'New Year's Six' bowls offer compelling individual matchups
It isn't just the quality of the teams that make the best bowl games so intriguing.
Each of these spotlight games also offers plenty of compelling individual matchups.
As the bowl season prepares to ring in the new year with its top games of the postseason, here's a look at noteworthy individual matchup in each of the so-called ''New Year's Six'' contests on Wednesday and Thursday.
Peach Bowl: TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin vs. Mississippi cornerback Senquez Golson. Boykin has gained 363 yards of total offense per game and has thrown 30 touchdown passes with only seven interceptions. He finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting and was the second-team quarterback on the Associated Press All-America team. Boykin must avoid throwing to Golson, a first-team All-America cornerback whose nine interceptions rank second among all Football Bowl Subdivision players. Golson clinched Ole Miss' victory over Alabama with an interception in the end zone.
Fiesta Bowl: Boise State running back Jay Ajayi vs. Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright. Ajayi, a junior who already has announced he's entering the draft after this game, has rushed for 1,689 yards and 25 touchdowns. He averages 13.4 points per game to match Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon for the FBS scoring lead. Boise State is 9-0 this season when Ajayi rushes for at least 100 yards. Wright already has stopped many opposing running backs this year. The All-America linebacker has 153 overall tackles and leads all FBS players with 27 tackles for loss. Wright also has six forced fumbles and 14 sacks.
Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas vs. Mississippi State linebacker Benardrick McKinney. Thomas makes Georgia Tech's option attack go and has thrown 17 touchdown passes while also rushing for 965 yards and five more scores this season. Thomas will spend much of the Orange Bowl trying to stay away from McKinney, a three-year starter who earned second-team All-America honors from the AP this season.
Cotton Bowl: Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman vs. Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes. Coleman has 57 receptions for 969 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing the first three games of Baylor's season with a hamstring injury. He caught at least one touchdown pass in eight straight games at one point this year. Waynes, selected as a third-team All-America cornerback by the AP, has three interceptions and seven pass breakups this season
Rose Bowl: Florida State wide receiver Rashad Greene vs. Oregon cornerback Troy Hill. Greene, a second-team AP All-America selection, is the Seminoles' all-time leader in career catches (264) and receiving yards (3,771). He has a school-record 93 receptions this season. In the College Football Playoff semifinals, Greene will face an Oregon secondary that's missing injured All-America cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. That means Greene likely will be lining up against Hill, who is tied for fourth among all FBS players with 16 pass breakups this season.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama offensive tackles Cam Robinson and Austin Shepherd vs. Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa: Alabama's biggest task on offense in its playoff semifinal will be trying to contain Bosa, a first-team All-America defensive end who has 13 1/2 sacks and 20 tackles for loss to lead the Big Ten in both categories. Bosa could line up against each of Alabama's tackles at various points in the game. Robinson has started at left tackle all season as a true freshman. Shepherd, the first-team right tackle, has allowed only two sacks in 26 career starts. Alabama's entire team has yielded only 13 sacks this season, the lowest total in the Southeastern Conference.