With nearly 40 bowl games looming, it can be difficult finding those postseason gems.
The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl semifinals in the College Football Playoff are no-brainers. And the other matchups in the “New Year’s Six” – which includes the Peach, Orange, Cotton and Fiesta – also should garner lots of attention.
But the entire postseason schedule features 39 bowls, including the playoff championship game.
To help sort through the clutter, here’s a look at some of the more intriguing matchups that aren’t part of the “New Year’s Six.”
No 24 Southern California (8-4) vs. No. 25 Nebraska (9-3)
Date: Dec. 27
Location: San Diego
Notes: This marks only the fifth meeting between these storied programs. USC owns a 3-0-1 edge in the series. The question for Nebraska is how it will respond to interim coach Barney Cotton, who will handle the bowl game assignment following the firing of Bo Pelini.
Arkansas (6-6) vs. Texas (6-6)
Date: Dec. 29
Notes: The revival of an old Southwest Conference rivalry makes this much more interesting than a typical matchup between .500 teams. Texas leads the series 56-21 and won the last meeting 52-10 in 2008. The only other time they met in a bowl game, Arkansas won 27-6 in the 2000 Cotton Bowl. Even though neither team has a winning record, both showed signs of progress late in the season. Arkansas posted late-season shutouts of LSU and Ole Miss. Texas has won three of its last four games.
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No. 22 LSU (8-4) vs. Notre Dame (7-5)
Date: Dec. 30
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Notes: This game between these big-name schools has grown even more intriguing because of Notre Dame’s quarterback uncertainty. Irish coach Brian Kelly has said he’s opening up the quarterback competition and giving Malik Zaire an opportunity to win the job. Everett Golson has started every game for the Irish this year but struggled with turnovers during Notre Dame’s late-season slump.
No. 13 Georgia (9-3) vs. No. 20 Louisville (9-3)
Date: Dec. 30
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Notes: Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s connection to both schools gives this matchup an unusual twist. Grantham was Georgia’s defensive coordinator from 2010-13 before heading to Louisville. Louisville’s Gerod Holliman has 14 interceptions to match the NCAA single-season record set by Washington’s Al Worley in 1968.
No. 19 Auburn (8-4) vs. No. 17 Wisconsin (10-3)
Date: Jan. 1
Location: Tampa, Florida
Notes: Although the Outback takes place on New Year’s Day, it’s not part of the “New Year’s Six.” Wisconsin ranks fourth nationally in rushing with 314 yards per game. Auburn is 12th with 258.5 yards rushing per game. Wisconsin averages 6.9 yards per carry, while Auburn has gained 5.5 yards per rush. Wisconsin will be looking to redeem itself after its 59-0 loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game.
No. 11 Kansas State (9-3) vs. No. 14 UCLA (9-3)
Date: Jan. 2
Location: San Antonio
Notes: Kansas State has one of the nation’s top receivers in Tyler Lockett, who has caught 93 passes for 1,351 yards and nine touchdowns this season. UCLA boasts quarterback Brett Hundley, who has set school records for career touchdown passes and total offense this season.
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