Welcome to the college bowl games of New Year’s Day 2019. Here is the online guide today’s five bowl games.
The Outback Bowl will be played by Iowa (8-4) and Mississippi State (8-4) at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The game will be televised at noon ET, on ESPN2.
Iowa has played a massive season. The team came up with a win over Iowa State, however, lost to Wisconsin 28-17, then Iowa experienced a string of three losses by six points or less and a total of 12 points. A signature moment for Iowa would be to win over Mississippi State.
Last year, Mississippi State went 9-4. The current team can accomplish that with a win, which would show off a seamless transition from the Dan Mullen era to Joe Moorhead. The offense was solid, but it was the defense that defined the year.
Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald does alright throwing the ball, completing 53 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns. However, when he takes off, beware. He ran for over 1,000 years with 12 scores, including six 100-yeard games.
Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley is a 6’4”, 242-pound junior who connected on 58 percent of his passes for 2,638 yards and 23 touchdowns with nine picks. However, he had to fight through some bad weather conditions during a few games. If he is on the field, he is the offense.
The VRBO Citrus Bowl will be played between Kentucky (9-3) and Penn State (9-3) at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET on ABC.
Kentucky had a terrific season. To be deep in the Southeastern Conference title hunt? To beat Florida for the first time in more than three decades? If Kentucky wins, it will be the first 10-win season since 1977.
Outside of the dominant performance of Wisconsin and the blowout over Pitt, Penn State’s resumé is a little light. If Penn State wins over Kentucky, it will be the first time since the 1999 Outback Bowl and it will be the first time the Nittany Lions have won 10 games or more three years in a row since 1982.
Kentucky running back Benny Snell can do it all. He ran for 1,305 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is a tough, hard runner who can catch.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley is not that accurate completing fewer than 60 percent of his career passes and threw 16 touchdowns passes after throwing 29 as a sophomore and 28 as a junior.
He ran more this season, finishing with 723 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is as good as any other quarterback in college football, in the clutch.
The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl will be Central Florida (12-0) versus LSU (9-3) at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Fiesta Bowl will be televised at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.
LSU was not supposed to make it to the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. The schedule was far more brutal than what UFC had to deal with and the team passed the test with flying colors. There was a tight battle in Florida, Alabama and a seven-overtime game at Texas A&M. LSU is a rock solid, tough team that does not do anything pretty but has the lines and the defense to make a statement. Motivation should not be an issue for LSU.
Head coach Josh Heupel is new and so is quarterback McKenzie Milton, who is recovering from a broken leg he suffered late in the season. Shaquem Griffin is not in this game and neither is top receiver Tre’Quan Smith of defensive lineman Jamiyus Pittman. There is a lot more to prove.
Watch LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who wanted to be the Ohio State quarterback, however, Dwayne Haskins became a passing-yardage machine and Heisman finalist. Burrow took over the LSU gig and became the ultimate game manager. He ran for 375 yards and seven scores. He threw for 2,500 yards and 12 touchdowns with four picks.
The UCF player to watch is quarterback Darriel Mack, who is the freshman that had to step in for leader Milton and came up big after a rough start. Beware, however, LSU will be extensively trained on keeping the 6’3”, 230-pounder from taking over.
Ohio State (12-1) and Washington (10-3) will play in the Rose Bowl in California. Kickoff will be at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Will this be the last game Urban Meyer will ever coach? It is doubtful, however, before he kicks it upstairs into an athletic desk job, he is coaching his first Rose Bowl. According to USA Today, “11-3 all time in bowl games, Meyer’s teams show up in these things, and this one should have a serious attitude. There’s being disrespected, and there’s being the first 12-win Power Five conference champion to not get into the College Football Playoff.”
Lately, Chris Petersen is struggling in bowl games. He lost three of his four games with the Huskies, but there are not any cheap misfires. Last year was the Fiesta loss to Penn State, and the previous year was a CFP loss to Alabama. They did win the Pac-12 title. “The Huskies are tough, they pop and they can pound away and grind it out if needed.”
The player to watch for Ohio State would be quarterback Dwayne Haskins. In almost any other year, he is the runaway Heisman winner after throwing for 4,580 yards and 47 touchdowns with eight picks.
For Washington, the player to watch is quarterback Jake Browning. He has started for four years and is about to crank up the historic passing charts with one more good game. The quarterback is already 37th among the all-time NCAA leaders. He is 118 yards away from moving into slot 32 and 213 from passing Jared Goff for the 31st slot.
The Sugar Bowl will feature Texas (9-4) and Georgia (11-2) at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in New Orleans. Kickoff will be at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
This was a bit of a reloading season for Georgia, and it was not always smooth. There is no nitpicking how good the Bulldogs were. Except for the game in Death Valley against Clemson, Georgia has been victorious in all of the other 11 regular-season games.
For Texas, the season has been wildly inconsistent and entertaining. The team has an offense that has shown just enough explosion to keep up with the Big 12 Conference’s juggernaut attacks and a defense that could power down weaker ones.
The Georgia player to watch for this game is quarterback Jake Fromm. His game is nothing flashy, but he completes 68 percent of his passes and threw 27 touchdown passes with five picks. Although he has been through the wars in his two years as an underclassman. He has not been fazed. He is unflappable and does well at getting the ball into the hands of the playmakers.
For Texas, the player to watch is Sam Ehlinger. He fought through some things in the Big 12 Championship but was solid enough to finish with 25 touchdown passes, five picks, and 418 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. This quarterback is a 6’3”, 235-pound, battering ram of a runner, however, against Georgia, all that matters is whether his is moving the chains.
By Jeanette Smith
USA Today: College bowl schedule: Everything you need to know about the New Year’s Day bowls
Sports Illustrated: New Year’s Day Bowl Guide: Breaking Down the First Five Games of 2019
The Washington Post: New Year’s Day bowls: Who’s showing up, who isn’t, and who doesn’t care
Image by Getawaypaul27 Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License