1. Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic:
No. 4 Baylor (11-1, 8-1) vs. No. 7 Michigan State (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten)
Thursday, Jan. 1, 11:30 a.m., ESPN
The Bears got snubbed from the College Football Playoff, but their consolation prize is the chance to play in AT&T; Stadium, which is the stadium that will hold the national championships game 11 days later.
Art Briles and his team have won at least a share of the last two Big 12 championships and will take on Michigan State, who didn’t get a chance to play in its conference’s championship game. Its only conference loss came at the hands of one of the four teams heading to the playoff, No. 5 Ohio State.
This game will feature two of the best passing attacks in the nation, with junior Connor Cook coming into the game throwing for 2,900 yards for the Spartans and senior quarterback Bryce Patty tossing 3,305 yards for the Bears. Both teams also are sporting backs who have ran well-over 1,000 yards apiece.
2. Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl:
No. 6 TCU (11-1, 8-1) vs. No. 9 Ole Miss (9-3, 5-3 SEC)
Wednesday, Dec. 31, 11:30 a.m., ESPN
The other half of the Big 12’s co-champions are coming off of a blowout win over last-place Iowa State. The Rebels are also coming off a regular season that had them at No. 1 in the nation at one point, but fell off after back-to-back losses in SEC play.
This game has two teams that have won games in completely different ways this season. The Horned Frogs are sporting the second-best scoring offense in the nation, averaging 46.8 points per game. The Rebels come into the game with the best scoring defense in the country, only allowing 13.8 points per game.
3. Valero Alamo Bowl:
No. 11 K-State (9-3, 7-2) vs. No. 14 UCLA (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12)
Friday, Jan. 2, 4:45 p.m., ESPN
After having their Big 12 Championship hopes squashed by Baylor, the Wildcats are heading to San Antonio to take on a reeling Bruins team that also had conference championship hopes crushed in their last game, losing to underdog Stanford.
Besides the national championship, this game is the last bowl of the season that features a ranked team. Call this an extra treat because this game features two well-rounded teams that have experienced head coaches at the helm and two quality quarterbacks.
Bruins’ junior quarterback Brett Hundley. Jr. is nearing 10,000 career passing yards while K-State senior quarterback Jake Waters is coming up to 3,200 yards for the season. Both these quarterbacks need to get something going through the air in order for their offenses to succeed.
4. Russell Athletic Bowl:
Oklahoma (8-4, 5-4) vs. No. 18 Clemson (9-3, 6-2 ACC)
Monday, Dec. 29, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
What a year it has been for the Sooners. They’ve gone from a lock at the beginning of the season for the playoffs to losing three of their last four home games. Their prize for their fallout is Clemson, whose only downfall was their inability to play well against ranked teams on the road.
The Sooners’ stout running game will be thoroughly tested agains the Tigers’ tough-nosed defense. Something to be noted for the Sooners is the availability of running back Samaje Perine, who suffered an ankle sprain against Oklahoma State.
5. AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl:
Texas (6-6, 5-4) vs. Arkansas (6-6, 2-6 SEC)
Monday, Dec. 29, 8 p.m., ESPN
Under first-year head coach Charlie Strong, the Longhorns are heading to a bowl game in which they face second-year coach Bret Bielema and Arkansas. The Razorbacks are well-rounded, but they carry the potential to break the game open with a strong running game.
For the Longhorns, their rushing defense has put them in bad position at times while their passing defense has won them multiple games. A tough test is ahead as they have to handle a team that has two 1,000 yard rushers. This game will be a hard-fought battle where the better defense will prevail.
6. AutoZone Liberty Bowl:
West Virginia (7-5, 5-4) vs. Texas A&M; (7-5, 3-5 SEC)
Monday, Dec. 29, 1 p.m., ESPN
This game features two teams that are in their third year with new conferences. Both teams carry high-powered offenses, but lack a good supporting defense. The Aggies are coming into the game with true freshman Kyle Allen at quarterback, who in just four games as the starting quarterback has thrown for over 750 yards.
As far quarterbacks go, senior Clint Trickett is the most experienced in the game, with over 3,200 passing yards this year and 5,800 yards in his two-year career. With these two high-powered offenses, the first one to get into a rhythm could pull away early.
7. TicketCity Cactus Bowl:
Oklahoma State (6-6, 4-5) vs. Washington (8-5, 4-5 Pac-12)
Friday, Jan. 2, 9:15 p.m., ESPN
In a game that lived up to its name as “Bedlam,” Oklahoma State is going bowling after a big upset against its in-state rival in Norman. A challenged Oklahoma State defense will need to come through as the Huskies average over 30 points a game and the Cowboys allow exactly 32 points per game.
This season, the Cowboys have only won twice when the opposing team has scored over 30 points, which includes their win over the Sooners. The Huskies have only lost once this season when scoring over 30 points.