The College Football Playoff begins January 1, and everyone will be watching the four teams slated to contend for the national title. For USC fans, the Cotton Bowl is an added given to the must watch bowls of this year, so here are a few other bowl match-ups you won’t want to miss.
No. 5: Citrus Bowl - Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. LSU Tigers
After falling out of the playoff race with a disappointing finish to the season, Notre Dame has something to prove heading into the Citrus Bowl.
Ending the regular season at No. 14 and 9-3, the Fighting Irish would like to get to ten wins to remove some of the bad taste in their mouths. They need momentum heading into 2018, and quarterback Brandon Wimbush needs a leg up on the sure position battle that will take place next year.
No. 17 LSU, is also looking for its tenth win of the season. Head coach Ed Orgeron still needs to prove to fans that he can coach with the big boys in the SEC, and the Tigers’ defense facing the loss of three starters, would get national recognition if they were able to stop Notre Dame.
No. 4: Orange Bowl - Miami Hurricanes vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Despite missing the playoff, the U is definitely back and will be a force to be reckoned with in 2018. Fans will want to watch this matchup simply for the Hurricanes’ defense and their famous turnover chain. An item that I predict will likely get multiple outings against the Badgers.
Miami ends the regular season 10-2 and ranked No. 10, while Wisconsin heads to Florida at 12-1 and ranked No. 6.
Despite the Badgers being a six point favorite, I predict that it will be a close one until Miami flashes that chain one too many times.
No. 3: Alamo Bowl - Stanford Cardinal vs. TCU Horned Frogs
After a shakey start to the season, No. 13 Stanford is hoping for its tenth win to solidify a job well done.
Of course fans around the world will be tuning in to this one to watch Heisman runner up Bryce Love, who hopefully will put up some eye-popping numbers in what might be his last season as a college football player.
Redshirt freshman K.J. Costello has a firm hold on the Cardinal quarterback reigns and fans would also like to see more of what life with the young gunslinger will be like in 2018.
For No. 15 TCU, an eleventh win would bring back a feeling this team has not quite had this season since their win against Oklahoma State in September.
The Horned Frogs’ biggest advantage is there defense, which may have the best pass rush in the Big 12 in Mat Boesen and Ben Banogu. Those two versus a freshman quarterback may prove to be Stanford’s downfall.
No. 2: Fiesta Bowl - Penn State Nittany Lions vs Washington Huskies
Our most equal matchup in the list, 10-2 Penn State and Washington both have the media’s eyes on them looking to see if either will be a contender for the playoff in 2018.
For No. 9 Penn State the key to victory is running back Saquon Barkley, in what may be his final game before entering the NFL Draft. The Nittany Lions need Barkley to let it lose and possibly throw his name to the top of the 2018 Heisman watch list.
For No. 11 Washington, its key is quarterback Jake Browning. Browning never seems to live up to his full potential for the Huskies, and if they want to be contending for a national title next season, he needs to bring back some 2016 magic.
No 1: Peach Bowl - UCF Knights vs Auburn Tigers
Arguably the biggest story this season is undefeated UCF and now Nebraska head coach Scott Frost.
Though Frost is headed to Lincoln next season, he is staying with No. 12 UCF for one final hurrah to coach them in their game against Auburn.
Fans will want to watch this one to see if UCF truly is as real as their perfect record shows. Can an AAC team beat a high powered SEC one?
No. 7 Auburn, an SEC team faced a much tougher road this season having played three of the four Playoff teams with wins over the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide but loses against the Clemson Tigers and the Georgia rematch. Led by quarterback Jarrett Stidham and excellent running backs Auburn is the clear favorite in this matchup as the Tigers have all the weapons needed to ruin the Golden Knights storybook ending.
While Auburn has the power of the SEC behind them, this UCF team has a heart so big it certainly will not go down without a fight.
If UCF is able to pull this one off, it may be the biggest upset of the season.