New Mexico (7-5) vs. Arizona (6-6)
Kickoff: 2 p.m., University Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.
Line: Arizona by 8
Series record: Arizona, 43-20-3
What’s at stake: New Mexico, 3-7-1 in bowl games, is in its first bowl game since 2007 and is coming off years of turmoil. Arizona, plagued by injuries this year, is making its 20th postseason appearance, their fourth consecutive under coach Rich Rodriguez, and has a bowl record of 8-10-1.
Key matchup: New Mexico’s triple-option threat versus Arizona’s up-tempo air attack. The Lobos are ranked ninth nationally for rushing offense, averaging 246.6 yards. The Wildcats have 37 offensive plays or 30 or more yards this season, which is ranked 13th among FBS teams. Under Rich Rodriguez, Arizona is 26-2 when leading at halftime.
Players to watch: New Mexico — Running back Jhurell Pressley leads the Lobos with 846 rushing yards and has 35 career touchdowns. Wide receiver Carlos Wiggins was second in the Mountain West in kickoff return average at 28.8 yards. Arizona — The Wildcats have a trio of 500-yard rushers, Nick Wilson, Jared Baker, and Jerrard Randall, for the first time since 1991. Linebacker Scooby Wright, who has hardly played this season because of nagging injuries, is expected to suit up for the bowl.
BYU (9-3) vs. No. 20 Utah (9-3, No. 22 CFP)
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
Line: Utah by 2
Series record: Utah leads 57-34-4
What’s at stake: This will be BYU’s final game under coach Bronco Mendenhall after 11 seasons at the helm. He’s going for his 100th win before leaving to take over at Virginia. Utah, which started 6-0 and once was ranked No. 3 in the country, is trying to finish off a once-promising season on the right note.
Key matchup: BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum was one of the most-talked-about players early in the college football season. The strong-armed freshman has thrown for 3,062 yards, 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Utah has the No. 97 pass defense in the country, but is opportunistic with 19 interceptions — tied for seventh-most in the country.
Players to watch: BYU — DE Bronson Kaufusi. The senior defensive lineman is seventh in the nation with 11.5 sacks and is fifth on the team with 55 tackles. He may be the top NFL prospect on the roster. Utah — QB Travis Wilson. The offense is heavily reliant on the senior quarterback, especially with running back Devontae Booker out. The 6-7, 233-pound Wilson is the reigning Las Vegas Bowl MVP and holds the school record for quarterback starts and ranks No. 2 with 23 career wins. Consistency, however, has been an issue.
Ohio (8-4) vs. Appalachian St. (10-2)
Kickoff: 5:30 p.m., Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.
Line: Appalachian St. by 7
Series record: First meeting
What’s at stake: A win would give Ohio its highest victory total since 2012. Three-time FCS champion Appalachian State is seeking to make its first bowl trip a successful one.
Key matchup: Appalachian State’s running game vs. Ohio’s defense. The Mountaineers are averaging 268.8 rushing yards per game, sixth nationally. Ohio is allowing 157 yards an outing on the ground but a healthy 4.8 yards per carry. Marcus Cox leads the way for Appalachian State with 1,261 yards and eight touchdowns.
Players to watch: Ohio — QB J.D. Sprague will start for the third straight game after stepping in when Derrius Vick injured an ankle. Sprague led the Bobcats to wins over Ball State and Northern Illinois. Coach Frank Solich didn’t rule out Vick seeing action, too. Appalachian St. — DL Ronald Blair is the Sun Belt defensive player of the year after racking up 18 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.
Georgia State (6-6) vs. San Jose State (5-7)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., Orlando (Fla.) Citrus Bowl
Line: San Jose State by 1
Series record: First meeting.
What’s at stake: Georgia State won four straight and five of its last seven to secure the program’s first bowl appearance in just its sixth year of existence. The Panthers face a San Jose State team that has dropped three of its last four.
Key matchup: Georgia State’s offense vs. San Jose State’s defense. During its current four-game streak, Georgia State is averaging 32.5 points and 508.8 yards of offense per game. It’s opposite a San Jose defensive unit that is ranked second nationally for fewest passing yards allowed per game (153.6). In 2015, the Spartans topped the Football Bowl Subdivision in that category for seven weeks.
Players to watch: Georgia State — QB Nick Arbuckle has thrown for 4,160 yards and 26 touchdowns. He averages 346.7 yards passing per game to rank sixth among all FBS players. San Jose State — RB Tyler Ervin has rushed for 1,469 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also has 44 catches for 337 yards and two scores.
Louisiana Tech (8-4) vs. Arkansas State (9-3)
Kickoff: 9 p.m., Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Line: Louisiana Tech by 2
Series record: Louisiana Tech leads 25-12
What’s at stake: Louisiana Tech seeks a second straight bowl victory. Arkansas State aims for its third bowl victory in four seasons.
Key matchup: Arkansas State’s running game comes out of multiple formations, which averages 236.7 yards per game, against Louisiana Tech’s stout interior defensive line led by NFL prospect Vernon Butler. Tech is allowing 114.8 yards rushing per game.
Players to watch: Louisiana Tech — Senior RB Kenneth Dixon enters the game with 83 career TDs, tied with Wisconsin’s Montee Ball (2009-12) for second most all-time in the FBS. Only Navy’s Keenan Reynolds (2012-present) has more, with 85. Dixon is also 32 yards rushing from being the first player in Louisiana Tech history to rush for 1,000 yards three times. Arkansas State — Senior DB Rocky Hayes has six interceptions this season and was named All-Sun Belt Conference.