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Three early bowl games to watch this weekend

College Football Bowl Season begins this weekend

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 03 Cincinnati at Arkansas Photo by Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Let’s face it — the college football season always goes by way too fast, and then we have months of incessant longing for anything related to the sport. And while the early college football bowls may not necessarily rank among the best games, it is important to remember the alternatives at this time of year — watching Harry and Marv suffer countless fatal injuries in “Home Alone” for the umpteenth time? Or watching a rerun of “Elf”? Don’t be a cotton headed ninny muggins! Turn on some college football!

The lovely Mrs. Minnich and I have our usual errands to run and tasks to complete for the holidays on Saturday morning, but below are Three Early Bowl Games To Watch this coming Saturday, beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET...

  1. The Wasabi Fenway Bowl (Cincinnati at Louisville), 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN

This game offers plenty of intrigue, as Cincinnati lost their head coach Luke Fickell to Wisconsin, leaving former Ohio State assistant and current Cincinnati secondary coach/special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs to serve as the interim head coach in the Bearcats’ bowl preparations. While Coombs on the sideline is always entertaining, that is not where the intrigue comes in.

Cincinnati, looking for a permanent head coach, hired Scott Satterfield... from Louisville. So the Cardinals will be facing their former head coach, in the inaugural Wasabi Fenway Bowl. Cincinnati and Louisville have not faced each other since the 2013 season, and the weather forecast for the game is projecting to be a crisp 39 degrees at kickoff.

2. The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl (Florida at #14 Oregon State), 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

This bowl game will mark the first time that these two teams have ever faced each other. Florida is coming off a 6-6 season under first-year head coach Billy Napier, while Oregon State comes in as a 10 point favorite by the oddsmakers, as the Beavers had a surprisingly quiet but solid 9-3 season in 2022.

Florida is also handicapped by the number of players who have already opted out for the 2023 NFL Draft, such as quarterback Anthony Richardson, as well as their top backup quarterback Jalen Kitna being dismissed from school after a recent arrest. This means former Ohio State quarterback Jack Miller is in line to get his first start in this bowl game, so here is an opportunity for Ohio State fans to see what might have been had Miller stuck around Columbus.

3. The New Mexico Bowl (SMU at BYU), 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC

Two 7-5 teams squaring off for an evening bowl game on ABC, and it is not the first time that these two teams have played in a bowl game. Back in 1980, BYU defeated SMU in The Holiday Bowl 46-45, with the Cougars rallying behind the passing of Jim McMahon, defeating the Pony Excess Express led by Eric Dickerson and Craig James.

While this game does not have the same type of name-recognition players in it as that 1980 game, both teams average better than 30 points a game. It truly could come down to whichever team has the ball last. SMU is the slight favorite by the oddsmakers, with a -3.5 point spread.