Associated Press Meyer and Swinney

For the second season in a row, we'll have 40 bowls plus the national championship game. Once again, 80 teams will take part in the postseason festivities and just like last year, three teams with losing records made the cut.

A year ago, Nebraska, Minnesota and San Jose State were invited to bowl games despite 5-7 records -- and all won. This year, Mississippi State and North Texas, both at 5-7, qualified via the same tiebreaker involving NCAA's Academic Progress Rate. Hawaii also made it with a 6-7 record.

With so many games to choose from, it's impossible to pick which ones to watch, right? It's just not possible to see 'em all -- if you have the semblance of a life. But fear not, we're here to help. If you must be selective with your games, we here present you with our Magnificent Seven for the 2016-17 bowl season:

The best Group of 5 game: Las Vegas Bowl, San Diego State vs. Houston (Dec. 17, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Donnel Pumphrey

San Diego State's Donnel Pumphrey needs 108 rushing yards to become the NCAA's all-time rushing leader, eclipsing former Wisconsin great Ron Dayne's record of 6,397. But the Cougars have a high-powered offense of their own, despite coach Tom Herman's departure to Texas. New head coach and former offensive coordinator Major Applewhite will continue to direct a Cougars attack that averaged 38 points and knocked off Oklahoma and Louisville.

The most offensive game: Boca Raton Bowl, Western Kentucky vs. Memphis (Dec. 20, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

The Hilltoppers also lost their coach as Jeff Brohm left for Purdue. But they still have a quarterback (Mike White) that passed for over 4,000 yards, a running back that ran for over 1,000 (Anthony Wales) and two receivers (Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris) who caught passes for over 1,000 yards. While WKU averaged 45.1 points (second in the nation), Memphis is no slouch either, at 39.5 points (17th).

The most defensive game: Outback Bowl, Florida vs. Iowa (Jan. 2, 1 p.m. ET, ABC)

Both teams yielded an identical 17.9 points per game, with the Gators allowing just 299 yards per game and Iowa 353. Neither team has much of an offense as Florida was held under 20 points in each of its final five games (won two) and Iowa held to 14 or under in five of its games (won three). So if you like a defensive slugfest and lots of punts, this is your dream matchup.

The most tactical game: Citrus Bowl, LSU vs. Louisville (Dec. 31, 11 a.m. ET, ABC)

But if you'd like to see two masterminds at work, this is the ultimate chess match of the season. LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda conducts a unit that gave up just 16.4 points per game and held Alabama to a season-low 10 (unfortunately for the Tigers that's 10 more than they scored). The Cardinals' attack, with its nation-leading 45.3 points per game, is run by certified offensive guru Bobby Petrino and orchestrated by Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. This should be fun.

The most intriguing game: Rose Bowl, USC vs. Penn State (Jan. 2, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN)

At the end of September, both USC and Penn State looked like smoldering ruins, two traditional powers, wrecked by NCAA sanctions, seemed to have seen better days. But then the Trojans reeled off eight straight victories, including a win over playoff-bound Washington. The Nittany Lions did one better, winning nine straight on their way to the Big Ten championship, with a win over also playoff-bound Ohio State. These two teams last played in the Rose Bowl after the 2008 season, which USC won 38-24.

The most fun game: Orange Bowl, Michigan vs. Florida State (Dec. 30, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Jim Harbaugh is not going to coach the Los Angeles Rams, to the consternation of all his enemies and jive turkeys. Instead, Michigan will seek to wipe away some of the bitterness from its loss to Ohio State with a second consecutive major bowl victory. The Seminoles have a high-powered offense but they will be severely tested by a Michigan unit that ranks behind only Alabama in both total and scoring defense. And by the way, Harbaugh has never lost to a Florida team while at Michigan, both as a player (2-0 vs. Miami and FSU) and a coach (2-0 vs. UCF and Florida).


The best game: Fiesta Bowl, Ohio State vs. Clemson (Dec. 31, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

After the 2013 season, the Buckeyes lost a highly entertaining Orange Bowl to Clemson, 40-35. In subsequent seasons, both teams played for the national championship, with Ohio State winning in 2014 and Clemson losing the title game in 2015. This time, there's much more at stake, with a trip to the national championship game on the line. Both teams have been escape artists this season, eking out close victories in the nick of time. Expect another classic.

-- Samuel Chi is the managing editor of RealClearSports.com and proprietor of College Football Exchange. Follow him on Twitter at @ThePlayoffGuru.

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