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BOWL GAMES PREVIEW: Key Match-Ups For SEC & More

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The Power-5 take over.

SEC Championship - Alabama v Georgia
Saivion Smith faces a big challenge.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Previous to Christmas Day, only two Power-5 teams participated in the 14 bowl games that have been played. Starting Friday, the pairings get more intriguing and feature a higher level of competition.

Below are a few key match-ups for each game.

Friday, December 28, 2018

MUSIC CITY BOWL, Nashville, TN

Purdue vs. Auburn ESPN 12:30/1:30pm
Rondale Moore vs the Tigers secondary - Freshman phenom wide receiver Moore posted 103 receptions for 1,164 yards, 12 touchdowns (plus one rushing score) this season. Auburn safety Jeremiah Dinson will need to make sure to be the deepest man when Moore is on the field.

ORLANDO BOWL

West Virginia vs. Syracuse ESPN 4:15/5:15pm
Mountaineers O-Line vs the Orange D-Line - With star senior quarterback Will Grier sitting out to prepare for the NFL Draft, WVU plans to play both of their backup quarterbacks, Jack Allison and Trey Lowe - a pair of freshmen who have played very little to no college football. Their offensive line will need to find a way to give their young signal callers time to pass the ball.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

BELK BOWL, Charlotte, NC

South Carolina vs. Virginia ABC 11am/noon
Deebo Samuel vs the Cavaliers’ special teams - All-SEC Samuel is a huge threat to return a kickoff for a score. In his last game in garnet and black, look for the senior to run kickoffs out of the end zone, hoping to go out in style. Deebo is skipping the Belk Bowl.

PEACH BOWL, Atlanta

Florida vs. Michigan ESPN 11am/noon
Feleipe Franks vs Emory Jones - The two Gators quarterbacks may be auditioning for the leading role for next season. Freshman Jones has appeared in three games thus far and can still redshirt with playing time on Saturday. Both are expected to play against a Wolverines defense that has been weakened by the bowing out of linchpin defenders Rashan Gary and Devin Bush.

COTTON BOWL, Arlington, TX

Notre Dame vs. Clemson ESPN 3pm/4pm
Irish cornerback Julian Love vs Trevor Lawrence - Does the Tigers freshman quarterback have the talent/experience/cajones to challenge Notre Dame’s shutdown corner?

ORANGE BOWL, Miami

Oklahoma vs. Alabama ESPN 7pm/8pm
Kyler Murray vs Saivion Smith - You know the Sooners quarterback will challenge the Tide cornerback through the air but Smith will also have the responsibility of containing the edge when the dimunitive quarterback chooses to run.

Monday, December 31, 2018

LIBERTY BOWL, Memphis

Missouri vs. Oklahoma State ESPN 2:45/3:45pm
Drew Lock vs. OSU secondary - The Cowboys are probably used to getting toasted through the air. Lock might just tally 500 yards on them.

GATOR BOWL, Jacksonville, FL

NC State vs. Texas A&M ESPN 6:30/7:30pm
Wolfpack defensive front vs. Trayveon Williams - The Aggies running back had a breakout year with 1,524 rushing yards and 15 TDs on the ground. NC State is 13th in the nation against the run, giving up only 109 yards per game.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

OUTBACK BOWL, Tampa

Mississippi State vs. Iowa ESPN2 11am/noon
Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson vs MSU linebackers - Hawkeyes TE Noah Fant is skipping the bowl game but Iowa has another pretty good tight end in Mackey Award winner Hockenson.

FIESTA BOWL, Glendale, AZ

LSU vs. UCF ESPN 12pm/1pm
LSU Letdown vs. UCF Hype - The Knights are looking to prove that last year’s win over Auburn was not a fluke. The Tigers coming off a disappointing seven overtime loss to Texas A&M and without Greedy Williams, they might have a bad case of dont-wanna-be-here-idis.

CITRUS BOWL

Kentucky vs. Penn State ABC 12:30/1:30pm
Trace McSorley vs Trace McSorley - PSU’s quarterback came into the season looking like a Heisman candidate. After a mediocre season, he is not projected to be drafted in next spring’s NFL Draft. He will need a big game against UK to prove he is worthy of another look.

ROSE BOWL, Orlando

Washington vs. Ohio State ESPN 4pm/5pm
The Huskies defense vs Dwayne Haskins - The Buckeyes quarterback has been lighting it up lately. The Huskies held Utah to 188 total yards and had three picks in the PACCG. Before that, they shut down Gardner Minshew allowing only 152 passing yards and picked the Wazzu QB off twice while denying him the end zone. They will need their best effort to slow down Haskins.

SUGAR BOWL, New Orleans

Texas vs. Georgia ESPN 7:45/8:45pm
Hangover vs Hangover - Both teams missed out on a chance for a big program-changing win against a hated rival in the Conference Championship Game. UGA seems to be especially hurting over their near miss but need to get over it quick against a Longhorns team that appears to be trending up.