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Ranking the ACC’s new bowl locations for 2020 and beyond

The ACC’s added some new bowls to the lineup. Which would we prefer to go to?

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Orange Bowl-Alabama vs Oklahoma Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve heard bits and pieces of this news over the course of the offseason, but last week, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy reported college football’s new bowl tie-ins for 2020-25. That list includes some new tie-ins for the ACC, which will have an FBS-high 11 different bowl arrangements starting next year.

Some of these locations are new, and others are old. And some are also better than others. So with that in mind, and assuming the Syracuse Orange can turn themselves into a perennial bowl contender, we wanted to rank all 11* bowls (it’s 12, technically).

This is an inexact science, and there’s no true criteria for what puts one over another. So if you disagree, you probably have a good reason for doing so.

1. Orange Bowl, Miami Gardens, Fla.

“Duh.” This one’s as much about the location (South Florida in the dead of winter) as it is the fact that it means we’ve probably had a pretty good season to get here. Two out of every three years, the top non-College Football Playoff ACC team goes here. And several publications this offseason think that could be us in 2019.

2. Holiday Bowl, San Diego, Calif.

Selfishly, I want this game more than most Syracuse fans (or maybe we all want this game since all Orange fans live in California?). But the Holiday Bowl means a fun trip to San Diego — arguably the best beer city in the country — and a matchup with a Pac-12 team we don’t usually face. Without much data to prove/disprove this, I’d bet SU’s California alumni base is probably larger than that of most ACC teams.

3. Camping World Bowl, Orlando, Fla.

We were just there. But the Camping World Bowl means SU’s had a pretty good season, and gets a trip to Florida as a reward. Hopefully the game would avoid pairing us with West Virginia every time. But as long as they do that, it’s a good upper-tier game that also has direct flights from where most SU fans live.

4. Pinstripe Bowl, New York, N.Y.

Definite cold weather aside, the Pinstripe’s an easy trip for most, which means a packed Yankee Stadium that creates a pseudo-home environment for Syracuse. As the all-time Pinstripe Bowl Champions, we have some great memories here already. Going back to the Bronx every four years or so creates more, without breaking the bank.

5. Outback Bowl, Tampa, Fla.

This one’s among the least likely, because a lot of stars need to align to make it happen: the Orange Bowl needs to be out of the semifinal rotation (two of every three years), Syracuse needs to be ranked pretty highly and a Big Ten team needs to get picked for the Orange Bowl as well, just to get a shot at it. Still, it’s an easier destination to get to than the next one.

6. Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla.

Another Florida game, this one against an SEC team. Jacksonville isn’t as easy to get to as the other Sunshine State locales, but it’s still looked at as a pretty good game and will give us a reasonable (and “name”) opponent, which a lot of you would prefer.

NCAA Football: Military Bowl-Cincinnati vs Virginia Tech Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

7. Military Bowl, Annapolis, Md.

Annapolis is far from a glamorous locale, but you get a probably winnable game against an AAC opponent and a trip that’s reasonably close for a lot of Syracuse fans to just drive there. Also, for those of you that want to play Navy, this is probably your best shot.

8. Belk Bowl, Charlotte, N.C.

Honestly, I’d love the Belk Bowl, if only for its excellent Twitter feed. But I’m also viewing this through the realistic lens of we’re never playing here with so many nearby ACC teams vying for that matchup.

9. Fenway Park TBD Bowl, Boston, Mass.

Another AAC opponent, but this time in a potentially much colder climate. There are a lot of perks to driving to bowl games, however, trying to stay in Boston around the holidays seems like a much more problematic endeavor than New York. Also, it’s another football game at a baseball stadium. The only reason we tolerate the Pinstripe is because a lot of fans don’t have to travel at all to get there.

NCAA Football: Sun Bowl-Pittsburgh vs Stanford Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

10. Sun Bowl, El Paso, Tex.

It’s far from easy for any SU fan to get to El Paso, but the Sun Bowl’s one of the oldest postseason games in college football, the city’s supposed to be a lot of fun for the game, and like the Holiday Bowl, it’s the rare chance to face a Pac-12 squad. This one’s fairly attainable for Syracuse too, if last year’s level of play continues.

11. Gasparilla Bowl, Tampa, Fla.

The “quest” may be over, but this game’s still in the rotation for the ACC. As mentioned with the Outback Bowl, Tampa’s feasible enough compared to other cities. And Syracuse would potentially get an SEC opponent out of the deal, too.

12. Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La.

Good luck getting to Shreveport. At least the Pac-12 is the new opponent in this one, which could make for an “interesting” and completely empty stadium.