College Football Bowl Guide: Best of the season's games

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College football has a record number of bowls, a whopping 41 from Hawaii to the Bronx.

That's great news if you're a college football fan. No need to even leave the house over the next three weeks.

If you're not a college football fan, well, it's probably a little overkill, especially with those 5-7 teams in the mix.

Whatever side of the fence you're on, there's certainly going to be plenty of action, with great games, star players and four teams playing for a national championship.

To get you ready, we've got a rundown of what to look for in this year's big bowl bonanza:

TOP GAMES

College Football Championship, Jan. 11, Glendale, Arizona. Goes without saying.

Orange Bowl, Clemson vs. Oklahoma, Dec. 31, Miami. Should be quite an offensive show with a spot in the title game on the line.

Cotton Bowl, Alabama vs. Michigan State, Dec. 31, Arlington, Texas. This will be like a heavyweight boxing match, both teams leaving with lots of bruises.

Fiesta Bowl, Ohio State vs. Notre Dame, Jan. 1, Glendale, Arizona. It won't have the same stakes as the game to be played there 10 days later, but Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes against the Fighting Irish isn't a bad warm-up.

Las Vegas Bowl, BYU vs. Utah, Dec. 19, Las Vegas. Holy War, Las Vegas Strip style.

Russell Athletic Bowl, North Carolina vs. Baylor, Dec. 19, Orlando. Take a bathroom break, you might miss three touchdowns.

TOP PLAYERS

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama. Won the Heisman. You might have heard of him.

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford. Heisman runner-up scores from everywhere, broke Barry Sanders' record for all-purpose yards.

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson. A shot at an undefeated season and a national title could make up for not winning the Heisman.

Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU. Expect him to run even harder in the Texas Bowl after not getting an invite to New York.

Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor. The Biletnikoff Award winner is the big playmaker for the big-play Bears — no matter who plays quarterback for them.

ODDS

The oddsmakers from Pregame.com aren't giving Michigan State much of a chance to beat Alabama in the Cotton Bowl, marking the Crimson Tide as 10-point favorites.

The other national semifinal is projected to be much closer. Oklahoma opened as a 1-point favorite over Clemson in the Orange Bowl though that has increased to 3 1/2 points.

The biggest spread of all the bowls is Virginia Tech over Tulsa by 13 points in the Independence Bowl.

The two bowls with the lowest odds are pick'ems: The Alamo Bowl between TCU and Oregon and the Music City Bowl between Texas A&M and Louisville.

The Alamo Bowl also has the highest over/under on the board at 78 points, though the Russell Athletic Bowl between Baylor and North Carolina could surpass it. That game is off the board for over/under because of Baylor's quarterback situation.

If you like defensive battles, the Citrus Bowl is for you. The over/under between Michigan and Florida is a measly 40 1/2 points

NUMBERS

3—Teams with 5-7 records in bowl games: Minnesota, Nebraska and San Jose State. The teams were picked based on APR when only 77 teams won the prerequisite six games to play in a bowl.

14—Players who have won the Heisman and a national championship. Alabama's Henry has a chance to add his name to the list.

34—Straight bowl appearances by Florida State, longest in the nation. The Seminoles will face Houston in the New Year's Eve Peach Bowl.

85—Career touchdowns by Navy senior Keenan Reynolds, most all-time in the FBS. The Midshipmen face Pittsburgh in the Military Bowl on Dec. 28.

237—Career wins by Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, who will coach his final game against Tulsa in the Independence Bowl.

SPONSORS

Food and cars are the kings of bowl sponsors for the second straight year.

Seven bowls are sponsored by auto-related companies and seven more are by food-related companies (with the Idaho Potato Commission loosely included), up from six each last year.

This year's bowl sponsors also include a department store (Belk), a motel chain (Motel 6), an obstacle race organizer (BattleFrog) and not just one, but two, defense companies (Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman).

DISTANCES

New Mexico won't have to go far to play its bowl game. The Lobos have the shortest trip of any team, playing Arizona at their home stadium in Saturday's New Mexico Bowl.

Arizona State has a pretty short trip to play West Virginia in the Cactus Bowl; the Sun Devils have a 10-mile journey to Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The longest distance of all the bowls usually involves the Hawaii Bowl and this year will be no different. When Cincinnati plays San Diego State in this year's game, the Bearcats will have traveled roughly 4,400 miles just to get there.

The longest trip not involving an ocean goes to San Jose State. The Spartans have to go about 2,400 miles to play Georgia State in the Cure Bowl in Orlando.


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