Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (2pm ET, ESPN)
California (7-5, Pac-12) v. Air Force (8-5, Mountain West)
Oh hai, offense.
Cal's 368.8 passing yards are fourth in college football, led by top 2015 NFL Draft QB prospect Jared Goff, and the large reason they jumped out to a 5-0 start. Their 95th-ranked passing defense in yards are the large reason that 5-0 start was followed by a four-game losing streak. Meanwhile, Air Force has the country's second-best rushing attack in yards. With the over/under inthe high 60s here, we're bound to see Goff go off along with Cal WR Kenny Lawler.
At the program level, Air Force is Air Force. The service school just aren't on the level. Cal, though, finally got back into winning ways under third-year HC Sonny Dykes. A bowl win might help propel the work on the recruiting trail and help them get in the fight in the Pac-12 North for 2016.
Russell Athletic Bowl (5:30pm ET, ESPN)
North Carolina (11-2, ACC) v. Baylor (9-3, Big 12)
UNC's two losses this year came in their first and last games of the year: a disappointing 13-17 season-opening to South Carolina and a spirited 37-45 loss in the ACC Conference Championship to #1 Clemson. With G Landon Turner their only top prospect, it's a fair indication of what UNC HC Larry Fedora is creating in Chapel Hill.
For Art Briles and Baylor, it's another missed opportunity going off of the playoff aspirations in the preseason. A year ago, it was their midseason loss to West Virginia that turned the season down the wrong side of the fork in the road. This year, it was the loss to Oklahoma in mid-November that pushed them off the undefeated ledge. A two-overtime loss to TCU was a battle, though the season-ending confusing L to Texas was as much a sign of exhaustion with the season as it was an actual football game.
Baylor's top prospect foursome will be one that will be tough to slot for the rankings: DT Andrew Billings, DE Shawn Oakman, G Spencer Drango and injured WR Corey Coleman.
NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl (7:30pm ET, Campus Insiders)
Nevada (6-6, MWC) v. Colorado St. (7-5, MWC)
Shady loan provider-sponsored bowl game! Mediocre teams from a non-Big Five conference! CAMPUS INSIDERS! (Actual note: Rams fans might wanna check out CSU WR Rashard Higgins, but if yall can't find Campus Insiders, I understand)
AdvoCare V100 Bowl (9pm ET, ESPN)
LSU (8-3, Conf) v. Texas Tech (7-5, Big 12)
Oh, LSU. Yet again, it was Alabama undoing all of Les Miles' hard work. The loss to the Crimson Tide in early November and the hangover losses to Arkansas and Ole Miss just ruined the Bayou Bengals' 7-0 start.
NFL fans know the LSU pipeline. Tremendous defensive talents. Running back pipeline. On and off offensive linemen. Depressing quarterbacking. CB Tre'Davious White and S Jalen Mills will head up the defensive offerings while OL Vadal Alexander will keep the line open for the NFL. There's plenty of talent in Baton Rouge to pick from as always, but you have to wonder why a program that recruits so well and pipes the NFL so consistently has lost 14 games in the last four seasons.
Tech, though...well, it's Texas Tech. Who cares that they're 7-5? Their offense is second in the country in points and yards per game, and the ladies love HC Kliff Kingsbury.
This might be the most fun bowl game of the season.