Bowl season is almost upon us, and with 41 games to choose from, it's time to take a look at which games are must-see TV and which ones are OK to watch in the background while you're doing something else.
Tier 4: It's still football, right?
Yeah, these aren't the football games we're necessarily jumping for joy over. I for one would rather replace the entire bowl system for a fully functional playoff like March Madness, or even the FCS's playoff.
That said, opportunities for college football are coming to a rapid end. Even though these aren't the games we have circled on our calendars, they're still college football games.
Cure Bowl: 6-6 Western Kentucky vs. 6-5 Georgia State
On the one hand, you have the Hilltoppers that dropped four of their last five games to stumble into bowl season. On the other, you have Georgia State. They haven't beaten a team that finished with more than four wins.
At least it might be competitive?
Camellia Bowl: 6-6 Middle Tennessee State vs. 7-4 Arkansas State
This game features Red Wolves QB Justice Hansen, who has 3,630 yards and 34 touchdowns and little else.
Boca Raton Bowl: 10-3 Florida Atlantic vs. 7-6 Akron
Want to watch a bowl game that's likely to be over before halftime? The biggest thing to watch is if Devin Singletary gets the 204 yards rushing necessary to break 2,000 yards rushing on the season.
Gasparilla Bowl: 6-6 Temple vs. 8-4 Florida International
This new name for the old St. Petersburg Bowl just about says it all, doesn't it?
Independence Bowl: 8-4 Southern Miss vs. 6-6 Florida State
Florida State just narrowly added another notch to its 36-year bowl streak. Question is, how many Seminoles fans are going to even make the trip to Louisiana to see the preseason No. 3 team play?
Music City Bowl: 7-5 Kentucky vs. 9-3 Northwestern
Let me get this straight: A ranked Northwestern team gets rewarded after going on a seven-game winning streak to finish the season with a game against a Kentucky team that lost its last two games by an average of 28 points? Why do people like bowl games so much again?
Arizona Bowl: 6-6 New Mexico State vs. 6-6 Utah State
This Aggies vs. Aggies matchup features a New Mexico State team that hasn't been bowling since 1960. While this game undoubtedly has local interest with Utah State in the game, there's a reason this game is on CBSSN and not a more mainstream channel.
Frisco Bowl: 7-5 SMU vs. 6-6 Louisiana Tech
First off, this game used to be known as the Miami Beach Bowl before it got moved to Frisco in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. So, this is a de facto home game for SMU, and not a terribly interesting one at that.
Quick Lane Bowl: 6-6 Duke vs. 8-4 Northern Illinois
This game would have been more interesting a couple of seasons ago when both of these programs were surging.
Belk Bowl: 7-5 Wake Forest vs. 7-5 Texas A&M
Getting to the Belk Bowl wasn't enough to save Kevin Sumlin's job. That says everything we need to know about how the Aggies feel about this game.
Tier 3: Not bad, but not great
During the regular season, these games would be about average or perhaps just a bit better. Still, average college football is still college football, and football games are a terrible thing to waste. Plus, there's the potential that a few of these games could turn into gems.
Celebration Bowl: 11-0 North Carolina A&T vs. 11-1 Grambling
Sure, a bowl game between FCS opponents might be easy to dismiss, but these are good FCS opponents that should score plenty of points. And frankly, I'd rather watch this game than several in Tier 4.
New Mexico Bowl: 7-5 Marshall vs. 7-5 Colorado State
At least Colorado State has a solid offense to show off in this battle of seven-win teams. QB Nick Stevens has almost 3,500 yards passing, RB Daylen Dawkins has 1,349 yards rushing and WR Michael Gallup has 1,345 yards receiving.
Famous Idaho Potatoes Bowl: 7-5 Wyoming vs. 8-4 Central Michigan
This game is a tier 3 game if and only if Josh Allen is healthy and plays for the Cowboys. At least NFL scouts should be interested. And Central Michigan's Shane Morris isn't bad in his own right.
Bahamas Bowl: 8-4 UAB vs. 8-4 Ohio
UAB's program has come back from the dead this season to win eight games and go bowling. This from a team that hadn't played at all for two years prior to this season and was shut down before public outcry brought it back. This may not be the most compelling game on paper, but it is certainly one of the best stories.
Military Bowl: 6-6 Virginia vs. 6-5 Navy
You could call this one the non-BYU LDS coaches bowl with Bronco Mendenhall taking on Ken Niumatalolo. Both teams have stumbled to the finish line, although Navy still has Army to face before the postseason. Still, BYU fans may want to watch their former coach take on who could have been their current head coach.
Heart of Dallas Bowl: 7-5 West Virginia vs. 6-6 Utah
This game would be at least a Tier 2 bowl if both teams weren't so banged up. West Virginia will be without starting QB Will Grier, and Utah's Tyler Huntley has struggled with injuries of his own. Still, this game should at least be competitive.
Pinstripe Bowl: 7-5 Iowa vs. 7-5 Boston College
This game features a rising Boston College team vs. the team that kept Ohio State out of the playoffs in Iowa. Watching Hawkeyes QB Nathan Stanley and Eagles RB AJ Dillion face off should make this one fun enough for a battle of seven-win teams.
Hawaii Bowl: 9-4 Fresno State vs. 7-4 Houston
Here's a case of Group of 5 programs heading in different directions. The Bulldogs came just short of taking the Mountain West title from Boise State and feature a solid defense. Fresno State won just one game last season. Houston, however, doesn't seem to have recovered from the whole dog and pony show of expansion with the Big 12. This game should be fun enough to watch, but it would be even more fun to watch in person in the Hawaiian Islands.
Foster Farms Bowl: 7-5 Arizona vs. 6-6 Purdue
This game is on the edge of being a tier 2 for no other reason than to see Khalil Tate use his arm and legs against a stout Purdue defense. It's not every season we see a QB outside of the triple option schools that has more rushing yards (1,353) than passing yards (1,289).
Cactus Bowl: 7-5 Kansas State vs. 6-6 UCLA
Josh Rosen's last game as a Bruin isn't quite enough to propel this game to the next tier, but it's close.
Tier 2: Solid football
Theses are the games that true college football fans will try not to miss. While the games here aren't quite as compelling as the College Football Playoff, there's plenty of football joy to be had in this tier.
New Orleans Bowl: 10-2 Troy vs. 9-4 North Texas
This is one of the best matchups involving Group of 5 opponents as champion of the Sun Belt Troy takes on the West Division champ of C-USA in North Texas. Both teams appear pretty evenly matched, and this has the potential to be a thriller.
Las Vegas Bowl: 7-5 Oregon vs. 10-3 Boise State
Fans of good offense should love the Vegas Bowl. Oregon is looking like an offensive powerhouse again with QB Justin Herbert back healthy, and Royce Freeman is looking to break the 1,500 yards rushing mark in this one. Brett Rypien of Boise State is no slouch either, as he's had some solid games under his belt.
Armed Forces Bowl: 10-2 San Diego State vs. 8-3 Army
Fans of the forward pass will probably want to look elsewhere, but this game features the No. 1 rushing offense in Army vs. the No. 1 RB in rushing yards in SDSU's Rashaad Penny. Penny already has 2,027 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns to his name.
Birmingham Bowl: 6-6 Texas Tech vs. 9-2 South Florida
Fans of 6-3 games will want to look away while lovers of good offense will savor this one. Both teams could easily score a combined 80 points. First one to 50 wins?
Sun Bowl: 8-4 North Carolina State vs. 7-5 Arizona State
If nothing else, this game is worth it to see Todd Graham's last stand as Arizona State's football coach. Graham has already lost his job, but he's been given the opportunity to coach the Sun Devils one last time. Watching Ryan Finley for NC State try to pass the 3,500 yard passing mark should also be entertaining.
Texas Bowl: 6-6 Texas vs. 7-5 Missouri
Has Texas and Missouri moved past when the Tigers bolted the Big 12 for the SEC because of the Longhorns Network, among other things? Regardless, watching QB Drew Lock of Missouri take on a solid Texas defense led by Poona Ford and DeShon Elliott will make this game worth watching. The potential drama between these two former conference mates is just gravy.
Dollar General Bowl: 11-2 Toledo vs. 8-4 Appalachian State
This game has all the makings of a #MACtion thriller even though Appalachian State is a Sun Belt team. Toledo QB Logan Woodside (3,758 yards passing, 28 TDs) takes on Appalachian State QB Taylor Lamb (2,606 yards passing, 27 TDs).
TaxSlayer Bowl: 8-4 Louisville vs. 8-4 Mississippi State
This game would be a top-tier game if only Bulldogs QB Nick Fitzgerald was healthy. Still, you owe it to yourself to watch last year's Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson one last time in a college uniform.
Liberty Bowl: 7-5 Iowa State vs. 10-2 Memphis
Memphis has one of the best offensive trios in college football with QB Riley Ferguson, RB Darrell Henderson and WR Anthony Miller. On the other hand, Iowa State has already taken down two Big 12 powerhouses in Oklahoma and TCU.
Citrus Bowl: 9-3 Notre Dame vs. 9-3 LSU
Want to see a couple future NFL running backs in a single game? How about LSU's Darrius Guice vs. Notre Dame's Josh Adams?
Holiday Bowl: 9-3 Washington State vs. 9-3 Michigan State
First off, Mike Leach is involved. Oh, and there's QB Luke Falk's 3,593 yards passing vs. the strong Spartan defense. But we all know we'll watch this game for the endless entertainment machine that is Mike Leach.
Camping World Bowl: 9-3 Virginia Tech vs. 9-3 Oklahoma State
Some folks on Twitter are calling this game the "Hokie Pokie Bowl." Seeing Mason Rudolph and Oklahoma State's ridiculously power passing attack against a hard-nosed Bud Foster coached defense will be a thing to behold.
Alamo Bowl: 9-4 Stanford vs. 10-3 TCU
You have an unstoppable force in Stanford's Bryce Love vs. the immovable object that is TCU's rush defense. What's not to like?
Outback Bowl: 8-4 South Carolina vs. 8-4 Michigan
The last time these two teams met, Jadeveon Clowney made the hit of the century. Could we see Michigan get revenge?
Tier 1: Must-see football
National championship game
It's the national championship game. Duh.
Sugar Bowl: 11-1 Alabama vs. 12-1 Clemson
Agree with the committee's decision to include the Crimson Tide in the playoff or not, you have to admit this looks like a fantastic game. Alabama and Clemson should be used to playing each other on college football's biggest stage by now. The Crimson Tide crushed every opponent it played until it faced its arch-rival Auburn. Clemson has been firing on all cylinders lately as it dominated and embarrassed Miami in the ACC title game.
Rose Bowl: 12-1 Georgia vs. 12-1 Oklahoma
Baker Mayfield hasn't officially won the Heisman Trophy, but it's a foregone conclusion that he'll be making the pose in New York on Sunday. And to see him go up against a top-notch defense in Georgia is particularly exciting. The fact this is a College Football Playoff semifinal only adds zest to an already terrific game.
Cotton Bowl: 11-2 USC vs. 11-2 Ohio State
The usual Rose Bowl matchup between the Big Ten and Pac-12 will happen in the Cotton Bowl instead this year as the Rose Bowl is a playoff semifinal this year. The folks in Pasadena probably wish they were getting this game in addition to the Rose Bowl as this promises to be a fantastic duel between USC's Sam Darnold and Ohio State's J.T. Barrett. The only thing that would make this game better would be if it was part of an eight-team playoff.
Peach Bowl: 12-0 UCF vs. 10-3 Auburn
Is there a better turnaround story in college football than Central Florida this year? Just two years ago the Knights couldn't win a single game. Now they're the only remaining unbeaten team in college football. Watching UCF QB McKenzie Milton take on Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson should be reason enough to watch.
Fiesta Bowl: 10-2 Washington vs. 10-2 Penn State
Chris Petersen continues to prove that the teams he coaches simply belong in New Year's Six or better bowls. The Huskies have one of the more balanced offensive attacks in college football between Jake Browning's arm and Myles Gaskin's legs. Penn State has some solid balance of its own between QB Trace McSorley and RB Saquon Barkley.
Orange Bowl: 12-1 Wisconsin vs. 10-2 Miami
Wisconsin has to be wondering what might have been if the Big Ten didn't have a conference championship game as it appears that conference titles don't matter after all. The Badgers better be worried about hanging onto the ball as Miami would love nothing better than to pull out the turnover chain multiple times in this one.