Ranking The College Football Bowl Matchups: The Good Ones

    What are the best college football bowl matchups of the 2015-2016 season? These are the good ones. They might not be the best of the bunch, but the matchups are strong enough to be appointment watching.

    December 9, 2015

    What are the best college football bowl matchups of the 2015-2016 season? These are the good ones. They might not be the best of the bunch, but the matchups are strong enough to be appointment watching.

    20. California vs. Air Force

    Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

    Dec. 29, Fort Worth, Tex.

    Air Force has come up with four fun games in a row, even though it lost the last two, helped by an offense that figured it out over the second half of the season. Cal has no problems gearing up the offense, but more importantly, it has what every December bowl game needs – no defense. At least there’s no defense lately. The points should be flying on the board, but the real reason to care is Jared Goff. He needs one big performance to get the first-half-of-the-season hype rolling again.

    19. Pittsburgh vs. Navy

    Military Bowl
    Dec. 28, Annapolis, Md.

    It’s all up to whether or not Pat Narduzzi’s Pitt defense can figure out how to hit the knuckleball. Navy has won its last two bowl games, and it’s going to come in with a head of steam and plenty of national attention surrounding QB Keenan Reynolds. Pitt, on the other hand, has lost three of its last four bowl games, but motivation won’t be a problem after gagging away the 2015 Armed Forces to Houston.

    18. Duke vs. Indiana

    New Era Pinstripe Bowl
    Dec. 26, New York, N.Y.

    Indiana is just plain fun to watch. The novelty of this being in New York City goes bye-bye instantly – oooh, playing on a baseball field is much better than playing in Miami in late December – Duke is going to care and IU is going to be fired up to be in the post-season. Duke is bad at this whole bowl thing, losing five straight since edging Arkansas in the 1961 Cotton Bowl, and it had a rocky second half of the year. Both teams are going to bring the fight.

    17. Temple vs. Toledo

    Boca Raton Bowl
    Dec. 22, Boca Raton, Fla.

    Temple has its head coach locked up, Toledo has its head coach in place, and now it’s time for the first game of the rest of their lives. Each one had its national moments, with Temple beating Penn State and getting the GameDay love against Notre Dame, while Toledo beat Arkansas in a thriller. However, both came up short in their respective conference chases. These are two excellent teams with excellent seasons – this is a bigger and better bowl game than it appears to be.

    16. Texas Tech vs. LSU

    AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl

    Dec. 29, Houston, Tex.

    Everything is screaming that this could turn out to be a total trainwreck, mainly because Texas Tech’s D is about to get hit by old Lenny Fournette for close to 300 yards – and that alone is a reason to care. However, Texas Tech is a phenomenal bowl team, sometimes defying all logic and reason. The Red Raiders have won four straight, including a shocker to Arizona State in the 2013 Holiday, and six of their last seven. LSU had better win after all the Les drama.

    MORE: Click for the top ten bowl matchup rankings, No. 21 to 30: Bowls To See, No. 31 to 40: Because You Love College Football

    15. Wisconsin vs. USC

    National University Holiday Bowl

    Dec. 30, San Diego, Calif.

    One of the stronger matchups it’s had in a while, this is one Pac-12 title win over Stanford and one fewer takeaway from Iowa from this probably being the Rose Bowl matchup. The Badgers can’t play uninteresting bowls with six straight entertaining games, and eight in the last nine, but it’s about the right now for them. First-year head man Paul Chryst still has a bit of proving to do, while USC’s Clay Helton had better not lose now he’s it. The honeymoon period between being the interim head coach and the full-timer ends … now.

    14. NC State vs. Mississippi State

    Belk Bowl
    Dec. 30, Charlotte, N.C.

    The Belk has been horrible over the last three years, but this time around at least the quarterback matchup matters. Dak Prescott and Jacoby Brissett should come up with a shootout – at least that’s the hope. This would be a huge, HUGE win for the ACC in the post-bowl breakdowns, while Mississippi State needs to make amends for last year’s Orange Bowl loss to Georgia Tech.

    13. Arizona vs. New Mexico

    Gildan New Mexico Bowl

    Dec. 19, Albuquerque, N.M.

    Energy won’t be a problem with New Mexico playing at home and Arizona not all that far away. Can the Wildcats get up for a Mountain West team? After losing to Boise State in last season’s Fiesta, absolutely. However, the D needs to show up, or else the Lobos are going to run wild. They’re going to be pumped up in their first bowl game since beating Nevada in the 2007 New Mexico, while Arizona needs to close strong after losing four of the last five games.

    12. Middle Tennessee vs. Western Michigan

    Popeyes Bahamas Bowl
    Dec. 24, Nassau, Bahamas

    It’s going to be measured against the mother of all wild bowl games – Central Michigan mounted a wild comeback including a Hail Mary to force overtime, only to lose to WKU – but it should be just fine on its own. Offense, offense, offense – the two are going to wing it around the year in a game of pure bowl candy.

    11. Louisiana Tech vs. Arkansas State

    R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
    Dec. 19, New Orleans, La.

    It’s always a fun watch. Arkansas State wrestled away Louisiana-Lafayette’s four-year grip on the game, and now it gets its chance to play in the dome for the first time since December 20th. It’s just the sixth bowl game in the school’s history, breaking away from the GoDaddy, while this might be a stepping-stone game for Louisiana Tech. The fans will show up to bring the energy between two schools just 20 miles away from each other.


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