College football: Today's bowl preview capsules

Published: Saturday, Jan. 1 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

Outback Bowl

Penn State (7-5) vs. Florida (7-5)

11 a.m. (ABC)

Series record: Florida leads 2-0.

What's at stake: Penn State is appearing in its 37th postseason game under Joe Paterno, the all-time leader in bowl wins with 24. Florida, meanwhile, will be playing its last game under Urban Meyer, who resigned Dec. 8 because of health concerns and to spend more time with his family.

Key matchup: Florida's spread offense against a Penn State defense that's allowed at least 24 points in each of the Nittany Lions' five losses.

Facts & figures: Penn State is appearing in a New Year's bowl game for the 25th time under Paterno. The Nittany Lions are 17-7 in those appearances, including a 3-0 record in the Outback Bowl. ... The only other times Florida and Penn State have faced each other were the 1962 Gator Bowl and 1998 Citrus Bowl. ... It's Florida's 38th bowl appearance. The Gators are 18-19, including 4-1 under Meyer.

Ticket City Bowl

Northwestern (7-5) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)

10 a.m. (ESPNU)

Series record: First meeting.

What's at stake: Northwestern hasn't won a bowl game since its very first, the 1949 Rose Bowl. Texas Tech can wrap up a three-game winning streak to end coach Tommy Tuberville's first season since he took over for Mike Leach.

Key matchup: Wildcats' DE Vince Browne and DT Corbin Bryant will need to put pressure on Red Raiders QB Taylor Potts, while CB Jordan Mabin and S Brian Peters will need to prowl the secondary.

Facts & figures: This is the first ever TicketCity Bowl, bringing college football back to the Cotton Bowl stadium after a one-year absence. Only the Rose Bowl has hosted more college bowl games.

Capital One Bowl

No. 15 Alabama (9-3) vs. No. 7 Michigan State (11-1)

11 a.m. (ESPN)

Series record: First meeting.

What's at stake: Michigan State is looking to prove it belonged in a BCS bowl after sharing the Big Ten title with Wisconsin and Ohio State.

Key matchup: Alabama WR Julio Jones vs. Michigan State secondary. Jones led the Crimson Tide with 75 receptions for 1,084 yards this season. Jones will likely see a lot of one-on-one coverage.

Facts & figures: Alabama coach Nick Saban had stints at Michigan State as an assistant (1984-1987) and as a head coach (1995-1999). He hired current Spartans coach Mark Dantonio as a defensive backs coach while he was there. ... Alabama is making its NCAA-record 58th bowl game appearance. ... This is the second time Alabama has been to the Capital One Bowl, formerly known as the Florida Citrus Bowl. ... The Spartans have not won a bowl game since beating Fresno State 44-35 in the 2001 Silicon Valley Football Classic.

Gator Bowl

No. 21 Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Michigan (7-5)

11:30 a.m. (ESPN2)

Series record: First meeting.

What's at stake: Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez might be able to save his job with a resounding victory, although athletic director Dave Brandon has offered no guarantees.

Key matchup: Mississippi State's defense vs. Denard Robinson. The Bulldogs defended Auburn's Cam Newton relatively well in September, holding the Heisman Trophy winner to 136 yards passing and 70 yards rushing.

Facts & figures: Michigan has lost five of its last seven games this season. ... The Wolverines are back in a bowl game after missing out the past two years. ... Mississippi State has won three consecutive bowl games. ... This is Mississippi State's first New Year's Day game since 1999 and the first in Florida since the 1937 Orange Bowl.

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