Write Team: It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Hello everyone, it is that time of year again. Of course, I mean the College Football Playoff and all of the bowl games. What else would I be talking about this month?

This is the most wonderful time of the year … I feel like I have heard that about December before.

The college football bowl game season is fantastic for two reasons. One being it’s football, and the other being these bowl games help with NFL Draft projections.

The Football Playoff is expanding to a 12-team format in 2024, however, for now the CFP is four teams as per usual. I do not feel like ruffling any feathers here, although I know I will because I do believe within the four teams one team did not deserve to make it into the CFP. That being Ohio State at No. 4 over Alabama, who landed at No. 5, and Tennessee, who wound up at the No. 6 spot. Yet I am excited about that, but probably not in the way you think, because Michigan is the No. 2 team in the CFP and the potential for a Big Ten national championship is just too exciting a chance to pass up.

Remember I say potential because Ohio State still has to go through Georgia, yikes.

However, speaking of the Big Ten, the Illinois Fighting Illini have accepted an invitation to a bowl game for the first time since 2019. Sure, that year the Illini went 6-7, barely snuck into a bowl game and they did in fact lose that game against California.

This year was different, however, because the Illini went 8-4, made their bowl game by week 7 on homecoming, and then they added on two more wins just to be safe. The Illini will be playing in the newly-named ReliaQuest Bowl, in Tampa on Jan. 2. From 1996 to 2022, this particular bowl was the Outback Bowl, and before that the Hall of Fame Bowl from 1986 to 1995.

The unranked, yet receiving 11 votes, Fighting Illini will take on No. 22 Mississippi State, of the SEC, who have an 8-4 record equaling the Illini’s record. The Fighting Illini defense has given up 14 touchdowns coming into this bowl game, have a top three defense in college football, and on top of that have the best defensive back in the nation in Devon Witherspoon. So, I am not worried about Dak Prescott’s college team, and neither should any other Illinois fan.

So, December/January really is the most wonderful time of the year … when it comes to college football, of course. Especially this year, seeing the Fighting Illini are playing this bowl season. I know what I am doing for New Year’s, the question is who will be watching with me?

  • Ben Donner lives in Streator and is a big sports fan. He can be reached at newsroom@mywebtimes.com