The 2016-17 bowl season is set. We know any college football game is better than no college football game, but some of the matchups are more compelling than others, whether that's based on star power, matchup, swirling controversy, coaching intrigue or disappointment.
Here's a look at some games that stand out for one reason or another.
Most entertaining bowl: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl semifinal is the most compelling game of the postseason. These two talent-laden teams are no strangers to the College Football Playoff, and no one will call it a gimme for Alabama in the final, if the unbeaten Crimson Tide take care of business against two-touchdown underdog Washington in the other semifinal. These teams -- and their distinguished coaches -- have the chops to shock the seemingly unstoppable Crimson Tide.
Clemson starts with QB Deshaun Watson, and Ohio State counters with J.T. Barrett. Both surround their QBs with outstanding skill players, such as Buckeyes RB/WR Curtis Samuel and Clemson WR Mike Williams. Both have elite defenses. Both score a lot of points. It's easy to see this one being uncertain deep into the fourth quarter.
Least entertaining bowl: First, there are no bad bowl games. It's college football, which is always a good thing. But you could make a case that Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl might not be appointment television for everyone.
If we sound like we're being more soft than snarky, consider that the Eagles are playing in their first bowl game since 1987 and ODU is playing in its first bowl game ... ever.
By the way, there are a lot worse things than chilling in the Bahamas with a plate of fried chicken and dirty rice from Popeyes.
Best coaching matchup: No offense to Washington, but Las Vegas sees the showdown with top-ranked Alabama, the unbeaten defending national champion, in the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl CFP semifinal as a mismatch. The Crimson Tide are favored by 14 points, the largest margin in the CFP's brief history.
The Tide are playing for a place in history -- as in, to be ranked among the all-time greatest teams. They have won 25 games in a row overall and 15 consecutive games against ranked foes, which is tied for the second-longest streak by any team since the AP poll debuted in 1936. Coach Nick Saban, already often rated the greatest college football coach in history, is going for his sixth national championship.
Washington went 7-6 last season and was 0-12 in 2008. Yet there is one element that should give observers pause: Huskies coach Chris Petersen. At Boise State, his slingshot was pretty darn dangerous in David versus Goliath matchups, most notably the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma. His ability to outflank, outfox and schematically dissect foes is notorious and celebrated, particularly with extra preparation time. Of course, the Sooners were favored by only 7 1/2. It's going to take more than a few trick plays and fortunate ball bounces to outduel Saban and the monstrously talented Tide.
Best coaching matchup II: Wisconsin is going to be a heavy favorite against Western Michigan, but know that Badgers coach Paul Chryst is going to be a 10,000-word underdog to Broncos coach P.J. Fleck in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. Chryst, 51, is friendly but laconic, a highly respected guy who doesn't seek the spotlight and didn't get a head-coaching opportunity until his late 40s. Fleck is just 36, and when he was hired in 2012, he was the youngest head coach in FBS and the first to own a birthdate in the 1980s.
Fleck, a hot Power 5 coaching candidate, oozes charisma. He's prone to dancing and frenetic speeches concluding with his trademark "Row the boat!" Chryst will lose the news conferences decisively. But know this about both men: They are excellent coaches. Chryst might have an NFL future, and rumors are already hot about Fleck's potential landing spots.
Something To Prove Bowl: No. 9 USC and No. 5 Penn State both had cases to be viewed among the four best teams in the nation by season's end, particularly the Nittany Lions. As such, their meeting in the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual is a chance to make a statement. Penn State is the official Big Ten champion -- not second-ranked CFP team Ohio State, which the Nittany Lions beat. USC beat both teams that played in the Pac-12 championship game (No. 10 Colorado and No. 4 Washington). Last year, Stanford blasted Iowa in the Rose Bowl and earned a final No. 3 ranking. It's possible that the winner here will do the same.
Anemia Bowl: Maryland and Boston College meet in the Quick Lane Bowl the day after Christmas, but don't expect a lot of flashy offense after the holiday feast. The Turtles rank 92nd in the country, with 25.4 points per game. The Golden Eagles rank 123rd, with 19.1.
Disappointment Bowl: Nebraska and Tennessee were both ranked in the top-10 this season, but they will meet in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl as teams down in the dumps. Nebraska started 7-0 but lost three of its final five games. Tennessee started 5-0 but lost four of seven, including a season-ending humiliation at Vanderbilt.
Just Happy To Be Here Bowl: Speaking of Vanderbilt, it will play NC State in the Camping World Independence Bowl, the Commodores' first bowl appearance since 2013. After losing at Kentucky, Vandy was 2-4 and coach Derek Mason's seat was pretty hot. But the Commodores rallied and now will play in the program's eighth bowl game ever. As for NC State, it's playing in a bowl game despite at one point losing five of six games.
By Land Or By Sea Bowl: Louisiana Tech ranks third in the nation with 359.8 yards passing per game behind QB Ryan Higgins. Navy, with no ocean options in college football, ranks third in the nation with 327.5 rushing yards per game, thanks to its option attack led by QB Will Worth. These two teams meet in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. You could view it as a test of which fighting style is better.
Job Interview Bowl: Houston's season seemingly was all about now-former coach Tom Herman and his being coveted by every rich-but-struggling Power 5 program until Texas swooped in and signed him. Yet the Cougars' underrated defense under coordinator Todd Orlando also should have been a story, and Orlando can work his way into the narrative in the Las Vegas Bowl Presented by Geico against San Diego State.
Orlando is serving as interim coach and will interview to replace Herman as head coach. He could make a big statement with a win, particularly if he finds a way to stop Aztecs running back Donnel Pumphrey, who just became the FBS' No. 2 all-time rusher. Stopping Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Dede Westbrook and Pumphrey all in one season would make for a pretty killer résumé.
Recruiting Bitterness Bowl: One wonders how collegial things might be between Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher in the Capital One Orange Bowl. First, Fisher was one of the harshest critics of satellite camps over the summer, and Harbaugh loves him some satellite camps in ACC and SEC territories.
Further, Michigan beat Florida State for freshman linebacker Devin Bush Jr. in recruiting the past February, which is notable because Devin Bush Sr. was a former FSU star. Oh, then Harbaugh hired Senior to a position as a defensive analyst a couple weeks after signing day. It also might be worth noting that Senior was head coach at state power Flanagan (Florida) High School, where more than a handful of top recruiting targets play.
Best Offense vs. Defense Bowl: In our annual enjoyment of the irresistible force vs. immovable object postseason matchup, we offer up Louisville taking on LSU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. Louisville leads the nation with 45.3 points per game. LSU's defense ranks sixth, yielding just 16.4 points per game.
When these teams play Dec. 31, it's likely that Cardinals QB Lamar Jackson will have won the Heisman Trophy. He has accounted for 51 touchdowns this year (21 rushing and 30 passing) and ranks ninth in the nation in rushing (128.2 yards per game) and 17th in passing (282.5 yards per game). So, yeah, this is LSU's defense, led by new full-time head coach Ed Orgeron and his coordinator, Dave Aranda, vs. Jackson. That alone is reason to watch this intriguing SEC-ACC battle.
Underhyped Stars Bowl: Remember Stanford all-purpose terror Christian McCaffrey? How well do you know North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky? Well, these two players, who have been mostly off the national radar this season for various reasons, will meet in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. McCaffrey, the Heisman Trophy runner-up last year, finished fourth in the nation in rushing (145.7 yards per game) and No. 1 in all-purpose yards. Trubisky ranked fifth in the nation in total QBR and 15th in passing yards per game (289), as he hurled 28 touchdown passes with just four interceptions. He also rushed for 270 yards and five scores. He and McCaffrey both project as first-round NFL draft picks.