New Year's Day 2014 bowl game schedule: TV times and what to watch
Six bowl games take place on New Year's Day, including two BCS Bowls.
12 p.m. ET
Gator Bowl: Nebraska vs. Georgia, ESPN2
Nebraska had a wild season, with head coach Bo Pelini essentially daring the team to fire him after their season-ending loss to Iowa, which was the Cornhuskers' fourth defeat of the year. The other losses came to UCLA, Minnesota and Michigan State; all bowling teams, to Nebraska's credit, but all teams the Husker faithful feel like they should beat. With Taylor Martinez out due to injury, the offensive burden has fallen upon running back Ameer Abdullah, who ran for over 1,500 yards on the season. Georgia would be the best win of the year for Pelini's squad, which can currently point to victories over Michigan and Penn State.
Heart of Dallas Bowl: UNLV vs. North Texas, ESPNU
Forget about bowl eligibility, simply getting back to respectability has been a long time coming for the UNLV program. Prior to 2013, the Rebels were coming off three consecutive two-win seasons. Now they've secured a winning season for the first time since 2000, which is a heck of an accomplishment for Bobby Hauck's squad considering how bad this team has looked in recent years.
The Mean Green had a very fine season in 2013 -- their first in Conference-USA -- on their way to breaking a bowl drought. North Texas recorded a strong non-conference win over Ball State, and after a loss to Tulane they opened conference play with five straight wins, including games against contenders Middle Tennessee State and Rice before a loss to UTSA. The Mean Green won their final regular season game against Tulsa, ending the season at 8-4.
1 p.m. ET
Outback Bowl: Iowa vs. LSU, ESPN
Iowa may have the best four losses of any team this side of Texas A&M, falling to Northern Illinois, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes defeated Minnesota, Michigan and Nebraska on their way to a second-place finish in the Legends Division and boasted one of the best defenses in the country. On offense, workhorse back Mark Weisman carried the ball more than 200 times this season, and Jake Rudock will need to hold on to the ball at quarterback.
LSU will be without star quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who threw for 22 touchdowns before suffering an injury, but the Tigers sport a top offense and will look to pressure the Hawkeyes. Their three losses came to Georgia, Ole Miss and Alabama, with wins over Auburn and Texas A&M standing as by far their best victories. The Tigers have two excellent receivers in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, plus one of the better running backs in the conference in Jeremy Hill.
Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina, ABC
Wisconsin was probably the best two-loss team in the country for the first half of the season, when questionable officiating may have cost the Badgers the game against Arizona State and a comeback effort fell just short against Ohio State. Wisconsin did not beat a bowl-eligible team until November 2, when they defeated Iowa, but then they beat BYU and Minnesota to add to their quality wins. The Badgers have two of the best running backs in the nation in Melvin Gordon (12 touchdowns, more than eight yards per carry) and James White (13 touchdowns).
South Carolina was very close to an SEC Championship game berth, with their only losses coming against a healthy Georgia team and a resilient Tennessee squad. The Gamecocks beat Missouri and Clemson (as well as everyone else on their schedule) and have perhaps the most talented player in the country in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
5 p.m. ET
Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Michigan State, ESPN
Both teams play a similar style of football -- run the ball, hold on to it and play smothering defense -- and it will be a clash of "who wore it better?" in Pasadena.
The Cardinal are led by quarterback Kevin Hogan (20 passing touchdowns), running back Tyler Gaffney (20 rushing touchdowns) and wide receiver Ty Montgomery (10 receiving touchdowns). They have beaten all seven ranked opponents that they faced, only losing to unranked teams; Utah and USC.
Michigan State, meanwhile, has just one loss in a September game against Notre Dame. The Spartans didn't face much competition in the regular season, and questions arose before their Big Ten Championship Game appearance against Ohio State.
Mark Dantonio's team answered those questions and then some, defeating the Buckeyes 34-24 off a career game from quarterback Connor Cook and shut-down play from perhaps the best defense in the nation.
8:30 p.m. ET
Fiesta Bowl: UCF vs. Baylor, ESPN
UCF gets a chance to prove itself as the champions of the AAC when they face the high-flying Baylor Bears. The Golden Knights went 11-1, with just a three-point loss to South Carolina standing in the way of them and an undefeated record. Their top win is undoubtedly Louisville, but after that it's a steep drop to Penn State and Houston. Blake Bortles is a great quarterback who can make plays, and he has an able running back behind him in Storm Johnson.
Baylor was the hot pick for a national title run after an amazing start to the season, and the Bears still managed to finish the year with the top-rated scoring offense in the country, averaging 53.3 points per contest. Bryce Petty continued the recent strong tradition of terrific Baylor quarterbacks, while RB Lache Seastrunk and WR Antwan Goodley are among the best playmaking duos in the country.
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