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Every 2017-18 college football bowl game, ranked by watchability

From the Playoff to the Gasparilla and everywhere in between.

College football’s bowl season is here.

This is the busiest time of the football year. The FBS bowl slate is 39 games plus the Playoff national championship. The FCS, Division II, and Division III playoffs are ongoing. The NFL is hitting its stride for the stretch run. Maybe you’ve got things to do other than watch bowl games at 2 p.m. ET on a weekday in December.

So as a consumer of bowl games, you’ve got to be smart. If you want to watch every single one of them, great. But if you want to pick your spots, we’re here to help. I’ve empaneled 12 football writers from around SB Nation to rank every game on a watchability scale from 1 to 5, or “would not advise watching” to “a must-see.”

The result is this highly scientific watchability ranking of all bowls, based on averages. All game times are Eastern.

The absolute must-watches

Rose Bowl semifinal, No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Georgia, Jan. 1
Watchability score: a perfect 5

Cotton Bowl, No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 8 USC, Dec. 29
Watchability score: 4.9

Sugar Bowl semifinal, No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama, Jan. 1
Watchability score: 4.9 (someone apparently had enough after two classics)

Peach Bowl, No. 7 Auburn vs. No. 12 UCF, Jan. 1
Watchability score: 4.7

These are essential viewing. The Playoff semis are no-brainers, and Ohio State-USC is a battle of two teams with Playoff talent and lots of history. Auburn-UCF is a hot one because it’ll be fun to see how the Knights fare against an elite SEC team and because Scott Frost is coaching the bowl game before taking over full time at Nebraska. UCF should play this game in total “ah, the hell with it” mode, which would rule.

Most of these should be great

Fiesta Bowl: No. 9 Penn State vs. No. 11 Washington, Dec. 30
Watchability score: 4.4

Foster Farms Bowl: Arizona vs. Purdue, Dec. 27
Watchability score: 4.2

Alamo Bowl: No. 13 Stanford vs. No. 15 TCU, Dec. 28
Watchability score: 4.2

Citrus Bowl: No. 14 Notre Dame vs. No. 17 LSU, Jan. 1
Watchability score: 4.2

Camping World Bowl: No. 19 Oklahoma State vs. No. 22 Virginia Tech, Dec. 28
Watchability score: 4.1

Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs. No. 20 Memphis, Dec. 30
Watchability score: 4.0

Holiday Bowl: No. 16 Michigan State vs. No. 18 Washington State, Dec. 28
Watchability score: 3.9

Birmingham Bowl: Texas Tech vs. USF, Dec. 23
Watchability score: 3.8

TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville vs. No. 23 Mississippi State, Dec. 30
Watchability score: 3.8

Orange Bowl: No. 10 Miami vs. No. 6 Wisconsin, Dec. 30
Watchability score: 3.8

Louisville is mediocre and Mississippi State will have an interim head coach, but Lamar Jackson might be playing in his last college game, and that’d be appointment viewing. (If Jackson doesn’t play, that game plummets.) The Orange Bowl is low for a New Year’s Six game, but Miami is basically a totaled Ferrari and Wisconsin is Wisconsin.

The big college football hipster game of bowl season is Arizona-Purdue in the Foster Farms. Arizona has electric running QB Khalil Tate, and Purdue has a Jeff Brohm offense. You should get solid returns if you invest in that game.

Try to catch most of these

Texas Bowl: Missouri vs. Texas, Dec. 27
Watchability score: 3.4

Military Bowl: Navy vs. Virginia, Dec. 28
Watchability score: 3.4

Belk Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Wake Forest, Dec. 29
Watchability score: 3.4

Las Vegas Bowl: No. 25 Boise State vs. Oregon, Dec. 16
Watchability score: 3.4

Boca Raton Bowl: Akron vs. FAU, Dec. 19
Watchability score: 3.1

Outback Bowl: Michigan vs. South Carolina, Jan. 1
Watchability score: 3.1

Cactus Bowl: Kansas State vs. UCLA, Dec. 26
Watchability score: 3.0

Dollar General Bowl: Appalachian State vs. Toledo, Dec. 23
Watchability score: 2.9

Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State vs. Houston, Dec. 24
Watchability score: 2.9

New Orleans Bowl: North Texas vs. Troy, Dec. 16
Watchability score: 2.9

Heart of Dallas Bowl: Utah vs. West Virginia, Dec. 26
Watchability score: 2.8

Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College vs. Iowa, Dec. 27
Watchability score: 2.8

Sun Bowl: Arizona State vs. No. 24 NC State, Dec. 29
Watchability score: 2.8

Texas-Missouri could be good, even if it’s not the Longhorns-vs.-an-old-Big 12-foe game you wanted to see. Utah-West Virginia would be a hilarious game to tailgate for, given a few of the key differences between those fan bases. Maybe the game itself will be decent.

The hunt for diamonds in the rough

Armed Forces Bowl: Army vs. San Diego State, Dec. 23
Watchability score: 2.4

Frisco Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. SMU, Dec. 20
Watchability score: 2.3

Bahamas Bowl: UAB vs. Ohio, Dec. 22
Watchability score: 2.2

Quick Lane Bowl: Duke vs. Northern Illinois, Dec. 26
Watchability score: 2.1

Arizona Bowl: New Mexico State vs. Utah State, Dec. 29
Watchability score: 2.1

New Mexico Bowl: Colorado State vs. Marshall, Dec. 16
Watchability score: 2.0

Cure Bowl: Georgia State vs. WKU, Dec. 16
Watchability score: 2.0

Camellia Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Middle Tennessee, Dec. 16
Watchability score: 2.0

Potato Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Wyoming, Dec. 22
Watchability score: 2.0

Music City Bowl: Kentucky vs. No. 21 Northwestern, Dec. 29
Watchability score: 2.0

Maybe catch the Arizona Bowl, because it’ll be cool to watch New Mexico State playing in its first bowl since 1960, and the Bahamas, because (a.) it’s the Bahamas and (b.) it’ll be UAB’s return to bowl season after having its program killed three years earlier. Army-SDSU isn’t a bad dark-horse game.

Probably better than yard work or snow shoveling

Independence Bowl: Florida State vs. Southern Miss, Dec. 27
Watchability score: 1.6

Watch FSU until the opening kickoff. Make sure the stadium doesn’t fall into a sinkhole and the Noles’ record bowl streak officially hits 36 years. Then don’t worry about it.

Is called THE BAD BOY MOWERS GASPARILLA BOWL, which counts for something

The Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl: FIU vs. Temple, Dec. 21
Watchability score: 1.4