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Viewer’s Guide to College Football’s Holiday Bowl Games

Last Updated: December 20, 2021
How fans can get the most out of a week full of bowls leading up to Christmas Day.

As the end of the year approaches, so too does college football bowl season. Navigating the countless bowls, spread around TV networks and streaming services can be a challenge, but fear not. We’re here to help.

Here is your handy guide to ensure you catch all the important games during the week before Christmas.

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Dec. 20: College football on a Monday?

Myrtle Beach Bowl: Old Dominion vs. Tulsa

Yes, there’s only one bowl game on Dec. 20, but college football on a Monday is always going to be a beautiful thing. The Myrtle Beach Bowl will take place at Brook Stadium in Conway, South Carolina featuring the Old Dominion Monarchs taking on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Both teams enter the game at 6-6, but don’t let a pair of .500 records deter you. The over/under for this one is currently set to 52.5, and though Tulsa comes in as nearly a double-digit favorite, you can expect a lot of points.The Myrtle Beach bowl kicks off at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Dec. 21: More football…on Tuesday?

Frisco Bowl: San Diego State vs. UTSA

Tuesday features two games, including one with the first Top 25 team to play in bowl season. No. 24 San Diego State takes on University of Texas-San Antonio in the Frisco Bowl at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. The Roadrunners of UTSA won’t have to travel as far as the Aztecs of SDSU. Both teams were surprisingly good this year. UTSA had won its first 12 games and entered the top 25 rankings before losing to North Texas to end the regular season. The Aztecs won 11 games themselves, rising to the top of the Mountain West Conference. These are two really good, evenly matched teams, evidenced by the Roadrunners holding the line as just two-point favorites. Catch the Frisco Bowl at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Bonus pick: Idaho Potato Bowl, Kent State vs. Wyoming. 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.

Dec. 22: Run, Run, Run

Armed Forces Bowl: Army vs. Missouri

Three days before Christmas, the Army Black Knights face the Missouri Tigers in the Armed Forces Bowl. As we’ve come to count on from the service academies, Army brings an imposing rushing attack that ranks fifth in the country at 287 yards per game. The Tigers bring their own ground game to Fort Worth, Texas’s Amon G. Carter Stadium, led by running back Tyler Badie, who has posted 1,604 yards as part of a breakout senior season. Expect some tough, physical play in the trenches, but not a plodding game of inches — the over/under is set at 57. The Armed Forces Bowl begins at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Dec. 23: Home for the holidays

Gasparilla Bowl: UCF vs. Florida

One staple of the December bowl games is that one or both teams play close to their home. And while Toyota Stadium will notably host its second bowl game of the week with the Frisco Football Classic, let’s spotlight the state of Florida.

In an intriguing clash, the UCF Knights will take on the Florida Gators in the Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The Gators are a bigger name boasting more talent on paper, but UCF actually had the superior regular season, going 8-4 in Gus Malzahn’s first year in charge. Florida, meanwhile, fired coach Dan Mullen after the wheels abruptly came off in Gainesville, quickly losing starting quarterback Emory Jones to the transfer portal.

Florida is nearly a touchdown favorite despite a lukewarm 6-6 record, but don’t underestimate how motivated the Knights will be to finally get a piece of the Gators as part of a would-be rivalry that hasn’t yet materialized on the regular season slate. The Gasparilla Bowl kicks off at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Bonus pick: Frisco Football Classic, North Texas vs. Miami (OH), 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN).

Dec. 24: It’s a Wonderful Life

Hawaii Bowl: Memphis vs. Hawaii

Christmas Eve features just one game. And while the nation’s best programs all want to play in the New Year’s Six games, arguably the most attractive bowl assignment is the Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu, which pits the Memphis Tigers against the hometown Warriors of Hawaii at the Clarence TC Ching Complex.

Both teams gain over 400 yards on offense and give up 400 yards on defense, so look for a possible high-scoring affair. Getting to travel off the continental United States and spend Christmas week in Hawaii should be a memorable experience for the players at Memphis. And with both quarterbacks — Memphis’s Seth Henigan and Hawaii’s Chevan Cordeiro — averaging nearly 300 yards passing apiece, look for lots of completions and the gift of a few touchdowns. Check out the Hawaii Bowl at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Dec. 25: Better Not Pout

Cramton Bowl: Georgia State vs. Ball State

On Christmas Day, Georgia State takes on Ball State in the Camellia Bowl at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. The GSU Panthers head into the game on a three-game win streak that includes a victory over a ranked Coastal Carolina team, while the Redbirds held Buffalo to just three points in a victory that closed out their regular season.

Both teams take care of the ball as both quarterbacks combined for nine interceptions on the season. The final bowl game of the week will be a nice midday present and cap on the first full week of bowl season. The Camellia Bowl kicks off at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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