Photo courtesy of Washington Athletics
Bowl season is upon us, which means the college football season is winding down.
More eyes will be glued to television sets as the New Year’s Six bowls, College Football Playoff and New Year’s Day approach, but in the meantime, we’ll look at what makes all the early bowl games intriguing. Here’s a piece of intrigue for each bowl game that takes place before Santa Claus comes down the chimney:
Bahamas Bowl: Buffalo (7-5) vs. Charlotte (7-5)
Friday, Dec. 20 at 2 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The first game of bowl season will also be the first bowl game for Charlotte as an FBS program. The 49ers have already clinched their first winning season. They could get their first-ever bowl win.
Frisco Bowl: Utah State (7-5) vs. Kent State (6-6)
Friday, Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Unlike Charlotte, Kent State has played in a bowl, but has never won one. The Golden Flashes are 0-3 all-time in bowl games and have not played in a bowl since falling to Arkansas State in the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl.
New Mexico Bowl: Central Michigan (8-5) vs. San Diego State (9-3)
Saturday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Saturday’s New Mexico Bowl will feature two schools with nicknames of indigenous people, as the Central Michigan Chippewas face the San Diego State Aztecs. The only other programs who have native nicknames are the Florida State Seminoles and Utah Utes. A Native American has traditionally served as a mascot for the Illinois Fighting Illini, but the Illini were a fictional tribe.
Cure Bowl: Liberty (7-5) vs. Georgia Southern (7-5)
Saturday, Dec. 21 at 2:30 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Liberty is going bowling in just its second season as an FBS program. It will be the first bowl appearance for the Flames. In his last bowl appearance as a head coach, Liberty’s High Freeze led Ole Miss to a resounding 48-20 victory over Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl to cap the 2016 season.
Boca Raton Bowl: SMU (10-2) vs. Florida Atlantic (10-3)
Saturday, Dec. 21 at 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Outside of the New Year’s Six bowls, the Boca Raton Bowl between Florida Atlantic and SMU is the only bowl matchup of 10-win teams. FAU is 3-0 all time in bowls. The Mustangs have not won a bowl since the 2012 Hawaii Bowl under June Jones.
Camellia Bowl: Florida International (6-6) vs. Arkansas State (7-5)
Saturday, Dec. 21 at 5:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Florida International head coach Butch Davis’ connections to Arkansas aren’t a secret. Davis played defensive end at Arkansas in the early ‘70s and got his first coaching job at an Arkansas high school. At 68 years old, Davis may not be coaching for much longer. In what could be his final bowl game, he’ll face a team from Arkansas. Davis is 2-0 all time as a head coach against teams from the Natural State.
Las Vegas Bowl: 19 Boise State (12-1) vs. Washington (7-5)
Saturday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl will be the final game in the tenure of Washington head coach Chris Petersen and will come against the team that gave him his first head coaching job. Petersen was head coach at Boise State from 2006-13. In eight years in Boise, Petersen won at least 10 games seven times, finished in the AP top 25 six times and finished undefeated twice. In six years at Washington, Petersen is 54-26 with three New Year’s Six appearances.
New Orleans Bowl: 20 Appalachian State (12-1) vs. UAB (9-4)
Saturday, Dec. 21 at 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Appalachian State went 7-5 in its first year as an FBS program in 2015 and has won a bowl game every year since. The only other teams to win bowls in each of the last four years are Wisconsin, Louisiana Tech and Alabama. The Badgers and Bulldogs currently have the longest streaks, winning bowls in each of the last five years.
Gasparilla Bowl: UCF (9-3) vs. Marshall (8-4)
Monday, Dec. 23 at 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Marshall will be a healthy underdog in the Gasparilla Bowl against UCF, but the Thundering Herd have not lost a bowl game since 2004. Dating back to 2009, Marshall has won seven straight bowl games and is 12-2 in bowls since becoming an FBS program. Among schools with five or more bowl appearances, Marshall has the best bowl winning percentage.
Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii (9-5) vs. BYU (7-5)
Tuesday, Dec. 24 at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Hawaii will be one of just two teams playing its bowl games on its home field this bowl season. The other is Florida Atlantic in the Boca Raton Bowl. In bowl games in Hawaii, the Rainbow Warriors are 6-5 all time. Their only bowl appearance outside of their home state was the Sugar Bowl against Georgia to cap the 2007 season.