College football bowl games on Thursday (other than national semifinal Rose and Sugar bowls):
No. 18 Wisconsin (10-3) vs. No. 19 Auburn (8-4)
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
No. 8 Michigan State (10-2) vs. No. 5 Baylor (11-1)
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.
No. 25 Minnesota (8-4) vs. No. 16 Missouri (10-3)
Time: 10 a.m. Location: Orlando, Fla. TV: Channel 7.