As we enter December and the end of 2016, there are several things going on that are fighting for our attention. The holidays, shopping, family time and food, and of course, football. And while we still have to wait another two months before the top two teams in the NFL duke it out, we have more than enough college football to tide us over until then. December is College Bowl season, and this year is shaping up to be an exciting one. With that said, here are the top 5 games, in no particular order, that are sure to get everybody talking.
Outback Bowl – Iowa University vs. Florida University
When: January 2, 1PM, ABC
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
This year’s Outback Bowl pits two teams together with a bit of a history when it comes to this bowl game in particular. Both teams faced against each other twice before in the Outback Bowl, once during the ‘03 season, and again during the ‘05 season. While the Hawkeyes ran away with a victory in in their first outing, crushing the Gators 37-17, Florida managed to redeem themselves the second time around, winning 31-24. However, that second game is hotly debated, with many claiming that the officiating was rather one-sided in favor of the Gators. The coordinator of Conference USA officials even publicly admitted that mistakes were made in the Outback Bowl’s officiating. With Iowa no doubt feeling cheated the last time around, they will put on one heck of a show for us.
Rose Bowl – Penn State vs. USC
When: January 2, 5PM, ESPN
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
Another doozy of a game, this bowl, dubbed “The Granddaddy of Them All,” will have the on-fire Penn State Nittany Lions fight the University of Southern California Trojans in a very highly anticipated game. Even though the game is about a month away, early reports indicate that this game is going to be watched more than the College Football Championship Semifinal games, with Rose Bowl ticket prices double that of the Peach Bowl. Higher ticket prices typically mean a more popular game, and since the Rose Bowl’s ticket prices are averaging about $860, compared to the Peach Bowl’s $388, it’s fair to say that the Rose Bowl is the crowd favorite.
Orange Bowl – Michigan vs. Florida State
When: December 30, 8PM, ESPN
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
Another Florida college game to watch, the Orange Bowl should prove interesting for both teams. Although both the Wolverines and the Seminoles have battled it out before in the regular season, they have yet to face off during the postseason. What makes the match-up so anticipated is the result of their last outing. With an almost perfect record, Michigan’s only loss of the regular ‘91 season came at the hands of Florida State. Ultimately, Michigan went on to lose the Rose Bowl that year, but they still have a bad taste in their mouths from their last Florida matchup.
Peach Bowl – Washington vs. Alabama
When: December 31, 3PM, ESPN
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
This bowl game is different from the others on this list, not just because of the two incredibly talented teams that are playing in it, but because it has actual weight to it. The Peach Bowl is a playoff game. It’s the gateway to the College Football Playoff National Championship game. There’s no room for error. Winner takes all. And luckily, both teams have barely made any mistakes. The Washington Huskies have only one loss this season to the USC Spartans. Aside from that, they have been absolutely stellar. And it would seem that the Alabama Crimson Tide don’t even know the meaning of the word failure. They have an undefeated season, which is going to make this one fantastic slugfest. However, Alabama is missing one of their top defensive players: Eddie Jackson. Jackson was ruled out for the season back in week 8 when he fractured his leg. It was a crushing loss for Alabama, but they managed to push through and remain undefeated. Can the Crimson Tide continue its winning streak and go all the way?
Fiesta Bowl – Ohio State vs. Clemson
When: December 31, 7PM, ESPN
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
Another highly anticipated playoff game, the Fiesta Bowl will see the Ohio State Buckeyes play the Clemson Tigers for a shot at the championship title. While Clemson has played before in the Fiesta Bowl before, it is the Buckeyes who have a much more intimate history with the playoff game. After this game, the Ohio State Buckeyes will have played in the Fiesta Bowl a record eight times. And what’s more, they could potentially be the only team in history to win the bowl twice in a calendar year. Last season’s Fiesta Bowl, held on January 1st of this year, saw the Buckeyes defeating Notre Dame 44-28. This game not only holds the possibility of making it to the championship game for both teams, but a bevy of college football records for Ohio in particular. For those of you looking for a match with a whole lot more than a championship title riding on it, be sure to tune in to this one.