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Ranking the bowl games: From No. 38 to College Football Playoff

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It's the holiday season, which also means it's bowl season.


» 2014 college football bowl schedule


And bowl season will be longer than ever this season: There are a record 38 bowls, and the season extends into the second week of January because of the playoff.

Once the holiday season hits, managing your time becomes even more important. Thus, in the holiday spirit of selflessness, here is our rundown of the "attractiveness" of the bowls to help you plan out your month.

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38. HAWAII BOWL

Site: Honolulu
Date/time/TV: Dec. 24, 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Fresno State (6-7) vs. Rice (7-5)
Skinny: Come on -- this game is on Christmas Eve! Spend it with your family, not watching this. Fresno State, which lost in the Mountain West championship game, is the third team in four seasons to play in a bowl despite a losing record (UCLA in 2011 and Georgia Tech in 2012 were the others).

37. CAMELLIA BOWL

Site: Montgomery, Ala.
Date/time/TV: Dec. 20, 9:15 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Bowling Green (7-6) vs. South Alabama (6-6)
Skinny: This is South Alabama's first bowl appearance. That gives this game some cachet, right? Right?

36. HEART OF DALLAS BOWL

Site: Dallas
Date/time/TV: Dec. 26, 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Illinois (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-5)
Skinny: For those who don't know, this bowl is sponsored by Zaxby's, the chicken restaurant. They have good chicken fingers. Indeed, their food is better than this matchup.

35. QUICK LANE BOWL

Site: Detroit
Date/time/TV: Dec. 26, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: North Carolina (6-6) vs. Rutgers (7-5)
Skinny: UNC underachieved this season; Rutgers overachieved a bit. But whether you want to watch these teams get together on the day after Christmas is up to you.

34. MILITARY BOWL

Site: Annapolis, Md.
Date/time/TV: Dec. 27, 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)
Skinny: Both played Ohio State. The Hokies beat the Buckeyes, 35-21, in Columbus; the Bearcats lost to the Buckeyes, 50-28, in Columbus.


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33. NEW ORLEANS BOWL

Site: New Orleans
Date/time/TV: Dec. 20, 11 a.m., ESPN
Matchup: Nevada (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
Skinny: "Hey, I think I sat next to this guy last year at this game!" (This is the fourth consecutive season ULL has played in this bowl, and the Ragin' Cajuns have won each of the past three.)

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32. NEW MEXICO BOWL

Site: Albuquerque
Date/time/TV: Dec. 20, 2:20 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: UTEP (7-5) vs. Utah State (9-4)
Skinny: UTEP won a combined five games in the past two seasons and was one of the nation's biggest surprises this season. Utah State is going for just the second 10-win season in school history; the other came in 2011, and coach Gary Andersen then left for Wisconsin.

31. POINSETTIA BOWL

Site: San Diego
Date/time/TV: Dec. 23, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Navy (6-5) at San Diego State (7-5)
Skinny: Navy has one more regular-season game remaining, against Army on Saturday. San Diego State is the only bowl team playing in its home stadium this postseason. Expect a nice crowd, what with SDSU playing at home and the huge Navy presence in the San Diego area.

30. FOSTER FARMS BOWL

Site: Santa Clara, Calif.
Date/time/TV: Dec. 30, 10 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Maryland (7-5) vs. Stanford (7-5)
Skinny: You worried about being tired on New Year's Eve? Here's a plan: Watch this contest; the lackluster offenses on view will put you to sleep and have you refreshed for Dec. 31.


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29. PINSTRIPE BOWL

Site: New York
Date/time/TV: Dec. 27, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Boston College (7-5) vs. Penn State (6-6)
Skinny: Penn State makes its return to the postseason for the first time since 2011. Other than that, there's not much going for this one.

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28. ARMED FORCES BOWL

Site: Fort Worth, Texas
Date/time/TV: Jan. 2, noon, ESPN
Matchup: Houston (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6)
Skinny: Houston will be playing for an interim coach. Still, this could be somewhat worthwhile because of the presence of two Pitt sophomore studs: RB James Conner and WR Tyler Boyd.

27. CACTUS BOWL

Site: Tempe, Ariz.
Date/time/TV: Jan. 2, 10:15 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Oklahoma State (6-6) vs. Washington (8-5)
Skinny: Oklahoma State had to upset Oklahoma -- in Norman, no less -- to become bowl eligible, so the Cowboys are playing with house money. Washington has LB Hau'oli Kikaha, who leads the nation in sacks, and dynamic RB/LB Shaq Thompson.

26. GODADDY.COM BOWL

Site: Mobile, Ala.
Date/time/TV: Jan. 4, 9 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Arkansas State (7-5) vs. Toledo (8-4)
Skinny: This one could have a lot of points; Toledo is 19th in total offense (486.3 yards per game) and Arkansas State is 21st (477.2 ypg). This is the fourth season in a row Arkansas State has been in this bowl. (And if you decide to watch, be prepared for a few commercials with Danica Patrick.)

25. POPEYES BAHAMAS BOWL

Site: Nassau
Date/time/TV: Dec. 24, noon, ESPN
Matchup: Central Michigan (7-5) vs. Western Kentucky (7-5)
Skinny: There's one reason to watch: Western Kentucky QB Brandon Doughty is the nation's leading passer (4,344 yards) and it'll be interesting to see if he can keep his lead. Expect a ton of passes from the Hilltoppers.


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24. TAXSLAYER BOWL

Site: Jacksonville
Date/time/TV: Jan. 2, 3:20, ESPN
Matchup: Iowa (7-5) vs. Tennessee (6-6)
Skinny: A middling Big Ten team vs. a middling SEC team (though the middling SEC team would seem to be on more of an upward trajectory than the middling Big Ten team). We forgive you if you skip this.

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23. BIRMINGHAM BOWL

Site: Birmingham, Ala.
Date/time/TV: Jan. 3, noon, ESPN
Matchup: East Carolina (8-4) vs. Florida (6-5)
Skinny: Florida will be playing for an interim coach, and you have to wonder about the Gators' mindset. ECU QB Shane Carden is second nationally in passing yardage (4,309), and he and WR Justin Hardy -- the FBS career leader in receptions -- will be going against a strong Florida secondary headed by star sophomore CB Vernon Hargreaves III.

22. ST. PETERSBURG BOWL

Site: St. Petersburg, Fla.
Date/time/TV: Dec. 26, 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: North Carolina State (7-5) vs. UCF (9-3)
Skinny: UCF won the Fiesta Bowl over Baylor last season. This obviously is a much smaller stage (and the game is played in a bad baseball stadium, no less), but the Knights get another shot at beating a power-conference opponent in a bowl.

21. INDEPENDENCE BOWL

Site: Shreveport, La.
Date/time/TV: Dec. 27, 4 p.m., ESPN2
Matchup: Miami (6-6) vs. South Carolina (6-6)
Skinny: Two of the nation's biggest underachievers get together. Expect some barbs from Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier about the Hurricanes -- and a few about his team, too. Miami junior TB Duke Johnson could be playing his final college game; the same goes for South Carolina junior TB Mike Davis.

20. FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL

Site: Boise, Idaho
Date/time/TV: Dec. 20, 5:45 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Air Force (9-3) vs. Western Michigan (8-4)
Skinny: Just call this the "Turnaround Bowl." Western Michigan was 1-11 last season, and Air Force was 3-9. Air Force is all about the run, whereas Western has good offensive balance and one of the nation's top freshmen in RB Jarvion Franklin (1,525 yards, 24 TDs).

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19. RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL

Site: Orlando
Date/time/TV: Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Clemson (9-3) vs. Oklahoma (8-4)
Skinny: Two big-name programs. But both were at least mild disappointments, and both starting quarterbacks could miss the game with injuries. Samaje Perine, who set the FBS single-game rushing record with 427 yards in November, suffered an ankle injury in the Bedlam game, and his status for the bowl is uncertain.

18. HOLIDAY BOWL

Site: San Diego
Date/time/TV: Dec. 27, 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Nebraska (9-3) vs. USC (8-4)
Skinny: This game has the potential to be quite good. But because the Huskers will have an interim coach, you wonder how much they'll care about this game.

17. SUN BOWL

Site: El Paso, Texas
Date/time/TV: Dec. 27, 2 p.m., CBS
Matchup: Arizona State (9-3) vs. Duke (9-3)
Skinny: Headed into November, the Sun Devils had a shot at a playoff berth, so you wonder about their mindset. We like this matchup because there's something cool about teams whose nicknames include the word "Devils" playing in the Sun Bowl (you know, because the sun is hot, and the devil lives where it's hot).

16. LAS VEGAS BOWL

Site: Las Vegas
Date/time/TV: Dec. 20, 3:30 p.m., ABC
Matchup: Colorado State (10-2) vs. Utah (8-4)
Skinny: Colorado State was one of the nation's biggest surprises, but the Rams will be playing for an interim coach. Still, this is a chance for the Mountain West Conference to grab a win over the Pac-12.

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15. TEXAS BOWL

Site: Houston
Date/time/TV: Dec. 29, 9 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Arkansas (6-6) vs. Texas (6-6)
Skinny: OK, so the records aren't impressive. But each played relatively good football down the stretch, and any time these old rivals get together, it's noteworthy. Since Arkansas left the now-defunct Southwest Conference for the SEC after the 1991 season, these schools have met just four times.

14. MUSIC CITY BOWL

Site: Nashville
Date/time/TV: Dec. 30, 3 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: LSU (8-4) vs. Notre Dame (7-5)
Skinny: Two big-name programs with quarterback issues will meet. LSU's offense has struggled all season; so has Notre Dame's defense. Which unit has the better day?

13. MIAMI BEACH BOWL

Site: Miami
Date/time/TV: Dec. 22, 2 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BYU (8-4) vs. Memphis (9-3)
Skinny: BYU entered the season with hopes of an unbeaten season, but those dreams were dashed when star QB Taysom Hill was injured and lost for the season. But the Cougars have rebounded and face a tough test from surprising Memphis, which hasn't had a winning season since 2007 and has enjoyed just four winning records in the past 20 seasons.

12. BOCA RATON BOWL

Site: Boca Raton, Fla.
Date/time/TV: Dec. 23, 6 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Marshall (12-1) vs. Northern Illinois (11-2)
Skinny: The first-year bowl has an excellent "mid-major" matchup, with C-USA champ Marshall going against MAC titlist NIU. Thundering Herd QB Rakeem Cato is fifth in FBS history with 128 TD passes, and he needs three to tie former Hawaii star Colt Brennan for fourth place.

11. LIBERTY BOWL

Site: Memphis
Date/time/TV: Dec. 29, 2 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Texas A&M (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5)
Skinny: Both teams started fast, but finished slow. The potential exists for a lot of points, so it's worth watching.

10. CITRUS BOWL

Site: Orlando
Date/time/TV: Jan. 1, 1 p.m., ABC
Matchup: Minnesota (8-4) vs. Missouri (10-3)
Skinny: This is Minnesota's first New Year's Day bowl since the 1961 season. The Golden Gophers are aiming for their first nine-win season since 2003 and just their second since 1905. Seriously, 1905. This also matches two of the nation's most underrated coaches in Minnesota's Jerry Kill and Mizzou's Gary Pinkel.

9. BELK BOWL

Site: Charlotte, N.C.
Date/time/TV: Dec. 30, 6:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Georgia (9-3) vs. Louisville (9-3)
Skinny: A nice matchup for this bowl. Both teams had their ups and downs, but both also won nine games and finished in the playoff committee's top 25. Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is in his first season at Louisville after spending four seasons in the same role at Georgia.

8. FIESTA BOWL

Site: Glendale, Ariz.
Date/time/TV: Dec. 31, 4 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Arizona (10-3) vs. Boise State (11-2)
Skinny: Can Arizona bounce back from the beatdown it endured in the Pac-12 championship game? And look at Boise State: It was sort of the forgotten non-Big Five program before the season, but played well and again is getting its opportunity on a national stage.

7. ORANGE BOWL

Site: Miami
Date/time/TV: Dec. 31, 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Georgia Tech (10-3) vs. Mississippi State (10-2)
Skinny: A regional matchup that has some appeal. Both offenses should have success.

6. ALAMO BOWL

Site: San Antonio
Date/time/TV: Jan. 2, 6:45 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Kansas State (9-3) vs. UCLA (9-3)
Skinny: K-State, as usual, maxed out relative to its talent level. The same can't be said for UCLA, which looks to have underachieved a bit. Many expect that this will be the final college game for UCLA QB Brett Hundley.

5. OUTBACK BOWL

Site: Tampa
Date/time/TV: Jan. 1, noon, ESPN2
Matchup: Auburn (8-4) vs. Wisconsin (10-3)
Skinny: A fascinating contrast of styles. Auburn wants you to slowly bleed to death trying to defend its version of the spread. Wisconsin wants to bludgeon you with its power rushing attack. And there's the always-handy "SEC speed vs. Big Ten brawn" storyline, too.

4. PEACH BOWL

Site: Atlanta
Date/time/TV: Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mississippi (9-3) vs. TCU (11-1)
Skinny: Mississippi has won mostly because of its defense this season; TCU's offense has been the main reason the Horned Frogs have won 11. What that means, of course, is that Ole Miss' offense going against the Horned Frogs' defense is the matchup that will decide the winner.

3. COTTON BOWL

Site: Arlington, Texas
Date/time/TV: Jan. 1, 12:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Baylor (11-1) vs. Michigan State (10-2)
Skinny: A fascinating contrast in styles in this one, too, with the free-wheeling Bears going against the tough-minded Spartans. The Big 12 vs. Big Ten storyline is a good one, as well.

2. ROSE BOWL

Site: Pasadena, Calif.
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 5 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Oregon (12-1) vs. Florida State (13-0)
Skinny: FSU is the only unbeaten team in the nation, yet will have a chip on its shoulder as it prepares for this, because seemingly everyone not wearing garnet and gold questions the Seminoles. There's also a great quarterback matchup: FSU's Jameis Winston, last season's Heisman winner, vs. Oregon's Marcus Mariota, almost assuredly this season's Heisman winner. Finally, you have the defending national champs against the best program never to have won a national title.

1. SUGAR BOWL

Site: New Orleans
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Alabama (12-1) vs. Ohio State (12-1)
Skinny: This one has it all. Nick Saban vs. Urban Meyer. SEC vs. Big Ten. Two of the biggest "brand names" in college football. And there's a spot in the national title game on the line.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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