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Ranking the college football bowl games from No. 38 to No. 1

Chris Dufresne ranks the college football bowl games from worst to best.

The postseason is one "Kokomo Bowl" from becoming the next verse in a Beach Boys song: "Miami, Bahamas, come on pretty mamma, Camellia, and Boca, this is not a joke-a." Four new bowl games plus the extra championship game means the process of picking winners has become a title of a movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock: "The 39 Steps." Or is it "Psycho"? I had a good picking year in 2013 because no one mailed me torn-up betting slips from Las Vegas, but this year could be as different as Mike Riley and Bo Pelini. We present the annual worst-to-best:

38: Hawaii, Fresno State (6-7) vs. Rice (7-5), Dec. 24, ESPN: Cheer up — the winner of the worst bowl game may still end up with a better win percentage than the NFC South champion. Winner: Fresno State

37: GoDaddy, Toledo (8-4) vs. Arkansas State (7-5), Jan. 4, ESPN: Arkansas State is used to going Mobile. This is the Red Wolves' fourth straight trip to one of the funkiest bowl stadium names: Ladd-Peebles. Winner: Arkansas State

36: Raycom Media Camellia, Bowling Green (7-6) vs. South Alabama (6-6), Dec. 20, ESPN: Life's not fair — South Alabama makes a bowl in its fifth year of football existence the same year Alabama Birmingham shuts down its program. Winner: South Alabama

35: Heart of Dallas, Illinois (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-5), Dec. 26, ESPN: Not to be confused with the defunct "Heart of Darkness Bowl," inspired by Joseph Conrad's novel about an ivory transporter's adventures down the Congo River. Winner: Illinois

34: Quick Lane, North Carolina (6-6) vs. Rutgers (7-5), Dec. 26, ESPN: Our suggestion: Merge out of the quick lane, find the nearest exit ramp, and do some post-Christmas shopping. Winner: North Carolina

33: Popeyes Bahamas, Central Michigan (7-5) vs. Western Kentucky (7-5), Dec. 24, ESPN: Do a search to see reaction of Central Michigan players after they learned they were going to Bahamas instead of a bowl game in Detroit. Winner: Western Kentucky

32: New Mexico, Utah State (9-4) vs. Texas El Paso (7-5), Dec. 20, ESPN: The MVP of last year's game, which drew 27,104, was an ESPN cameraman who made a hundred fans look like a thousand with tight-angle techniques. Winner: Utah State

31: Famous Idaho Potato, Western Michigan (8-4) vs. Air Force (9-3), Dec. 20, ESPN: Air Force, which boasts quality home wins against Colorado State and Boise State, can cap its 10-win season with a win on Boise's wild blue yonder field. Winner: Air Force

30: New Era Pinstripe, Boston College (7-5) vs. Penn State (6-6), Dec. 27, ESPN: Penn State with "pinstripes" is a perfect fit only months after the NCAA granted the school early release from probation prison. Winner: Boston College

29: New Orleans, Nevada (7-5) vs. Louisiana Lafayette (8-4), Dec. 20, ESPN: Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo is talented but Superdome home cooking should earn the Rajin' Cajuns their fourth straight Gumbo Bowl trophy. Winner: Louisiana Lafayette

28: Armed Forces, Houston (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6), Jan. 2, ESPN: Houston has canned coach Tony Levine and Pittsburgh's Paul Chryst took the Wisconsin job. Remember, though, it's all about the kids. Winner: Houston

27: Bitcoin St. Petersburg, Central Florida (9-3) vs. North Carolina State (7-5), Dec. 26, ESPN: Only a tackling dummy would bet against UCF a year after the Knights shocked Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl and two weeks after a Hail Mary victory against East Carolina. Winner: Central Florida

26: Miami Beach, Memphis (9-3) vs. Brigham Young (8-4), Dec. 22, ESPN: BYU has a lot of married players in their late 30s but you still have to credit the maturity after losing star quarterback Taysom Hill to a season-ending injury. Winner: BYU

25: Military, Virginia Tech (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (9-3), Dec. 27, ESPN: Mr. Negative sees a Virginia Tech team that recorded its fewest victories since 1992. Mr. Positive sees a Virginia Tech team that handed Ohio State its only loss. Winner: Cincinnati

24: Poinsettia, San Diego State (7-5) vs. Navy (7-5), Dec. 23, ESPN: Does the advantage go to home town, or home port? Descendants of Admiral William "Bull" Halsey say go with the carrier that has won five of its last six. Winner: Navy

23: Foster Farms, Maryland (7-5) vs. Stanford (7-5), Dec. 30, ESPN: Stanford, which has a hard time filling its own pint-sized stadium, brings its worst team in years to Levi's open-aired crater? Game is SRO: (Sitting Room Only). Winner: Stanford

22: Tax Slayer, Tennessee (6-6) vs. Iowa (7-5), Jan. 2, ESPN: Iowa underachieved with a cushy schedule that should have paid off with a better bowl. Tennessee overachieved under Coach Butch Jones. Winner: Tennessee

21: Duck Commander Independence, Miami (6-6) vs. South Carolina (6-6), Dec. 27, Channel 7: Steve Spurrier has not had a losing season since finishing 5-6 at Duke in 1987. Miami has not had an ESPN 30 for 30 expose done on the program in the last 10 minutes. Winner: South Carolina

20: Texas Bowl, Texas (6-6) vs. Arkansas (6-6), Dec. 29, ESPN: These schools met in 1969 for what is remembered as "The Game of the Century." This game may not be remembered Dec. 30. Winner: Arkansas

19: Liberty, West Virginia (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (7-5), Dec. 29, ESPN: This should be a TV ratings winner with Nielsen families in Morgantown and College Station. Winner: West Virginia

18: Cactus, Oklahoma State (6-6) vs. Washington (8-5), Jan. 2, ESPN: Pac-12 motivating factor: Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy voted Oregon No. 5 on his final USA Today coaches' ballot. Winner: Washington

17: Birmingham, East Carolina (8-4) vs. Florida (6-5), Jan. 3, ESPN: East Carolina looked like a major bowl team before fading to fourth in the American Athletic. Florida's swamp-thing season necessitated a coaching change. Winner: Florida

16: Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus, Minnesota (8-4) vs. Missouri (10-3), Jan. 1, Channel 7: Minnesota is in Jan.1 bowl game for first time since defeating UCLA in the 1962 Rose. Jim L. Mora had nothing to do with loss: he was six weeks old. Winner: Missouri

15: Boca Raton, Northern Illinois (11-2) vs. Marshall (12-1), Dec. 23, ESPN: "Boca Rotan" means "Rat's Mouth" in Spanish but that doesn't mean you will catch anything contagious watching a game that could be this year's bowl-rotation sleeper. Winner: Marshall

14: Russell Athletic, Clemson (9-3) vs. Oklahoma (8-4), Dec. 29, ESPN: Don't trust either team in a close game. Clemson lost to Florida State without Jameis Winston. Oklahoma lost three games by six total points. Winner: Oklahoma

13: Music City, Louisiana State (8-4) vs. Notre Dame (7-5), Dec. 30, ESPN: Notre Dame plans to play two quarterbacks but, unfortunately, neither is Joe Montana. LSU can relax now that Les Miles is not going to Michigan. Winner: LSU

12: Belk, Louisville (9-3) vs. Georgia (9-3), Dec. 30, ESPN: "Belk" became the bowl drop zone for two programs that can play the "what-if" game after letting better seasons slip away. Winner: Georgia

11: Outback, Wisconsin (10-3) vs. Auburn (8-4), Jan. 1, ESPN2: You have to seriously wonder if Athletic Director Barry Alvarez drives away coaches just so he can return to coach the Badgers in bowl games. Winner: Auburn

10: Las Vegas, Colorado State (10-2) vs. Utah (8-4), Dec. 20, Channel 7: Did the Pac-12 add the wrong Colorado? The Rams of Fort Collins defeated Washington State in a bowl game last year and whipped Colorado in this year's opener. Winner: Colorado State

9: Sun, Duke (9-3) vs. Arizona State (9-3), Dec. 27, Channel 2: This could be the "Fun Bowl." Duke has posted consecutive nine-win seasons for the first time. Arizona State can post its second-straight 10-win season under Todd Graham. Winner: Arizona State

8: Holiday, Nebraska (9-3) vs. USC (8-4), Dec. 27, ESPN: Hard to believe this is USC's first trip to the Holiday Bowl. Hard to believe Mike Riley is Nebraska's new coach. Hard to believe the old coach took a job at Youngstown State. Winner: USC

7: Fiesta, Arizona (10-3) vs. Boise State (11-2), Dec. 31, ESPN: Boise State will be happy to provide directions. The Broncos have won two Fiesta Bowls since 2006 while the Wildcats haven't scratched their way there since 1994. Winner: Boise State

6: Alamo, Kansas State (9-3) vs. UCLA (9-3), Jan. 2, ESPN: Chance to see UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley play his last college game and Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder eat a greasy taco on the River Walk. Winner: UCLA

5: Orange, Georgia Tech (10-3) vs. Mississippi State (10-2), Dec. 31, ESPN: The ACC proved a point by going 4-0 against the SEC East one late-November weekend. Here's a chance to prove a point against the SEC West. Winner: Georgia Tech

4: Cotton, Baylor (11-1) vs. Michigan State (10-2), Jan.1, ESPN: We applaud the selection committee's decision to pair Baylor's prolific offense against Michigan State's stone-wall defense. Winner: Michigan State

3: Peach, Mississippi (9-3) vs. Texas Christian (11-1), Dec. 31, ESPN: TCU can prove it belonged in the playoff if it can defeat the only team this year to defeat Alabama. Ole Miss hasn't been the same since losing that heartbreaker to Auburn. Winner: TCU

2: Sugar, Alabama (12-1) vs. Ohio State (12-1), Jan. 1, ESPN: Ohio State hired Urban Meyer to take what he did in the SEC and turn it back on the league that has tormented the Big Ten. Sorry, not this year. Winner: Alabama

1: Rose, Oregon (12-1) vs. Florida State (13-0), Jan. 1, ESPN: Game features the last two Heisman Trophy winners. One is quiet, humble and unassuming and the other is a noted crustacean connoisseur. Winner: Oregon

Championship game

If Oregon were a PGA golfer it would be labeled "Best player never to win a major." Sometimes you only get one chance, and one player like Marcus Mariota. Winner: Oregon

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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