Now that we are less than a week away from the start of bowl season, it is time to think about what games are going to be a priority on your must watch list. I am well aware that you are going to watch all of the high profile bowl games…Rose, Orange, Cotton, Sugar and the games that are part of the College Football Playoff but I’m here to tell you about 5 lesser known bowl games that feature some really good matchups and should be on your must watch list.
5) Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
Buffalo vs Charlotte
December 20th 2 p.m.
Ironically, the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl which kicks off bowl season makes my top 5 must watch list. Yes, I know what you are thinking, the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl? Really? Yes, really and here’s why. No matter the outcome of this game it will be a feel-good story. Buffalo has been to three previous bowl games but has yet to win one. On the other hand, Charlotte, who has only had a football program since 2013, will be making their first ever bowl appearance in 2019. Seeing a program win its first bowl game is something special and puts the pageantry of college football on full display.
In addition, to watching a team get their first bowl win there is another feel-good story to be found within this game. Charlotte will feature defensive end, Alex Highsmith who started his career as a walk-on and now has blossomed into a red-shirt senior who ended 2019 tied for second in the country for most sacks (14.0) and was on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year). Highsmith’s name has even appeared on some NFL draft analysts’ big boards for the 2020 NFL draft. This game will be the last collegiate game for Highsmith but learning about the trajectory of his career at Charlotte is what college football is all about.
4) Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl
Southern Methodist vs Florida Atlantic
December 21st 3:30 p.m.
The Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl would be even more interesting if Lane Kiffin were coaching in his last game at Florida Atlantic but he has already moved on to green pastures in Oxford, Mississippi but one thing this game won’t lack is offense. Let me throw a few stats at you about this game. In 2019, SMU averaged 43 points and 495.3 yards per game while Florida Atlantic averaged 34.7 points and 443 yards per game. The Mustangs and Owls certainly know how to move the ball up and down the field but what about SMU and FAU’s defenses? They can’t really keep points off the board either. Both teams averaged giving up 24+ points and 370+ yards a game. If you like points and explosive plays then this is the bowl game for you.
3) San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl
Southern California vs Iowa
December 27th 8 p.m.
The San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl showcases two teams that came into the season with high hopes but faltered some on those dreams and ended up here. Even though this wasn’t the desired destination at the start of the season for both teams this will be a momentum builder for 2020. The intriguing matchup in this game will be the Trojans offense against the Hawkeyes defense. USC touts star quarterback Kedon Slovis who will look to carry his impressive numbers into the bowl game. Slovis has thrown for over 400 yards in each of his last three starts and totaled 28 TDs with only 9 INTs for the seasons. However, he will be facing a tough Iowa defense that tallied 11 interceptions and forced 9 fumbles in 2019. Hawkeye defensive end A.J. Epenesa, who comes into the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl with 9 sacks, will be looking to push Slovis around and get him out of rhythm with the talented Trojan receiving corps. This might not be the highest scoring game but it will be a battle of strength vs strength which is why this one should be on your must watch this bowl season.
2) Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
Oklahoma State vs Texas A&M
December 27th 6:45 p.m.
Just when the after Christmas lull hits you the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl will be there to pick you back up. A bowl featuring two former Big XII conference foes combined with two offensive that can rack up points easily is a must watch for every college football junkie. Oklahoma State is lead by running back Chubba Hubbard, who many thought should have been a Heisman finalist, whose stellar 6.3 yards per carry average combined with his nose for the endzone help lead the Cowboys to eight wins this season. Conversely, A&M will lean on quarterback Kellon Mond’s arm and legs to challenge the Cowboys defense. This one should be an ole Texas shootout, pun intended, type of game that won’t disappoint.
1) Cheez-It Bowl
Air Force vs Washington State
December 27th 10:15 p.m.
Finally, we have arrived at the #1 underrated bowl in 2019. That #1 spot belongs to none other than the Cheez-It Bowl. Air Force and Washington State could not be more opposite if you tried. The Falcons are a run first triple option team and hardly ever throw the ball while Wazzou runs an all out air-raid offensive scheme. To highlight just how different these teams are, check out these stats. Air Force completed 64 passes….all year!! , WSU quarterback Anthony Gordon completed 40+ passes in six of the Cougars games this year. I have no idea how this game is going to play out but it should be some fascinating football to watch since one team only wants use the ground and pound approach to have slow methodical drives while the other wants to air it out as much and as fast as possible. Watching these two polar opposites butt heads in the Cheez-It Bowl is a must watch for any sports fan and lands this bowl in as the best underrated bowl of 2019.