Bowl season is under way, and while the most anticipated bowls will wait until after Christmas, the college football postseason has already featured a stunner in the final seconds of Colorado State-Washington State — if a Mike Leach team giving up 18 points in 2 minutes, 52 seconds qualifies as a stunner — and a team sending its coach out on top — if USC defeating Fresno State under its second interim coach qualifies.
But whether you watched every minute of Colorado State defeating Washington State or had no idea bowl games were even being played, there still remains plenty of compelling bowl matchups to enjoy.
Here are the five, in particular, to watch:
RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL
Miami, Fla. (9-3) vs. Louisville (11-1)
6:45 p.m., Sunday, Orlando, Fla.
Want to get a look at the heavy favorite for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft? Then you’ll want to tune in Saturday when Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals play the Hurricanes. Bridgewater is a Miami native and was originally committed to the Hurricanes but flipped to Louisville after former coach Randy Shannon was fired. This game may be the start of him putting the final touches on his case for the Texans to select him at the top of the draft next spring.
VALERO ALAMO BOWL
Oregon (10-2) vs. Texas (8-4)
6:45 p.m., Monday, San Antonio
The final game of the Mack Brown era will take place down the street at the Alamodome, where Texas rallied against Oregon State in this game a year ago. The Longhorns will certainly be eager to send Brown — second on the school wins list — out on a positive note, but the Ducks pose a stiff challenge. Oregon puts up 46.8 points per game, and defense has been problematic for the Horns at times this year. Also, expect the rumor mill on who will replace Brown to be in full swing leading up to and during this game.
Stanford (11-2) vs. Michigan State (12-1)
5 p.m., Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif.
This game features two teams which, conceivably, were one loss away from playing in the national championship or coming close. It also features two teams with old-school principles as both rely heavily on top-10 defenses to pound opponents into submission. It is a fitting matchup for one of the most tradition-laden bowls in college football. Having two top-five teams only makes it better.
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL
Central Florida (11-1) vs. Baylor (11-1)
8:30 p.m., Jan. 1, Glendale, Ariz.
If you don’t like the style of play in the Rose Bowl earlier in the day, perhaps this game will suit you better. It features the top scoring offense in the nation in Baylor going against a top-15 scoring defense in Central Florida. The Knights also boast a top-30 passing offense, which will be tested by the Bears’ top-20 scoring defense. Baylor will also have senior receiver Tevin Reese back for his final game after the Temple product dislocated his right wrist in a win against Oklahoma.
BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Florida State (13-0) vs. Auburn (12-1)
8:30 p.m., Jan. 6, Pasadena, Calif.
After knocking on the door of national title contention last season, the Seminoles blew it down this year behind Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston alone is a good reason to watch as an NFL scout told the Orlando Sentinel he’d be the No. 1 pick in the next NFL draft were he eligible. But the team that will line up across from FSU has had quite the season as well. Technically, Auburn is in due to its trouncing of Missouri in the SEC championship. But miracles against Georgia and then No. 1 Alabama stick out in what helped the Tigers become the latest one-loss SEC team to reach the title game.
This game has no shortage of offensive firepower and storylines, and ought to be a barnburner.