What to Know About Each Bowl Game Match-Up (Jan. 1-2)

Photo courtesy of Clemson athletics

Bowl season looks to end with a bang as 13 ranked teams take the field on Friday and Saturday.

This includes the much-awaited College Football Playoff semifinals as well as the the other New Year’s Six Bowls (Peach, Orange, and Fiesta).

Unlike in previous years, there was essentially no time in between championship week and the start of bowl season. There are fewer games than expected due to COVID-19 cancellations, but the games that will finish off bowl season should be intriguing.

Here’s a brief overview for the next two days of bowl games:


NO. 9 GEORGIA (7-2, 7-2) VS. NO. 8 CINCINNATI (9-0, 6-0)

When: Friday Jan. 1, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, GA)

Line: Georgia -7.5; O/U: 51.5

All-Time Match-ups: Georgia leads 2-0 (No Previous Bowl Game Match-Ups)

Bowl Game Record for Georgia: 56 Bowls, 32-21-3, .598 W-L% (W1)

Bowl Game Record for Cincinnati: 18 Bowls, 9-9, .500 W-L% (W2)

Intriguing Stat for Georgia: The Bulldogs lead the country in rushing defense by allowing just 69.3 rush yards per game. If they can finish at that total, it would be the second lowest total in the past 12 seasons. The lowest was the 2016 Alabama defense at 63.9 rush yards per game.

Intriguing Stat for Cincinnati: The Bearcats look to complete their first undefeated season in school history. They are also looking to have double-digit wins for the third consecutive season, which would be only the second time they have ever accomplished that in program history. The other occurrence was between 2007-09.


AUBURN (6-4, 6-4) VS. NO. 14 NORTHWESTERN (6-2, 6-1)

When: Friday Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET (ABC)

Where: Camping World Stadium (Orlando, FL)

Line: Northwestern -4; O/U: 43.5

All-Time Match-ups: Auburn leads 1-0 (Previous Bowl Game Match-Ups: Auburn leads 1-0)

Bowl Game Record for Auburn: 44 Bowls, 24-18-2, .568 W-L% (L1)

Bowl Game Record for Northwestern: 15 Bowls, 5-10, .333 W-L% (W3)

Intriguing Stat for Auburn: This will be the first bowl game for the Tigers in which they will have an interim head coach in their 118-season history. They also will have their eighth consecutive winning season — the first time since 2000-07.

Intriguing Stat for Northwestern: Defensive back Brandon Joseph leads the country with six interceptions this season in just eight games. This is the first time in program history that a Wildcat will finish the season leading the country in interceptions.


NO. 4 NOTRE DAME (10-1, 9-0) VS. NO. 1 ALABAMA (11-0, 10-0)

When: Friday Jan. 1, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Where: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, TX)

Line: Alabama -19.5; O/U: 65.5

All-Time Match-ups: Notre Dame leads 5-2 (Previous Bowl Game Match-Ups: Notre Dame leads 2-1)

Bowl Game Record for Notre Dame: 38 Bowls, 19-19, .500 W-L% (W1)

Bowl Game Record for Alabama: 71 Bowls, 42-26-3, .613 W-L% (W1)

Intriguing Stat for Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish have their fourth consecutive season with double digit wins for the first time in their 114-season history. They have appeared in the Rose Bowl just one other time, defeating Stanford to complete their perfect season and win their first claimed national championship.

Intriguing Stat for Alabama: The Crimson Tide have only missed a bowl game in four of the last 62 seasons. Also, the Alabama offense is on track to have the highest-scoring offense in program history and the highest-scoring offense in FBS since 2013 when Baylor (52.4) and Florida State (51.6) reached a higher total.


NO. 3 OHIO STATE (6-0, 5-0) VS. NO. 2 CLEMSON (10-1, 8-1)

When: Friday Jan. 1, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans, LA)

Line: Clemson -7.5; O/U: 67

All-Time Match-ups: Clemson leads 4-0 (Previous Bowl Game Match-Ups: Clemson leads 4-0)

Bowl Game Record for Ohio State: 51 Bowls, 25-26, .490 W-L% (L1)

Bowl Game Record for Clemson: 46 Bowls, 25-21, .543 W-L% (L1)

Intriguing Stat for Ohio State: The Buckeyes are the only program to play in a New Year’s Six bowl every season since the College Football Playoff was created in 2014. They also have won their past three appearances in the Sugar Bowl (2014, 2010, 1998).

Intriguing Stat for Clemson: The Tigers are tied with Alabama for most New Year’s Six Bowl victories at six. Clemson has also defeated Ohio State in the other two semifinal match-ups. However, the Tigers are 0-2 in their previous appearances in the Sugar Bowl (1958, 2017).


NO. 23 NC STATE (8-3, 7-3) VS. KENTUCKY (4-6, 4-6)

When: Saturday Jan. 2, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Where: TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, FL)

Line: Kentucky -2.5; O/U: 49

All-Time Match-ups: Series is Tied 1-1 (No Previous Bowl Game Match-Ups)

Bowl Game Record for North Carolina State: 32 Bowls, 17-14-1, .547 W-L% (L1)

Bowl Game Record for Kentucky: 19 Bowls, 10-9, .526 W-L% (W2)

Intriguing Stat for North Carolina State: The Wolfpack look to complete their best season by winning percentage since 2002 (.786). They are also 1-3 in previous Gator Bowl appearances.

Intriguing Stat for Kentucky: The Wildcats’ special teams unit allowed the seventh-lowest field goal conversion rate at 45.5%. They look to avoid their worst record by winning percentage since 2013 (.167).


OLE MISS (4-5, 4-5) VS. NO. 11 INDIANA (6-1, 6-1)

When: Saturday Jan. 2, 12:30 p.m. ET (ABC)

Where: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, FL)

Line: Indiana -8.5; O/U: 65

All-Time Match-ups: No Previous Match-Ups

Bowl Game Record for Ole Miss: 37 Bowls, 24-13, .649 W-L% (W1)

Bowl Game Record for Indiana: 12 Bowls, 3-9, .250 W-L% (L5)

Intriguing Stat for Ole Miss: The Rebels will have their fifth straight non-winning season — the first time since 1981-85. They look to win their first bowl game since the Sugar Bowl to cap 2015.

Intriguing Stat for Indiana: The Hoosiers have the worst winning percentage in bowl games by any Power 5 school (.250) and also hold the longest active bowl game losing streak by a Power 5 school at five straight losses. Their last bowl victory was in the 1991 Copper Bowl against Baylor.


NO. 25 OREGON (4-2, 3-2) VS. NO. 10 IOWA STATE (8-3, 8-1)

When: Saturday Jan. 2, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Where: State Farm Stadium (Glendale, AZ)

Line: Iowa State -4.5; O/U: 58

All-Time Match-ups: No Previous Match-Ups

Bowl Game Record for Oregon: 33 Bowls, 15-18, .455 W-L% (W2)

Bowl Game Record for Iowa State: 15 Bowls, 4-11, .267 W-L% (L2)

Intriguing Stat for Oregon: The Ducks have never lost a Fiesta Bowl as they won both their appearances in 2001 and 2012. They also become the team with the fewest wins to ever participate in a New Year’s Six Bowl.

Intriguing Stat for Iowa State: The Cyclones look for just the third 9-win season in their 123-year program history (2000, 1903). They also will complete their fourth consecutive winning season for the first time since 1959-62.


NO. 5 TEXAS A&M (8-1, 8-1) VS. NO. 13 NORTH CAROLINA (8-3, 7-3)

When: Saturday Jan. 2, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Where: Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, FL)

Line: Texas A&M -7.5; O/U: 65.5

All-Time Match-ups: No Previous Match-Ups

Bowl Game Record for Texas A&M: 41 Bowls, 19-22, .463 W-L% (W2)

Bowl Game Record for North Carolina: 34 Bowls, 15-19, .441 W-L% (W1)

Intriguing Stat for Texas A&M: This season, the Aggies had the highest average time of possession for teams who played at least eight games at approximately 35 minutes per game. With a win against UNC, they would have their best season by winning percentage since 1994 (10-0-1).

Intriguing Stat for North Carolina:  The Tar Heels look to finished ranked in the AP Poll for just the second time in the past 23 seasons. The only season they were ranked in the final poll during that stretch was 2015.