3

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Ohio (6-6) vs. Nevada (7-5)

Anagram: Omit spud? A flaw! Ooh, taboo!

A reason to care: My Uncle Chris used to own a chocolate shop in Boise. The Chocolat Bar still crushes it, and you can order online. — DP

3:30 p.m., ESPN

Saturday, Jan. 4

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Southern Mississippi (7-5) vs. Tulane (6-6)

Anagram: Debacle for worms

A reason to care: The colorful Golden Eagles/Green Wave showdown features a sneaky Tulane squad that’s better than its record, losing three games — to Navy, Temple and UCF — by a single possession. — NF

11:30 a.m., ESPN

Monday, Jan. 6

LendingTree Bowl

Louisiana (10-3) vs. Miami OH (8-5)

Anagram: Let low, gin bender

A reason to care: Monday Night Football’s over, but you’ve got one final game to keep you entertained before the  national title game.

7:30 p.m., ESPN

Monday, Jan. 13

CFP National Championship, presented by AT&T

Anagram: Fanatical chimps hoppin’ on

A reason to care: It’s literally the national title game.

TBD vs. TBD, 8 p.m.

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