Friday is New Year’s Day. Many of you will have gone a little too hard wishing 2015 a fond farewell the night before and thus will be bound to your couches nursing your first hangovers of 2016. Thankfully, there are bowl games aplenty to get you through this difficult time. Here’s what you need to know, both about the games themselves and your journey toward feeling normal again.
[All times EST, and all rankings from the final College Football Playoff poll. Point spreads taken Thursday morning from VegasInsider.com.]
Who’s playing: No. 13 Northwestern vs. No. 23 Tennessee.
Time, TV: Noon, ESPN2.
Line: Tennessee by 8.
The skinny: The Wildcats have won at least 10 games for just the fourth time ever (and one of those times was in 1903), but the postseason has not been kind to the often-downtrodden program: Northwestern is 2-9 in bowl games, with one of the wins coming in the Rose Bowl after the 1948 season. Both the Wildcats and Volunteers enter on five-game winning streaks. All four of Tennessee’s losses were by seven points or less, and two of the losses came against teams that played in the College Football Playoff semifinals: Oklahoma and Alabama (the Vols led in the fourth quarter of both games, losing to the Sooners in double overtime).
Hangover pairing: A Bloomin’ Onion has enough grease to kill even the most dire hangover. Seems a natural fit with the Outback Bowl.
Who’s playing: No. 14 Michigan vs. No. 19 Florida.
Time, TV: 1 p.m., ABC.
Line: Michigan by 4.
The skinny: Jim Harbaugh led the Wolverines to just their second season with at least nine wins since 2008, riding a defense that ranked fourth nationally at 281.3 yards per game. This might make things a little difficult for the offensively challenged Gators, who ranked 98th nationally at 24.5 points per game. Still, Florida was right behind Michigan in total defense (sixth nationally), which is one reason why the Boys in the Desert have set the over-under for this one at 39 points, the lowest of the postseason. Gators quarterback Treon Harris was sacked roughly once every 10 snaps this season, so Florida’s rushing game (which garnered just 15 yards against Alabama in the SEC title game) will have to do something to relieve the pressure.
Hangover pairing: Orange Tic-Tacs. What exactly did you drink last night, jet fuel?
Who’s playing: No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 8 Notre Dame.
Time, TV: 1 p.m., ESPN.
Line: Ohio State by 6.5.
The skinny: Probably the most anticipated non-playoff bowl game of the year — there are nine AP all-Americans playing, the most of any game — the Buckeyes and Irish were three points and four points, respectively, from possibly making the playoffs themselves (H/t: Associated Press). Ohio State’s lone loss was 17-14 to Michigan State, which knocked them out of the Big Ten title game, while Notre Dame suffered a 24-22 defeat against Clemson and a 38-36 loss to Stanford. Strangely, these two longtime powers from neighboring states have met just six times previously, with the last meeting in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl. The Buckeyes have an eye-popping amount of talent — seven players were named to the all-Big Ten first team — but seemed to sleepwalk at times through games this season, falling behind in six of their 12 games.
Hangover pairing: This one is for all the Tostitos.
Who’s playing: No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 6 Stanford.
Time, TV: 5 p.m., ESPN.
Line: Stanford by 6.
The skinny: The Hawkeyes are making their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1991, and they haven’t won the thing since 1959. The Cardinal, meanwhile, is making its third Rose Bowl appearance in the last four years. All eyes likely will be on Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, who has a college football-record 3,496 all-purpose yards this season — breaking Barry Sanders’s record — and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Alabama’s Derrick Henry. Cardinal Coach David Shaw called McCaffrey, via the AP, “the best player in the nation. It’s not even a debate. I don’t know if that’s even a question. There’s nobody in the nation doing what he’s been doing.” Iowa features cornerback Desmond King, who won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back after leading the Big Ten with eight interceptions.
Hangover pairing: The Rose Bowl refuses to budge from New Year’s Day. You refuse (or are unable) to budge from your couch. Therefore, the correct answer here is more orange Tic-Tacs and Tostitos.
Who’s playing: No. 12 Ole Miss vs. No. 16 Oklahoma State.
Time, TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN.
Line: Ole Miss by 7.
The skinny: The Rebels and Cowboys are meeting for the third time in a bowl game since 2010, with the previous two meetings both won by Ole Miss. Both teams average more than 40 points per game this season — and the Cowboys allow nearly 30 per game — so expect some scoring (the over-under is 68, highest of the New Year’s Day bowls). As of Thursday morning, Oklahoma State wasn’t saying whether quarterback Mason Rudolph will play after suffering a broken foot that reportedly required surgery against Oklahoma in November. “I guess the best way to explain it is we’ll have both of them at our disposal to use however we need to in the game,” Coach Mike Gundy said coyly Wednesday, referring to Rudolph and backup J.W. Walsh, who played in all 12 games and compiled 13 touchdown passes and 11 rushing touchdowns.
Hangover pairing: Abita and a muffaletta. Time to get back on that horse.