The top 2023-24 bowl season storylines

It is formally bowl season, and there is often loads of intrigue amid the ocean of video games out there to moist a school soccer fan’s whistle. Listed below are some tales to comply with over the subsequent few weeks. 

All odds/point spreads mentioned are courtesy of DraftKings and present on the time of publication.


1 of 19

… After which there have been 4

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports activities

The ultimate four-team College Football Playoff is prone to go down as essentially the most controversial of all of them. There have been as many as six groups worthy of inclusion, however in the long run, No. 1 Michigan (13-0), No. 2 Washington (13-0), No. 3 Texas (12-1) and No. 4 Alabama (12-1) made the reduce. And, fairly actually, the Michigan-Alabama and Washington-Texas matchups deliver the perfect leisure worth for these trying to spend New 12 months’s Day on the sofa -— hungover or not — watching soccer. A critical case could be made that every of those 4 groups has a critical shot at profitable all of it.


2 of 19

Seminoles’ historic snub

Seminoles' historic snub

Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat/USA TODAY NETWORK

Earlier than we get into the groups that can be a part of the 2024 CFP, let’s in regards to the ones who should not. Florida State, 13-0 and ACC champion, was omitted from the CFP discipline (the primary undefeated, Energy 5 Convention champ to have that occur), and can possible go down as the largest snub within the historical past of the four-team playoff period, and opened the door for various underlying meanings for the decision. Now, arguments could be made for or in opposition to the Seminoles making the playoff. The very fact is, with out injured star quarterback Jordan Travis (2,755 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, two interceptions in 2023), Florida State is just not as potent. In 11 video games with Travis, the Seminoles averaged 38.8 factors, however totaled 40 within the two with out him. That mentioned, Florida State does have the chance to shove it in the face of the CFP committee and its critics by beating Georgia within the Orange Bowl.


3 of 19

What in regards to the ‘Dawgs?

What about the 'Dawgs?



4 of 19

Is that this the yr?

Is this the year?

Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports activities

Michigan earned the No. 1 spot within the CFP playoff, Jim Harbaugh is again from suspension and the Wolverines protection hasn’t allowed greater than 24 factors in a recreation this season — and greater than 19 simply twice. But, they’re only one 1/2-point favorites in opposition to Alabama within the Rose Bowl semifinal. Due to the alleged play-stealing incident and Harbaugh’s matter-of-fact method to all of it, Michigan could be the crew we like to hate on this yr’s CFP as this system makes a 3rd straight playoff look whereas attempting for its first title since 1997. Including to the intrigue, nonetheless the Wolverines fare: Is this the end of the line for Harbaugh at Ann Arbor?


5 of 19

The Tide is popping

The Tide is turning

Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports activities


Milroe's mission

Gary Cosby Jr./USA TODAY Sports activities

One participant would not often maintain a crew’s fortune of their collective fingers. Nevertheless, in terms of Alabama’s probabilities of beating Michigan, then both Texas or Washington, to regain its spot atop the school soccer world, the aforementioned Jalen Milroe could possibly be the important thing to this system’s playoff success. Since being picked off twice and sacked 5 instances in opposition to Texas, then not taking part in in any respect in a 17-3 win over South Florida, Milroe has accomplished 66.7 p.c of his passes, thrown 18 touchdowns — to simply 4 interceptions — and rushed for 10 scores in beginning the final 10 video games to complete sixth within the Heisman Trophy voting. Now, can he handle Michigan’s vaunted defense?


7 of 19

Penix’s path rolls on

Penix's path rolls on

Gary Cosby Jr./USA TODAY Sports activities

Two seasons faraway from a 4-8 effort, Washington is among the many 4 greatest groups within the nation. A giant cause for the Huskies’ 2023 success is the resilient Michael Penix Jr., the previous Indiana quarterback, who overcame a historical past of knee accidents to finish 65.5 p.c of his passes for 8,859 yards with 64 touchdowns and 17 interceptions whereas main Washington to a 24-2 document and the ultimate Pac-12 title in his two seasons in Seattle. Really feel-good sports activities tales do not get a lot better than his, and Penix, who finished second in the 2023 Heisman Trophy voting, is straightforward to root for.


We meet again

Daniel Dunn/USA TODAY Sports activities

School soccer followers would possibly overlook that Washington and Texas confronted off within the Alamo Bowl final season. The Longhorns’ Quinn Ewers threw for 369 yards with a landing, however the Huskies gained 27-20. The aforementioned Michael Penix threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns with a choose in that contest. With Texas averaging 37.1 factors throughout its seven-game profitable streak and Washington scoring 37.7 factors on the season, one would expect the scoreboard at the Superdome to get more of a workout when the two rematch at the Sugar Bowl. Texas is the the decrease seed, however a four-point favourite for this nationwide semifinal recreation. 


9 of 19

Give me Liberty! — and provides me the factors

Give me Liberty! — and give me the points


When speaking New 12 months’s Six bowl matchups, Florida State-Georgia would possibly supply essentially the most intrigue, however when it comes to entertainment value, our money is on the Fiesta Bowl matchup of Oregon (11-2) — which suffered its solely losses to Washington — in opposition to Group of 5 stud Liberty (13-0). Final season, Tulane surprised USC within the Cotton Bowl, and the undefeated Flames will take their shot at pulling off a fair greater upset (they’re 17 1/2-point canine). And, for many who like offense, this could be your recreation. Led by Heisman finalist Bo Nix (4,145 passing yards, 77.2 completion proportion, 40 touchdowns, three interceptions, six speeding TDs), Oregon ranks second within the nation in common scoring (44.2 factors), complete yards (527.4) and first in common passing yards (344.1). In the meantime, Liberty and Kaidon Salter (2,750 passing yards, 60.9 completion proportion, 31 touchdowns, 5 interceptions; 1,064 speeding yards, 12 speeding TDs), are fifth within the nation in scoring (40.8 factors), third in common complete yards (514.9) and boast America’s prime speeding offense at 302.9 yards per recreation.


10 of 19

Bouncing from the Buckeyes

Bouncing from the Buckeyes

Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports activities

Staying with the New 12 months’s Six, control the Cotton Bowl. Missouri (10-2) is a well-liked bowl choose, and enter as 2 1/2-point favorites in opposition to Ohio State (11-1), which seemed to be fine with quarterback Kyle McCord entering the transfer portal. It seems Devin Brown can be underneath middle for the Buckeyes, who’re awaiting to see if star receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (67 receptions, 1,211 yards, 14 touchdowns) will choose out of the Cotton Bowl, too. In the meantime, the media loves Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz, whose squad’s solely losses got here to LSU and Georgia — but it surely totaled 60 factors in each video games.


11 of 19

Williams sits this one out

Williams sits this one out

Jason Parkhurst/USA TODAY Sports activities

No shock that Caleb Williams has opted out of USC’s Holiday Bowl matchup with Louisville. Williams, who can also be set to forego his senior season for the NFL, had a stable follow-up to his Heisman Trophy-winning season by finishing 68.6 p.c of his passes for 3,633 yards with 30 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, and likewise speeding for 11 TDs, in 2023. Nevertheless, the Trojans as soon as once more underachieved whereas going 1-5 following 6-0 begin. Whereas Williams is little question the school recreation’s largest title to choose out of a bowl recreation, there are a lot extra outstanding gamers who will do the identical.


12 of 19

Thanks for the invite, however we’ll go

Thanks for the invite, but we'll pass

Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports activities


13 of 19

Daniels’ choice looming

Daniels' decision looming

Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports activities


14 of 19

Beneath-the-radar watch

Under-the-radar watch

Arkansas Stat College

Throughout this period of the switch portal, there’s maybe a superb likelihood down the street that Jaylen Raynor can be taking part in for a perennial nationwide school soccer energy. For the second, he is about to conclude a stellar true freshman season as Arkansas State’s quarterback. Usually, Dec. 23’s Camellia Bowl wouldn’t be appointment viewing for many, however school soccer followers would possibly wish to try Raynor when his Pink Wolves face Northern Illinois. Raynor simply could be essentially the most thrilling participant in school soccer that no one has heard of this season. He debuted in Arkansas State’s third game of the season against Stony Brook, and has held the starting quarterback spot ever since, throwing for two,293 yards with 15 touchdowns, six interceptions and 5 speeding TDs in 10 video games.


15 of 19

This could possibly be enjoyable

This could be fun

Hannah Pajewski/USA TODAY Sports activities

In search of a non-CFP or New 12 months’s Six matchup to not miss? Attempt the Armed Forces Bowl. This Dec. 23 contest pits Air Power, which began 8-0 earlier than dropping its ultimate 4 video games, however ranks second within the nation with its possibility offense averaging 275.8 speeding yards, in opposition to 11-1 upstart James Madison, in its second FBS season — for the FCS. Usually the Dukes, who permit a mean of 18.5 factors, wouldn’t be eligible for a bowl recreation whereas nonetheless within the transitional part of its FBS tenure, however since there weren’t sufficient eligible groups (reaching a 6-6 or higher document) to fill the 82 bowl slots this season, James Madison was granted a much-deserved spot after beating the likes of Virginia and Troy this season. JMU additionally occurs to be a 2 1/2-point favourite.


16 of 19

Good for the Gamecocks

Good for the Gamecocks

Jake Crandall/Advertiser/USA TODAY NETWORK

James Madison is just not the one transitional FBS soccer program headed to a bowl recreation. Jacksonville State, in its first season on the prime stage of school soccer, went 8-4, together with 6-2 in Convention USA, for 2023. Notable wins for the Gamecocks, who’ve held six opponents to 17 or fewer factors this season, included Japanese Michigan and Western Kentucky — each bowl groups. And, as a result of there are too few eligible bowl groups, Jacksonville State will take on Louisiana in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 16.


17 of 19

Pays to be sensible

Pays to be smart

Nick Wosika/USA TODAY Sports activities

Minnesota went 5-7 and completed final within the Massive Ten West Division, and but — for the second time in a decade — it is going bowling. However, as famous, there weren’t sufficient groups eligible at 6-6, so after James Madison and Jacksonville State certified with their profitable information regardless of being a transitional interval, the Gophers earned the 82nd and ultimate bowl spot due to having the highest Academic Progress Rate score among those 5-7 teams. Minnesota, which earned a bowl bid the identical manner in 2015, will face Bowling Inexperienced within the Fast Lane Bowl on Dec. 26. 


18 of 19

Braun is the person

Braun is the man

David Banks/USA TODAY Sports activities


19 of 19

Break from the Bahamas

Break from the Bahamas

College of Charlotte

Wanting on the bowl schedule, the hardcore school soccer fan would possibly marvel what occurred to the Bahamas Bowl? Not often the sexiest contest on the annual bowl slate, however watching soccer in a warm-weather paradise just like the Bahamas is soothing for these in cold-weather climates. Do not fret, the 2023 Bahamas Bowl, pitting Outdated Dominion versus Western Kentucky, has been temporarily relocated to Charlotte, N.C. and renamed the Well-known Toastery Bowl, whereas renovations proceed on Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in Nassau. This yr’s recreation can be performed on Monday, Dec. 18. The bowl is anticipated to return to the Bahamas for 2024. 

A Chicago native, Jeff Mezydlo has professionally written about sports activities, leisure and popular culture for almost 30 years. If he may do it once more, he’d attend Degrassi Junior Excessive, Ampipe Excessive and Grand Lakes College.

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