Sporting Alert – College bowl games schedule for Wednesday, 30 December sees three games, including a 12 p.m. kick-off between Memphis and Auburn.
Birmingham Bowl, Belk Bowl, Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl and the National Funding Holiday Bowl are all up for grabs on the day.
Birmingham Bowl – Watch Live on ESPN @ 12 p.m.: Memphis and Auburn will battle at Legion Field in Alabama, trying to close of their respective campaigns on a winning note, as both programs look to deal with adjustments on their coaching staff.
For Auburn, it will be without defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who has already been hired by South Carolina, while Memphis comes in without a head coach, following the departure of Justin Fuente, who took the vacant post at Virginia Tech. The Memphis Tigers (9-3) will be led by interim coach Darrell Dickey, as he continues to fill in for new head coach Mike Norvell, who will wait until the end of the season to take over.
Auburn, which is 22-15-2 all-time in bowl games, will be looking to win its first bowl since 2011 in addition to handing the SEC Conference its fourth successive Birmingham Bowl titles. Memphis, in the meantime, is seeking to win 10 games in a season for the second straight year, after doing it for the first time last year.
KEY PLAYERS: Memphis will be led by quarterback Paxton Lynch, who is being backed as a possible No. 1 NFL draft pick — passed for a school-record 3,670 yards and 28 touchdowns against three picks, during the regular season, while he completed 69 percent of his passed and QBR of 80.9. He passed for seven first-half throws in the one-sided 63-0 regular season finale against SMU and completed nine passes for 222 yards.
For Auburn (6-6), running back Peyton Barber will be one of the team’s main threat on offense. Barber has run for 976 yards and 13 touchdowns this season and has a combined 1,085 yards total on the term. Defensive back Jonathan Ford will also be vital for the Tigers. He leads the team with 113 tackles this campaign.
Belk Bowl – Watch Live on ESPN @ 3:30 p.m.: Mississippi State (8-4) will start as a 7-point favorite to take down North Carolina State (7-5) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. The Bulldogs struggled in patches this term, but are ready to close-out the season with a win in a school-record sixth straight bowl appearance. Mississippi State is also looking to win nine games for the second straight year for the first time in program history.
KEY PLAYERS: Quarterback Dak Prescott will be making his final appearance for the Bulldogs and he will conclude one of the most distinguished careers in school history. Prescott enters this game as one of four players in FBS history to pass for 60 touchdowns and rushed for 40 TDs in his career and he will be hoping to add to that tally on Wednesday. The senior has tossed for 3,413 yards and 25 TDs this season while rushing for another 541 yards and a team-high 10 TDs.
For NC State, QB Jacoby Brissett will also be playing his final college football game when he takes the pitch in Belk Bowl in this matchup. He’s passed for 2,448 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. tight end/running back Jaylen Samuels has 64 catches so far for 599 yards and seven touchdowns, and has also run for 315 yards and seven more TDs while averaging 5.9 yards per carry.
The Wolfpack are 3-2 all-time against Mississippi State, but their last meeting was in 1994. Mississippi State is 10-8 in bowl games.
Holiday Bowl – Watch Live on ESPN @ 10:30 p.m.: No. 25 USC (8-5) and Wisconsin will battle at the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA, with the Trojans seeking their second straight year Holiday Bowl. USC, which fell 41-22 to Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game on Dec 5, is favored by 3.5 points to lift the title again. The Badgers (9-3) who are making their first trip in this bowl, will be trying to win back-to-back bowls after beating Auburn in overtime in the Outback Bowl last season.
This will be the first meeting between the schools since 1966, while USC, which won a pair of Rose Bowls against Wisconsin in 1953 and 1963, leads the series 6-0.
KEY PLAYERS: USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has taken 85 catches for 1,389 yards and 10 touchdowns this season and comes in as one of the main contributors for his team, despite slowing down a bit over the last few weeks of the regular fixtures. He’s expected to be fresh and ready to go again. QB Cody Kessler, who was the 2014 Holiday Bowl Offensive MVP, has thrown for 3,315 yards and 28 TDs this campaign.
For the Badgers, wide receiver Alex Erickson has 924 receiving yards season and is just 76 away from becoming just the fourth player in school history to reach 1,000-yard reception for a season. Senior QB Joel Stave has passed for 2,470 yards this term and 10 touchdowns. He’s thrown for 7,418 yards and 47 TDs in his career.
Complete College Bowl Games Schedule
December 30, 2015
Auburn vs. Memphis, Noon, ESPN
North Carolina State vs Mississippi State, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Music City Bowl:
Texas A&M vs. Louisville, 7 p.m., ESPN
No. 25 USC vs. Wisconsin, 10:30 p.m., ESPN