Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 12/30/12
You can worry about those resolutions on Jan. 2. While the ages of every game being played on New Years Day are long gone back in 1960 there were just eight games compared to todays 35 in a postseason that runs from Dec. 15-Jan. 7 the day still belongs to college football. With a slate that includes two BCS games in the Rose and Orange Bowls, three SEC-Big Ten clashes and the likes of Wisconsins Montee Ball, South Carolinas Jadeveon Clowney, Michigans Denard Robinson and Florida States Bjoern Werner, theres no shortage of intriguing matchups and stars to keep you satiated. Herewith, what to watch -- and what to watch for -- in our viewers guide to the six New Years Day bowls. Gator Bowl Mississippi State (8-4) vs. No. 20 Northwestern (9-3) Noon, ET (ESPN2) Why You Should Watch: Because the Wildcats are trying to end a bowl drought that dates back to the Truman Administration. Northwestern hasnt won a bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl, dropping nine straight postseason appearances. If the Wildcats can end that skid against a Bulldogs team that slid after a 7-0 start, look for it to come courtesy of a potent running game. Behind Venric Mark (1,315 yard and 11 TDs) and dual-threat QB Kain Colter (a team-high 12 TDs) the Wildcats average 230.9 yards per game on the ground and would seem a tough draw for a Bulldogs defense thats given up 223 ypg in their four losses. But Mississippi State will counter with an efficient QB in Tyler Russell (2,791 yards, 22 TDs and six interceptions) who can give Northwesterns 98th-ranked pass defense fits. Also weighing in the Bulldogs favor: theyre tested. Theyve already faced Alabama, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M and LSU, while just one Northwestern opponent (Penn State) was ranked when they met. Heart Of Dallas Bowl Purdue (6-6) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5) 1 p.m., ET (ESPNU) Why You Should Watch: This has all the makings of an offensive showcase for the Cowboys. Despite having All-American Kawann Short at defensive tackle, the Boilermakers ranked 11th in the Big Ten and 69th in the nation allowing 407.2 per. Those numbers could balloon after facing RB Joseph Randle (1,351 yards and 14 TDs) and the Cowboys, whose offense is generating 44.6 points (fourth in FBS) and 548.9 yards (fifth) a game. The Cowboys have defensive issues of their own, sitting 82nd (426.2) but Purdue may not have the firepower to take advantage, going over 29 points just once in Big Ten play as it scored 56 on four-win Indiana. Purdue has the added trouble of dealing with coaching upheaval. The Boilermakers will be playing under receivers coach Patrick Higgins, who was named the interim coach as the team transitions between fired Danny Hope and Darrell Hazell. Outback Bowl No. 18 Michigan (8-4) vs. No. 10 South Carolina (10-2) 1 p.m., ET (ESPN) Why You Should Watch: One of the nations most dominant players will be on display in Jadeveon Clowney. The Gamecocks stars sophomore year includes being a first-team All-American, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and the Hendricks Award winner as the nations top end. Hes tied for second in the nation with 13 sacks and headlines an 11th-ranked defense thats held opponents to 17.4 points per game. But Clowney could be in for a stiff test against a Wolverines unit that has allowed a Big Ten-low 15 sacks and has shown dangerous potential when getting both Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner on the field at the same time. Gardner came into his own after taking over at QB when Shoelace injured his elbow on Oct. 17, throwing for 1,005 yards and eight TDs in four games. His emergence has allowed the Wolverines to give defenses headaches by using the dynamic Robinson at quarterback, wide receiver and running back since returning Nov. 17 from an elbow injury. Capital One Bowl No. 16 Nebraska (10-3) vs. No. 7 Georgia (11-2) 1 p.m., ET (ABC) Why You Should Watch: To see if these teams can put disappointment behind them. Georgia was five yards short of playing in the BCS Championship Game as it lost to Alabama in the SEC finale and the last time out Nebraska gave up 70 points in dropping the Big Ten title game to Wisconsin. While theres plenty to like about a matchup of Georgia QB Aaron Murray (3,466 yards and 31 TDs) facing the Huskers top-ranked pass D (148.2 ypg), of bigger concern is whether either team can stop the run. Bulldogs freshman Todd Gurley led the SEC with 1,260 yards and 16 TDs and will be going against a Nebraska defense that allowed 539 yards against the Badgers and 1,254 combined in its three losses. Meanwhile, Nebraska, which average 254.5 yards behind RBs Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah and QB Taylor Martinez will get a crack at Georgia D that gave up 350 yards vs. the Crimson Tide and will be without run-stopper John Jenkins, who is ineligible. Rose Bowl Wisconsin (8-5) vs. No. 6 Stanford (11-2) 5 p.m., ET (ESPN) Why You Should Watch: Because theyre going to run. And run some more. Yes, Hall of Famer Barry Alvarez is making his return to the sideline, but the ground games will take center stage in The Granddaddy of Them All, headlined by two of the nations premier running backs in the Badgers Montee Ball and Cardinals Stepfan Taylor. Ball, the NCAAs all-time leader with 82 touchdowns and 76 rushing TDs, fuels a Badgers attack that averages 237.7 yards per game, while Taylor ran for 1,442 yards and 12 TDs for his third-straight 1,000-yard season. Both teams have had plenty of issues through the air with the Badgers sitting 111th in passing, while Stanford is 92nd, but the Cardinal has shown improvement since dual-threat QB Kevin Hogan took over. If it comes down to which passer is able to come through, Hogan ,who has a 72.7 percent completion percentage in his last four games, would seem more capable than Wisconsins Curt Phillips (55.4 percent) or Joel Stave (59.3), who has been cleared to play. Orange Bowl No. 15 Northern Illinois (12-1) vs. No. 12 Florida State (11-2) 8:30 p.m., ET (ESPN) Why You Should Watch: The Huskies are out to prove all their doubters wrong. There were plenty of eyebrows raised when Northern Illinois became the seventh non-AQ team to earn an automatic at-large invitation to a BCS game, largely because of its 120th-ranked schedule and a loss to 4-8 Iowa. Northern Illinois is no pushover, fueled by QB Jordan Lynch, the MAC Offensive Player of the Year and whose 4,733 yards of total offense lead the nation, the Huskies are scoring over 40.7 ppg. Trying to follow Boise State, TCU and Utah, all of which pulled the upsets in their matchups, rides with how Lynch and Co. deal with one of the nations stingiest defenses. Florida State comes in ranked second in FBS in total defense (253.7 ypg), fifth against the rush (93.0) and sixth in scoring (15 ppg) and is led by All-American end Bjoern Werner (13 sacks) but is without its coordinator in Mark Stoops, who was hired as Kentuckys coach in November.
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