New Year's Day bowl games: TV times, previews

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01 January 2015

One of these four college football coaches will take home the first playoff-based championship trophy in 2015.
L to R: Nick Saban, Alabama; Urban Meyer, Ohio State; Mark Helfrich, Oregon; Jimbo Fisher, Florida State.

Photo: Douglas Jones, Sportswire/Newscom

For those who are blurry eyed from last night, let's get right to it. Here's the lineup of five bowl games today, two of which kick-off the first college football playoffs.

January 1, 2015 college football bowl games
Outback Bowl
(19) Auburn vs. (18) Wisconsin
Tampa, FL
Raymond James Stadium
Thu., Jan. 1
Noon ET
Goodyear Cotton Bowl
(8) Michigan State vs. (5) Baylor
Arlington, TX
AT&T Stadium
Thu., Jan. 1
12:30 p.m. ET
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
(25) Minnesota vs. (16) Missouri
Orlando, FL
Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium
Thu., Jan. 1
1:00 p.m. ET
Rose Bowl Game
(2) Oregon vs. (3) Florida State
Pasadena, CA
Rose Bowl
Thu., Jan. 1
4:30 p.m. ET
Allstate Sugar Bowl
(1) Alabama vs. (4) Ohio State
New Orleans, LA
Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Thu., Jan. 1
8:30 p.m. ET

Here's what to look for in each game today.

Outback Bowl: (19) Auburn vs. (18) Wisconsin
Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon is the 2014 Doak Walker award winner as the nation's best running back and was second in Heisman Trophy voting. Gordon, and the imposing Wisconsin OL, go up against an Auburn defense that ranked ninth in the SEC. Since Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen has bolted to Oregon State, the Badgers will be coached by AD Barry Alvarez, who also is the winningest football coach in the school's history. The biggest thing to watch may be how a double-digit winning Big Ten team stacks up against an 8-4 SEC team.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl: (8) Michigan State vs. (5) Baylor
This may turn out to be the best bowl game of the day. Both teams have chips on their shoulders. The Baylor Bears feel that they should be one of the playoff teams. "It pisses us off," Bears quarterback Bryce Petty told Fox Sports Southwest. Meanwhile, Mark Dantonio brings his Spartans into AT&T Stadium following a late-season loss to Ohio State which took them out of playoff contention. This game pits what Dantonio calls Baylor's "cutting edge" hurry up offense against one of the best defenses in the country -- a Sparty defense that wants to make a statement for outgoing defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi.

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl: (25) Minnesota vs. (16) Missouri
Is Minnesota for real? We'll find out today as Big Ten Coach of the Year Jerry Kill brings his Golden Gophers to Orlando to face the SEC East Champion Missouri Tigers. Keep an eye on SEC Defensive Player of the Year Shane Ray, who led the SEC with 21 tackles for loss and a set a school record with 14 sacks. The Gophers will counter with RB David Cobb, who set a single-season rushing record with 1,545 yards. Cobb says he's healthy following some late-season hamstring issues.

Rose Bowl Game: (2) Oregon vs. (3) Florida State
Two Heisman-winning quarterbacks square off in today's Rose Bowl. This year's Heisman Trophy winner, Oregon's Marcus Mariota, brings the Ducks into Pasadena to face last year's Heisman winner, Florida State's Jameis Winston. Oddsmakers give the edge to Mariota and the Ducks, but Winston and the Seminoles have always found a way to win. This one will go down to the wire.

Allstate Sugar Bowl: (1) Alabama vs. (4) Ohio State
No one is giving 9-point underdog Ohio State much of a chance against Alabama's Crimson Tide.  First, the Tide brings Amari Cooper, the Biletnikoff Winner as the country's top reciever. "The ideal way to defend him," Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said, "is a pouring rainstorm, winds of 30 or 40 miles an hour. But I don't think that's going to happen in a dome." And the Tide has a much more experienced quarterback in senior Blake Sims. The Buckeyes lost their starting QB, Braxton Miller, to a shoulder injury in pre-season, then backup J.T. Barrett fractured his right ankle in their season finale with Michigan. Sophomore Cardale Jones played admirably in the Big Ten championship game, but he hasn't faced anything like Alabama's swarming, relentless and fast defense.
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