By Patrick Stevens, Special to The Washington Post

There are two ways to approach bowl season, which has been trimmed from 40 contests to 39 after the demise of the Poinsettia Bowl. One, you can grumble about how there's too many bowl games, a truly "get off my lawn" way to handle things. Two, you can pick and choose some enjoyable matchups and ignore the ones whose greatest utility is providing a few hours of programming for the Four Letter Network and extra practices for the teams involved.

Two games - the national semifinals - have more big-picture meaning than the other 37 combined. That's a given. But "relatively unimportant" and "fun" are not mutually exclusive, and there are some potential gems involving 6-6 and 7-5 teams. On the surface, though, the best games of the bunch aren't hard to identify.

Picking out the best of the rest - as this 1-to-39 rundown attempts - is a bit more challenging.

Key players by The Associated Press