It used to be must-see TV, with every big bowl game having a time slot on New Year's Day, including the bowl that would decide the national champion. More often than not, it was the Granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl, or the Orange Bowl later that night.
Now, the Orange and Cotton bowls are played two days after New Year's, and the BCS championship game is next week. So instead of starting with the Cotton Bowl like we used to, you can watch three games at noon, and another beginning at 1 p.m. That leaves just enough time after those games to have your pork and sauerkraut, which has been simmering all day in a slow cooker, before the Rose Bowl, maybe the best matchup outside of the championship game, at 5 p.m.
Today's bowl lineup:
TAXSLAYER.COM GATOR BOWL
Who: Nebraska (8-4) vs. Georgia (8-4)
When/where/TV: Noon, Jacksonville, Fla., ESPN2
Cornhuskers and Bulldogs are back at it after Georgia won last year's matchup in the Capital One Bowl 45-31. Nebraska is riding a three-game bowl losing streak and seeks to avoid its first five-loss campaign in Bo Pelini's six seasons.
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL
Who: UNLV (7-5) vs. North Texas (8-4)
When/where/TV: Noon, Dallas, Tex., ESPNU
North Texas returns to the postseason after a 12 year drought and the Mean Green aren't traveling far, down the road to Dallas. The key matchup is North Texas' run defense, which yielded 125 yards per game, against UNLV running back Tim Cornett, who has 1,251 yards and 15 touchdowns.
CAPITAL ONE BOWL
Who: Wisconsin (9-3) vs. South Carolina (10-2)
When/where/TV: Noon, Orlando, Fla., ABC
This is a point-of-attack game, with the Gamecocks' defensive front meeting the Wisconsin running game, led by Melvin Gordon and James White and a stout offensive line. The Badgers were tripped up in their finale against Penn State, and South Carolina took care of business against Clemson. The SEC has won four of the last five Capital One meetings.
Who: Iowa (8-4) vs. LSU (9-3)
When/where/TV: 1 p.m., Tampa, Fla., ESPN
The only other game between these programs ended on a long Iowa touchdown pass on the game's final play in the 2005 Capital One Bowl. It also was Nick Saban's final game at LSU's coach. Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger is out with a knee injury, and the Tigers will need more from the running game, led by Jeremy Hill. Freshman Anthony Jennings is expected to get his first start at quarterback for the Tigers.
Who: Stanford (11-2) vs. Michigan State (12-1)
When/where/TV: 5 p.m., Pasadena, Calif., ESPN
In an old school venue (Rose Bowl), the Spartans and Cardinal look to play some defensive-minded football. They both rank near the top nationally in scoring defense, but both quarterbacks — Stanford's Kevin Hogan and Michigan State's Connor Cook — upped their games in conference championship victories.
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL
Who: Central Florida (11-1) vs. Baylor (11-1)
When/where/TV: 8:30 p.m., Glendale, Ariz., ESPN
This may be a more competitive game than you think, if Central regains its early season form. The Golden Knights struggled to put away non-bowl teams Temple, South Florida and SMU down the stretch to clinch the first American Athletic Conference championship. Baylor beat Texas to win its first Big 12 title. The quarterbacks, Baylor's Bryce Petty and Central's Blake Bortles, were among college football's most productive.
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