Monday’s bowl games
Outback: Iowa (8-4) vs. No. 17 Florida (8-4), at Tampa, 10 a.m., Channel 7 — If this were a boxing match, it would be between a couple of worn, overweight middleweights fighting as light heavyweights. Statistically, the Hawkeyes and Gators have two of the worst offenses in major-college football. Iowa, which averages 333.3 yards per game, is ranked 120 (out of 128) in the nation. Florida, at 345.1 yards, is No. 115. Iowa at least closed strong, upsetting Michigan, 14-13, before blasting Illinois, 28-0, and Nebraska, 40-10. Florida followed its best win of the season, 16-13, over Louisiana State, by getting routed by Florida State, 31-13, and Alabama, 54-16. Austin Appleby and Luke Del Rio have split time as the Gators’ quarterback, and combined for 16 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. Iowa has a double-barrel rushing attack with LeShun Daniels (1,013 yards) and Akrum Wadley (966); with each running for 10 touchdowns. Florida’s Eddie Piniero has made 18 of 22 field goals, including all three of his tries from 50-plus yards. The pick: Iowa, 21-16.
Cotton: No. 8 Wisconsin (10-3) vs. No. 15 Western Michigan (13-0), at Arlington, Texas, 10 a.m., ESPN — Western Michigan has been one of college football’s feel-good stories of the season, with Coach P.J. Fleck’s group rowing themselves all the way to a major bowl. That’s Fleck’s mantra: Everyone needs to row the boat, working together in sync, to get where you want to go. Quaint, and befitting an underdog. But Western Michigan has a couple of players who would be starring for just about anybody in quarterback Zach Terrell and receiver Corey Davis. Terrell has completed 70.8% of his passes for 3,376 yards and 32 touchdowns with three interceptions. Davis, a physical 6-foot-3, 213 pounds, has 91 receptions for 1,427 yards and 18 touchdowns. Wisconsin has been hurt by passing, too. In the Big Ten Conference title game, Penn State’s Trace McSorley passed for 384 yards and four touchdowns. The Badgers will try to control the ball, and the clock, with running back Corey Clement, who has rushed for 1,304 yards and 14 touchdowns. The pick: Wisconsin, 31-21.
Rose: No. 5 Penn State (11-2) vs. No. 9 USC (9-3), at Pasadena, 2 p.m., ESPN — Traditionalists have to love this classic Big Ten vs. Pac-12 matchup, which also happens to pit two of the college game’s hottest teams. Since getting whipped by Michigan in September, Penn State has won nine consecutive games, including victories over Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions have a lot of experience on defense and a lot of balance on offense; if quarterback Trace McSorley (3,360 yards passing, with 25 touchdowns and five interceptions) doesn’t beat you, running back Saquon Barkley (1,302 yards rushing, with 16 touchdowns) probably will. USC hasn’t been the same — in a good way — since Sam Darnold took over as the starting quarterback in the Trojans’ fourth game. USC has won eight straight — including victories over both teams that played in the Pac-12 title game, Colorado and Washington — with Darnold (2,633 yards, 26 touchdowns, eight interceptions) spreading the ball around among eight receivers who have at least 10 catches. The Trojans also have an explosive runner in Ronald Jones II, who has rushed for 1,027 yards and 11 touchdowns. The pick: USC, 27-23.
Sugar: No. 7 Oklahoma (10-2) vs. No. 14 Auburn (8-4), at New Orleans, 5:30 p.m., ESPN — Oklahoma has the quarterback with the gaudy numbers, but this game may turn on Auburn’s quarterback. Sean White missed the Tigers’ final two regular-season games with a shoulder injury, and without him, Auburn becomes very one dimensional. However, he has been practicing during bowl preparations, and if he’s healthy he may provide the balance the Tigers need to move the ball and keep it away from the dynamic playmakers on Oklahoma’s offense. White has completed 65.2% of his passes, and the Tigers have a stable of solid backs, led by Kamry Petttway, who was run for 1,123 yards and seven touchdowns. If there is a question mark for Oklahoma, it’s whether the tumult around the release of a video showing leading rusher Joe Mixon slugging a woman a couple of years ago will have an effect. The school knew of the incident, and Mixon served a long suspension. But the video had not been out before. Far more pleasant to watch is the work of the passing combination of Baker Mayfield to Dede Westbrook. Both players were Heisman Trophy finalists. Mayfield has completed 71.2% of his passes for 3,669 yards and 38 touchdowns with eight interceptions. Westbrook has 74 receptions for 1,465 yards and 16 touchdowns. The pick: Auburn, 34-31.