Carpenter: Five bowl games to watch

Posted 11/12/17

For all the faults the College Football Playoff Committee has   — and there are plenty — you can’t say we don’t have better bowl games now than in the pre-playoff era. Along with the …

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Carpenter: Five bowl games to watch


For all the faults the College Football Playoff Committee has  — and there are plenty — you can’t say we don’t have better bowl games now than in the pre-playoff era.

Along with the four-team playoff, we’re guaranteed to see the rest of the teams in the top 12 square off in historic bowl games around the first of the year.

After Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma and Georgia were selected for the playoff, which begins Jan. 1, the rest of the bowl schedule fell into place Sunday afternoon.

Here are the five best bowl games to watch this season:

5) Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Oregon, Dec. 16, 2:30 p.m.: It certainly isn’t the most prestigious matchup this year, but fireworks are possible anytime Boise State faces a major conference team in a bowl game. The Broncos were put on the map in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl when they ran two trick plays — a “hook and ladder” and the “Statue of Liberty” — to stun Oklahoma in overtime.

Boise State has become the most famous mid-major program the last 15 years thanks to two things: trick plays and winning, and next Saturday’s meeting with Oregon is a good kickoff to bowl season.

4) Frisco Bowl: SMU vs. Louisiana Tech, Dec. 20, 7 p.m.: Nobody turns on a random bowl game for defense, which is a good thing for the first-ever Frisco Bowl because neither of these teams pretend to be good at it.

SMU is eighth in the country with 40.2 points per game, and Louisiana Tech isn’t far behind at 28.8.

The game will also be played in a soccer stadium, so there’s nothing not to like here.

3) Cotton Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC, Dec. 29, 7:30 p.m.: The Trojans and Buckeyes meet in Dallas in a game that could have very well been a playoff game.

Both teams had similar resumes to Alabama and were worthy of being selected, so it will be interesting to see how the players respond to being left out.

USC quarterback Sam Darnold (3,787 yards, 26 touchdowns) could be the No. 1 pick in next spring’s NFL draft, and Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett (35 total touchdowns) is one of the better college quarterbacks we’ve seen this decade.

Darnold will be have to be great to keep USC close, because Ohio State’s offense is great.

USC’s defense, on the other hand, is not.

At the very least, we should see two great quarterbacks go back-and-forth for three hours.

2) Peach Bowl: Auburn vs. Central Florida, Jan. 1, 11:30 a.m.: Central Florida earned a New Year’s Day bowl by going 12-0 in the American Athletic Conference.

During Saturday’s finale against Memphis, news leaked that Head Coach Scott Frost was bolting for Nebraska. 

Tuesday, the Knights hired Mizzou Offensive Coordinator Josh Heupel to replace Frost, but Frost plans to coach UCF against Auburn.

The Knights were an offensive juggernaut this season, finishing the regular season fifth in the country in total offense with 540 yards per game.

Auburn isn’t too bad either.

The Tigers — led by offensive wizard Gus Malzahn — averaged 34.4 points in the SEC.

1) Sugar Bowl: Clemson vs. Alabama, Jan. 1, 7:45 p.m.: The second playoff semifinal is being dubbed “Clemson/Alabama III.”

The teams have met in the previous two national title games, with Alabama winning the first and Clemson taking last year’s rematch.

Despite being the No. 4 seed and the last team chosen by the playoff committee, Alabama is actually a small favorite in this one.

Clemson was given no favors by the committee for earning the No. 1 seed, and the third meeting in this series should be as good as the first two.

Whatever happens, the winner should be a clear favorite in the national championship Jan. 8.