College football bowl season is nearly here. We have one weekend of Conference Championship games to get through, and then the bowl invites will start flowing.

For football fans in the Ark-La-Tex, that means all attention is being placed on the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl in Shreveport. Its one of the nation's longest running bowl games, and one of the few bowl games that remains independent...just like the name suggests.

This year's Independence Bowl is set for Saturday, December 16th, and will be a prime time game on ESPN.

Independence Bowl Foundation/Canva
Independence Bowl Foundation/Canva

This year's Independence Bowl is set for a Big 12 vs Pac 12 matchup, which will serve as one of the final Pac 12 bowl games in history (unless the conference finds a way to survive "conference realignment"). If these two conferences are able to send teams to Shreveport, it could be one of the better matchups during the 2023 bowl season.

We have to say "if", because until this week, many though the Pac 12 would be unable to send a team to Shreveport. But after the results we saw last weekend, it looks like the Pac 12 will have a team for the Independence Bowl. But that's not what is catching a lot of attention for regional fans. Its the Big 12 team that has people excited.

While we don't know who the bowl invites will go to right now, there are a lot of journalists who are very good a predicting these matchups. Especially Brett McMurphy of Action Sports. Somehow, Brett knows what team is going where before some Bowl games even know.

Brett has put out his updated bowl projections, and has the Texas Tech Red Raiders slated for the Big 12 portion of the Independence Bowl.

Texas Tech v Texas
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

In the Action Sports projections, they have Texas Tech meeting up with the Cal Bears in the Independence Bowl. This type of matchup would be one of the better offerings in the early bowl window. Even if neither team has a stellar record, they're both bowl eligible, both have strong programs, and both have large alumni numbers. Things you really look for when planning an early season bowl game.

For the TV audience, having two bigger name programs is a plus. For the local ticket sales and regional travel market, having a Texas school is a big deal.

Sure, Texas Tech's campus might be 8 hours from Independence Stadium in Shreveport. But how many Texas Tech alumni, families, and fans live between Shreveport and Lubbock? Its probably a pretty safe bet that there are Texas Tech fans between Shreveport and Dallas who don't often get to Lubbock for games that look at a bowl game like the Independence Bowl as an opportunity to see their team.

Texas Tech v Brigham Young
Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

The other side of the projection has the Cal Golden Bears from the Pac 12, in what could be the last Pac 12 bowl trip to Shreveport.

As far as the Cal Golden Bears go, its a little bit longer of a trip. While Cal would be good for the TV purposes of the game, they probably wouldn't contribute much to the ticket sales or regional economic impact. But many thought BYU wouldn't turn out in Shreveport either, and their Independence Bowl appearance proved that wrong.

California v UCLA
Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

If McMurphy's predictions for the Independence Bowl come true, this could be one of the better matchups the bowl could hope for right now. It would also serve as one of the most appetizing games on the pre-Christmas bowl menu too.

There are four other bowls on that Saturday, and if Action Sports is correct on their projections for those, the Independence Bowl would have the best name-brand matchup of the day. Currently, Action Sports project:

Arkansas State vs Jacksonville State in the New Orleans Bowl
Appalachian State vs Toledo in the Cure Bowl
New Mexico State vs Texas State in the New Mexico Bowl
UCLA vs UNLV in the LA Bowl

While UCLA is an intriguing name, and matchup with UNLV doesn't have the same "pop" as Texas Tech vs Cal.

Even looking past December 16th, many of the bowl projections from Action Sports seem to lack punch on both sides of the game. Utah, West Virginia, and UCF are all projected for pre-Christmas bowls, but their matchups aren't very even. That's not saying these bowl games won't be great, but if you're selling the sizzle in a TV promo on ESPN, you want a full game of potential.

So, at this point, lets hope McMurphy has it right.

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