Judging viewer-friendly QB matchups in all 35 bowl games


Football’s a quarterback-driven sport, especially at the professional level.

Related: Ranking the SEC’s 10 bowl games

Even in the college ranks, a skilled passer almost always correlates to team success. It comes as no surprise that nearly every starting quarterback playing in a meaningful New Year’s Day or BCS bowl this season is ranked in the upper third of the nation’s leading passers based on adjusted quarterback rating (QBR).

A few weeks prior to conference championship games, we looked at college football’s best quarterbacks based on this statistical analysis of players growing in popularity. Due to unbalanced schedules and varying strengths of competition across college football, adjusted QBR was invented to take these factors into account.

Related: Judging the SEC’s best passers using QBR

Not to be confused with passing efficiency which only uses box score statistics in its formula, adjusted quarterback rating also breaks down play-by-play success, third-down throws and field position.

Here’s the adjusted QBR for projected starting quarterbacks this bowl season and where they rank nationally out of 125 eligible passers across college football:

New Mexico Bowl, Dec. 21
Washington State: Connor Halliday, 62.3 QBR (57th out of 125)
Colorado State: Garrett Grayson, 45.9 (95th out of 125)

Las Vegas Bowl
Fresno State: Derek Carr, 77.6 (19th)
USC: Cody Kessler, 63.9 (53rd)

Idaho Potato Bowl
Buffalo: Joe Licata, 44.6 (98th)
San Diego State: Quinn Kaehler, 39.0 (106th)

New Orleans Bowl
Tulane: Nick Montana, 30.4 (115th)
LA-Lafayette: Terrance Broadway, 61.9 (58th)

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, Dec. 23
East Carolina: Shane Carden, 72.3 (31st)
Ohio: Tyler Tettleton, 56.2 (76th)

Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 24
Boise State: Grant Hedrick, 64.9 (52nd)
Oregon State: Sean Mannion, 72.2 (32nd)

Little Caesars Bowl, Dec. 26
Pittsburgh: Tom Savage, 63.0 (56th)
Bowling Green: Matt Johnson, 67.8 (41st)

Poinsettia Bowl
Utah State: Darell Garretson, 41.1 (102nd)
North Illinois: Jordan Lynch, 69.1 (37th)

Military Bowl, Dec. 27
Marshall: Rakeem Cato, 72.2 (33rd)
Maryland: C.J. Brown, 56.9 (74th)

Texas Bowl
Syracuse: Terrel Hunt, 58.5 (70th)
Minnesota: Philip Nelson, 64.9 (51st)

Fight Hunger Bowl
BYU: Taysom Hill, 67.6 (42nd)
Washington: Keith Price, 68.1 (40th)

Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 28
Rutgers: Chas Dodd, 42.5 (100th)
Notre Dame: Tommy Rees, 75.0 (26th)

Belk Bowl
Cincinnati: Brendan Kay, 75.9 (24th)
North Carolina: Marquise Williams, 79.2 (15th)

Russell Athletic Bowl
Miami, Fla,: Stephen Morris, 78.7 (17th)
Louisville: Teddy Bridgewater, 79.0 (16th)

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 30
Michigan: Devin Gardner, 65.4 (49th)
Kansas State: Jake Waters, 59.6 (66th)

Armed Forces Bowl
Middle Tennessee: Logan Kilgore, 55.7 (78th)
Navy: Keenan Reynolds, 48.9 (88th)

Music City Bowl
Ole Miss: Bo Wallace, 70.3 (35th)
Georgia Tech: Vad Lee, 47.9 (92nd)

Alamo Bowl
Oregon: Marcus Mariota, 90.1 (2nd)
Texas: Case McCoy, 65.9 (47th)

Holiday Bowl
Arizona State: Taylor Kelly, 78.5 (20th)
Texas Tech: Davis Webb, 77.4 (21st)

V100 Bowl, Dec. 31
Arizona: B.J. Denker, 72.6 (30th)
Boston College: Chase Rettig, 66.3 (44th)

Liberty Bowl
Rice: Taylor McHargue, 38.5 (108th)
Mississippi State: Dak Prescott, 78.5 (18th)

Sun Bowl
virginia Tech: Logan Thomas, 55.0 (79th)
UCLA: Brett Hundley, 82.7 (10th)

Chick-fil-A Bowl
Duke: Anthony Boone, 68.3 (39th)
Texas A&M: Johnny Manziel, 84.5 (6th)

Gator Bowl, Jan. 1
Nebraska: Ron Kellogg III, 36.0 (111th)
Georgia: Aaron Murray, Inj., 85.2 (4th)

Outback Bowl
Iowa: Jake Rudock, 61.8 (59th)
LSU: Zach Mettenberger, Inj., 85.1 (5th)

Capital One Bowl
Wisconsin: Joel Stave, 55.8 (77th)
South Carolina: Connor Shaw, 76.1 (23rd)

Rose Bowl
Stanford: Kevin Hogan, 80.6 (13th)
Michigan State: Connor Cook, 66.3 (44th)

Fiesta Bowl
UCF: Blake Bortles, 73.8 (28th)
Baylor: Bryce Petty, 87.4 (3rd)

Sugar Bowl, Jan. 2
Oklahoma: Blake Bell, 69.4 (36th)
Alabama: A.J. McCarron, 83.5 (8th)

Cotton Bowl, Jan. 3
Oklahoma State: Clint Chelf, 82.8 (9th)
Mizzou: James Franklin, 76.6 (22nd)

Orange Bowl
Clemson: Tajh Boyd, 79.4 (14th)
Ohio State: Braxton Miller, 83.6 (7th)

Compass Bowl, Jan. 4
Vanderbilt: Austyn Carta-Samuels, 51.8 (81st)
Houston: John O’Korn, 48.6 (89th)

GoDaddy Bowl, Jan. 5
Arkansas State: Adam Kennedy, 57.4 (73rd)
Ball State: Keith Wenning, 72.6 (29th)

BCS National Championship, Jan. 6
Florida State: Jameis Winston, 90.9 (1st)
Auburn: Nick Marshall, 82.7 (11th)

Judging by those matchups, the BCS title game and the Orange Bowl feature the best viewer-friendly quarterback battles during the holidays. Underrated head-to-heads include the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando (Teddy Bridgewater vs. Stephen Morris), the Holiday Bowl and UCF’s first BCS bout with Baylor.

Don’t waste your time with the Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 21st. Buffalo’s Joe Licata and San Diego State’s Quinn Kaehler rank 98th and 106th in QBR, respectively.

Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports



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