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New Year’s Day bowl game open thread

Time for some college football.

Alabama LT Jedrick Willis, Jr.
Alabama LT Jedrick Willis, Jr.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

#18 Minnesota Golden Gophers (10-2) v. #12 Auburn Tigers (9-3)

Outback Bowl
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
1pm ET/10am PT, ESPN


Minnesota HC P.J. Fleck has turned this program around as planned. Meanwhile, Auburn performed well along a brutal schedule and has a chance to push themselves into the 2020 SEC conversation here.

Rams prospect to watch

Auburn EDGE Nick Coe

Some might point to Auburn LT Prince Tega Wanogho, but (a) I think he’s likely gone before the Los Angeles Rams have their first selection of the 2020 NFL Draft and (b) I don’t think he’s the right fit for skill.

#14 Michigan Wolverines (9-3) v. #13 Alabama Crimson Tide (10-2)

Vrbo Citrus Bowl
Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
1pm ET/10am PT, ABC


Rams prospect to watch

Michigan LG Ben Bredeson

There’s a ton to look for between these two for the spring, but I’ll tab the Wolverines’ left guard as the prospect to watch here. He’s been a fine player throughout his time in Ann Arbor, but it’s the Rams’ combustibility at the position that makes it interesting here.

#6 Oregon Ducks (11-2) v. #8 Wisconsin Badgers (10-3)

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
5pm ET/2pm PT, ESPN

A historically unusual Rose Bowl matchup as this is the second time the two have met here (the other being eight years ago).

I personally thought Oregon was the best of the second-tier teams beyond the top three, but the loss to Arizona St. pushed them outside of playoff consideration. I also thought they had the best offensive line in the country this year with no slight to the LSU Tigers line which won the Joe Moore Award this year.

Wisconsin is very well-balanced and isn’t losing a ton of starting talent though C Tyler Biadasz and RB Jonathan Taylor are going to be early picks.

Rams prospect to watch

Oregon OL Calvin Throckmorton

This is really just a coward’s way out to get you to watch the Ducks’ line though Throckmorton is a nice prospect who has played every OL position except left guard.

I also have to note here for those unaware that true sophomore LT Penei Sewell is ridiculously good and should be one of the top picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.

#5 Georgia Bulldogs (11-2) v. #7 Baylor Bears (11-2)

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
8:45pm ET/5:45pm PT, ESPN

Really strange matchup here.

Georgia is a fantastic squad that picked up a very disappointing loss to South Carolina before getting dismantled in the SEC Championship by LSU (who, to be fair, is dismantling pretty much everyone in their path). So they’re in the strange position to be a two-loss SEC team playing in a New Year’s Day bowl feeling very disappointed (...hi, Alabama!).

Baylor on the other hand is enjoying the Matt Rhule era. Taking over a program decimated by scandal, Baylor was 1-11 two years ago. Rhule has brought them back to success with an 11-win season that included a win over Texas and two very close losses to Oklahoma. The question is how long Baylor can keep Rhule in Waco when much of the rest of the world is trying to poach him.

Rams prospect to watch

Georgia LB Monty Rice

Georgia LT Andrew Thomas will likely be a top 10 pick while RB D’Andre Swift is going to be one of the top backs in a really, really good RB class.

But I’ll go with Rice as a potential successor for ILB Cory Littleton should he leave in free agency.