The Group of Five (G5) bowl season kicks off on Friday December 17 at noon in the Bahamas Bowl and continues until the Cotton Bowl on December 31 at 7:30pm. In total, there are 23 bowl games with G5 teams.

Fifteen of the bowls will be G5 vs G5. Eights bowls will G5 vs. P5. The table below provides the matchups by G5 conference.

ConferenceAACACC (P5)CUSAG5INDMACMWCPAC12 (P5)SBCSEC (P5)TOTALS
American Athletic (AAC) 21  2  38
Conference USA (CUSA)1  122 2 8
G5 Independent (G5IND)  1 1   13
Mid-American (MAC)  21 3 2 8
Mountain West (MWC)2 2 3 1  8
Sunbelt (SBC)  2 2    4
Power 5 (ACC, PAC12, SEC)5  1 1   7
TOTALS828388144 

There are a host of compelling games on tap this bowl season. The G5 Gurus will provide a full preview of all the games as part of our predictions, including our picks against the spread. Look for this in the Prediction Menu this weekend. Until then, here are a few of the games that have our immediate attention.

Ten-win Coastal Carolina taking on the MAC Champion Northern Illinois in the Cure Bowl. This game features two offenses that average a combined 73 points a game. The Chanticleers were the darling of the 2020 FBS season. The Huskies remarkable turnaround from zero wins in 2020 to conference champions in 2021 is equally compelling stuff.

The Boca Raton bowl brings us a matchup of conference championship runner-ups when App State takes on high-scoring Western Kentucky. Speaking of scoring, these two offenses average a combined 77 points a game. Bailey Zappe is chasing the single season record for passing touchdowns and averages 443 yards passing a game. He will face a Mountaineer defense that has yielded only 240 yards a game passing and no more than 347 in any single game this season.

In the inaugural Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl, the surprising Utah State Aggies face Oregon State from the PAC-12. The Beavers finished 7-5 and had an impressive win over PAC-12 Champ Utah. The Beavers average 33 points a game and allow 26. The Aggies average 33 a game and allow 25. The Beavers possess a balanced and efficient offensive attack. The Aggies counter with a pass-oriented attack led by Logan Bonner.

In the New Orleans Bowl, Louisiana will try to cap an outstanding with a record 13th straight win. To do so they will have to get by a tough Marshall team, looking for a win to build on for next season. Marshall has a potent, but somewhat turnover prone offense and a stingy defense. The Cajuns are one of the best in the country at protecting the ball and feature a superbly balanced attack led by QB Levi Lewis.

In one of the marquee matchups of the G5 bowl season, 11-2 MWC runner-up San Diego State clashes with 12-1 CUSA champion UT San Antonio. This game will feature a strong Aztec defense looking to control Frank Harris, Sincere McCormick and the high-powered Roadrunner attack. The Aztecs will be looking to rebound from a miserable MWC Championship game, while the Roadrunners come in on a high note after capturing their first CUSA championship.

In their first meeting in over 15 years, Florida and Central Florida will battle in the Gasparilla Bowl. Florida had a rollercoaster season and will be playing with an interim coach as Louisiana coach Bill Napier will take the helm of the Gator program in 2022. UCF had a difficult transition after losing QB Dillon Gabriel, but were buoyed by a surprisingly strong season by their defense. These two teams will meet again as part of a three game series beginning in 2024. This game may provide some early glimpses of players that will play a big role in the future matchup.

In what we hope to be a matchup of two sterling quarterbacks, Nevada and Carson Strong battle Western Michigan and Kaleb Eleby in the Quick Lane bowl. Strong’s participation is uncertain as of this writing. Strong has passed for 4186 yards, 36 touchdowns against 8 interceptions. Eleby, the Bronco’s sophomore QB, has passed for 3155 yards with 21 touchdowns against only 5 interceptions. The game also features two game-breaking receivers in Nevada’s Romeo Doubs (1109 yards, 11 TDs) and Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore (1247 yards and 10 TDs).

In the Birmingham bowl, Houston looks to rebound from their loss to Cincinnati against an unpredictable Auburn team. Auburn lost their last game of the season in 4 overtimes to Alabama, who has staked their annual claim to the top slot in the College Football Playoff. Houston played Cincinnati on even terms until the third quarter when the Bearcats pulled away for a 15 point win. Might this give us a glimpse at the later Cotton Bowl matchup?

Speaking of the Cotton Bowl, the entire G5 nation will be watching with interest as the Cincinnati Bearcats battle the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Bearcats have put together a special season and we hope they can continue their winning ways against the CFP juggernaut in Alabama. Since the announcement of the pairings the airwaves have been awash pundits stating how vastly superior Alabama’s talent is to the Bearcats. We don’t think Cincy will be intimidated. What the pundits still haven’t realized, it is a team sport. Individual talent is important, but a team that plays together can overcome a group of individuals. Let’s hope Cincinnati shows that on December 31.

The full list of the G5 Bowl games is provided in the table below. For a full preview of every game and predictions go to https://www.g5gurus.com/2021-g5-bowl-predictions/.

BowlDate/TimeTeamConfScrTeamConfScrLinePoints
Bahamas Bowl12/17/2021 @ 12:00pmToledo (7-5)MAC24Middle Tennessee State (6-6)CUSA31Toledo – 9.553.5
Cure Bowl12/17/2021 @ 6:00pmCoastal Carolina (10-2)SBC47Northern Illinois (9-4)MAC41Coastal Car -1062.5
Boca Raton Bowl12/18/2021 @ 11:00amAppalachian State (10-3)SBC38Western Kentucky (8-5)CUSA59App State – 2.567
New Mexico Bowl12/18/2021 @ 2:15pmUTEP (7-5)CUSA31Fresno State (9-3)MWC24Fresno St -12.552
Independence Bowl12/18/2021 @ 3:30pmBYU (10-2)IND28UAB (8-4)CUSA31BYU -754.5
Lending Tree Bowl12/18/2021 @ 5:45pmLiberty (7-5)IND56Eastern Michigan (7-5)MAC20Liberty -8.557
Kimmel LA Bowl12/18/2021 @ 7:30pmUtah State (10-3)MWC13Oregon StatePAC1224Oregon St -7.564.5
New Orleans Bowl12/18/2021 @ 9:15pmLouisiana (12-1)SBC36Marshall (8-4)CUSA21Louisiana -651.5
Myrtle Beach Bowl12/20/2021 @ 2:30pmTulsa  (6-6)AAC30Old Dominion (6-6)CUSA17Tulsa -9.551.5
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl12/21/2021 @ 3:30pmKent State (7-6)MAC52Wyoming (6-6)MWC38Wyoming -358.5
Frisco Bowl12/21/2021 @ 7:30pmSan Diego State (11-2)MWC24UT San Antonio (12-1)CUSA38UTSA -2.549
Armed Forces Bowl12/22/2021 @ 8:00pmArmy (8-3)IND24Missouri (6-6)SEC22Army -3.560
Gasparilla Bowl12/23/2021 @ 7:00pmFlorida (6-6)SEC17UCF (8-4)AAC29Florida -7.557
Frisco Football Classic12/23/2021 @ TBDMiami (OH) (6-6)MAC27North Texas (6-6)CUSA14Miami (OH) -453
Hawaii Bowl CANCELLED12/24/2021 @ 8:00pmHawaii (6-7)MWC0Memphis (6-6)AAC0Memphis -3.560.5
Camellia Bowl12/25/2021 @ 2:30pmGeorgia State (7-5)SBC51Ball State (6-6)MAC20Georgia St -450
Quick Lane Bowl12/27/2021 @ 11:00amNevada (8-4)MWC24Western Michigan (7-5)MAC52Nevada -2.563
Military Bowl CANCELLED12/27/2021 @ 2:30pmEast Carolina (7-5)AAC0Boston College (6-6)ACC0Boston Coll -3.549.5
Birmingham Bowl12/28/2021 @ 12:00pmHouston (11-2)AAC17Auburn (6-6)SEC13Auburn -352
First Responder Bowl12/28/2021 @ 3:15pmLouisville (6-6)ACC28Air Force (9-3)MWC31Louisville -1.554.5
Fenway Bowl CANCELLED12/29/2021 @ 11:00amVirginia (6-6)ACC0SMU (8-4)AAC0SMU -1.572.5
Sun Bowl12/31/2021 @ 4:30pmWashington State (7-5)PAC-1221Central Michigan (8-4)MAC24Wash St -7.557.5
Cotton Bowl12/31/2021 @ 7:30pmAlabama (12-1)SEC27Cincinnati (13-0)AAC6Alabama -13.558