Bowl Bonanza: All the matchups for 2015 bowls

Deshaun Watson, Eric Mac Lain
Clemson football quarterback Deshaun Watson, left, and offensive guard Eric Mac Lain celebrate during a pizza party celebrating Selection Sunday at Memorial Stadium, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

 

HOLIDAY BOWL: Southern California will make a second straight visit to the Holiday Bowl, where it will play No. 23 Wisconsin on Dec. 30 at Qualcomm Stadium.

USC (8-5) won the Pac-12 South Division before losing to Stanford 41-24 in the conference championship game Saturday night.

The Trojans beat Nebraska 45-42 in last year’s Holiday Bowl.

Wisconsin (9-3) was third in the Big Ten West Division. The Badgers are making their 14th consecutive bowl appearance, the longest active streak in the Big Ten and tied for the sixth-longest streak in the country.

The Badgers have the top-ranked scoring defense in the country, allowing just 13.1 points per game.

The Trojans have won five of their last eight games since Clay Helton was named interim head coach on Oct. 12. The school removed the interim tag last week.

POINTSETTIA BOWL: Boise State and Northern Illinois will meet in the Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on Dec. 23.

It will be the second appearance in the San Diego game for the Broncos and the third for the Huskies. It will be the first time the teams have played each other.

BSU (8-4) finished 5-3 in the Mountain West Conference and failed to reach the league’s title game.

NIU (8-5) were the MAC West champions.

The Broncos are making their 14th consecutive bowl appearance, tied for sixth nationally. Included in the streak is a 2008 trip to the Poinsettia Bowl, when the Broncos lost to TCU.

TAXSLAYER BOWL: Georgia and Penn State are headed to the TaxSlayer Bowl for their first meeting since the 1983 Sugar Bowl, when Curt Warner and the Nittany Lions beat Herschel Walker and the Bulldogs to win the ’82 national title.

The Nittany Lions (7-5) have lost three in a row. The Bulldogs (9-3) have won four straight, but will be without fired coach Mark Richt. Richt accepted the Miami job earlier this week, returning to his alma mater after 15 years at Georgia.

CURE BOWL: Georgia State is going bowling for the first time, and the reward sounds good — a spot in the Cure Bowl in Orlando, Florida — but the opponent is San Jose State, one of three bowl teams with a 5-7 record.

Georgia State is in just its sixth year of existence. The Panthers (6-6) became bowl eligible by winning their last four regular-season games.

CACTUS BOWL: Arizona State won’t have far to travel for its bowl game.

The Sun Devils will have about a 10-mile trip to play West Virginia in the Cactus Bowl at Chase Field on Jan. 2.

Arizona State played the last game at the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks when it beat Rutgers in the 2005 Insight Bowl.

The Cactus Bowl is usually played at Sun Devil Stadium, but was moved this season due to renovations.

ARIZONA BOWL: The Arizona Bowl will have a Mountain West flavor to it — and the conference commissioner is not happy about it.

Mountain West Conference teams Colorado State and Nevada will play in the new bowl on Dec. 29 at Arizona Stadium.

MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson said the league exchanged numerous phone calls and emails to prevent an all-MWC bowl game, but to no avail.

Thompson called the situation a travesty, and said the system is broken because there are too many bowl games.

BELK BOWL: Mississippi State will face North Carolina State in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 30 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The game features an intriguing quarterback matchup between Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott and North Carolina State’s Jacoby Brissett. Prescott is one of only four players in Football Bowl Subdivision history to throw for 60 touchdowns and rush for 40 touchdowns.

QUICK LANE BOWL: Central Michigan is headed to the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 28 to face Minnesota, one of three 5-7 teams in the postseason.

The Golden Gophers come into the game with losses in five of their last six games.

The bowl game is the second straight for the Chippewas (7-5), who won their final two games of the season and were 6-2 in the MAC.

MUSIC CITY BOWL: Louisville will meet Texas A&M in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30 at Nashville, Tennessee.

The game pits a Texas A&M team that started fast before fading down the stretch against a Louisville squad that recovered after digging itself an early-season hole.

Texas A&M (8-4) won its first five games before dropping four of its last seven matchups. Louisville (7-5) bounced back from an 0-3 start.

MILITARY BOWL: No. 21 Navy will face Pittsburgh in the Military Bowl on Dec. 28 in Annapolis, Maryland.

Nay (9-2) is led by quarterback Keenan Reynolds, whose 83 career touchdown runs are a Football Bowl Subdivision record. Reynolds has rushed for 1,093 yards and 19 touchdowns this season.

Navy’s only losses were at Notre Dame and Houston. The Midshipmen cap their regular season by facing Army on Saturday in Philadelphia. Pittsburgh (8-4) lost three of its last five regular-season games.

BIRMINGHAM BOWL: Auburn’s disappointing season will end two hours down the road.

The Tigers (6-6) will face Memphis in the Dec. 30 game at Legion Field. It’s hardly the desired destination for a team that many predicted would win the SEC.

Struggles at quarterback and on defense, among other things, contributed to season-long problems. Plus, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has already left to become coach at South Carolina.

Memphis coach Justin Fuente has taken over at Virginia Tech, so interim coach Darrell Dickey will lead the team into the bowl game. Memphis is 9-3 after earning the highest ranking in school history at No. 13.

Memphis has already hired former Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell.

LIBERTY BOWL: Arkansas will face Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl on Jan. 2 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Both teams made late surges to come into the game without losing records.

Kansas State (6-6) became bowl eligible by winning its final three regular-season games. Arkansas (7-5) has won six of its last eight after getting off to a 1-3 start.

This will mark the second time in the last 45 years that Arkansas and Kansas State have faced off. In their last meeting, Arkansas closed the 2011 season by beating Kansas State 29-16 in the Cotton Bowl.

TEXAS BOWL: Texas Tech won its final two games, and now get to take on LSU in the Texas Bowl on Dec. 29.

The Red Raiders (7-5) lost three in a row before closing out the season to earn a bowl spot.

Texas Tech is second in the country in passing offense, averaging 389.7 yards per game and are led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

The Tigers (8-3) won their first seven games before a three-game losing streak put coach Les Miles’ job in jeopardy until a regular-season ending win over Texas A&M.

Running back Leonard Fournette, a Heisman contender most of the season, leads the Tigers.

ALAMO BOWL: TCU and Oregon opened 2015 with legitimate national title hopes.

The Horned Frogs and Ducks will end it in San Antonio in one of the most intriguing non-New Year’s Six games of the postseason.

No. 11 TCU (10-2) and No. 15 Oregon (9-3) have accepted bids to the Alamo Bowl.

The Horned Frogs and Ducks are each averaging over 40 points a game this season. Oregon closed the regular season with six straight wins, while TCU beat Baylor to reach 10 wins yet again.

INDEPENDENCE BOWL: Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer will coach his final game when the Hokies face Tulsa in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 26.

The 69-year-old Beamer, who has been at Virginia Tech (6-6) for 29 seasons, announced his retirement earlier this season. The Hokies won three of their final four games of the season to become bowl eligible.

This will be the program’s 23rd straight season in a bowl. The first and last bowl games of that streak will be in Shreveport — Virginia Tech beat Indiana 45-20 in 1993 at the Independence Bowl.

Tulsa (6-6), which plays in the American Athletic Conference, won three out of its last five games to become bowl eligible.

NEW MEXICO BOWL: There will be a clash of styles when Arizona faces New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl.

Coach Rich Rodriguez will bring his spread-option attack for Arizona (6-6) against Bob Davie’s run-oriented Lobos (7-5).

Arizona, plagued by injuries, staggers into the Dec. 19 bowl game in Albuquerque the loser in four of its last five games, capped by a 52-37 loss to rival Arizona State.

Arizona played in the New Mexico Bowl in 2012, rallying very late for a wild 49-48 victory over Nevada.

The Lobos played in the first two New Mexico Bowls — in 2006 and 2007 — losing to San Jose State and beating Nevada.

HEART OF DALLAS BOWL: Southern Miss has accepted a bid to the Heart of Dallas Bowl to face Washington.

The Eagles are 9-3 this season and reached the Conference USA title game, where they lost to Western Kentucky.

Southern Miss, which won just three games last year, will be playing in its first bowl since 2011.

Washington is 6-6. The Huskies pounded Oregon State and Washington State to close the season.

GO DADDY BOWL: Interim coach Brian Ward will take Bowling Green to face Georgia Southern in the GoDaddy Bowl.

Coach Dino Babers left to take over at Syracuse after Bowling Green (10-3) claimed its second Mid-American Conference title in three years. The Falcons beat Northern Illinois 34-14 in the championship game.

Their defensive coordinator, Ward, will lead the team through the Mobile, Alabama, bowl game on Dec. 23.

This is the first bowl appearance for Georgia Southern (8-4), despite winning the Sun Belt in their debut season in 2014. The Eagles were in a transitional FBS season, and the NCAA denied a request for a postseason waiver.

They lead the nation in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.

Georgia Southern lost 34-7 to Georgia State in the regular season finale.

BOCA RATON BOWL: Temple and Toledo will meet in the Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 22, on the campus of Florida Atlantic University.

And don’t expect a whole lot of points in this one.

Temple (10-3) led the American Athletic Conference, allowing only 19.2 points per game. Toledo (9-2) led the Mid-American Conference and was nearly just as stingy, giving up 21.1 points per contest.

Toledo is looking for its first 10-win season since 2001. Temple is in a bowl game for only the fifth time.

ARMED FORCES BOWL: Air Force and Cal will square off in the Armed Forces Bowl.

It’ll be a rematch of the 2007 bowl game in Fort Worth, when the Golden Bears rallied with 28 second-half points to stun the Falcons 42-36.

Air Force went 8-5 and 6-2 in the Mountain West in the regular season, losing to San Diego State in the league title game.

Cal is 7-5, and beat Arizona State 48-46 in its regular season finale.

The game is Dec. 29 in Fort Worth, Texas.

HAWAII BOWL: Mountain West Conference champion San Diego State will play Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl.

The Aztecs (11-2) edged Air Force 27-24 for the conference title. San Diego State has won nine straight games, one shy of the school record.

The Bearcats (7-4) bounced back from a 65-27 loss to South Florida with a 19-16 victory over East Carolina in their regular season finale on a 42-yard field goal by Andrew Glantz as the game ended.

The game will be played Dec. 24 in Honolulu.

FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL: Akron will face Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Akron (7-5) finished the regular season with four straight victories and finished third in the East Division of the Mid-American Conference.

Utah State (6-6) will make its third appearance in the Boise, Idaho, game since 2011. The Utes will appear in a school record fifth straight blwo games.

The game will be played Dec. 22 on the blue field of Boise State University.

CAMELIA BOWL: Fledgling FBS team Appalachian State is making its bowl debut against Ohio in the Camelia Bowl on Dec. 19.

The Mountaineers (10-2) joined the Sun Belt Conference last season, when the Camelia Bowl also debuted in Montgomery, Alabama. They’re only the second Sun Belt team to reach double digits in wins during the regular season and fourth overall.

Three-time FCS national champion Appalachian State finished second in the Sun Belt.

Ohio (8-4) finished in a tie for second place in the MAC Eastern Division. This is the Bobcats’ sixth bowl appearance in the last seven seasons.

LAS VEGAS BOWL: BYU and Utah, with campuses just 43 miles apart, will face each other in the Las Vegas Bowl.

The teams did not meet in the regular season.

This will be the farewell game for Bronco Mendenhall as BYU’s coach. He will take over the as coach at Virginia after the game. Mendenhall spent 11 seasons with the Cougars, winning 70 percent of his games.

BYU (9-3) won nine games despite losing quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Williams to injuries for most of the season.

Utah (9-3) won its first six games and was as high as No. 4 in the Top 25 but went 3-3 after that, with losses to USC, UCLA and Arizona. The Utes lost standout running back Devontae Booker with a torn meniscus in the Arizona game.

PINSTRIPE BOWL: Indiana’s long bowl drought is over. The Hoosiers will play Duke in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 26.

The Hoosiers (6-6), who are in their first bowl since 2007, had been tied with Colorado for most years without a postseason appearance. Duke (7-5) is in a bowl for the fourth straight year.

The teams will be meeting for the first time since the 1984 season opener, a 31-24 Duke victory. The Hoosiers and Blue Devils had one common opponent this season, with both beating Wake Forest.

OUTBACK BOWL: Two teams riding five-game winning streaks will meet in the Outback Bowl.

No. 12 Northwestern (10-2, No. 13 CFP) and Tennessee (8-4, No. 23 CFP) will play for the second time on New Year’s Day. The Volunteers won the previous meeting in 1997.

Four of the Wildcats’ five straight wins have been decided by seven points of less.

Tennessee’s four losses have come by a combined 17 points to teams with a combined record of 39-8, including two of the four College Football Playoff teams (Alabama, Oklahoma).

Northwestern is making its 12th bowl appearance and second straight in Florida. Northwestern’s last trip to the Sunshine State came in the 2013 TaxSlayer Bowl and resulted in the program’s first postseason victory since 1949.

FOSTER FARMS BOWL: Nebraska will take its 5-7 record to Santa Clara, California to play UCLA in the Foster Farms Bowl.

The Cornhuskers were bowl eligible because there weren’t enough 6-6 teams to fill out the bowl schedule.

Nebraska, in its first season under coach Mike Riley, won two of its last three, including a 39-38 win over Michigan State.

UCLA (8-4) had a chance to play in the Rose Bowl but lost to rival USC. The Bruins were 5-4 in the conference, one game behind the Pac-12 South champion Trojans.

Nebraska is one of three 5-7 teams to receive a bowl invitation.

CITRUS BOWL: Jim Harbaugh gets to coach in a bowl game when Michigan takes on Florida in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 in Orlando, Florida.

The school are meeting for the third time, with the Wolverines (9-3, No. 14 CFP) winning the first two. Michigan beat the Gators in the 2003 Outback Bowl and in the 2008 Capital One Bowl.

Florida (10-3, No. 19 CFP) dropped its last two games, scoring just one offensive touchdown in losses to Florida State and Alabama.

The Gators have won seven of their last nine bowl games. Michigan has won just three of its last 11 bowl games.

RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL: Baylor and North Carolina play for the first time when the teams meet in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 29 in Orlando, Florida.

Though the Bears (9-3, No. 17 CFP) and Tar Heels (11-2, No. 10 CFP) are still in a fairly high-profile bowl, recent losses have put a damper on promising seasons.

Baylor started 8-0, but lost three out of its past four games, including 23-17 o Texas on Saturday. The Bears have been hurt by injuries — they were down to their fourth-string quarterback Lynx Hawthorne during the Texas loss.

North Carolina won 11 straight before falling to Clemson in the ACC championship game on Saturday.

SUGAR BOWL: Mississippi and Oklahoma State get to renew their recent postseason rivalry in the Sugar Bowl.

This will be the third time since 2004 that the Rebels (9-3, No. 12 CFP) and Cowboys (10-2, No. 16 CFP) meet in the postseason. The first two meetings were at the Cotton Bowl and Ole Miss won both — 31-28 on Jan. 2, 2004 and 21-7 on Jan. 2, 2010.

Now they will play in the Superdome on Jan. 1 at 8:30 p.m.

Ole Miss returns to a New Year’s Six bowl for the second straight season.

The Cowboys won their first 10 games of the season before back-to-back losses to Baylor and Oklahoma.

ROSE BOWL: A perfect season ended in the final seconds in the Big Ten title game, Iowa’s consolation prize is a spot in the Rose Bowl against Pac-12 champion Stanford on Jan. 1.

The Hawkeyes (12-1, No. 5 CFP) beat out Ohio State to earn their first trip to Pasadena since Jan. 1, 1991.

Iowa put together a surprising 12-0 regular season before falling agonizingly short of the four-team playoff, losing to Michigan State on Saturday night.

While the Hawkeyes haven’t made the Rose Bowl in a generation, Pasadena has become a second home for Stanford.

The Cardinal (11-2, No. 6 CFP) earned their third Rose Bowl berth in four years by beating Southern California on Saturday night.

SUN BOWL: Miami and Washington State are headed to the Southwest for the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 26.

The Hurricanes closed out a tumultuous season with an 8-4 record after firing coach Al Golden after a 58-0 loss to Clemson, and recently hiring former Georgia coach Mark Richt as their new coach.

The Cougars are a surprising 8-4 and are in their second bowl in the last three seasons under coach Mike Leach.

Washington State is led by sophomore quarterback Luke Falk, who averages 387.8 yards passing per game — tops in the country. Falk missed the Cougars’ final game of the regular season with a concussion.

PEACH BOWL: Houston and its high-scoring offense will take on Florida State on New Year’s Eve in the Peach Bowl.

The Seminoles (10-2, No. 9 CFP) won the national championship two years ago and reached the college football playoffs last season, losing to Oregon in the semifinals.

Coach Jimbo Fisher’s team lost to Georgia Tech and No. 1 Clemson.

Houston (12-1, No. 18 CFP) claimed a spot in a major bowl as the top-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences. The Cougars won the American Athletic Conference.

ST. PETERSBURG BOWL: Marshall and Connecticut are going to the St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 26.

Marshall (9-3) is looking for its third bowl win in as many seasons, and brings coach Doc Holliday back to Florida — a place where he’s recruited well. The Herd won the Boca Raton Bowl last year.

Connecticut (6-6) was 3-5 at one point, then finished with three wins in its last four games. The Huskies also knocked off Houston, probably the biggest reason why they ended up bowl-bound for the first time since their Fiesta Bowl run to end the 2010 season.

Tropicana Field — home of baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays — is the game site.

FIESTA BOWL: The Fiesta Bowl gets another marquee matchup.

The New Year’s Day bowl will feature Ohio State and Notre Dame, two teams in the college football playoff mix until late in the season.

The defending champion Buckeyes (11-1) lost their only game to Michigan State and needed help to get into college football’s final four. They didn’t get it and wind up No. 7 in the final CFP ranking.

Notre Dame (10-2) fought through a slew of injuries to finish four points shy of a perfect record. The Fighting Irish are No. 8 in the final rankings.

NEW ORLEANS BOWL: Arkansas State and Louisiana Tech will meet for the first time since 1998 when they play in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 19.

Arkansas State (9-3) won the Sun Belt Conference after a dominant 55-17 win over Texas State on Saturday.

Louisiana Tech (8-4) finished second in Conference USA’s Western Division. The Bulldogs are led by former Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel, who transferred during the offseason and has thrown for 3,575 yards and 24 touchdowns.

MIAMI BEACH BOWL: Western Kentucky and South Florida are heading to the Miami Beach Bowl on Dec. 21.

Western Kentucky (11-2) won the Conference USA title and features quarterback Brandon Doughty, who leads the nation with 45 touchdown passes this season.

South Florida (8-4) finished on a four-game winning streak, and has a chance for its first nine-win season since 2007. USF has won the last four meetings between the schools, the last of those coming in 2010.

The game is played at Marlins Park — about a 15-minute drive from Miami Beach. Last season, the bowl debuted with Memphis topping BYU 55-48.

And the bowl matchups are rolling in:

As expected, it will be Iowa vs. Stanford in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, featuring the Big Ten Conference runner-up against the Pac 12-champion Cardinal and their Heisman contender Christian McCaffrey.

Also on Jan. 1, the Sugar Bowl will match Mississippi against Oklahoma State and the Fiesta Bowl has Notre Dame against Ohio State.

On Dec. 31, the Peach Bowl pits AAC champion Houston against Florida State.

___

Pizza for 20,000!

RELATED: Thousands grab pizza, watch playoff selection at Clemson

A huge pizza party is taking place at Death Valley to celebrate Clemson’s unbeaten season and college playoff berth to play Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31.

Coach Dabo Swinney is making good on his promise for a postseason pizza shindig at Memorial Stadium. About a month ago, the coach said it’d be pizza for everyone it the Tigers made the playoffs.

Swinney had wide grin on his face most of the time, and raised both fists in the air, pumping them to the fans’ applause when Clemson was announced as the top seed.

The starting times for the college football playoff games are set, according to ESPN. No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Oklahoma starts at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 in the Orange Bowl; and No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Michigan State starts at 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 in the Cotton Bowl.

1:26 p.m.

BAHAMAS BOWL: Western Michigan will face Middle Tennessee on Dec. 24 in the Bahamas Bowl at Nassau’s Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.

The Broncos (7-5) earned a share of the Mid-American Conference West title and are in their second straight bowl after winning six of their past eight. They have the top receiving duo in the country in Daniel Braverman and Corey Davis.

Middle Tennessee (7-5) of Conference USA takes a four-game win streak to the Bahamas for their first bowl since 2013. The Blue Raiders are led by a pair of freshmen in QB Brent Stockstill and receiver Richie James.

___

Jeff Long says the decision was easy to select the top four teams for the College Football Playoff, calling Clemson “clearly the No. 1 team in the country.”

Long is the chairman of the CFP selection committee — a 12-person group that makes the final decisions.

The pairings announced Sunday will send unbeaten ACC champion Clemson (13-0) against Big 12 champion Oklahoma (11-1) in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31, and SEC champion Alabama (12-1) against Big Ten champion Michigan State (12-1) in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31.

Finally, we have our playoff pairings!

And really, there can’t be too many arguments, can there?

Clemson finishes No. 1 in the College Football Ranking and will play No. 4 Oklahoma in one playoff semifinal, the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31.

Alabama finishes No. 2 in the final ranking, and will play No. 3 Michigan State in the other semifinal, the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31.

The winners will play for the national championship on Jan. 11 in Glendale, Arizona.

Alabama and Clemson won conference title games on Saturday night and held their ranking. Michigan State handed Iowa its first loss in the Big Ten title game to move into the playoffs, while Oklahoma had already completed its season and held on for the final playoff spot.

Clemson goes into the playoffs as the only undefeated team.

___

CELEBRATION BOWL: Alcorn State will face North Carolina A&T in the inaugural Celebration Bowl.

The Celebration Bowl pits the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion against the Southwestern Athletic Conference winner. The game takes place Dec. 19 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Alcorn State clinched its invite by winning the SWAC championship Saturday, 49-21 over Grambling State.

North Carolina A&T shared the MEAC title with Bethune-Cookman and North Carolina Central. North Carolina A&T got the bowl spot because of a higher Sagarin rating.

___

The final regular-season Top 25 is out and Michigan State has moved up two spots to No. 3 behind Clemson and Alabama.

The Associated Press’ poll has been released before the College Football Playoff selection committee reveals the field for the national semifinals.

No. 1 Clemson receives 59 first-place votes, No. 2 Alabama has nine, and Michigan State one from the media panel.

The Spartans, who were No. 2 early in the season, edge up after beating Iowa 16-13 in the Big Ten championship game.

Oklahoma slips one spot to No. 4. Stanford moves up to No. 5 after winning the Pac-12 title. Iowa drops two spots to sixth after its first loss.

Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida State and North Carolina round out the top 10.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s