Ohio State-Utah in Rose Bowl headlines New Year's Six matchups
The festivities begin with the Peach Bowl between No. 12 Pitt and No. 10 Michigan State in Atlanta on Dec. 30. The Rose Bowl will be played in its traditional Jan. 1 time slot, while the Fiesta Bowl featuring No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 9 Oklahoma State and the Sugar Bowl featuring No. 8 Ole Miss and No. 7 Baylor will end the day.
Here's how each matchup stacks up.
Peach Bowl: Pitt vs. Michigan State (Dec. 30)
ACC champion Pitt squares off with Michigan State in the first New Year's Six Bowl of the season on Dec. 30 in Atlanta. It's a reunion of sorts for Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi, who served as the Spartans' defensive coordinator from 2007-2014.
The battle to watch in this contest is Pitt star quarterback Kenny Pickett against Michigan State's passing defense. The Spartans rank 87th in the country in passer rating allowed, while Pickett is seventh in the nation in that stat among all Power 5 signal-callers.
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Notre Dame (Jan. 1)
Two teams that narrowly missed out on the playoff will meet on New Year's Day in Arizona when Notre Dame and Oklahoma State lock horns. It will be Marcus Freeman's first game as Fighting Irish head coach after he took the role following Brian Kelly's surprising departure to LSU.
The matchup should be a low-scoring affair between two of the nation's best defensive units. The Cowboys enter the contest ranked third in the nation in yards allowed per play, while Notre Dame has only allowed only two total touchdowns in its last four games.
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Utah (Jan. 1)
Ohio State would much rather be playing for a national championship, but a Rose Bowl crown would be a worthy consolation prize. Ryan Day's talented outfit will head west for a New Year's Day battle with red-hot Utah.
The Utes come into the game after hammering Oregon for the second time in three weeks to win the Pac-12 title - the same Ducks team that stormed into Columbus in Week 2 to shock Ohio State. How Utah's top-20 defense fares against the high-powered Buckeyes will likely be the deciding factor in Pasadena.
Sugar Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Baylor (Jan. 1)
Lane Kiffin and Dave Aranda were highly coveted names on the college coaching carousel, but both opted to remain and sign extensions with Ole Miss and Baylor, respectively. These two programs now will meet in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.
This game should be decided on the ground, with both teams ranking in the top 30 nationally in rushing yards per contest. It also serves as a farewell for Ole Miss star quarterback Matt Corral before he departs for the NFL draft.
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