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Fearless bowl predictions: Jan. 2

TicketCity Bowl
No. 19 Houston vs. No. 22 Penn State (+6), 12 p.m.: Some important questions: 1) What is the mindset of the Penn State players after the Jerry Sandusky scandal during the regular season and then getting snubbed by bigger bowls despite a 9-3 record? 2) What is the health of Penn State starting quarterback Matt McGloin after getting into a locker room fight recently and suffering a concussion? 3) Has Houston recovered from the devastating loss in the Conference USA title game that cost the Cougars a spot in a BCS bowl? 4) How will the Cougars respond without head coach Kevin Sumlin, who has left to take over at Texas A&M? Answers: Penn State starts slow, falls behind and can’t catch up against Case Keenum and Co. Houston 27, Penn State 23

Capital One Bowl
No. 20 Nebraska vs. No. 9 South Carolina (-2), 1 p.m.: Nebraska has been a bit of a disappointment this season. Of their three losses, there have been blowouts against Wisconsin and Michigan and a bad home performance against Northwestern. But quarterback Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead are a dangerous running combination for the Cornhuskers. Plus, Nebraska’s defense has played better over the second half of the season. South Carolina is 10-2 and has been able to withstand the losses of starting quarterback Stephen Garcia (dismissed from team) and star running back Marcus Lattimore (knee injury). The keys have been a stout defense (fourth nationally/269 yards per game) and the emergence of sophomore quarterback Connor Shaw. South Carolina 24, Nebraska 20

Outback Bowl
No. 16 Georgia vs. No. 17 Michigan State (+3.5), 1 p.m.: Georgia had a 10-game winning streak before losing to No. 1 LSU in the SEC title game. The Bulldogs have had a solid season with quarterback Aaron Murray (2,861 yards and 33 touchdowns) and a tough defense (third nationally/268 yards per game). Michigan State also has a solid quarterback with Kirk Cousins (3,016 yards and 24 touchdowns) and a strong defense (fifth nationally/273 yards per game). The Spartans, however, are deeper on offense. Wide receiver B.J. Cunningham has 72 catches for 1,240 yards and 12 touchdowns, and the running back combination of Le’Veon Bell and Edwin Baker has 1,555 yards and 16 touchdowns. Michigan State 28, Georgia 24

Gator Bowl
Ohio State vs. Florida (-2), 1 p.m.: You could call this the Urban Meyer Bowl. Meyer’s old team faces his new team. Both teams are 6-6, but Ohio State has the advantage. Florida’s offense has been bad this season, while Buckeyes freshman quarterback Braxton Miller has shown nice improvement throughout the season. Miller’s big-play ability will be the difference. Also, watch for the Ohio State defense to force some turnovers. Ohio State 23, Florida 13

Rose Bowl
No. 10 Wisconsin vs. No. 5 Oregon (-6), 5 p.m.: Wisconsin will need to figure out a way to neutralize Oregon’s speed, especially on offense. Oregon’s offense likes to play fast and has numerous electric players – quarterback Darron Thomas, running backs LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner and running back/wide receiver DeAnthony Thomas. This game could very well be similar to the Oregon-LSU game earlier in the season. The Ducks took a lead in that game, but got worn down by LSU’s offensive and defensive fronts in the second half. Expect Wisconsin’s massive offensive line and running back Montee Ball to take over in the second half. Plus, quarterback Russell Wilson has been exceptional. Wisconsin 31, Oregon 27

Fiesta Bowl
No. 4 Stanford vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State (-3.5), 8:30 p.m.: This is definitely one of the best matchups of the bowl season. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will lead one of the nation’s best offenses (481 yards per game/44 points per game) against one of the nation’s worst defenses (107th nationally/446 yards per game). The Cowboys, however, played very solid defense in the 44-10 blowout win over Oklahoma to clinch the Big 12 title. Stanford’s defense has been very good this season, but struggled against the speed of Oregon. Oklahoma State’s offensive talent (quarterback Brandon Weeden, running back Joseph Randle and wide receiver Justin Blackmon) should present serious issues for the Stanford defense. Luck has options, but really has no home run receiving threat. Tight end Coby Fleener is Luck’s best option with 10 touchdowns. Oklahoma State 34, Stanford 30

Tags: TicketCity Bowl , Houston , Penn State , Capital One Bowl , Nebraska , South Carolina , Outback Bowl , Georgia , Michigan State , Gator Bowl , Florida , Ohio State , Rose Bowl , Oregon , Wisconsin , Fiesta Bowl , Stanford , Oklahoma State

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