Northwestern vs. Tennessee
Kickoff: Noon, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
Records: No. 12 Northwestern 10-2, Tennessee 8-4
Line: Tennessee by 8
Series: Tennessee leads 1-0
What’s at stake: A victory would give Northwestern 11 wins for the first time in program history.
Key matchup: Tennessee dual-threat QB Joshua Dobbs against a tough, physical Northwestern defense that ranks third in the nation in passing efficiency defense and 11th in total defense. Dobbs has thrown for 2,125 yards and 15 TDs, with just five INTs, and has rushed for 625 yards and nine TDs this season.
Players to watch: Northwestern — Sophomore RB Justin Jackson rushed for 1,344 yards, after 1,187 yards a year ago. Tennessee — Sophomore TB Jalen Hurd rushed for 1,158 yards and 11 TDs for the Volunteers, and WRs Von Pearson and Alvin Kamara totaled 67 catches.
Ohio State vs. Notre Dame
Kickoff: 1 p.m., Cardinals Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Records: No. 7 Ohio State 11-1, No. 8 Notre Dame 10-2
Line: Ohio State by 6
Series: Ohio State leads 3-2
What’s at stake: Two teams that were in the mix for a College Football Playoff spot late in the season try to close on a winning note.
Key matchup: Ohio State DE Joey Bosa, projected as the No. 1 pick in some mock drafts, vs. big, mobile Notre Dame T Ronnie Stanley. The Buckeyes like to move Bosa around, so he won’t be going head to head with Stanley on every play, but pay attention when they do.
Players to watch: Oho State — Junior RB Ezekiel Elliott will be playing his last game for the Buckeyes after rushing for 1,672 yards and 19 TDs, and will want to go out a high note. Notre Dame — WR Will Fuller, a second-team All-American, averaged 20.5 yards per catch this season, finishing with 1,145 yards and 13 TDs, including seven of at least 45 yards.
Iowa vs. Stanford
Kickoff: 5 p.m., Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Records: No. 5 Iowa 12-1, No. 6 Stanford 12-1
Line: Stanford by 6
Series: First meeting
What’s at stake: Iowa hasn’t been to the Rose Bowl in 25 years, while Stanford is in Pasadena for the third time in four postseasons.
Key matchup: Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey vs. Iowa LBs Josey Jewell and Cole Fisher. The Heisman Trophy finalist was Stanford’s leading rusher and receiver while gaining more total yards than anybody in college football history. Jewell and Fisher keyed an Iowa defense yielding just 114.9 yards rushing per game.
Players to watch: Stanford — LB Blake Martinez, the Pac-12’s leading tackler, is eager to go out with a bang after making just one tackle in his first two bowl appearances. Iowa — QB C.J. Beathard saw his perfect record as a starter ended in the Big Ten title game, and he wants to be the first Hawkeyes quarterback to win the Rose Bowl since 1959.
Oklahoma State vs. Mississippi
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., Superdome, New Orleans
Records: No. 13 Oklahoma state 10-2, No. 16 Mississippi 9-3
Line: Mississippi by 7
Series: Mississippi leads 2-0
What’s at stake: Mississippi (No. 12 CFP) wants to prove that it’s one of the better teams in the country following an up-and-down regular season. Ditto, Oklahoma State (No. 16 CFP), which won its first 10 games.
Key matchup: Mississippi LT Laremy Tunsil vs. Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah. Tunsil has been terrific protecting QB Chad Kelly’s blind side over the past five games since returning from a 7-game NCAA suspension. Ogbah is the NCAA’s active career leader in sacks with 28.
Players to watch: Mississippi — QB Chad Kelly has thrown for 3,740 yards with 27 TDs and 12 INTs this season, generally improving as the year has progressed. He’s also run for 427 yards and 10 TDs. Oklahoma State — WR James Washington caught 52 passes for 1,077 yards (nearly 21-yard average) and 10 TDs.