5 Bowl Games to Watch Besides The CFP

Story posted December 9, 2021 in CommRadio, Sports by Joshua Bartosik

Even with the College Football Playoff matchups set in stone, there are several bowl games that have a playoff type atmosphere. Here are some of the top games this bowl season.

Valero Alamo Bowl: No. 14 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 16 Oklahoma Sooners
Date: Dec. 29 at 9:15 p.m.

The Ducks are looking to right the ship after two devastating losses to Utah in three weeks and losing their head coach Mario Cristobal to Miami. Oklahoma is looking to prove they are still a top football program after head coach Lincoln Riley left for USC,  resulting in several key players transferring such as star quarterback Spencer Rattler.

This will be the first look at the Sooners’ new head coach, former Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, and it will give true freshman quarterback Caleb Williams another chance to prove he can hang with the big dogs.

For Oregon, this matchup proves to be a difficult one with star defensive tackle, Kayvon Thibodeaux, opting out for the draft and a vacant head coaching role. A win here would be a solid way to finish a disappointing back half of the season on a high note.

Rose Bowl: No. 11 Utah Utes vs. No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes
Date: Jan. 1 at 5:00 p.m.

The Rose Bowl is always a fan favorite to watch, but this year’s matchup is a particularly interesting one.

The Utes stunned the football world by beating Oregon twice in dominant fashion, including the Pac 12 championship game to secure their first ever Rose Bowl bid. Tavion Thomas has done the heavy lifting for Utah on offense, finding the endzone 20 times this season.

Despite the season ending in disappointment for the Buckeyes, Ohio State will look to showcase its elite offensive talent against a strong Utah defense led by Devin Lloyd’s four interceptions. Heisman trophy finalist C.J. Stroud has an opportunity to showcase his talents if he can find targets like Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Chris Olave against Utah’s secondary.

Both teams' defenses average just under 21 points against per game. The Utes will need to find a way to shut down Stroud and the Buckeyes’ lethal receiving corps if they want to stay undefeated in Rose Bowl play.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 12 Pittsburgh Panthers vs. No. 10 Michigan State Spartans
Date: Dec. 30 at 7:00 p.m.

This year’s Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl features two teams everyone knew would be here: Pittsburgh and Michigan State.

The Panthers are coming off an ACC Championship win over Wake Forest thanks to Heisman trophy finalist Kenny Pickett’s remarkable playmaking ability. His 42 touchdowns are a big reason why Pittsburgh averaged 43 points a game this year.

Michigan State comes into this game with a remarkable turnaround season. Mel Tucker’s squad is led by Kenneth Walker III who stunned the football world with five touchdowns against Michigan this season.

Pittsburgh is looking for another quality win to prove they aren’t a fluke while the Spartans look to keep the good vibes rolling into next season.

Playstation Fiesta Bowl: No. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Date:  Jan. 1 at 1:00 p.m.

This New Year’s Six bowl game features two teams that just came up short of the playoff.

Oklahoma State was a yard short of a Big 12 Championship and potential playoff berth, but they can still end on a high note.

Despite the sudden move to LSU by Brian Kelly, Notre Dame believes they can finish what he started. The Marcus Freeman era looks to get rolling with a statement win in the Fiesta Bowl.

One of the top defenses in college football looking to avenge a Big 12 title loss faces off against a hungry team under new management that’s played their best offense down the stretch.

AllState Sugar Bowl: No. 7 Baylor Bears vs. No. 8 Ole Miss Rebels
Date: Jan. 1 at 8:45 p.m.

This year’s Sugar Bowl features two teams coming off program defining seasons.

Baylor went from a disappointing 2-7 record last season to an 11 win season and a Big 12 title under their belts. Dave Aranda’s squad will look for another strong performance by Abram Smith, a difficult man to bring down on first contact, against a defense giving up 180 rushing yards a game.

Ole Miss wants to build off of its first 10 win season in program history. Their history-making season is in large part due to star quarterback Matt Corral’s performance.  Posting a 5-1 touchdown to interception ratio in one of the toughest conferences in college football is impressive, and he will look to shine once more against a solid Bears defense.

Joshua Bartosik is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email joshbartosik13@gmail.com