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Top 5 other bowl games Michigan fans should watch

Location and tradition dominate the list.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X - Ohio State v Utah Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Whether you love them or hate how many of them there are, there’s no denying bowl games help to make the season merry and bright for college football fans. Some leave you scratching your head (Jimmy Kimmel Bowl?), and others are the stuff of legends.

Here are my picks for the top five other bowl games Michigan fans should tune into.

5. Cheez-It Bowl: Oklahoma vs. No. 13 Florida State (5:30 p.m., Dec. 29 on ESPN)

Known for its apropos — dare I say cheesy — celebration, the Cheez-It Bowl features two of the sport’s blue bloods at different stages in their respective rebuilds. After Lincoln Riley left the Great Plains for the bright lights of Hollywood in the offseason, the Sooners are in the first year of Brent Venables’ tenure in Norman. It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing — starting the season at No. 9 in the AP Poll, Oklahoma has since fallen to 6-6 and finished seventh in the Big 12.

On the other hand, Florida State entered the season unranked and has compiled a 9-3 record. The Seminoles, led by quarterback Jordan Travis, may very well waltz to an easy victory over an overmatched Oklahoma team. But if the Sooners find their footing on offense, I’d expect a high-scoring, entertaining affair. Regardless, I’m a sucker for tradition, and there aren’t many more programs more traditionally dominant than Florida State and Oklahoma.

4. Bad Boy Mover Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse vs. Minnesota (2:00 p.m., Dec. 29th on ESPN)

Both the Orange and Golden Gophers started out of the gate gangbusters. Syracuse reached 6-0, only to lose five of its last six, and Minnesota looked like it would be the preeminent power in the Big Ten West after throttling Michigan State, 34-7, but fell back to earth thereafter.

Unlike the previously mentioned contest, this should be a lower-scoring, slow-paced game. Michigan fans who tune into this game will get a sneak peek into what the Wolverines will be up against when the two teams clash for the Little Brown Jug next year. They also will get to witness a game played in one of the more unique bowl game venues, Yankee Stadium. But I’d argue the next bowl game has an even more interesting locale.

3. Wasabi Fenway Bowl: Louisville vs. Cincinnati (11:00 a.m., Dec. 17 on ESPN)

What does Wasabi have to do with Fenway Park? Aside from the color green, not much. However, don’t let that deter you from watching the most underrated bowl game of the season: the Wasabi Fenway Bowl.

In case you weren’t aware, Louisville and Cincinnati are major rivals who used to do battle over one of the coolest college football rivalry trophies: the Keg of Nails. The battle for the Keg has been on hiatus since 2013 — and is unlikely to be revived. This will likely be the last time to see this once-fierce rivalry for quite some time.

Adding to the intrigue is some coaching carousel drama. Louisville’s coach during the regular season, Scott Satterfield, recently left that post for — you guessed it — Cincinnati. It would be an understatement to say things could get chippy. And topping it all off, if a rivalry matchup in a bowl game doesn’t have you sold, then watching a football game played in Fenway Park must. Classic venues are the bedrock of college football, and it doesn’t get much more classic than Fenway Park.

2. The Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. Utah (5:00 p.m., Jan. 2 on ESPN)

What was formerly the granddaddy of all bowl games has now been relegated to the ignominious status as the consolation prize for the highest-rated team in the Big Ten not to make the playoff and, more times than not, the PAC-12 Champion.

This selection requires minimal explanation. The history, tradition and unparalleled beauty of its setting make the Rose Bowl a special event regardless of how irrelevant its current status might be. As for the game itself, Michigan fans will also get an insight into how much Penn State has matured since the 41-17 beatdown at the Big House.

1. The Peach Bowl: Georgia vs. Ohio State (8:00 p.m., Dec. 31 on ESPN)

Provided Michigan handles its business against TCU, it’s as simple as this: the winner of the Peach Bowl will play Michigan for the national title, full stop. However, a debate exists among Michigan fans as to whom they should “root” for. Georgia or Ohio State?

Both sides make sound cases. Those selecting Ohio State argue they would rather have Michigan play a team we know they can beat. And in case you need a refresher, Michigan beat them by 22 points in front of their hometown fans. Those selecting Georgia claim a mixture of these three things: it’s anathema to hope for an Ohio State win, Michigan shouldn’t tempt fate, and many a Michigan player hasn’t forgotten last year’s playoff loss.

A resolution to this argument only matters if Michigan can win the Fiesta Bowl. Regardless, one has to feel confident Michigan can — or should if it’s Ohio State — win against either of these teams.

What other bowl games are you looking forward to watching? Let us know in the comments section!