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Previewing the college football bowl games on Friday

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott high-steps into the end zone against Michigan.

(Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

Outback Bowl

No. 13 NORTHWESTERN (10-2) vs. No. 23 TENNESSEE (8-4)

When: 9 a.m. PST (ESPN2). Where: Tampa, Fla.

Line: Tennessee by 8 1/2. Series: Tennessee leads, 1-0.

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Story line: Both teams have five-game winning streaks. Northwestern is trying for the first 11-win season in program history. To defeat Tennessee, the Wildcats will need to contain Volunteers quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who has passed for 2,125 yards and 15 touchdowns with five interceptions and run for 625 yards and nine touchdowns. Northwestern’s defense is ranked third in the nation in passing efficiency and 11th in total defense.

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Citrus Bowl

No. 14 MICHIGAN (9-3) vs. No. 19 FLORIDA (10-3)

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When: 10 a.m. PST (Channel 7). Where: Orlando, Fla.

Line: Michigan by 4. Series: Michigan leads, 2-0.

Story line: Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh and Florida Coach Jim McElwain both have engineered big turnarounds in their first year on the job. Harbaugh said a victory would put a cap on the best year he’s had in football. McElwain led the Gators to an appearance in the Southeastern Conference title game. This matchup looks like it should be a defensive struggle. Michigan leads the nation in pass efficiency defense and gives up averages of only 122.6 yards rushing and 158.8 yards passing per game. Florida is sixth in the nation in total defense, giving up 295.4 yards per game.

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Fiesta Bowl

No. 7 OHIO STATE (11-1) vs. No. 8 NOTRE DAME (10-2)

When: 10 a.m. PST (ESPN). Where: Glendale, Ariz.

bOhio State by 6. Series: Ohio State leads, 3-2.

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Story line: Teams that were in the mix for the four-team College Football Playoff late in the season try to close on a winning note. With many potential NFL players on both rosters, it could be one of the most exciting games of the bowl season. Each team has a game breaker on offense. Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott is a junior who has announced he will skip his senior season and enter the pro draft. He has rushed for 1,672 yards and 19 touchdowns. Notre Dame has receiver Will Fuller, one of the fastest players in the college game. He has seven touchdown receptions of at least 45 yards and averages 20.5 yards per catch. Also, watch when Buckeyes defensive end Joey Bosa lines up across from Irish tackle Ronnie Stanley. Bosa is projected as a top-three NFL pick and Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer said Thursday that Bosa will give up his senior year to enter the draft. Stanley, who is 6 feet 5 and 315 pounds, could go in the top 10.

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Sugar Bowl

No. 16 OKLAHOMA STATE (10-2) vs. No. 12 MISSISSIPPI (9-3)

When: 5:30 p.m. PST (ESPN). Where: New Orleans.

Line: Mississippi by 7. Series: Mississippi leads, 2-0.

Story line: Mississippi has had a season of impressive wins and confounding losses. The Rebels would like to show that last year’s embarrassing Peach Bowl trip — a 42-3 loss to Texas Christian — was a fluke. Oklahoma State is hoping to perform more like the team that won 10 straight games to start the season than the one that lost its final two, to Baylor and Oklahoma. Mississippi relies on quarterback Chad Kelly, who has passed for 3,740 yards and 27 touchdowns with 12 interceptions and run for 427 yards and 10 touchdowns. Oklahoma State is likely to use two quarterbacks — Mason Rudolph, who has passed for 3,591 yards and 21 touchdowns, and J.W. Walsh, who has passed for 663 yards and 13 touchdowns.


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