College football bowl picks, predictions for all 41 bowl games in 2023-24

Welcome to the impossible task of picking bowl games. 

Are you in? The 2023-24 bowl season features 42 bowl games in the last season of the four-team College Football Playoff era. The transfer portal, coaching changes and opt-outs are all part of the game now, which means these lines will fluctuate. One might argue these bowl games are “meaningless.” Tell that to first-timers such as James Madison and Jacksonville State.

Bowl games are still part of the college football tradition, and it is the last chance to pick winners. These games will lead up to the CFP semifinals between No. 1 Michigan and No. 4 Alabama at the Rose Bowl and No. 2 Washington and No. 3 Texas at the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The 2023-24 CFP championship game is Jan. 8 at NRG Stadium at Houston. 

We picked all the matchups involving teams in the AP Top 25 during the regular season. We were better this season with a S/U record of 210-44 and an ATS mark of 132-120-3. Will that hold up during Bowl Season? 

We will update our picks to reflect all those changes, but here are our postseason picks for now: 

BENDER: Committee missed with FSU, but left us with a great field

College football bowl picks, predictions

  • Myrtle Beach Bowl: Ohio vs. Georgia Southern (-3.5) 

Saturday, Dec. 16, 11 a.m., ESPN in Conway, S.C. 

The Eagles lost four straight games to end the regular season under Clay Helton. Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke entered the transfer portal and committed to Indiana, and leading rusher Sieh Bangura is in the portal, too. It might be tough for the Bobcats to pull this one out with that many skill position players in the portal. 

Pick: Georgia Southern wins 28-24 and COVERS the spread. 

Final: Ohio 41, Georgia Southern 21

  • R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana vs. Jacksonville State (-2.5)

Saturday, Dec. 16, 2:15 p.m.., ESPN in New Orleans

The Ragin’ Cajuns are close to home and have an offense that averages 32.2 points per game. Jacksonville State, however, is in its first bowl game with Rich Rodriguez and was 3-3 S/U as an underdog this season. The Gamecocks score the victory. 

Pick: Jacksonville State wins 30-27 and COVERS the spread. 

Final: Jacksonville State 34, Louisiana 31

  • Avocados from Mexico Cure Bowl: Appalachian State (-6.5) vs. Miami (Ohio)

Saturday, Dec. 16, 3:30 p.m., ESPN in Orlando, Fla.

The Mountaineers are back in a bowl game after a one-year hiatus. Appalachian State is 3-0 S/U in bowl games against MAC opponents. Nate Noel, the Mountaineers’ leading rusher, is in the portal. Miami is down to third-string quarterback Henry Hesson. Miami still has a tough defense led by Matt Salopek, who ranked seventh in the FBS with 134 total tackles.

Pick: Appalachian State wins 31-24 and COVERS the spread. 

Final: Appalachian State 13, Miami 9

  • Isleta New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico State (-3.5) vs. Fresno State 

Saturday, Dec. 16, 5:45 p.m., ESPN in Albuquerque, N.M.

Will New Mexico State quarterback Diego Pavia play after suffering an elbow injury in the Conference USA championship game? That is a question for the Aggies. Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford also will miss the game because of health issues. The Bulldogs averaged 17.7 ppg. in three losses to end the season. Jerry Kill wins another bowl game close to home. 

Pick: New Mexico State wins 32-23 and COVERS the spread. 

Final: Fresno State 37, New Mexico State 10 

  • LA Bowl hosted by Gronk: UCLA (-4.5) vs. Boise State

Saturday, Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m., ESPN, Inglewood, Calif. 

UCLA quarterback Dante Moore entered the transfer portal and defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn left for USC, but Chip Kelly is not going anywhere. The Bruins were 1-2 S/U when favored by single digits, and the Broncos averaged 38.7 points per game in three games with interim coach Spencer Danielson. Good game here with Rob Gronkowski’s antics an added, um, bonus? 

Pick: UCLA wins 34-28 and COVERS the spread. 

Final: UCLA 35, Boise State 22

  • Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl: Texas Tech (-3) vs. Cal 

Saturday, Dec. 16, 9:15 p.m., ESPN, Shreveport, La. 

These teams met in the 2004 Holiday Bowl – a 45-31 shootout where Sonny Cumbie out-dueled Aaron Rodgers. Cal closed the season on a three-game win streak with quarterback Fernando Mendoza. Is it too late for revenge? Go with the Golden Bears. 

Pick: Cal wins 36-30 in an UPSET. 

Final: Texas Tech 34, Cal 14

  • Famous Toastery Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Old Dominion (-6.5)

Monday, Dec. 18, 2:30 p.m., ESPN, Charlotte, N.C.

The Bahamas Bowl was relocated, and the Hilltoppers will not have quarterback Austin Reed, who opted out of the bowl game. That flipped the line almost almost 10 points in the Monarchs’ favor. We will stick with the underdogs in a wild one. 

Pick: Western Kentucky wins 34-28 in an UPSET. 

Final: Western Kentucky 38, Old Dominion 35

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  • Scooter’s Coffee Frisco Bowl: UTSA (-12.5) vs. Marshall 

Tuesday, Dec. 19, 9 p.m., ESPN, Frisco, Texas

Jeff Traylor stayed with the Roadrunners, and Frank Harris endured an up-and-down season. Still, this one is close to home against Marshall, which clinched a bowl berth behind a solid start from Cam Fancher against Arkansas State. Fancher is in the transfer portal, meaning Cole Pennington, the son of Marshall legend Chad Pennington, will get the start. 

Pick: UTSA wins 35-24 but FAILS TO COVER the spread. 

Final: UTSA 35, Marshall 17

  • Boca Raton Bowl: Syracuse (-3) vs. South Florida 

Thursday, Dec. 21, 8 p.m., ESPN, Boca Raton, Fla. 

The Bulls are close to home, and first-year coach Alex Golesh has a chance to close an impressive first year. Syracuse, however, will take advantage of the worst pass defense in the FBS (301.3 ypg.) with backup quarterback Braden Davis, who will get his first start. The Orange were 4-2 ATS as a favorite this year. 

Pick: Syracuse wins 35-28 and COVERS the spread. 

Final: South Florida 45, Syracuse 0 

  • Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl: UCF (-6.5) vs. Georgia Tech 

Friday, Dec. 22, 8 p.m., ESPN, Tampa, Fla. 

It’s a building block game for both programs, and Georgia Tech better get a handle on UCF running back R.J. Harvey, who had 136.8 rushing yards in the Knights’ last five games. Can Haynes King limit the turnovers for the Yellow Jackets? Georgia Tech was 6-2 ATS as an underdog. 

Pick: UCF wins 31-27 but FAILS TO COVER the spread. 

  • 76 Birmingham Bowl: Troy (-7) vs. Duke 

Saturday, Dec. 23, 12 p.m., ABC, Birmingham, Ala. 

Kimani Vidal rushed for 1,582 yards and 14 TDs for the Trojans this season. The Blue Devils faded in the second half, but the run defense was better in their last two games. Grayson Loftis will get his time to shine in this game, too. 

Pick: Troy wins 24-19 but FAILS TO COVER the spread. 

  • Camellia Bowl: Arkansas State (-1.5) vs. Northern Illinois 

Saturday, Dec. 23, 12 p.m., ESPN, Montgomery, Ala. 

Butch Jones pushed the Red Wolves to a bowl game despite a team that ranked 107th in scoring defense at 31.2 ppg. Antario Brown averages 6.2 yards per carry for the Huskies, who had five one-score losses this season. Northern Illinois breaks a seven-bowl losing streak. 

Pick: Northern Illinois wins 30-21 in an UPSET. 

  • Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: James Madison (-1) vs. Air Force 

Saturday, Dec. 23, 3:30 p.m., ABC, Fort Worth, Texas 

The Dukes are making their first bowl appearance, even if Curt Cignetti took the Indiana job. Jordan McCloud (3,400 yards, 32 TDs, 9 INTs) was great, and the Dukes were 7-1 ATS as a single-digit favorite. Air Force has won four consecutive bowl games and ranks second in the FBS in rushing yards (275.8 ypg.). We’ll take the first-timers. 

Pick: James Madison wins 34-27 and COVERS the spread. 

  • Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Georgia State vs. Utah State (-1.5)

Saturday, Dec. 23, 7 p.m., ESPN, Boise, Idaho 

Georgia State closed the season on a five-game losing streak but is still favored against the Aggies, who won their last three games. This is one of those trends-don’t-add-up games, but Mountain West teams have won this bowl two of the last three years. Will Wyoming transfer Levi Williams get the start after a victory in the regular-season finale? 

Pick: Utah State wins 30-28 and COVERS the spread. 

  • 68 Ventures Bowl: South Alabama (-16.5) vs. Eastern Michigan 

Saturday, Dec. 23, 7 p.m., ESPN, Mobile, Ala. 

This is the largest spread of bowl season. The Eagles were 4-2 ATS as an underdog this season, but they have an offense that averages just 20.3 points per game. That will make it tough to keep up with the Jaguars in a virtual home game. 

Pick: South Alabama wins 35-17 and COVERS the spread. 

  • SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl: Utah (-6) vs. Northwestern 

Saturday, Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m, ABC, Las Vegas 

A matchup between two solid coaches in Kyle Whittingham and David Braun. Whittingham made it work with Cam Rising in and out of the lineup, and Braun helped rebuild the Wildcats after the firing of Pat Fitzgerald. Northwestern could hang in a defensive game here, and they beat Utah 31-20 in the 2018 Holiday Bowl. This time, the Utes break a four-game bowl losing streak.

Pick: Utah wins 27-17 and COVERS the spread. 

  • EasyPost Hawai’i Bowl: San Jose State (-10) vs. Coastal Carolina 

Saturday, Dec. 23, 10:30 p.m., ESPN, Honolulu

Chevan Cordeiro passed for 19 TDs and four interceptions for the Spartans, who won their last six games after a 1-5 start. The Chanticleers ended the season on a two-game losing streak under first-year coach Tim Beck. Coastal Carolina hangs around despite traveling almost 5,000 miles for the game, but San Jose State will not make the big mistake. 

Pick: San Jose State wins 35-30 but FAILS TO COVER the spread. 

  • Quick Lane Bowl: Minnesota (-5.5) vs. Bowling Green 

Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2 p.m., ESPN, Detroit  

Bowling Green beat Minnesota 14-10 in 2021, and chances are P.J. Fleck has not forgotten about that. The question for the Gophers is whether a defense that allowed 35.2 ppg. in four straight losses to end the season holds up against the Falcons – who have a top-50 scoring defense. Big Ten teams are 3-1 S/U in the Quick Lane Bowl. 

Pick: Minnesota wins 29-22 and COVERS the spread. 

  • SERVPRO First Responders Bowl: Texas State (-4.5) vs. Rice 

Tuesday, Dec. 26, 5:30 p.m., ESPN, Dallas 

First-year coach G.J. Kinne had an impressive start with the Bobcats, who averaged 36.3 ppg and engaged in several shootouts this season. Former LSU and Auburn quarterback T.J. Finley had five games with 300 or more yards passing. The Owls snuck into the postseason with victories in their last two games. A.J. Padgett must limit the turnovers. 

Pick: Texas State wins 35-24 and COVERS the spread. 

  • Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Kansas (-10.5) vs. UNLV

Tuesday, Dec. 26, 9 p.m., ESPN, Phoenix 

The Jayhawks are looking to win their first bowl game since 2008 – and they will face a UNLV team that had an impressive opening act under Barry Odom. The Rebels still allowed 163.3 rushing yards per game, and Kansas covered both of its games when it was favored by more than a touchdown. 

Pick: Kansas wins 33-20 and COVERS the spread. 

  • Military Bowl presented by Virginia Tech (-4.5) vs. Tulane 

Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2 p.m, ESPN, Annapolis, Md. 

Tulane lost the American Athletic Conference championship, and Willie Fritz left for the Houston job. Will quarterback Michael Pratt play in the bowl game? Virginia Tech progressed under second-year coach Brent Pry but struggled against ranked teams. A victory in a bowl game would be a program-builder. The Hokies were 4-2 ATS as a single-digit favorite this season. 

Pick: Virginia Tech wins 31-26 and COVERS the spread. 

  • Duke’s Mayo Bowl: West Virginia (-3.5) vs. North Carolina 

Wednesday, Dec. 27, 5:30 p.m, ESPN, Charlotte, N.C. 

Drake Maye has not announced his intentions, but sophomore running back Omarion Hampton – who had 1,442 yards and 15 TDs – will be the key for the Tar Heels against the Mountaineers. West Virginia has three players that rushed for at least 700 yards this season. This could be a grinder, but the Tar Heels pull out an upset in their backyard. Stay for the Mack Brown mayo bath. 

Pick: North Carolina wins 29-25 in an UPSET. 

Jack Plummer

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  • DIRECTV Holiday Bowl: No. 11 Louisville (-6.5) vs. USC

Wednesday, Dec. 27, 8 p.m., Fox, San Diego  

Caleb Williams will not play in the Holiday Bowl, and backup quarterback Miller Moss will get the start. The Cardinals have a rushing attack that will give USC fits, but this still feels a little bit like a potential fresh-start game for Lincoln Riley. Expect a back-and-forth in the second half – but Jeff Brohm gets an 11th victory for the Cardinals. 

Pick: Louisville wins 36-30 but FAILS TO COVER the spread. 

  • TaxAct Texas Bowl: Texas A&M (-4.5) vs. No. 20 Oklahoma State 

Wednesday, Dec. 27, 5:30 p.m, ESPN, Houston 

The Aggies have a new coach, and this will be an audition of sorts for the players in front of Mike Elko. The Cowboys have been wildly inconsistent in the final month of the season, and it’s not known if running back Ollie Gordon will play against the Aggies. Texas A&M beat Oklahoma State 24-21 in the 2019 Texas Bowl. This will be another game decided by a late field goal. 

Pick: Texas A&M wins 31-28 but FAILS TO COVER the spread. 

  • Wasabi Fenway Bowl: No. 24 SMU (-10.5) vs. Boston College 

Thursday, Dec. 28, 11 a.m., ESPN, Boston 

The Mustangs will make their unofficial ACC debut here after winning the American Athletic Conference championship. Backup quarterback Kevin Jennings will start, and the running game will get its chances against the Eagles – who were streaky all season. This is a home game of sorts for Boston College, and the line has ticked up 1.5 points already. There is some value in the underdog.  

Pick: SMU wins 31-24 but FAILS TO COVER the spread. 

  • Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl: Miami (-4.5) vs. Rutgers 

Thursday, Dec. 28, 2:15 p.m, ESPN, New York 

The Scarlet Knights are close to home and have a chance to win their first bowl game since 2014. Jacurri Brown will take his first snaps as Miami’s starter with Alex Van Dyke in the transfer portal. Can the Rutgers defensive line create turnovers with an inexperienced quarterback? The Scarlet Knights averaged 11.5 points per game through a four-game losing streak to end the season. We still trust the Hurricanes. 

Pick: Miami wins 23-14 and COVERS the spread.

  • Pop-Tarts Bowl: No. 25 Kansas State (-7.5) vs. No. 18 NC State

Thursday, Dec. 28, 5:45 p.m., ESPN, Orlando, Fla. 

This is a battle of two hard-nosed programs that had a few hiccups in 2023. The Wildcats have a top-10 offense that averages 37.8 points per game, but Will Howard entered the transfer portal. NC State quarterback Brennan Armstrong averaged 220 passing yards with 6 TDs and no interceptions in the Wolfpack’s last three games. This might be a trap — because it looks like an easy cover. 

Pick: Kansas State wins 28-24 but FAILS TO COVER the spread. 

  • Valero Alamo Bowl: No. 12 Oklahoma (-1.5) vs. No. 14 Arizona 

Thursday, Dec. 28, 9:15 p.m., ESPN, San Antonio 

Dillon Gabriel is in the transfer portal, so the Sooners might turn to freshman Jackson Arnold in this game. Noah Fifita was part of Arizona’s remarkable turnaround under Jedd Fisch, and they were a perfect 6-0 ATS as an underdog this season. The Sooners, however, pull out a victory in another Alamo Bowl thriller. 

Pick: Oklahoma wins 35-31 and COVERS the spread. 

  • TaxSlayer Gator Bowl: No. 22 Clemson (-7) vs. Kentucky 

Friday, Dec. 29, 12 p.m., ESPN, Jacksonville, Fla. 

Clemson won its last four games – and was 4-0 ATS in that stretch. Quarterback Cade Klubnik was still hit or miss. The Tigers’ defense, however, has limited opposing QBs to a 45% completion percentage in those four games. Kentucky retained Mark Stoops – and this would be a marquee bowl victory. The Tigers will not allow for it, however. 

Pick: Clemson beats Kentucky 28-16 and COVERS the spread. 

Sam Hartman

(Getty Images)

  • Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl: No. 16 Notre Dame (-10.5) vs. No. 19 Oregon State 

Friday, Dec. 29, 2 p.m., CBS, El Paso, Texas 

Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith took the job at Michigan State. DJ Uiagalelei entered the transfer portal. Will Sam Hartman play for the Irish? There are a lot of moving parts here, but the Irish are heavy favorites as a result. The Irish were 3-2 ATS when favored by less than 20 points this season. This is Oregon State’s last stand as a Power 5 school, but there is blowout potential here if Hartman plays. 

Pick: Notre Dame wins 38-24 and COVERS the spread. 

  • AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Iowa State (-7) vs. Memphis 

Friday, Dec 29, 3:30 p.m., ESPN, Memphis, Tenn. 

This is a rematch of the 2018 Liberty Bowl, which the Cyclones won 21-20. Memphis ranked seventh in the FBS with an offense that averaged 39.7 points per game. Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht was efficient this season. Iowa State had a +8 turnover margin. If that holds, then they will win another bowl game. Matt Campbell improves to .500 in bowl games. 

Pick: Iowa State wins 27-24 but FAILS TO COVER the spread. 

  • TransPerfect Music City Bowl: Auburn (-3) vs. Maryland 

Saturday, Dec. 30, 2 p.m., ABC, Nashville, Tenn. 

This will be an interesting SEC-Big Ten matchup. The Terps have won their last two bowl games with veteran quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa. Auburn will try to build momentum with first-year coach Hugh Freeze. The Tigers were hot-and-cold down the stretch, and Freeze still needs to find the right quarterback. 

Pick: Maryland wins 24-22 in an UPSET. 

  • Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl: Toledo (-3) vs. Wyoming 

Saturday, Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m., CW Network/Barstool, Tucson, Ariz. 

The Rockets have to settle for this bowl after a disappointing loss to Miami (Ohio) in the MAC championship game. Wyoming was 4-2 ATS as an underdog this season, but they had losses of 20 points or more against Boise State and UNLV. Toledo’s balance on offense around DeQuan Finn will be the difference. 

Pick: Toledo wins 32-22 and COVERS the spread. 

  • ReliaQuest Bowl: No. 13 LSU (-11.5) vs. Wisconsin 

Monday, Jan. 1, 12 p.m., ESPN2, Tampa, Fla. 

Will Jayden Daniels play? LSU also has several potential opt-outs, but second-year coach Brian Kelly has a chance to clinch a second straight season with 10 wins or more. Wisconsin quarterback Tanner Mordecai averaged 186.7 passing yards in three games after returning from an injury. Can the Badgers keep up with that high-flying offense? If Daniels plays, then that will not be easy. 

Pick: LSU wins 38-24 and COVERS the spread. 

  • Cheez-It Citrus Bowl: No. 21 Tennessee (-7.5) vs. No. 17 Iowa 

Monday, Jan. 1, 1 p.m., ABC, Orlando, Fla. 

Talk about a contrast in styles. Iowa’s offensive ineptitude has been a running theme, but they are 5-5 S/U in bowl games against SEC schools under Kirk Ferentz. Tennessee was 0-3 S/U against ranked teams this season. The Hawkeyes might hang around longer than expected, especially if they limit turnovers. 

Pick: Tennessee wins 21-16 but FAILS TO COVER the spread. 

Cody Schrader

(Getty Images)

New Year’s Day Six predictions 

  • Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 7 Ohio State (-6.5) vs. No. 9 Missouri 

Friday, Dec. 29, 8 p.m., ESPN, Arlington, Texas 

Missouri will be all in here under Eli Drinkwitz. The Tigers have the nation’s leading rusher in Cody Schrader (1,499 yards, 13 TDs) and Brady Cook remains one of the most underrated QBs in the FBS. Ohio State has quarterback questions with Kyle McCord in the transfer portal, and several key playmakers might opt out. Still, the Buckeyes have a defense that will give Missouri fits. The Buckeyes also are 4-0 S/U in New Year’s Day Six bowls outside the CFP. 

Pick: Ohio State wins 31-23 and COVERS the spread. 

  • Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 10 Penn State (-1.5) vs. No. 11 Ole Miss 

Saturday, Dec. 30, 12 p.m., ESPN, Atlanta 

James Franklin and Lane Kiffin led their respective teams to 10-win seasons, but both coaches are dogged by the big-game narrative. Which coach dispels that heading into 2024? Franklin is 3-1 in New Year’s Day Six games, and the Nittany Lions looked better on offense down the stretch after firing offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. Who has the better game on the ground: Penn State’s Nick Singleton or Ole Miss’ Quinshon Judkins? 

Pick: Penn State wins 28-26 and COVERS the spread. 

  • Capital One Orange Bowl: No. 6 Georgia (-13.5) vs. No. 5 Florida State 

Saturday, Dec. 30, 4 p.m., ESPN, Miami Gardens, Fla. 

This was the hypothetical spread when oddsmakers thought the Bulldogs would meet the Seminoles in the CFP semifinals. How will Florida State hold up with a backup quarterback – likely Tate Rodemaker – against a Georgia team that will be coming off a hangover after a SEC championship game loss? Several Bulldogs might opt out of this one, too. That makes this line tough to read. 

Pick: Georgia wins 30-20 and FAILS TO COVER the spread. 

  • Vrbo Fiesta Bowl: No. 8 Oregon (-14.5) vs. No. 23 Liberty 

Monday, Jan. 1, 1 p.m., ESPN, Glendale, Ariz. 

Will Bo Nix play? That’s among the many questions for the Fiesta Bowl. Liberty leads the FBS with 302.9 rushing yards per game, Kaidon Salter is a fantastic dual-threat quarterback and Jamey Chadwell worked wonders in Year 1. Oregon, however, is more than happy to get in a fast-break game. It will be on the Flames to keep up. We’re going to assume Nix plays for now. 

Pick: Oregon wins 48-31 and COVERS the spread. 

College Football Playoff predictions 

  • Rose Bowl Game presented by Prudential: No. 1 Michigan (-1.5) vs. No. 4 Alabama 

Monday, Jan. 1, 4 p.m., ESPN, Pasadena, Calif. 

Jalen Milroe averaged 220.2 passing yards with 10 TDs and one interception in Alabama’s last five games, and he’s up against the top-scoring defense in the FBS. Which team generates a running game and sustains that in the second half? J.J. McCarthy will make it interesting, but how will Michigan’s offensive line hold up against an Alabama pass rush that features Dallas Turner? Alabama is 3-1 S/U as an underdog in the CFP era. You just can’t give that card to Nick Saban. 

Pick: Alabama wins 26-23 in an UPSET 

  • Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 3 Texas (-4) vs. No. 2 Washington 

Monday, Jan. 1, 8 p.m., ESPN, New Orleans 

Washington beat Texas in last year’s Alamo Bowl, and the rematch features two of the most-efficient quarterbacks in the FBS in Quinn Ewers (162.6) and Michael Penix Jr. (161.4). Both have high-flying receiving corps and the benefit of a strong running game. The key for Texas will be limiting Dillon Johnson. The Longhorns’ run defense ranks third in the FBS at 80.8 yards per game. That could be a difference-maker in a tight fourth quarter. Texas is back in the national championship game, and a rematch with Alabama is in the cards. 

Pick: Texas wins 34-27 and COVERS the spread.


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