How to watch the 2021–22 college bowl games for free—and without cable
If the New Year is looming, it must mean we’re in the thick of college bowl season. Whether you’re watching the Rose Bowl or the Sugar Bowl or rooting for your alma mater as it chases the national championship, it can be a tricky proposition to keep up with the schedule and figure out how to watch, especially in the Omicron era.
The NCAA has canceled several bowl games outright this year, including the Arizona Bowl and Holiday Bowl, because of COVID-19. And some of the teams in the major bowl games have been changed at the last minute.
For viewers, the local sports bar could be an option in some areas, but given the spread of the latest variant, that might be a bigger crowd than you’re comfortable with. And it certainly will be an environment full of distractions.
Fortunately, you have options. Here’s an updated look at who’s playing in which bowl games in 2021 and early 2022—and some options for watching the games if your current TV setup proves insufficient.
What is the 2021–22 college bowl schedule?
While bowl games used to largely take place on or around the same day, they’re much more widely spread out these days, and actually started on Dec. 17. The big games kick off on Dec. 30, though. Here’s who’s playing where this year.
Thursday, Dec. 30
Duke’s Mayo Bowl — North Carolina vs. South Carolina, 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN
Music City Bowl — Tennessee vs. Purdue, 3 p.m. ET on ESPN
Peach Bowl — Michigan State vs. Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
Las Vegas Bowl — Wisconsin vs. Arizona State, 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Friday, Dec. 31
Gator Bowl — Wake Forest (17) vs. Rutgers (Texas A&M  out because of COVID), 11 a.m. ET on ESPN
Sun Bowl — Washington State vs. Central Michigan (Miami out because of COVID), 12 p.m. ET on CBS
Cotton Bowl — Alabama (1) vs. Cincinnati (4), 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Orange Bowl — Michigan (2) vs. Georgia (3), 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Saturday, Jan. 1
Outback Bowl — Arkansas (21) vs. Penn State, 12 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Citrus Bowl — Iowa (15) vs. Kentucky (22), 1 p.m. ET on ABC
Fiesta Bowl — Notre Dame (5) vs. Oklahoma State (9), 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
Rose Bowl — Ohio State (6) vs. Utah (11), 5 p.m. ET on ESPN
Sugar Bowl — Baylor (7) vs. Ole Miss (8), 8:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
Tuesday, Jan. 4
Texas Bowl — Kansas State vs. LSU, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
Monday, Jan. 10
College Football Playoff National Championship — TBD vs. TBD, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
How can I watch college bowl games for free?
It’s a bit harder to watch a bowl game for free without cable these days, since so many are broadcast on cable channels. To catch the few that are being broadcast by networks, though, the best way to watch on a big screen is with a good HD antenna. Local and regional games are broadcast by ABC and CBS, meaning you’ve got a good chance of capturing some games over the air, which costs nothing beyond the equipment prices.
Be sure to test the antenna in multiple locations in your home to find the most reliable signal.
Can I watch college bowl games online?
There are loads of online options to watch bowl games, some completely free and others with free trial periods. If you’re not near a TV, you can log on to ESPN.com or the ESPN app, and CBS has Paramount Plus, which will give you access to games aired on that network. You can get a one-month free trial, followed by a $6 monthly charge. And ABC’s website and app will let you watch live programming on the go.
Prefer another option? Here are a few that work just as well.
Hulu with Live TV
You can try the service free for a week. Once that’s up, you’ll pay $65 per month.
Dish Network’s lower-tiered Sling “Orange” plan will run you $35 per month. Adding the more comprehensive “Blue” plan bumps the cost to $50 per month. You’ll have a seven-day free trial first—and right now, the cord-cutting service is dropping the first month’s bill to $10.
After a two-week trial, you can expect monthly charges of $65.
Formerly known as DirecTV Now and AT&T TVNow, AT&T’s streaming service will run you $70 per month and up. There is no longer a free trial option.
Disney’s bundle of Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ can be enjoyed for free for seven days, after which you’ll pay $13.99 per month for all three combined.
This sports-focused cord-cutting service carries broadcast networks in most markets. There’s a seven-day free trial, followed by monthly charges of $65 to $80, depending on the channels you choose.
Can I watch college bowl games on Amazon Prime Video?
You cannot. No college bowl games are currently scheduled to stream on Amazon this year.
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