Check out my individual previews of the four teams in the first College Football Playoff elsewhere here at SBR. Today it's a glance at the four other major bowl games that will be played.
Peach Bowl: Ole Miss vs. TCU, Atlanta, Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m.
Ole Miss (9-3) of the SEC faces TCU (11-1) of the Big 12 and you have to wonder how motivated the Frogs will be in this one. After all, they expected to be in the playoff but were dropped from No. 3 to No. 6 in the final rankings despite ending the season on Saturday with a 55-3 blowout of Iowa State. If not for one lousy 11-minute stretch in the fourth quarter of their game on Oct. 11 at Baylor then TCU would certainly be in the playoff. This is a classic offense vs. defense clash as TCU ranks No. 2 in scoring at 46.8 points per game and No. 7 in passing behind possible Heisman finalist Trevone Boykin. Ole Miss ranks first in the country in scoring defense (13.8) and handed No. 1 Alabama its only loss. The Rebels seemed to lose their mojo after a crushing 10-7 loss at LSU on Oct. 25 as they also then lost to Auburn (also losing star receiver Laquon Treadwell to a season-ending injury) and Arkansas. Ole Miss did close the regular season by ending Mississippi State's national title hopes with a 31-17 win in the Egg Bowl. TCU is a 3-point favorite at sportsbooks with a total of 56.
Free College Football Pick: Ole Miss and 'under.' This game should mean much more to the Rebels as its their first significant bowl game in six years. It's also the career finale for star QB Bo Wallace so keep that in mind before placing your College Football pick.
Fiesta Bowl: Boise State vs. Arizona, Glendale, Ariz., Dec. 31, 4 p.m.
Boise State (11-2) was great in major bowls under Chris Petersen as they were two in BCS games and won both. In fact, Boise State is 4-1 in its past five bowl games, with three wins against Power 5 schools. The Broncos faced just one Power 5 team this regular season, a 35-13 opening loss to Ole Miss in Atlanta. After a 28-14 loss to Air Force on Sept. 27, Boise State closed with an eight-game winning streak and beat Fresno State for the Mountain West title. Running back Jay Ajayi (325 carries, 1,689 yards, 25 TDs) is one of the best in the country at his position and QB Grant Hedrick led the nation in completing 70.9 percent of his passes. Arizona (10-3) might be a bit flat as it had a shot at the College Football Playoff but was routed by Oregon 51-13 in the Pac-12 title game. Freshman QB Anu Solomon had been terrific this season but really struggled against the Ducks and was benched. Presumably he starts here because Solomon is the future of the program. Arizona is a 3.5-point favorite on College Football odds with a total of 69.
Free College Football Pick: Arizona and 'over.'
Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Mississippi State, Miami, Dec. 31, 8 p.m.
Mississippi State (10-2) is having one of the best seasons in school history and was No. 1 in the nation for a while before losing two of its final three games, at Alabama and at Ole Miss. QB Dak Prescott probably will be a Heisman finalist as he has thrown for 2,996 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 939 and 13 scores. He does throw the occasional interception and had three in the loss to the Tide. You know what Georgia Tech (10-3) is going to do on offense: run the option. The Jackets rank third nationally in averaging 333.6 yards on the ground but near the bottom in passing at 135.2 yards per game. They have beaten one SEC team already this year, a Nov. 29 upset at Georgia. No, MSU didn't play Georgia if you are looking for a common opponent. The Jackets will be without top receiver DeAndre Smelter. He missed the ACC Championship Game loss to Florida State with a torn ACL. He had 35 catches for 715 yards and seven scores. MSU is a 7-point favorite at sportsbooks with a total of 59.5.
Free College Football Pick: Mississippi State and 'under.'
Cotton Bowl: Arlington, Texas, Jan. 1, 12:30 p.m.
This is a very intriguing matchup as Michigan State (10-2) has one of the best defenses in the country, ranking No. 7 in points allowed per game, while Baylor (11-1) leads the nation in scoring at 48.8 points per game. How fired up will the Bears be for this game, however? They absolutely expected to be in the College Football Playoff but finished as the first team out at No. 5. Already you hear talk that the Big 12 might remedy that in the future by having a conference championship game, but it can't as things stand now with just 10 teams. How good is Michigan State really? The two best teams it played, Oregon and Ohio State, each won handily against the Spartans and totaled 95 points on that defense. Sparty easily handled everyone else. Baylor, meanwhile, beat ranked teams TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas State. It's the final college game for Bears star QB Bryce Petty, and obviously Baylor should have a heavy home-field advantage in terms of fan support in Texas. Baylor is a 3-point favorite with a total of 70.
Free College Football Pick: MSU and 'over' at 5Dimes