Skip to main content

The Scoop on New Year's Day bowl games

The calendar may say Tuesday, but in our minds this is the final college football Saturday of the year. With six games on the schedule, your remote control trigger finger will get one last 12-hour workout. 

Let's get right to it.

Gator Bowl - Mississippi State vs. Northwestern (12 p.m. ET, ESPN2): Each squad has a lot to prove in this game; Northwestern has lost nine straight bowls, Mississippi State beat one team with a winning record this fall. Northwestern possesses more explosive ability than Mississippi State. The Bulldogs for the most part played good defense this fall but allowed 38, 38, 37 and 41 in its four losses. Northwestern can achieve the third 10-win season in school history and, oh yeah, make Pat Fitzgerald the winningest coach in school history with a victory.

Heart of Dallas Bowl - Oklahoma State vs. Purdue (12 p.m. ET, ESPNU): The second installment of the quirky "bowl game at the Cotton Bowl that isn't the Cotton Bowl". Oklahoma State moved the ball as well as anyone in the country and did it with a revolving door at quarterback at times and Big 12-leading rusher Joseph Randle but will have to do so without offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Purdue plays without Danny Hope and looks to duplicate its offensive output from its six wins (42.7 points per game) rather than its six losses (17.2 ppg).

Capital One Bowl - Georgia vs. Nebraska (1 p.m. ET, ABC): Bowl games often boil down to motivation and in none of the 34 other bowls does that equation matter more than this one. Each team attempts to pick itself up off that mat after conference championship losses that were opposite in nature but equally devastating. Nebraska's best chance for victory lies in its ability to get Taylor Martinez active in the running game. 

Outback Bowl - Michigan vs. South Carolina (1 p.m. ET, ESPN): Denard Robinson is again unable to throw so Devin Gardner gets the privilege of being chased by Jadeveon Clowney for 60 minutes. The South Carolina defense held Tajh Boyd to 209 total yards and will aim to do the same to the ultra-green Gardner who struggled mightily in Michigan's 26-21 loss to Ohio State. 

Rose Bowl - Wisconsin vs. Stanford (5 p.m. ET, ESPN): These squads are almost mirror images of each other, except for the mobility of Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan. Hogan invigorated the Cardinal offense to an upset of Oregon and ultimately the Pac-12 championship. Wisconsin, on other hand, is better than its 8-5 record, evidenced by the systematic demolition of Nebraska, and will be rejuvenated by Barry Alvarez's presence on the sidelines. But will it be enough against a Stanford front that can lay claim as the best in college football?

Orange Bowl - Florida State vs. Northern Illinois (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): The pageantry of the Rose Bowl is unmatched but, to me at least, this is the best match-up of New Year's Day. Jordan Lynch will be the best quarterback Florida State has seen this season, and Florida State is by far the best defense Lynch and the Huskies have faced. Northern Illinois boasts an overlooked but capable defense that ranks in the top 20 in four NCAA categories. Lynch will be the focus, but the play of the Huskies' defense could be the deciding factor.