College football might have a serious bowl game problem with so many stars opting to skip their finale to prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft, but the shows must go on. There are even some programs making history this season.
While the bulk of attention is going to the College Football Playoff, and understandably so, some of the other bowl games with weird sponsors will have several Power 5 teams matching up for the first time ever on the gridiron.
At least one school from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC will be squaring off with a completely new foe in the coming weeks and it’s time to look at all six games.
TCU vs. California (Cheez-It Bowl)
These two programs have a home-and-home series scheduled for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, but the Horned Frogs and Golden Bears will kick off the new rivalry early in the game formerly known as the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on December 26. It hasn’t exactly been the best of seasons for TCU, but expect head coach Gary Patterson to have his team ready to play in Arizona.
Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech (Quick Lane Bowl)
The Yellow Jackets will be ending a special era on December 26 as head coach Paul Johnson will be on the sidelines for the final time. There’s no doubt GT has a great new leader in Geoff Collins, but watching the Golden Gophers try to stop the the triple-option offense will be wildly entertaining.
Auburn vs. Purdue (Music City Bowl)
The good news is Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham is sticking around for one more game, but this will be no easy contest for the Tigers. The Boilermakers, behind senior quarterback David Blough and explosive playmaker Rondale Moore, are crazy good on offense and might be a lot better overall than their record indicates. This has the potential to be one of the best games of the entire bowl season on December 28.
Iowa State vs. Washington State (Valero Alamo Bowl)
Just hours after Auburn and Purdue square off in Nashville, the Cyclones and Cougars will be making history of their own at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The always entertaining Mike Leach has coached against ISU during his Big 12 days with Texas Tech, but he will return to the Lone Star State looking to cap off one of the best seasons in WSU history with a win on December 28.
Texas A&M vs. NC State (TaxSlayer Gator Bowl)
The Aggies and Wolfpack are closing out 2018 in style with a historic showdown and a rather compelling matchup. North Carolina State won’t have its offensive coordinator star wide receiver or linebacker, but all signs point to a fun game in Jacksonville on New Year’s Eve.
Iowa vs. Mississippi State (Outback Bowl)
There’s no better way to start 2019 than with a brand new game for the Hawkeyes and Bulldogs. Tampa has been the home to some great New Year’s Day games and this should be as well. The quarterback battle between Nick Fitzgerald and Nate Stanley could be a real treat to ring in the new year on January 1.