6. Las Vegas Bowl: Houston vs. San Diego State
This is the highest-ranked games of all of the “early” bowl matchups, but rightfully so. Though Tom Herman is leaving, he earned the job at Texas because of this program he built with the Houston Cougars. This team is tough, explosive, and a ton of fun to watch. But what you might not realize is that the San Diego State Aztecs fall into that same category. Perhaps the most fun, though, is going to be watching the offensive stars try and match one another between Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. and SDSU’s Donnell Pumphrey. These two are among the best college football players in the country and they’ll put it on display in this matchup.
5. Cotton Bowl: Western Michigan vs. Wisconsin
Time to prove yourself, P.J. Fleck. The Western Michigan Broncos head into the Cotton Bowl as one of only two undefeated teams in the country. Of course, they played in the MAC (winning the conference title) and everyone questions their level of competition along the way. While that’s fair and understandable, this is a damn good football team with legitimate stars on it, such as wideout Corey Davis. So pitting them against a gritty, tough Wisconsin Badgers team is a welcomed sight. It should be a solid matchup, but the narrative of the Broncos proving themselves vaults the Cotton Bowl into the top-five.
4. Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs. Oklahoma
In case you hadn’t figured this out just yet, I’m a big fan of the matchups that put one team’s strength directly across the line from the other team’s. That’s again what we have with the Auburn Tigers and Oklahoma Sooners playing in the Sugar Bowl. Baker Mayfield and the Sooners struggled early, but turned into an absolute force with the ball in their hands by year’s end. Then you have Auburn with their tremendous defense that proved itself against the best that the SEC has to offer. Granted, there’s a chance that a questionable Sooners defense allows some of Auburn’s offensive skill to beat them, but that could only set the stage for even more fireworks when they have the ball. Subsequently, this will be a great one.