How to watch bowl season: Start with Sellout Crowd’s watchability ratings

How to watch bowl season: Start with Sellout Crowd’s watchability ratings

Sellout Crowd is here to help you sort through the crush of bowl games and know what you need to watch and what you can ignore.

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

| Dec 14, 2023, 1:00pm CST

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

Dec 14, 2023, 1:00pm CST

Bowl season is a college football smorgasbord.

Forty-one games. 

Seventeen days. 

There is so much to consume, but every dish is not created equally. Some games are much tastier than others. Much, much tastier. Like prime rib. Or creme brulee. No need to waste your time on stuff that isn’t good. 

But how do you know what bowls are truly must-see TV?

Sellout Crowd is here to help.

Our team of creators covering college football has ranked all of the bowl games based solely on watchability. Are the stakes high? Is the matchup good? Are the coaches or the players entertaining?

Considering such criteria, we ranked each game based on a star system, one star being the worst, five stars being the best. Then, we averaged those rankings to give you not only a score but also a better idea of what bowls promise to be most watchable.

Without further ado, Sellout Crowd’s Bowl Watchability Ratings:

Sep 16, 2023; Athens, Ohio, USA; Ohio Bobcats head coach Tim Albin talks with an official during the first quarter against the Iowa State Cyclones at Peden Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Lunsford-USA TODAY Sports

(Matt Lundsford/USA Today Sports)

Saturday, Dec. 16

Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Bowl — Georgia Southern vs Ohio, 10 a.m., ESPN

Berry Tramel: At least Ohio U. coach Tim Albin (above) is an Okie.

 

New Orleans Bowl — Jacksonville State vs. Louisiana, , 1:15 p.m., ESPN

Jenni Carlson: Jacksonville State won eight games and made a bowl in its first season in FBS. Pretty cool.

 

Cure Bowl, Orlando — Miami (Ohio) vs. Appalachian State,  2:30 p.m., ABC

Ben Hutchens: Small schools on big TV networks are fun.

Guerin Emig: Been an Appy supporter since its ‘07 takedown of Michigan.

 

Dec 3, 2022; Boise, Idaho, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs athletic director Terry Tumey and quarterback Jake Haener (9) and defensive back Cam Lockridge (20) and head coach Jeff Tedford react during the Mountain West Championship game trophy presentation along with Fox Sports reporter Petros Papadakis after defeating the Boise State Broncos at Albertsons Stadium. Fresno State won 28-16. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

(Brian Losness/USA Today Sports)

New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque — New Mexico State vs Fresno State,  4:45 p.m., ESPN

Berry: Aggies are playing on the home field of their arch-rival.

Guerin: Went to Tulsa Booker T. Washington with Fresno State AD Terry Tumey (above, far left).

 

LA Bowl — UCLA vs. Boise State, 6:30 p.m., ABC

Guerin: Would be a 3 if Jimmy Kimmel was still attached to the game.

Berry: Sudden thought. Why don’t the Bruins play at SoFi Stadium instead of the Rose Bowl? It’s 26 miles from Westwood to the Rose Bowl, but only 13 miles from Westwood to SoFi.

 

Independence Bowl, Memphis — Cal vs. Texas Tech, 8:15 p.m., ESPN

Todd Lisenbee: I’ll spend a good chunk of the night reminding myself that Cal is in the ACC next season.

Berry: I can always go for a pre-Christmas Big 12 game

 

 

Monday, Dec. 18

Famous Toastery Bowl, Charlotte, N.C. — Western Kentucky vs. Old Dominion, , 1:30 p.m., ESPN

Ben: I would see “Famous Toastery Bowl” on the TV guide and turn it on.

 

 

Tuesday, Dec. 19

Frisco (Texas) Bowl — UTSA vs Marshall, 8 p.m., ESPN

Jenni: UTSA has never won a bowl game, losing the four other bowls it played in.

 

Thursday, Dec. 21

Boca Raton (Fla.) Bowl — South Florida vs Syracuse, 7 p.m., ESPN 

Sam Hutchens: Last time I watched USF, the Bulls were neck-and-neck with Saban’s Tide.

Berry: I’m always up for a potential mid-major victory over a Power Five.

Todd: And I’ll find a reason to be upset with Jim Boeheim.

 

UCF's John Rhys Plumlee (10) throws a pass in the second half of the college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners and the University of Central Florida Knights at Gaylord Family Oklahoma-Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct., 21, 2023.

UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee. (Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman/USA Today Network)

Friday, Dec. 22

Gasparilla Bowl, Tampa — Georgia Tech vs UCF, 5:30 p.m. ESPN

Berry: Give me more Knights; I felt like I didn’t get to see all that much of them.

Ben: I want to see the Knights hang a Gasparilla Bowl banner.

 

 

Saturday, Dec. 23

Birmingham Bowl — Troy vs. Duke, 11 a.m., ABC

Todd: Troy vs. Duke sounds like a schoolyard fight in the ’70s.

 

Camellia Bowl, Montgomery, Ala. — Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois, 11 a.m., ESPN

Berry: We opened the season by watching Arkansas State seem as if it was the worst team of all time; how far have the Red Wolves come?

 

Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth — James Madison vs. Air Force,  2:30 p.m., ABC

Guerin: How a bigger program hasn’t hired AFA’s Troy Calhoun is one of FBS’ greatest mysteries.

 

Potato Bowl, Boise, Idaho — Georgia State vs. Utah State, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

Jenni: Tuttle High alum and former OSU standout Cooper Bassett coaches Utah State’s offensive line.

 

Sep 16, 2023; Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA; South Alabama Jaguars quarterback Carter Bradley (2) celebrates as South Alabama scores a touchdown during an NCAA football game between Oklahoma State and South Alabama at Boone Pickens Stadium. South Alabama won 33-7. Mandatory Credit: Bryan Terry-USA TODAY Sports

(Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman/USA Today Network)

68 Ventures Bowl, Mobile, Ala. — South Alabama vs. Eastern Michigan, 6 p.m., ESPN

Berry: Were the Jags who played in Stillwater (above) invaded by body snatchers?

Guerin: The WEEK after the Jaguars blitzed OSU, they lost to Central Michigan. At home.

Todd: Chris Creighton, head coach at EMU, was my football coach at Ottawa University in 2000.

 

Las Vegas Bowl — Utah vs. Northwestern, 6:30 p.m., ABC

Berry: Big 12! Big 12! Big 12!

Guerin: Some interim-to-head coach promotions are panic hires. Not the case with Northwestern’s David Braun, who cleaned up the Wildcats’ mess.

 

Hawaii Bowl, Honolulu — Coastal Carolina vs San Jose State, 9:30 p.m., ESPN

Todd: The two bowl opponents furthest away from each other meet in a truly neutral location.

Ben: I’ll give it a two because it’s late night.

 

 

Tuesday, Dec. 26

Quick Lane Bowl, Detroit — Bowling Green vs. Minnesota, 1 p.m., ESPN

Berry: When the MAC beats a Big Ten team, hearts are warmed across America.

 

First Responder Bowl, University Park, Texas — Texas State vs. Rice,  4:30 p.m., ESPN

Jenni: Nice turnaround for Texas State, going 7-5 after a four-win season.

Guerin: Wonder if TU will one day regret not hiring Texas State coach and Golden Hurricane alum GJ Kinne after sacking Philip Montgomery.

 

Kansas Jayhawks quarterback Jason Bean (9) celebrates a touchdown during the NCAA college football game between the Cincinnati Bearcats and Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. Kansas won 49-16.

Kansas quarterback Jason Bean. (Carter Skaggs/The Enquirer/USA Today Network)

Guaranteed Rate Bowl, Phoenix — Kansas vs. UNLV, 8 p.m., ESPN

Todd: It would be a 5 if it was a basketball game in the early ‘90s.

Guerin: Rooooock Chaaaaaalk.

Berry: Big 12 vs. Barry Odom.

 

 

Wednesday, Dec. 27

Military Bowl, Annapolis, M.D. — Virginia Tech vs. Tulane, 1 p.m., ESPN: 

Berry: No Willie Fritz.

Jenni: Tulane gave OU fans the nicest gift, besting Lincoln Riley and USC in a heck of a Cotton Bowl last year.

 

Duke’s Mayo Bowl — North Carolina vs. West Virginia, 4:30 p.m., ESPN

Berry: Neal Brown dumped in mayonnaise?

Guerin: Either coach will have great fun with the celebratory mayo bath.

Sam: A top-tier branding effort and a Big 12 school make this one fun.

 

Nov 18, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; USC Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley during the second quarter against the UCLA Bruins at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

(Jason Parkhurst/USA Today Sports)

Holiday Bowl — Louisville vs Southern Cal, 7 p.m., Fox

Berry: Lincoln Riley (above) is fun to root against.

Guerin: USC viewing an exercise in Okie masochism.

Ben: Twitter will be fun for this game.

 

Texas Bowl, Houston — Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State, 8 p.m., ESPN

Ben: Jimbo vs Gundy might have broken the grading scale with a six.

Todd: A&M’s coaching transition makes this way less fun.

 

Thursday, Dec. 28

Fenway Bowl, Boston — SMU vs. Boston College, 10 a.m., ESPN: 

Jenni: Long-term weather forecast for Boston has highs in the upper 40s. Still, brrrrrr.

 

Pinstripe Bowl, Bronx, N.Y. — Rutgers vs. Miami, 1:15 p.m., ESPN

Ben: Love the culture difference between the two schools. 

Guerin: College football will be better when the Canes are worth watching again.

 

Pop-Tarts Bow, Orlando  — North Carolina State vs. Kansas State, 4:45 p.m., ESPN

Guerin: K-State OC Collin Klein leaving for A&M. Wow.

Jenni: This is not a drill, people. The Pop-Tarts Bowl trophy will be edible!

 

Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Jackson Arnold throws during football practice in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023.

(Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman/USA Today Network)

Alamo Bowl, San Antonio — Arizona vs. Oklahoma, 8:15 p.m., ESPN

Todd: The Jackson Arnold angle makes this one much more intriguing.

Guerin: The Wildcats will be a Big 12 problem provided they keep Jedd Fisch.

 

 

Friday, Dec. 29

Gator Bowl, Jacksonville — Clemson vs. Kentucky, 11 a.m., ESPN: 

Berry: Mark and Mike Stoops on the Kentucky sidelines.

Jenni: This would’ve been even more fun if Brent Venables had been on the Clemson sideline. Of course, if he’s still the Tigers’ DC, they might have been in a bigger bowl.

 

Sun Bowl, El Paso — Oregon State vs. Notre Dame, 1 p.m., CBS

Berry: Basically, two 2024 independents.

Ben: I wish DJ Uiagalelei was playing quarterback for Oregon State.

Todd: A little 2001 Fiesta Bowl nostalgia.

 

Liberty Bowl, Memphis  —  Memphis vs. Iowa State, 2:30 p.m., ESPN

Berry: Road game for Cyclones.

 

Cotton Bowl, Arlington, Texas — Missouri vs. Ohio State, 7 p.m., ESPN

Guerin: Big opportunity for Mizzou since Buckeyes’ “care” meter won’t exactly run hot.

 

 

Saturday, Dec. 30

Peach Bowl, Atlanta — Ole Miss vs. Penn State, 11 a.m., ESPN

Guerin: Just a drag of a NY6 game.

Berry: Not even the Rebels’ baby blues could raise this ranking, though Spencer Sanders playing might do it.

 

Music City Bowl, Nashville — Auburn vs. Maryland, 1 p.m., ABC

Berry: Yawn.

Ben: Not music to my ears.

 

Dec 2, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA; Florida State Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell raises the ACC Championship trophy with his players after the game against the Louisville Cardinals at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State celebrates the ACC championship. (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

Orange Bowl, Miami Gardens — Georgia vs. Florida State, 3 p.m., ESPN

Guerin: Fascinating to see what’s left of two teams who counted on Playoff’ing.

Todd: I hate that whatever happens in this game full of opt-outs and portal replacements will be used by people to “prove” their argument.

Sam: Wouldn’t an FSU victory just make Seminoles fans hurt even more?

Ben: Remember, if Georgia loses it’s cause it didn’t want to be there. Will the ‘Noles use the same excuse?

 

Arizona Bowl, Tuscon — Toledo vs. Wyoming, , 3:30 p.m., CW

Todd: These bad games later in the bowl schedule are the worst.

Ben: This is like saving your broccoli for after dessert.

 

 

Monday, Jan. 1

ReliaQuest Bowl, Tampa — Wisconsin vs. LSU, 11 a.m., ESPN2

Berry: I’m giving it a 4. Unless Jayden Daniels doesn’t play, then a 3 at best.

 

Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Arizona — Liberty vs. Oregon, noon, ESPN

Jenni: Doesn’t seem like a competitive matchup, but I’m curious to see how Liberty stacks up.

Todd: Like it or not, a Liberty win would be used to justify its incredibly soft schedule. Go Ducks.

Guerin: A rare instance where it’s OK to root for Goliath.

 

Citrus Bowl — Iowa vs. Tennessee, noon, ABC

Berry: I can’t avert my eyes from the Hawkeyes.

Guerin: I can.

Todd: I am more like Berry than I realize.

 

CFP semifinal, Rose Bowl, Pasadena — Alabama vs. Michigan, 4 p.m., ESPN

Todd: Two teams and two coaches that so many college fans root against.

 

CFP semifinal, Sugar Bowl, New Orleans — Texas vs. Washington, 7:45 p.m., ESPN

Ben: I wish I could give this a six.

Texas head football coach Steve Sarkisian celebrates following the second half of the Big 12 Football Championship game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the Texas Longhorns at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023.

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian (Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman/USA Today Network)

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Jenni Carlson is a columnist with the Sellout Crowd network. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniCarlson_OK. Email [email protected].

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