11. Quick Lane Bowl - Georgia Tech vs Minnesota, December 26th 5:15pm ET
Matchup to watch: Minnesota WR Tyler Johnson vs GT Secondary
Georgia Tech will eat up clock with their run heavy offense, so Minnesota will be looking to create big plays on offense to counteract that gameplan. Luckily, the Gophers have one of the Big Ten’s best wideouts in Tyler Johnson, whose 1112 yds and 10 touchdowns could prove a major headache for GT’s middle-of-the-road secondary.
10. Belk Bowl - Virginia vs South Carolina, December 29th 12:00pm ET
Matchup to watch: South Carolina QB Jake Bentley vs Virginia Secondary
South Carolina QB Jake Bentley had a solid season ( thanks to improved play by his offensive line, which allowed only 20 sacks all season. While the Virginia secondary ranked 14th in the nation with 15 interceptions, the defensive line has struggled to create pressure, with only 23 sacks on the season, which ranks 80th. Bentley will be missing his top target, Deebo Samuel, who has opted to skip the bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft.
9. Walk-On’s Independence Bowl - Duke vs Temple, December 27th 1:30pm ET
Matchup to watch: Temple RB Ryquell Armstead vs Duke LBs
Temple finished the season on a bit of a hot streak, winning 6 of their last 7 games. A major source of their success was senior RB Ryquell Armstead, who racked up 1098 yards and 13 touchdowns. Duke will need big performances from LBs such as senior Ben Humphreys in order to make a quick turnaround for a defense that ranks 115th against the run.
8. Military Bowl - Virginia Tech vs Cincinnati, December 31st 12:00pm ET
Matchup to watch: Cincinnati front seven vs Virginia Tech rushing attack
Cincinnati reached 10 wins this season with an efficient offense, but the true motor for the Bearcats was their stifling defense, which allowed only 102.4 rushing yards per game. VT has become one-dimensional in many of their games this season, despite having a QB that likes to run: QB Ryan Willis was second on the team with 101 carries in 2018.
7. Jared Birmingham Bowl - Wake Forest vs Memphis, December 22nd 12:00pm ET
Matchup to watch: Memphis RB Darrell Henderson vs Anyone from Wake Forest
Wake Forest’s defense could be in for a long afternoon in Birmingham. Memphis brings the nation’s second leading rusher in Darrell Henderson (1909 yds, 22 TDs) to take on a Wake defense that allows 191.3 rushing yards per game. Good luck Demon Deacons.
6. New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Miami vs Wisconsin, December 27th 5:15pm ET
Matchup to watch: QB Alex Hornibrook vs Canes secondary
The Canes would be wise to take a lesson from last year’s Orange Bowl: don’t overlook Alex Hornibrook. Much of the focus in Madison is on 2000-yard rusher Jonathan Taylor, but Jaquan Johnson, Michael Jackson and the rest of Miami’s secondary need to make sure they don’t get beat on the back end by a quarterback with a 13:11 TD:Int ratio.
5. Hyundai Sun Bowl - Pittsburgh vs Stanford, December 31st 2:00pm ET
Matchup to watch: Stanford WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside vs Pittsburgh redzone defense
Stanford’s star wideout has 14 touchdowns this season, good for 3rd nationally. At 6’3” and 220 lbs, Arcega-Whiteside will be tough to box out in the endzone. The Pitt defense has struggled defending the pass this season, giving up 24 touchdowns through the air while picking off opposing quarterbacks only 9 times all season.
4. Servpro First Responder Bowl - Boston College vs Boise State, December 26th 1:30pm ET
Matchup to watch: Boise State defensive line vs Boston College offensive line
Boise State ranks sixth nationally in sacks with 39 on the season while allowing a respectable 3.6 yards per attempt on the ground. Sounds like double trouble for a BC offense that has a young QB and relies on the run.
3. Camping World Bowl - Syracuse vs West Virginia, December 28th 5:15pm ET
Matchup to watch: West Virginia QB Jack Allison vs Syracuse QB Eric Dungey
This matchup would’ve come in at #2 if not for WV QB Will Grier skipping the bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft. Backup Jack Allison (a transfer from Miami) will be asked to keep up with another talented gunslinger in Syracuse senior Eric Dungey, who has been electric on the ground as well (732 rush yds, 15 rush TDs)
2. Taxslayer Gator Bowl - NC State vs Texas A&M, December 31st 7:30pm ET
Matchup to watch: Texas A&M RB Trayveon Williams vs NC State front seven
A&M has relied heavily on the running of Trayveon Williams, who averaged 31 carries per game and 6 yards per carry. Luckily for the Wolfpack, it’s a battle of strengths as they have been stout against the run, led by senior LB Germaine Pratt and his 104 tackles.
1. Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Clemson vs Notre Dame, December 29th 4:00pm ET
Matchup to watch: Notre Dame QB Ian Book vs Clemson defensive line
Notre Dame made a successful change at QB midway through the season, but that also means that Ian Book hasn’t faced a defense comparable to what he’ll face in the CFP semifinals since he sat week 1 against Michigan. Clemson’s front 4 includes All-Americans Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell, who not only bring terrifying talent but also big game experience. Book will need some tough skin to lead the Irish to the National Championship game.