CHAMPS SPORTS BOWL
NO. 25 FLORIDA STATE (8-4)
VS. NOTRE DAME (8-4)
TIME: 5:30 p.m.
LINE: Florida State by 2.5
SERIES RECORD: Florida State leads 4-2
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Both programs are still trying to regain their status among college football’s elite. Neither school has played in a national championship game since 1999, nor has the pair met in a bowl game since the 1996 Orange Bowl when the Seminoles beat the Irish 31-26. Florida State has won its past three bowl appearances, including last season’s Chick-Fil-A Bowl over South Carolina. Notre Dame also won its past two bowl games, including the Sun Bowl last season against Miami.
KEY MATCHUP: Florida State’s offensive line vs. Notre Dame’s defense. The Seminoles’ line is battered and four freshmen are expected to start because of injuries. Notre Dame’s defense gave up just 15.2 points per game and just 192.8 passing yards.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Florida State: QB E.J. Manuel. He has completed 183 of 280 passes for 2,417 yards and 16 TDs, while WR Rashad Greene has caught 33 passes for 497 yards and six TDs. Notre Dame: QB Tommy Rees. He has completed 253 of 384 passes for 2,708 yards and 19 TDs. Leading receiver Michael Floyd has 95 receptions for 1,106 yards and eight TDs. LB Manti Te’o led the team with 115 total tackles and 4.5 sacks.
NO. 15 BAYLOR (9-3) VS. WASHINGTON (7-5)
TIME: 8 p.m.
LINE: Baylor by 9
SERIES RECORD: Baylor leads 3-1
WHAT’S AT STAKE: If this is the final college game for Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, the nation’s most electrifying player can go out leading Baylor to one last incredible feat: a bowl game victory. The Bears haven’t won a bowl game since 1992, and ending that drought would give Baylor its first 10-win season since 1980. An upset by Washington, meanwhile, would erase the Huskies’ disappointment of losing four of their last six.
KEY MATCHUP: Griffin against Washington’s defense. There’s no way around it for Washington. For the Huskies to have any chance, their weak defense that gave up an average of 33 points a game has to somehow stop the AP Player of the Year who was the nation’s most efficient passer and threw for nearly 4,000 yards.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Baylor: All eyes will be on Griffin, who says he’s undecided about whether he’ll jump to the NFL next season. His favorite target, WR Kendall Wright, had 1,572 receiving yards and 13 TDs. Washington: RB Chris Polk ran for 1,341 yards and 11 TDs and is a big reason why the Huskies are playing in back-to-back bowl games just three years removed from a winless 2008 season.
– Associated Press