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College Football Bowl Games Preview, TV Schedule — December 17-23

San Jose State v San Diego State
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Directional schools, corporate sponsors you’ve never heard of — must be the first week of college football bowl season. But the worst football game still beats almost anything else, so here’s your rundown of the upcoming week of bowl games (all times Eastern):

Glidan New Mexico Bowl

Dec. 17 at 2:00 PM (ESPN)

New Mexico (8-4) vs Texas San Antonio (6-6)

New Mexico leads the nation in rushing yards and boasts not one but two backs who have each rushed for 1,000+ yards and are averaging better than eight yards per carry. This is UTSA’s first bowl game in the six-year history of the program.

Las Vegas Bowl Presented by Geico

Dec. 17 at 3:30 PM (ABC)

Houston (9-3) vs. San Diego State (10-3)

History could be in the making as Aztec running back Donnel Pumphrey needs just 108 yards to break Ron Dayne’s record (6,397 yards) as the FBS all-time leading career rusher. As it is, he is the only player in NCAA history with at least 5,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards. But he’ll have a tough challenge against a Cougar defense that ranks third nationally against the run (97.9 yards per game).

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

Dec. 17 at 5:30 PM (ESPN)

Appalachian State (9-3) vs. Toledo (9-3)

Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside threw for a school-record 3,882 yards and an FBS-best 43 touchdown passes this season. But he’ll face a tough test against a Mountaineer defense that ranks third nationally in interceptions and gave up just three touchdown passes in its final eight games.

Autonation Cure Bowl

Dec. 17 at 5:30 PM (CBSSN)

Central Florida (6-6) vs. Arkansas State (7-5)

After going 0-12 in 2015 and an 0-2 start this season, Central Florida has begun to right the ship under first-year coach Scott Frost and earned the Knights’ eighth bowl bid in program history. Arkansas State lost its first four games of the season, but rebounded to win seven of the next eight and a share of the Sun Belt Conference title for the fifth time in six seasons.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Dec. 17 at 9:00 PM (ESPN)

Southern Mississippi (6-6) vs. Louisiana Lafayette (6-6)

The Ragin’ Cajuns gained bowl eligibility by winning four of their final six games, thanks in large part to a defense that was one of the Sun Belt’s best and gave up just 18 points per game during that stretch. However, they’ll face a tough test from Golden Eagles quarterback Nick Mullens. The senior threw for over 2,900 yards and 22 touchdowns despite missing three games with a thumb injury and a concussion. With both teams’ fan bases centered less than a two-hour drive from New Orleans, look for this to be one of the more raucous meetings of the early bowl season.

Miami Beach Bowl

Dec. 19 at 2:30 PM (ESPN)

Central Michigan (6-6) vs. Tulsa (9-3)

Central Michigan dropped four of its last five games and needed some help from a blown call by officials to get past Oklahoma State and get to six wins. But Tulsa can get some revenge for their in-state colleagues thanks to the nation’s sixth-rated offense (522.5 yards per game). Tulsa receiver Josh Atkinson needs just 73 yards to make the Golden Hurricane the first team ever with a 3,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and two 1,000-yard receivers.

Boca Raton Bowl

Dec. 20 at 7:00 PM (ESPN)

Memphis (8-4) vs. Western Kentucky (10-3)

This could be one of the higher-scoring shootouts of bowl season as the two teams average a combined 978 yards and 84.6 yards per game. The Hilltoppers will be without head coach Jeff Brohm, who has accepted the head job at Purdue after going 30-10 in three seasons at Western Kentucky.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

Dec. 21 at 9:00 PM (ESPN)

BYU (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-5)

If you like exciting finishes, this could be the game for you as the two teams have combined for 14 games decided by eight or fewer points. Wyoming is making its first bowl appearance in five years, but their rush defense, which ranks 88th nationally, could have problems with a run-heavy BYU offense.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Dec. 22 at 7:00 PM (ESPN)

Idaho (8-4) vs. Colorado State (7-5)

Idaho is making its first bowl appearance in seven years and possibly its last, as the Vandals are slated to drop down to FCS in 2018. They’ll face a tough challenge against a Colorado State squad that has averaged more than 47 points per game in its last five outings.

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl

Dec. 23 at 1:00 PM (ESPN)

Eastern Michigan (7-5) vs. Old Dominion (9-3)

If you’re making your first bowl appearance ever (Old Dominion) or your first since 1987 (Eastern Michigan), heading to the Bahamas isn’t a bad way to celebrate. While neither team is a powerhouse, Old Dominion has turned the ball over just nine times and should be able to move the ball against an Eastern Michigan squad that ranks 87th nationally in defense.

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Dec. 23 at 4:30 PM (ESPN)

Louisiana Tech (8-5) vs. No. 25 Navy (9-4)

Look for a high scoring game as the two teams average a combined 81 points per game. The key matchup will be Navy’s triple-option offense (fourth nationally in rushing) against a Louisiana Tech defense that ranks 30th in rush defense, but which has lost its last two and gave up a season-worst 235 rushing yards to Western Kentucky in the Conference USA title game.

Dollar General Bowl

Dec. 23 at 8:00 PM (ESPN)

Ohio (8-5) vs. Troy (9-3)

Both teams lost two of their last three games and are looking to end the season on a high note. The Trojans are in their first bowl win since 2010 and could conceivably crack the final AP Top 25 for the first time every. Ohio, meanwhile, is making its eighth bowl appearance under coach Frank Solich but seeking its first win since 2012.

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