NO. 18 MISSISSIPPI STATE (8-4) VS. IOWA (8-4)
at Tampa, Fla., 9 a.m. PST, ESPN2
Mississippi State’s only losses came against teams ranked among the top 15. Only one of the Bulldogs’ games, a 13-6 loss to Florida, was decided by fewer than 14 points. Nick Fitzgerald broke Tim Tebow’s all-time Southeastern Conference record for most yards rushing by a quarterback. He has run for 3,504, this season rushing for 1,018 yards and 12 touchdowns. Iowa, led by ends A.J. Epenesa and Anthony Nelson, ranks seventh in the nation in total defense. The Hawkeyes’ T.J. Hockenson won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end. He has caught 46 passes for 717 yards and six touchdowns.
NO. 14 KENTUCKY (9-3) VS. NO. 12 PENN STATE (9-3)
at Orlando, Fla., 10 a.m. PST, Channel 7
Kentucky last won 10 games in a season in 1977. Linebacker Josh Allen, the SEC’s defensive player of the year, anchors a Wildcats team that has given up 332.2 yards a game and ranks seventh nationally in scoring defense at 16.2 points. Allen led the conference with 18 1/2 tackles for loss, among them a school-record 14 sacks. Quarterback Trace McSorley leads a Penn State offense that averages 424.3 yards and 34.6 points a game. The Nittany Lions are appearing in a New Year’s game for the 25th time.
NO. 11 LOUISIANA STATE (9-3) VS. NO. 8 CENTRAL FLORIDA (12-0)
at Glendale, Ariz., 10 a.m. PST, ESPN
Central Florida takes a 25-game winning streak into the Fiesta Bowl in its bid for a second consecutive undefeated season. The Knights proclaimed themselves national champions after last season and will probably do so again with a victory over LSU, which is vying for its first 10-win season since 2013. UFC redshirt freshman Darriel Mack Jr., filling in at quarterback for the injured McKenzie Milton, passed for 348 yards and accounted for six touchdowns in a comeback victory over Memphis in the American Athletic Conference title game. LSU’s Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire have combined for 1,588 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns.
NO. 15 TEXAS (9-4) VS. NO. 5 GEORGIA (11-2)
at New Orleans, 5:45 p.m. PST, ESPN
Georgia missed out on a berth in the College Football Playoff when it squandered a 14-point second-half lead in a loss to Alabama in the SEC title game. Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm is 23-4 as a starter, 8-4 against ranked opponents. The Bulldogs have given up only 18.5 points a game, which ranks 15th nationally. Texas is trying to cap an impressive season under second-year coach Tom Herman and provide further proof that it’s on track to reclaim its place among the nation’s elite programs. The Longhorns’ Lil’Jordan Humphrey has caught 79 passes for 1,109 yards and nine touchdowns.