MIDDLE TENNESSEE ST. (8-4) VS. NAVY (8-4)
TIME/TV: 11:45 a.m./ESPN
SERIES RECORD: First meeting
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Navy won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for the second consecutive season, the ninth time in 11 years, with that snowy win over Army, and now goes for its first bowl victory since 2009. The Midshipmen have lost five of their past six postseason games. Middle Tennessee State, snubbed for a bowl spot last year despite the same 8-4 record, now gets a chance to win at least nine games for only the second time in 21 seasons.
KEY MATCHUP: The differing offenses and quarterbacks. Navy gets most of its yardage on the ground, ranking second nationally with 322 yards rushing per game. Sophomore Keenan Reynolds has run for 1,260 yards and 29 touchdowns, the NCAA record for a quarterback. Middle Tennessee State has a balanced offense, gaining 208 yards a game on the ground and 207 yards through the air. Logan Kilgore has set an MTSU record with 53 career TD passes and is only the fourth quarterback in school history to pass for more than 7,000 yards.
FACTS & FIGURES: The Armed Forces Bowl is the first bowl game to play host to all three service academy teams. Air Force has played in Fort Worth four times, and Army has also played there and is set for the 2014 game if bowl eligible. … It is the 100th game for Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill, 51-48 in his eight seasons. … Navy has five sets of brothers on its roster, tied with Wisconsin and Army for the most in college football this season.
MUSIC CITY BOWL
GEORGIA TECH (7-5) VS. MISSISSIPPI (7-5)
TIME/TV: 3:15 p.m./ESPN
SERIES RECORD: Georgia Tech 2-1
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Georgia Tech can erase the memory of blowing a big lead in the regular season finale and losing to rival Georgia in double overtime. Ole Miss had its best regular season since 2009 and is looking for a second consecutive bowl win under coach Hugh Freeze.
KEY MATCHUP: The Rebels’ defense against Georgia Tech’s offense. The Yellow Jackets feature the nation’s sixth-best rushing attack, rolling up 311.7 yards per game, and they score 36.6 points per game. Ole Miss ranks 54th nationally, giving up 155.2 yards rushing per game, but the Rebels average 6.5 tackles for loss per game.
FACTS & FIGURES: Four of Ole Miss’ losses came to teams in the Top 25, including three ranked in the top eight. … The Rebels are in back-to-back bowls for the first time since 2008-09. … The Rebels have won five consecutive bowls and nine of the past 10 with the lone loss at the 2000 Music City Bowl. … Ole Miss FS Cody Prewitt leads the SEC with six interceptions. … Freshman OT Laremy Tunsil has allowed one sack all season. … The Yellow Jackets are playing in their 17th consecutive bowl, the nation’s second-longest active bowl streak behind Virginia Tech (21). … The Yellow Jackets snapped a seven-game skid in bowls with a 21-7 win over Southern California in the Sun Bowl last year. … Georgia Tech has lost six consecutive bowls to current SEC teams going back to 1960. … Georgia Tech is one of only three teams to rank in the top 10 nationally in rushing offense and defense with Ohio State and Wisconsin.
NO. 10 OREGON (10-2) VS. TEXAS (8-4)
TIME/TV: 6:45 p.m./ESPN
SERIES RECORD: Sixth meeting, Texas leads 4-1
WHAT’S AT STAKE: The chance for Texas coach Mack Brown to go out a winner after 16 seasons. He’s 10-4 in bowl games at Texas and hasn’t lost one since the 2009 national championship game to Alabama. First-year Oregon coach Mark Helfrich can ease the sting of not getting the Ducks to a fifth consecutive BCS game by finishing with an 11-win season.
KEY MATCHUP: Oregon QB Marcus Mariota vs. the Texas defense. Mariota has put up nearly 4,000 yards of total offense and needs only two scores to break Joey Harrington’s school record for total touchdowns. That’s hardly far-fetched against the Longhorns, which fired its defensive coordinator early in the season and gave up 30 points in a season-ending loss to Baylor with the Big 12 title on the line.
FACTS & FIGURES: Injuries took a major toll on the Longhorns this season, and they’ll be without more big names because of academic issues. WR Daje Johnson, OL Kennedy Estelle and RB Jalen Overstreet have been ruled ineligible. … Longtime Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti will retire after the game and end 38 years in coaching. … Texas won the Alamo Bowl last year but without QB Case McCoy, who was suspended for a violation of team rules … Oregon will be without starting TE Pharaoh Brown, who was suspended for the bowl game for taking part in a snowball fight on campus earlier this month that got out of hand. … All four of Texas’ victories against Oregon came before 1972.
NO. 16 ARIZONA ST. (10-3) VS. TEXAS TECH (7-5)
TIME/TV: 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)
SERIES RECORD: Arizona State 1-0
WHAT’S AT STAKE: Arizona State can finish with 11 wins for just the second time in 38 seasons. It’s also looking to break a three-game losing streak in the Holiday Bowl. Texas Tech just needs a win – it finished the regular season with five losses, by an average of 20.6 points.
KEY MATCHUP: Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton, a two-time Associated Press All-American and two-time Pac-12 defensive player of the year against Texas Tech’s uptempo offense that will start either sophomore Michael Brewer or freshman Davis Webb at quarterback. Although Sutton’s four sacks and 11½ tackles for loss are fewer than last year, he’s arguably the most disruptive interior lineman in the country.
FACTS & FIGURES: Texas Tech All-America tight end Jace Amaro comes in with 98 catches for 1,240 yards. He needs 14 catches and 90 yards to break NCAA single-season records of 111 catches and 1,329 yards receiving for a tight end set by James Casey of Rice in 2008. … Red Raiders are second in the nation with 392 passing yards per game. … Arizona State RB Marion Grice probably will miss the game with a leg injury that kept him out of the loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game. He accounts for a significant chunk of offense, leading the team with 996 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns, and ranking third with 50 catches for 438 yards and six scores.