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New Year’s Day Bowl Games: Open Thread

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Today we preview and cover 4 exciting bowl games including the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. We also preview four outstanding prospects including two dynamic running backs.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 Alabama at Texas A&M Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Greetings Faithful! Happy New Year! Happy New Decade! Happy 2020! I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year’s Eve festivities! We have four exciting games today to get your new off on the right foot. Big programs and a pair of New Year’s Six bowls make this a promising day to tune into. Let’s jump on in to preview each game and meet some prospects to watch on this New Year’s Day!

Citrus Bowl:

How to watch

#13 Alabama (10-2) vs #14 Michigan (9-3)

Date: Wednesday, Jan. 1 | Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Camping World Stadium (Orlando, Florida)
TV: ABC
Follow: CBS Sports App
Line: Alabama -7.5

Prediction:

Alabama v Mississippi State Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

We start with a bang with two big-time national brand programs squaring off in sunny Orlando, Florida. It’s Nick Saban vs. Jim Harbaugh…Bama vs. Michigan…Whether you support these programs or not, you should be excited to tune into this one. Normally I would say proceed with caution if picking Alabama in any postseason contest that doesn’t have a national championship at stake; however, this year feels different. I feel like Bama has something to prove…Yes, even the football factory of college football can enter a game with a chip on its shoulder. Mack Jones is more than just a game manager, and Bama simply has more talent on both sides of the football. If they play to their ability, then Bama wins and covers the spread. Bama wins 42-24.

Prospect Spotlight:

Xavier McKinney, DB, No. 15 – Alabama
Height: 6’1” – Weight: 200 lbs.
2019 Stats: 85 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions.5 passes deflected.

IF McKinney falls towards the backend of the first round, and IF the San Francisco 49ers do not trade out of the first round, then this is a match made in heaven. The 49ers should run to the podium with the selection card — one of my favorite prospects in this upcoming draft. McKinney really is the do-it-all defensive back. He has demonstrated his ability to play in cover 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4. He can play cornerback outside the numbers and play in nickel and dime formations. He is best suited as a free safety but has the stamina to play strong safety as well. His aggressive nature and physical play make his presence known on the field. He is such a fluid and dynamic athlete and reminds me a lot of another former tide player, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Outback Bowl:

How to watch

#18 Minnesota (10-2) vs #12 Auburn (9-3)

Date: Wednesday, Jan. 1 | Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa Bay, Florida)
TV: ESPN
Follow: CBS Sports App
Line: Auburn -7.0

Prediction:

Minnesota v Northwestern Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Bo Nix has been one fun, true freshman quarterback to watch at Auburn this season. Up north, P.J. Fleck as the Golden Gophers “Rowing The Boat” and has nicely turned around the program. Auburn certainly has the biggest win of the two defeating Bama in the Iron Bowl. However, it was the Gophers win against Penn State that was simply electrifying. I’m going with the upset here. Gophers win 34-31.

Prospect Spotlight:

Tyler Johnson, WR, No. 6 , Minnesota
Height: 6’2” – Weight: 200 lbs.
2019 Stats: 74 receptions, 1,114 yards, 11 touchdowns, 15.1 AVG.

Talk about your stock continuing to rise. That is precisely what Tyler Johnson has been doing these last couple of seasons in Minnesota. A smooth route runner with good size and physical traits that evaluators seek at the next level. Has impressive straight-line speed for a receiver of his size, and has demonstrated his ability to gain yards after the reception. Johnson can be dangerous in the open field and after the catch. He looks to always fight for additional yardage. Johnson is a fluid and sound athlete who can line up at multiple spots on the field.

Rose Bowl (New Year’s 6 Bowl):

How to watch

#8 Wisconsin (10-3) vs #6 Oregon (11-2)

Date: Wednesday, Jan. 1 | Time: 5 p.m. ET
Location: Rose Bowl Stadium (Pasadena, California)
TV: ESPN
Follow: CBS Sports App
Line: Wisconsin -2.5

Prediction:

Washington State v Oregon Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

It’s the dynamic offense led by future first-round prospect Justin Herbert against the dynamic defense of Wisconsin. Like most Rose Bowl’s, this one has the makings of being a classic. Like with the Outback Bowl, I will be just a little bold here and go with the upset. I like Oregon, and for a team that was literally on the doorstep of the college football playoff, I think Herbert leaves on a high note. Oregon wins 38-34.

Prospect Spotlight:

Jonathan Taylor, RB, #23 – Wisconsin
Height: 5”11 – Weight: 219 lbs.
2019 Stats: 1,909 yards, 21 touchdowns, 24 receptions, 209 yards, 5 touchdowns.

This isn’t the first time I am highlighting Johnathan Taylor. He really is one of my favorite college football players. Should he slip beyond his draft value, depending on what the 49ers backfield is looking like this offseason, I would keep my eyes on him. Jonathan Taylor has had a successful collegiate career! Taylor has the capabilities, frame, and makeup to be a three-down, pro-ready bruiser at the next level. Hus legs constantly churn, and his contact and power balance allows Taylor to push for additional yardage after initial contact. Taylor has patience and vision along the line, with careful ball security. Taylor has the first-round talent…will he go in the first round is the big question.

Sugar Bowl (New Year’s 6 Bowl):

How to watch

#7 Baylor (11-2) vs #5 Georgia (11-2)

Date: Wednesday, Jan. 1 | Time: 8:45 p.m. ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans, Louisiana)
TV: ESPN
Follow: CBS Sports App
Line: Georgia -5.5
Prediction:

SEC Championship - Georgia v LSU Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

What Georgia team are we getting this time in the Sugar Bowl? Last year’s version against Texas did not seem all that motivated to be in this game. Will this year’s edition bring the heat? If they do, they are the better team. However, Baylor is no push-over, and while I am picking Georgia to win the game, I think the Bears cover the spread. Georgia wins 27-24.

Prospect Spotlight:

D’Andre Swift, RB, #7 – Georgia
Height: 5’9” – Weight: 219 lbs.
2019 Stats: 1,216 yards, 6.2 AVG, 7 touchdowns, 24 receptions, 216 yards, 1 touchdown.

Another prospect who is getting a second spotlight feature from me this year. D’Andre Swift just might be the most elusive running back in the nation. He has outstanding vision and constantly makes the defender miss in open space. Swift constantly finds the creases and holes along the offensive line, and often slips through, and earns additional yardage after the initial contact. Has outstanding straight-line speed in the open field and will turn on the burners the more the plays extends. Like with Taylor, Swift has first-round talent…will he go in the first? We will find out in April…That is if he declares.

Who are YOU excited to see on New Year’s Day? Please share in the comments below!