With the College Football Playoffs taking most of the attention on January first there aren't as many games on January 1st as there are historically. With that being said the 5 games that will be played on New Years Day all look like they will be great games. With 2 CFB Playoff games, a New Years 6 game and then two other very intriguing match ups featuring some historically good teams. Below we outline the 5 games with predictions and analysis for all 5 games.
Outback Bowl: Michigan vs South Carolina
By: Mitch Davis
This game is a rematch of the 2013 Outback bowl; one that saw the Gamecocks win in the closing seconds 33-28. Coming into the game both teams are 8-4, and they each have a lot of questions - especially Michigan with the QB situation. Michigan has struggled with the QB position after starter Wilton Speight went out in week 4. Since then the Wolverines have gone through two quarterbacks: John O’Korn (5 games, 956 yards, 2 TD, and 6 INT) and Brandon Peters who played four games before eventually getting hurt in the Wisconsin loss. South Carolina and Michigan both have a lot on the line for conference. The SEC is 1-3 in bowl games while the Big 10 is looking for a perfect record in bowl games. Saturday is bound to be a very exciting game between two evenly matched teams.
Keys to the game:
1. Run the ball (whichever team can establish the run early will have a huge advantage)
2. Find consistency on both sides of the ball.
3. Get to the QB and force the long ball
Prediction: South Carolina 24-17
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: 12) UCF vs. 7) Auburn
By: Brantley Bonner
The Auburn Tigers (10-3) will face the undefeated UCF Knights on New Year’s Day. The game will be played in the Mercedes Benz Stadium, which Auburn has already experienced once this year against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship game which Auburn lost 28-7. Due to the loss against Georgia, Auburn has to suit up in another bowl game other than the playoffs. That being said, the Tigers have a very powerful and fast paced offense led by QB Jarret Stidham. Behind him is running back Kerryon Johnson, who has suffered injuries this year but will be able to play in the peach bowl. UCF on their offensive side of the ball will be led by QB McKenzie Milton who has had pretty decent numbers this year. Obviously that being said they’re still undefeated, but being an Auburn fan I think my Tigers will roll back home to the plains with a big fat W to cap off their successful season. Prediction: Auburn 21-7.
Citrus Bowl: 14) Notre Dame vs 17) LSU
By: Deric Green
On New Year’s Day, the 14th ranked Fighting Irish of Notre Dame will take on the 17th ranked Tigers of LSU in the 2018 Citrus Bowl. The game will be held at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida at 1:00 PM on ABC. After an early 20-19 home loss to the Georgia Bulldogs, the Fighting Irish rallied off seven straight wins including wins over Michigan State, USC, and NC State who all finished the season in College Football Playoff Rankings. The Irish were led all year by star running back and Heisman talk, Josh Adams. Josh has a total of 1,386 yards rushing averaging 7.3 yards per attempt. Don’t be surprised to see a lot of Josh Adams on Monday from the Irish after some key wide receivers from Notre Dame have been suspended due to some off the field incidents. After a disastrous and heartbreaking loss to “The U” the Irish had their College Football Playoff hopes dismantled. The Irish finished their final three games with two losses on the road and a 24-17 win on senior day at Notre Dame Stadium against Navy.
Flipping the script to 17th ranked Tigers, they come into Monday’s Citrus Bowl 9-3 with two losses coming from conference play (Miss. St and Alabama) and an embarrassing loss to Troy. While both teams are coming into Monday’s game with high hopes of winning both teams are looking for a 10-win season and some momentum heading into the 2018 season. With all of that being said there are two questions to ask yourself… Which Notre Dame team will show up and which LSU team will show up. Will the Irish that started the season 8-1 show or the Irish that finished 1-2 show up? Looking at LSU, which LSU team will we see? The Tigers that were embarrassed by Troy or the Tigers that beat the Peach Bowl contender Auburn show up? Only time will tell as we are under 36 hours until kickoff. Prediction: Notre Dame: 31-27
Rose Bowl: 3) Georgia vs. 2) Oklahoma
By: Ryan McCormick
In my opinion this is the game that I think will be the most exciting game of the day. Baker Mayfield is electric and going against this tough Georgia defense will be fun to watch. The story line for this game will be how effective Baker Mayfield will be with the illness that he has been fighting this week. I have no doubt in my mind that he will play and will be able to play well but if the game comes down close at the end like it should it will be interesting to see how his endurance holds up late in the game. The Oklahoma offense vs the Georgia defense will be the match up that people will be looking to see all game but the key to the game could come down to the Georgia offense vs the Oklahoma defense. I think for big games like this it comes down to experience and I think Oklahoma has the edge especially with a Senior Heisman quarterback going up against a freshman quarterback for Georgia. I think this game will be high scoring as Baker Mayfield will have his way for most of the game and the Georgia run game will not be stopped. Prediction: Oklahoma 38-34
Sugar Bowl: 4) Alabama vs. 1) Clemson
By: Mitch Davis and Karina Baum
The Trilogy! Clemson vs Alabama part 3! What exactly should fans expect from this game? Shockingly, Bama is favored in Vegas, although most consider Clemson to be the likely winner. The Crimson Tide have a major chip on their shoulder. They lost the Iron Bowl and did not make the SEC championship game. No doubt the last second loss to Clemson last season is still fresh in their memory. Bama comes in feeling like they have to prove they were the right selection by the committee. On the Clemson side of things, Dabo Swinney is building a dynasty and if he can beat Saban again and go on to win a second consecutive title, there are a lot of people out there who will start to question whether Dabo is taking the reins of dominance from Saban himself. This game is going to be a test for both programs. Clemson is coming off of two of their best performances of this season, beating the living hell out of a really talented Miami team for the ACC title. Four weeks of rest can be a major momentum killer; however, whether a long break hurts Clemson remains to be seen. For Bama, these four weeks off are crucial to getting healthy again. The LSU game took a major toll on the Tide. 8 players were down due to injury in their last two games. Mississippi State and Auburn were able to run the ball as much as they wanted, something that we aren't exactly used to seeing from a Bama defense. But now, the Tide will return all of their injured players, with the exception of Shaun Dion Hamilton and Dylan Moses, a backup freshman, who has really stepped up for the Tide recently. When they are healthy, Alabama is incredibly dangerous and has potential to win the entire thing. The month off has also given Coach Saban a month to prepare for this game. If you give Saban a month, he is going to find your weakness and exploit it. He has never seen the Clemson QB before, but with all this time to prepare, no doubt he has a solid idea of what to expect. Prediction: Alabama 28-10 (Mitch) Alabama 27-24 (Karina)