The college football bowl season is already in full swing, but a number of highly anticipated games are still scheduled through the start of the new year.
College football's ever-expanding roster of bowl games covers the entire United States and even locations outside of the U.S. Already this season, bowl games have been played in tropical environments such as Hawaii and the Bahamas as well as in the rugged Intermountain West when the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl took place in Boise, Idaho, on Dec. 22. For the 82nd annual Hyundai Sun Bowl on Dec. 26, Washington State beat the University of Miami in a cold, snowy affair.
While only three of the remaining games this season will determine a champion, a victory in a bowl game can have a significant impact for teams as they head into the offseason. Here are five key games along with their forecasts to watch for the rest of the college football season.
Orange Bowl 4 p.m. EST Dec. 31: Oklahoma vs. Clemson
For the second straight year, the Oklahoma Sooners and Clemson Tigers will meet in a bowl game. However, the stakes are much higher this year.
The 2015 Orange Bowl, which will be played at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, features the No. 4 Sooners (11-1) and the undefeated No. 1 Tigers (13-0) in the first of two College Football Playoff semifinal games on New Year's Eve. The second game between No. 3 Michigan State and No. 2 Alabama will be played indoors at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
After losing 40-6 to Clemson in last year's Russell Athletic Bowl, Oklahoma will be seeking to return the favor as the Sooners pursue their eighth national title. Clemson's only national championship was in 1981.
While fans might have to deal with a spotty shower or two throughout the day, mostly warm and humid conditions are expected on New Year's Eve.
Daytime highs are expected to rise into the mid-80s F, above average for this time of year. Fans should remember to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Rose Bowl 5 p.m. EST Jan. 1: Stanford vs. Iowa
The oldest of all the bowl games, the Rose Bowl Game has been played in the warm and sunny Southern California climate for over a century.
With the San Gabriel Mountains serving as a scenic backdrop, the Rose Bowl is hallowed ground for football fans and has hosted numerous Super Bowls and college football national championship games.
The 102nd game features the No. 6 Stanford Cardinal (11-2) and No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes (12-1), two teams that just missed qualifying for the playoff.
The Hawkeye's tenth-ranked rushing defense will provide a stiff test for Stanford's Heisman Trophy finalist Christian McCaffrey, who was second in the country with 1,847 rushing yards.
It'll shape up to be a clear, ideal Southern California day at the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.
"Temperatures will hover in the low 60s at kickoff, slightly cooler than normal for this time of year," AccuWeather Meteorologist Robert Englund said. "But clear skies and a light breeze will make for great conditions."
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl 1 p.m. EST Jan. 1: Michigan vs. Florida
For the first time since the 2008 Citrus Bowl, the No. 14 Michigan Wolverines (9-3) and No. 19 Florida Gators (10-3) will collide on the gridiron. It's the third all-time meeting between the two schools, who have experienced resurgent seasons under new head coaches, Jim McElwain (Florida) and Jim Harbaugh (Michigan).
Orlando Venues Executive Director Allen Johnson previously told AccuWeather that the playing surface and drainage system at Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium were recently upgraded and have been performing well.
Regardless of weather, this could be a low-scoring game, as both programs boast top 10 defenses. Florida ranks sixth in the nation in total defense while Michigan currently sits fourth.
After days of above-average warmth, a cold front will move into the area on Friday and cause temperatures to drop into the mid-70s. The front will also bring the threat for showers and thunderstorms. At the first sign of thunder or lightning, seek indoor shelter.
Taxslayer Bowl 12 p.m. EST Jan. 2: Penn State vs. Georgia
For the first time since the 1983 Sugar Bowl, which was played for a national championship, the Penn State Nittany Lions (7-5) and Georgia Bulldogs (9-3) will go head-to-head at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.
This will be Penn State's first game in Jacksonville since 1976, while Georgia played on this same field back in October and lost to Florida. Each has a proud history of success in bowl games as the programs are tied for third nationally with 28 all-time bowl wins.
While Penn State and Georgia are traditionally two of the most successful programs in the the country, each program had its share of struggles in 2015, especially on offense. Georgia finished the year ranked 77th in total offense while Penn State sits at No. 106. Both schools will rely on two defenses ranked in the top 15 in the country to try to keep the game close. The Bulldogs have the eighth best defense while the Nittany Lions come in at No.15.
The cold front sweeping across Florida will replace the above-normal warmth with chilly conditions in Jacksonville by Saturday.
"Fans might want to have a jacket handy for the game as temperatures hover in the upper 50s for the game with a light breeze," Englund said.
Holiday Bowl 10:30 p.m. EST Dec. 30: USC vs. Wisconsin
The USC Trojans (8-5) will make the 120-mile journey south to San Diego for their second consecutive Holiday Bowl appearance as they face No. 23 Wisconsin (9-3) at Qualcomm Stadium.
The warm weather won't be unusual for the Trojans, but for the Badgers it will be a welcome break from the frigid conditions of Madison, Wisconsin.
The teams have not met since 1966, but USC has won six straight against Wisconsin. The match-up pits the Trojans' high-scoring offense, which averages 34.9 points per game, against one of the toughest defenses in the country. The Badgers come into the game with the top-ranked scoring defense in the country, allowing a paltry 13.1 points per game.
Clear skies will make for calm conditions throughout the day and into the start of the evening game in San Diego. However, fans might want to take a jacket along as highs will drop from the mid-60s during the day to the 50s by kickoff.