• Who: Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Northwestern (9-3)
• When/where: 11 a.m. in Jacksonville, Fla.
• TV: ESPN2
Outlook: When it comes to bowl games, the teams are polar opposites. The Bulldogs have won five straight. The Wildcats won the Rose Bowl in 1949 and have lost nine straight postseason games since then, including four under current coach Pat Fitzgerald. Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell injured an ankle in the regular-season finale but should be good to go against a Northwestern team that’s tough against the run.
• Prediction: Northwestern 24-21
Heart of Dallas Bowl
• Who: Purdue (6-6) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5)
• When/where: 11 a.m. in Dallas
• TV: ESPNU
• Outlook: The day after the Boilermakers clinched a bowl spot, coach Danny Hope was fired. Receivers coach Patrick Higgins will guide Purdue, which has hired Kent State coach Darrell Hazell. Purdue and Oklahoma State run spread offenses, but the Cowboys are one of the best in college football, averaging 45 points and 549 yards per game.
• Prediction: Oklahoma State 50-38
Capital One Bowl
• Who: Nebraska (10-3) vs. Georgia (11-2)
• When/where: Noon in Orlando, Fla.
• TV: ABC (Chs. 2, 9)
• Outlook: Bulldogs coach Mark Richt looks to topple his boyhood favorite team while growing up in Omaha. Georgia and Nebraska are coming off gut-wrenching conference title game losses, the Bulldogs in the final moments to Alabama in the SEC, and the Huskers an embarrassing 39-point debacle to Wisconsin in the Big Ten. Nebraska gave up 539 rushing yards that night, and Georgia runs well with freshman backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who combined for 1,983 yards and 24 touchdowns.
• Prediction: Georgia 28-20
• Who: South Carolina (10-2) vs. Michigan (8-4)
• When/where: Noon in Tampa, Fla.
• TV: ESPN
• Outlook: In his final game, Denard Robinson could be lined up in several positions for Michigan, but will he or Devin Gardner start at quarterback? It might not matter against the Gamecocks’ rugged defense, led by end Jadeveon Clowney, the Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year.
• Prediction: South Carolina 24-19
• Who: Wisconsin (8-5) vs. Stanford (11-2)
• When/where: 4 p.m. in Pasadena, Calif.
• TV: ESPN
• Outlook: The Badgers are the first five-loss team to play in the Rose Bowl, but they didn’t look like a team that lost three of its final four regular-season games (all in overtime) when they drubbed Nebraska 70-31 in the Big Ten title game. With Bret Bielema off to Arkansas, athletic director and former coach Barry Alvarez returns to the Wisconsin sideline for a cameo. Stanford beat UCLA for the Pac-12 title, but the victory that established Cardinal superiority came a few weeks earlier, when it won at Oregon.
• Prediction: Stanford 33-27
• Who: Northern Illinois (12-1) vs. Florida State (11-2)
• When/where: 7:30 p.m. in Miami Gardens, Fla.
• TV: ESPN
• Outlook: The Huskies crash the BCS party, becoming the first Mid-American Conference school to qualify for a high-profile bowl. Quarterback Jordan Lynch is a total offense machine, passing for 2,962 and rushing for 1,771 yards and accounting for 43 touchdowns. He’ll contend with Seminoles All-America defensive end Bjoern Werner. Will Florida State respect the unfamiliar opponent?
• Prediction: Florida State 31-21
| Blair Kerkhoff, firstname.lastname@example.org