College football bowl games on Thursday (other than national semifinal Rose and Sugar bowls):
Time: 9 a.m. PST. Location: Tampa, Fla. TV: ESPN2.
The buzz: The Badgers enter the postseason wounded and in transition after getting blown out, 59-0, by Ohio State in the Big Ten Conference championship game and changing head coaches. Athletic Director and interim Coach Barry Alvarez will look to get Wisconsin's potent ground game going again after being held to 71 yards against the Buckeyes. As Melvin Gordon goes, so do the Badgers. The Heisman Trophy finalist has rushed for 2,336 yards and 26 touchdowns, including 408 yards against Nebraska. After appearing in last season's Bowl Championship Series title game, the Tigers opened 7-1 before losing three of their last four games. Auburn will try to match Wisconsin on the ground with Cameron Artis-Payne (1,482 yards) and Nick Marshall (780) carrying the load. The Tigers defeated Louisiana State, 41-7, in October. Wisconsin lost to LSU, 28-24, in its season opener.
•Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
Time: 9:30 a.m. PST Location: Arlington, Texas. TV: ESPN.
The buzz: Michigan State's only losses were to teams in the College Football Playoff semifinals. The Spartans fell to Oregon, 46-27, and Ohio State, 49-37. Quarterback Connor Cook has passed for 2,900 yards and 22 touchdowns. Tailback Jeremy Langford has rushed for 1,360 yards and 19 touchdowns. Michigan State ranks No. 7 nationally in scoring (43.1 points per game), pairing well with a stout defense ranked No. 15 in points surrendered per game (19.9). Baylor has been haunted by a 41-27 loss at West Virginia and the Big 12 Conference's lack of a league title game, which helped keep the Bears out of the College Football Playoff semifinals. Bears quarterback Bryce Petty has passed for 3,305 yards and 26 touchdowns while guiding an offense than ranks No. 1 nationally in scoring (48.8 points per game). Shock Linwood delivered 1,226 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns.
Time: 10 a.m. Location: Orlando, Fla. TV: Channel 7.
The buzz: Minnesota is in its first New Year's Day bowl since winning the 1962 Rose Bowl. Team most valuable player David Cobb rushed for a school-record 1,548 yards, with 13 touchdowns this season. Cobb's yards are important after Minnesota finished the season ranked 124th nationally out of 128 teams in passing offense, averaging 131.4 yards per game. Missouri fought its way to a second consecutive Southeastern Conference East Division title by winning tight games down the stretch. The Tigers' success is usually tied to that of quarterback Maty Mauk, who finished an inconsistent season with 23 touchdowns and 11 passes intercepted. Mauk likes to throw deep, and the Gophers have big-play defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun. Missouri also has defensive end Shane Ray, the SEC defensive player of the year.