Quick Bowl Looks - January 2nd to 8th
Florida RB Jeff Demps
Florida RB Jeff Demps
Posted Dec 28, 2011

The bowl season is about to blow up with huge January 2nd coming. Here's a quick primer.

2011-2012 Bowl Season

Quick Looks At The Big Bowls 


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It's been an entertaining bowl season so far with some strong games from unlikely places, but now is when the fun really starts to kick in. Now is when the bowl season becomes the bowl season.

The slow trickle of games over the first two weeks are good, but this time of year is about gluttony. It's about a Friday with four games, a Saturday with five, and a January 2nd loaded with some of the best matchups of the year, closing out with the Rose and Fiesta Bowls. This is what we've all been waiting for.

While you can check out the CollegeFootballNews.com bowl previews for the breakdown, analysis, and prediction of each game, here's a quick primer on each of the bowls from Friday up until the GoDaddy.com Bowl the night before the BCS championship to know a little bit about each bowl matchup.

- Quick Looks - December 30 & 31
- Quick Looks - January 2 to 8
- Quick Looks - BCS Games

TicketCity Bowl
January 2, 2012 Dallas, TX, 12:00 pm ESPNU
Penn State vs. Houston
Which disappointed team will be more interested in closing out with a big win? Because the Penn State season wasn't ugly enough, things took yet another turn down when receiver Curtis Drake sent quarterback Matt McGloin to the hospital in a locker-room fight. Drake won't make the trip and McGloin is still trying to recover, making things that much harder for an offense that averages fewer than 20 points per game. The Nittany Lions were openly upset about not going to a bigger bowl, while Houston was crushed by blowing its BCS chance in a home loss to Southern Miss in the Conference USA championship. On opposite ends of the spectrum, Penn State is 112th in the nation in passing efficiency while the Cougars – thanks to the NCAA's all-time passing leader, Case Keenum – have college football's No. 1 offense, passing offense, and scoring offense and is third in passing efficiency.

Capital One Bowl
January 2, 2012  Orlando, FL, 1:00 pm ESPN
Nebraska vs. South Carolina 
If you're expecting high-octane passing games and thrilling offensive attacks, look elsewhere. This game will come down to the trenches as the Husker offensive line will wage one of the best battles of the bowl season against the terrific Gamecock defensive front. Nebraska's inaugural season in the Big Ten was a success, for the most part, and finishing out with a tenth win by giving its new conference a victory over an SEC team would be special. The Huskers have a two man attack with quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead leading the way for a ground game that averages 224 yards per game, but South Carolina's defense is loaded and has had a month to prepare to stop the rushing stars. The Gamecock D has helped bail out an offense without star running back Marcus Lattimore and with top NFL receiver prospect Alshon Jeffery kept down because of poor quarterback play. Arguably the SEC's fourth best team behind LSU, Alabama, and Arkansas, South Carolina can come up with its first 11-win season in school history with a victory.

TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl
January 2, 2011 Jacksonville, FL, 1:00 pm ESPN2
Ohio State vs. Florida   

Urban, Urban, Urban. Urban Meyer doesn't coach Florida anymore, and Luke Fickell will be handling things for Ohio State in the bowl, but most of the storylines surround a figure who doesn't have much to do with this game. The 2007 BCS championship between the two teams seems like 20 years ago, but both teams are loaded with young talent after great recruiting class after great recruiting class, and both have the potential to be special again soon. Ohio State has to enjoy this now after the NCAA banned the program from playing in a bowl next year, and it has to come up with a win to break a three-game losing streak and avoid the first losing season since 1988. The Buckeyes have a terrific freshman quarterback in Braxton Miller, and a good defense led by a nasty secondary. Florida's defense has been even better statistically, but that's partly because it didn't face a slew of high-end offenses. The offense was a disaster with too many turnovers, not enough big pass plays, and no more than 26 points against an FBS team since late-September. A loss would mean the first losing season since 1979, and would put head coach Will Muschamp squarely on the 2012 hot seat.

Outback Bowl
January 2, 2012 Tampa, FL, 1:00 pm ABC
Michigan State vs. Georgia
There aren't too many teams more motivated than Michigan State. Not only did the Spartans get slighted by the BCS for a second straight year, but they're also trying to avenge one of the ugliest bowl performances of last year getting blown out by Alabama in the Capital One. From quarterback Kirk Cousins on down, the team has been waiting for its chance to make amends, but the Big Ten runner-up has to deal with a Georgia team looking to prove that the light SEC schedule – missing LSU, Alabama and Arkansas until losing to the Tigers in the title game – wasn't the reason for the big turnaround. The MSU defense has been one of the best in college football all season long, especially on the line, but Georgia's has been better, coming into the game No. 3 in the nation behind Alabama and LSU. Cousins vs. Georgia's Aaron Murray is one of the best quarterback matchups in the bowls, but the defenses should be the stars in what might be a slugfest.

AT&T Cotton Bowl  
January 6, 2012  Arlington, TX, 8:00 pm FOX
Kansas State vs. Arkansas 
One of 2011's biggest surprises, Kansas State has been a great story under legendary head coach Bill Snyder, while Arkansas has overcome the preseason loss of star running back Knile Davis to put together a great year. Kansas State should probably be in a BCS game over Virginia Tech or Michigan, and Arkansas might be the No. 3 team in the nation with the two losses coming to LSU and Alabama. While these two might have deserved one of the bigger bowl games, squaring off on a night all to themselves in Jerry World isn't too far off from being a BCS-level battle, and it's a far better matchup than the Orange or Sugar Bowls. It's the ultimate contrast in styles with Arkansas and one of college football's best passing games trying to outplay Collin Klein and one of the Big 12's best ground attacks. The Hogs have been mediocre against the run and can be shoved around on the defensive front, while the Wildcats need its formula of no turnovers, third down conversions, and time of possession to all mix perfectly together.

BBVA Compass Bank Bowl
January 7, 2012, Birmingham, AL, 1:00 pm ESPN 
Pitt vs. SMU  

One man's garbage is another man's treasure. Arizona State and SMU head coach June Jones couldn't quite form a fit, and Pitt's Todd Graham was happy to take advantage and move to the warmer climate. The Panthers have to wait until after the Rose Bowl to get their new head coach, Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Cryst, but first they have to get the mediocre offense moving against a strong Mustang attack. What Pitt can do on a high level is rush the passer, but the offensive line is the worst in college football in pass protection. SMU will try to wing the ball all over the yard, but the offense fell flat over the second half of the season scoring a total of 17 points in losses to Southern Miss, Tulsa, and Houston. SMU is awful in turnover margin – ranking last in the nation – and Pitt has to take advantage of every mistake.

GoDaddy.com Bowl   
January 8, 2012   Mobile, AL 9:00 pm ESPN
Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State
Call this the equivalent of seeing the strong underground alternative band before the headliners come out. While bowl fatigue will kick in for many who just want to get to the BCS championship the following night, this could be an even more entertaining matchup. At the very least – unlike Alabama – these two actually won something this year. NIU finally got over the hump and won a MAC championship, while Arkansas State went 8-0 in Sun Belt play and won its final nine games in the best season in school history. Head coach Hugh Freeze might be off to Ole Miss, but Auburn offensive guru Gus Malzahn is on his way. In the meantime, the Red Wolves have to show off their unstoppable pass rush and strong offense to prove the Sun Belt really can play. The Huskies are on an eight-game winning streak led by quarterback Chandler Harnish, one of the best O lines of any non-BCS team, and a high-powered offense that averages 482 yards per game. Really, this will be worth watching.

- Quick Looks - December 30 & 31
- Quick Looks - January 2 to 8
- Quick Looks - BCS Games