Ranking the Watchability of the ACC’s Bowl Games in 2017

All eyes will be on Clemson's third College Football Playoff matchup with Alabama in as many seasons

The Atlantic Coast Conference is again well represented during the bowl season. Ten ACC teams are in the postseason, highlighted by the defending champs looking to retain their crown in this year’s College Football Playoff.

 

But with bowls flooding the airwaves beginning on Dec. 16, it is virtually impossible to watch every game. Here is a ranking of the ACC bowl games, from “must-see TV” to “I’ll have it on if the wife and kids are out.”

 

Bowl Watchability Rankings by Power Five Conference: ACC I Big 12 I Big Ten I Pac-12 I SEC

 

Note: All times are ET.

 

1. Sugar Bowl — Alabama (11-1) vs. Clemson (12-1)

Jan. 1 — 8:45 p.m., ESPN

Their national championship game meeting two seasons ago was a classic, yet the rematch may have been even better. Now we brace ourselves for round three. Alabama had injury issues down the stretch and the Crimson Tide did not have a typical November. Meanwhile, Clemson surged at the end of the season. Both coaches know how to prepare their teams for the postseason so we should expect another epic battle.

 

2. Orange Bowl — Wisconsin (12-1) vs. Miami (11-2)

Dec. 30 — 8 p.m., ESPN

Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, these two teams were a combined 22-0 and both sides were hoping that this would be a semifinal clash. But Miami lost its final two games, including the ACC Championship Game in a rout to Clemson, and Wisconsin fell to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. Miami will have to stop the Badgers' running game led by Jonathan Taylor, but the Hurricanes will have the home-field advantage at the Orange Bowl.

 

3. Camping World Bowl — Virginia Tech (9-3) vs. Oklahoma State (9-3)

Dec. 28 — 5:15 p.m., ESPN

Mason Rudolph, James Washington and Oklahoma State's potent passing attack will go head-to-head with Tremaine Edmunds, Greg Stroman and the Bud Foster-led Virginia Tech defense. Also, a Hokies offense that had issues moving the ball late in the season will face a Cowboys defense that gave up 44 points a game in November to teams not named Kansas.

 

4. TaxSlayer Bowl — Louisville (8-4) vs. Mississippi State (8-4)

Dec. 30 — 12 p.m., ESPN

Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy, but a strong case could be made that for the second year in a row the best player in college football was Lamar Jackson. It’s hard to argue that the Louisville quarterback isn’t the most exciting player in the game. Mississippi State will be without quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who was injured in the Ole Miss game, and head coach Dan Mullen, who is already settled in Gainesville. But Jackson alone makes this an intriguing watch.

 

5. Sun Bowl — NC State (8-4) vs. Arizona State (7-5)

Dec. 29 — 3 p.m., CBS

This game would be much more entertaining if Herm Edwards was guiding the Sun Devils in El Paso and we could have a week of his press conferences leading up to the game. Instead, viewers will have to savor the final game for star NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb before he heads off to the NFL.

 

6. Pinstripe Bowl — Iowa (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5)

Dec. 27 — 5:15 p.m., ESPN

Both Iowa and Boston College are no frills, hard-nosed, physical teams. There won’t be a lot of aerial fireworks, but the battle between Eagles freshman running back AJ Dillon and Hawkeyes linebacker Josey Jewell should be fun to watch. This will be the first-ever meeting between these two schools.

 

7. Belk Bowl — Wake Forest (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (7-5)

Dec. 29 — 1 p.m., ESPN

Coming into the year, Wake Forest was expected to be a team that was offensively challenged. But at the close of the season, Dave Clawson’s squad was 32nd in the country in scoring offense at 33.7 points per game. The Aggies dropped four of their last seven games which led to the dismissal of head coach Kevin Sumlin.

 

8. Military Bowl — Virginia (6-6) vs. Navy (6-6)

Dec. 28 — 1:30 p.m., ESPN

The two Mid-Atlantic teams have not played since 1994 and will now meet up on Navy’s home field in the Military Bowl. This will be the Cavaliers’ first bowl appearance since 2011 and just their second postseason trip in 10 years. Navy will be looking to end the season on a positive note after dropping their second straight game to Army.

 

9. Independence Bowl — Southern Miss (8-4) vs. Florida State (6-6)

Dec. 27 — 1:30 p.m., ESPN

The Florida State bowl streak is alive and well at 36 in a row thanks to the season-ending win over ULM. With Jimbo Fisher taking the Texas A&M job and Derwin James skipping the Independence Bowl, what little buzz this game had is now almost completely gone. But Southern Miss will be eager to play an ACC power.

 

10. Quick Lane Bowl — Duke (6-6) vs. Northern Illinois (8-4)

Dec. 26 — 5:15 p.m., ESPN

The Huskies and the Blue Devils are back in a bowl game after missing out in 2016. It was a crazy year for Duke, who won the first four games, lost the next six, and then beat Georgia Tech and Wake Forest to earn a bid. The Huskies had an outside shot at the MAC West title when they lost to Central Michigan on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

 

(Top photo by Getty Images)

Event Date: 
Sunday, December 10, 2017 - 06:25

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