The college bowl season starts at 9 a.m. Saturday with the Celebration Bowl between North Carolina A&T and Grambling at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Who: North Carolina A&T (11-0) vs. Grambling (11-1)
When: 9 a.m. Saturday
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Line: North Carolina A&T -7½; total: 52½
What’s at stake: The HBCU national championship. Grambling is trying to win its second straight Celebration Bowl and finish off its season undefeated against FCS competition. The Tigers’ only loss this season is to FBS opponent Tulane. North Carolina A&T won the inaugural Celebration Bowl in 2015 and wants to wrap up an undefeated season after winning the MEAC with an 11-0 record.
Key matchup: Grambling QB DeVante Kincade vs. North Carolina A&T’s defense: Kincade has thrown for 2,680 yards, 21 touchdowns and three interceptions while also running for six TDs. North Carolina A&T’s defense is giving up 12.3 points per game and has allowed more than 20 points once in 11 games. The Aggies also have 16 interceptions.
New Orleans Bowl
Who: North Texas (9-4) vs. Troy (10-2)
When: 10 a.m. Saturday
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Line: Troy -6½; total: 62
What’s at stake: Troy, which won the Sun Belt Conference, seeks an 11-victory season for the first time since the Trojans moved from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2001. Troy also seeks its fourth victory in seven bowl appearances. North Texas seeks its third victory in nine bowl appearances, as well as its second New Orleans Bowl crown.
Key matchup: UNT QB Mason Fine, who set school records with 3,749 yards and 28 TDs passing, against a play-making Troy defense that racked up 36 sacks and 15 interceptions while allowing fewer than 20 points per game.
Who: Georgia State (6-5) vs. Western Kentucky (6-6)
When: 11:30 a.m. Saturday
Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
Line: Western Kentucky -6½; total: 52
What’s at stake: Western Kentucky seeks to win bowl games in four consecutive seasons for the first time. The Hilltoppers are one of eight FBS teams — along with Clemson, Georgia, Louisiana Tech, Stanford, Utah, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin — with wins each of the past three seasons. Georgia State is in the Cure Bowl for the second time in three seasons, aiming for the first postseason win the Panthers’ eight-year history.
Key matchup: Hilltoppers QB Mike White and WKU’s potent passing attack against a Panthers defense that has allowed 391 yards per game — 242 passing and 149 rushing. White has thrown for 300-plus yards in seven consecutive games and ranks third nationally passing efficiency and yards per completion.
New Mexico Bowl
Who: Colorado State (7-5) vs Marshall (7-5)
When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.
Line: Colorado State -5½; total: 58
What’s at stake: Colorado State is playing in its fifth consecutive bowl game but has lost in its past three postseason appearances. The Rams started the season 6-2, then dropped three of the final four games. Marshall is 5-0 in bowl games since 2009 and has a 10-2 bowl record. The Thundering Herd also started the season strong by going 6-1 only to lose four of their final five.
Key matchup: Colorado State’s highly ranked offense versus Marshall’s stingy and aggressive defense. The Rams are led by quarterback Nick Stevens, who threw for 3,479 yards and 27 touchdowns this season. Colorado State is ranked 10th in the FBS in yards per game with 501.1. The Thundering Herd rank 18th in the nation in scoring defense and 24th in total defense. Marshall has won 30 of its past 34 when holding offenses to 5 yards per play or fewer.
Who: Arkansas State (7-4) vs. Middle Tennessee (6-6)
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.
Line: Arkansas State -4; total: 63½
What’s at stake: Arkansas State is trying to rebound from a 32-25 loss to Troy when a share of the Sun Belt Conference title was on the line. Middle Tennessee wants to continue a strong finish after winning three of its final four games to become bowl eligible.
Key matchup: Middle Tennessee’s defense against an Arkansas State team that leads the Sun Belt in total, scoring and passing offense. The Blue Raiders have one of the better defenses in Conference USA but have only picked off four passes. Arkansas QB Justice Hansen presents a major challenge, having thrown for 3,630 yards and a Sun Belt-record 34 touchdowns. Hansen has been intercepted 15 times.