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2019 college football bowl schedule: 5 best underrated bowl games to watch

Sean Clifford
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 college football bowl schedule is highlighted by a stellar New Year’s Six slate and the College Football Playoff, but there are underrated gems to watch as well.

Looking at the full schedule, we’re drawn to five games in particular that won’t get the kind of media attention as the biggest bowls this postseason. You’ll want to watch them nevertheless.

Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl: SMU vs. FAU

Lane Kiffin just signed to be the next head coach at Ole Miss and won’t be coaching the Florida Atlantic Owls, which takes a bit of luster off this matchup. Yet looking at what both teams bring to the table, it should be a ton of fun to watch, regardless.

The Mustangs and Owls both feature high-power offenses that averaged 78 points per game between them. SMU quarterback Shane Buechele, the former Texas Longhorn, leads a potent, yet balanced attack that averaged nearly 500 yards per game in the regular season.

FAU quarterback Chris Robison can sling it all over the yard, and senior receiver DeAngelo Antoine is a dynamic weapon who can got the distance on any given play.

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl: No. 19 Boise State vs. Washington

The Broncos lost just one game all year long. It hasn’t mattered whether Hank Bachmeier, Chase Cord or Jaylon Henderson is under center, they just keep cranking out the wins. This is a well-coached team, led by Bryan Harsin, that typically plays with discipline and doesn’t hurt itself with self-inflicted wounds.

Washington, meanwhile, comes into this bowl game on the heels of a disheartening finish that saw the Huskies lose four of their last seven games. Given the level of talent on this roster, it’s safe to say they under-performed in 2019. However, with NFL hopefuls like quarterback Jacob Eason and running back Salvon Ahmed leading a potentially dangerous offense, the Huskies should give the Broncos all they can handle, and then some.

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: No. 22 USC vs. No. 16 Iowa

Talk about a couple of really good teams. Though neither USC nor Iowa can be considered among the elite teams in college football, they have been highly competitive all season long and provide fans with a classic strength-versus-strength battle that should facilitate a compelling contest.

USC freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis and his outstanding group of receivers is a threat to any defense. The Hawkeyes just so happen to have one of the best ones in the nation. It should be fun to see which one of these strengths wins out in the end.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 17 Memphis vs. No. 10 Penn State

With two wins in a row against a very formidable Cincinnati team, the Tigers should be well tuned up for this monumental task. Penn State lost just twice this year to a couple of the best teams in the loaded Big Ten, falling to Ohio State and Minnesota by a combined 16 points.

The Nittany Lions feature stars on both sides of the ball. K.J. Hamler is one of the most electric receivers in the nation. Pass rusher Yetur Gross-Matos is phenomenal off the edge. Quarterback Sean Clifford is a dual-threat passer who has been clutch most of the year as well.

Yet if Memphis quarterback Brady White can keep spreading the ball around and the Tigers get Kenneth Gainwell going on the ground, they’ll have a shot to pull off the upset for sure.

Valero Alamo Bowl: No. 11 Utah vs. Texas

Utah had a much bigger prize in mind this postseason, but the team’s embarrassing loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game sunk its Playoff dreams for good. Now, the Utes have a chance to make a better impression on a pretty big national stage in the final game of the year.

It’s going to be fascinating to see if Sam Ehlinger can get going against Utah’s incredible defense. You wouldn’t know it based on the way the Utes collapsed against Oregon, but this team shut down most offenses it faced during the season and allowed an average of 13.2 points per game.

On the other side, we’re expecting Tyler Huntley to have a bounce-back game against a pretty porous Texas defense. So depending on how effective Ehlinger is, this could be a blowout, or it could be a boat race to the finish line.

Full 2019 college football bowl schedule

Dec. 20 — Bahamas Bowl: Charlotte vs. Buffalo, ESPN, 2 p.m.

Dec. 20 — Frisco Bowl: Kent State vs. Utah State, ESPN2, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 21 — New Mexico Bowl: Central Michigan vs. San Diego State, ESPN, 2 p.m.

Dec. 21 — Cure Bowl: Liberty vs. Georgia Southern, CBSSN, 2:30 p.m.

Dec. 21 — Boca Raton Bowl: Florida Atlantic vs. SMU, ABC, 3:30 p.m.

Dec. 21 — Camellia Bowl: Florida International vs. Arkansas State, ESPN, 5:30 p.m.

Dec. 21 — Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Washington, ABC, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 21 — New Orleans Bowl: Alabama-Birmingham vs. Appalachian State, ESPN, 9 p.m.

Dec. 23 — Gasparilla Bowl: Marshall vs. Central Florida, ESPN, 2:30 p.m.

Dec. 24 — Hawaii Bowl: BYU vs. Hawaii, ESPN, 8 p.m.

Dec. 26 — Independence Bowl: Miami (Fla.) vs. Louisiana Tech, ESPN, 4 p.m.

Dec. 26 — Quick Lane Bowl: Eastern Michigan vs. Pittsburgh, ESPN, 8 p.m.

Dec. 27 — Military Bowl: North Carolina vs. Temple, ESPN, noon    

Dec. 27 — Pinstripe Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Michigan State, ESPN, 3:20 p.m.

Dec. 27 — Texas Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M, ESPN, 6:45 p.m.

Dec. 27 — Holiday Bowl: Iowa vs. Southern California, FS1, 8 p.m.

Dec. 27 — Cheez-It Bowl: Air Force vs. Washington State, ESPN, 10:15 p.m.

Dec. 28 — Camping World Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Iowa State, ABC, noon

Dec. 28 — Cotton Bowl: Penn State vs. Memphis, ESPN, noon

Dec. 28 — Peach Bowl: LSU vs. Oklahoma, ESPN, 4 p.m.

Dec. 28 — Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State vs. Clemson, ESPN, 8 p.m. 

Dec. 30 — First Responder Bowl: Western Michigan vs. Western Kentucky, ESPN, 12:30 p.m.

Dec. 30 — Redbox Bowl: Illinois vs. California, Fox, 4 p.m.

Dec. 30 — Music City Bowl: Louisville vs. Mississippi State, ESPN, 4 p.m.

Dec. 30 — Orange Bowl: Virginia vs. Florida, ESPN, 8 p.m.

Dec. 31 — Belk Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Kentucky, ESPN, noon    

Dec. 31 — Sun Bowl: Florida State vs. Arizona State, CBS, 2 p.m.

Dec. 31 — Liberty Bowl: Kansas State vs. Navy, ESPN, 3:45 p.m.

Dec. 31 — Arizona Bowl: Wyoming vs. Georgia State, CBSSN, 4:30 p.m.    

Dec. 31 — Alamo Bowl: Utah vs. Texas, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 1 — Citrus Bowl: Alabama vs. Michigan, ABC, 1 p.m.

Jan. 1 — Outback Bowl: Minnesota vs. Auburn, ESPN, 1 p.m.

Jan. 1 — Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Oregon, ESPN, 5 p.m.

Jan. 1 — Sugar Bowl: Baylor vs. Georgia, ESPN, 8:45 p.m.

Jan. 2 — Birmingham Bowl: Boston College vs. Cincinnati, ESPN, 3 p.m.

Jan. 2 — Gator Bowl: Indiana vs. Tennessee, ESPN, 7 p.m.

Jan. 3 — Idaho Potato Bowl: Ohio vs. Nevada, ESPN, 3:30 p.m.

Jan. 4 — Armed Forces Bowl: Southern Mississippi vs. Tulane, ESPN, 11:30 a.m.

Jan. 6 — Mobile Bowl: Miami (Ohio) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 13 — College Football Playoff title game: Semifinal winners, ESPN, 8 p.m.