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"New Year's Bowls" Morning Open Thread

Well, the New Year's Bowls are not on New Year's today. Instead, they are on January 2. It is still a national holiday, so you get to slowly get fatter and enjoy the games. There are 4 games in the morning here to enjoy. The TicketCity Bowl, the Gator Bowl, the Capital One Bowl, and the Outback Bowl. There are two more games this evening, the Rose Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl. They will get their own open thread.

For now, let's look at these morning games. The first game is the TicketCity bowl, matching Houston and PSU:

In almost any other season, winning nine games and falling just short of playing for the Big Ten title would earn a program like Penn State a spot in one of the conference’s more sought-after bowl destinations.

For the 24th-ranked Nittany Lions, though, this was a season unlike any other.

In the wake of one of the ugliest scandals in college sports history, Penn State’s relegation to the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas on Jan. 2 still provides an intriguing matchup as one of the nation’s top defenses tries to slow record-breaking quarterback Case Keenum and No. 20 Houston.

More info on this morning's games after the jump!

The next game is the Urban Meyer Bowl, aka the Gator Bowl, which matchesOhio State and Florida:

For one year, perhaps the Gator Bowl should be renamed the Urban Meyer Bowl.

The former Florida coach and future Ohio State boss won’t even be on the sidelines Jan. 2 in Jacksonville, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be the talk of the town as these marquee-but-struggling programs square off for the first time since the Gators routed the Buckeyes in the BCS championship game five years ago.

Meyer led Florida to two national titles in just six seasons in Gainesville, capturing the first by virtue of a 41-14 win over previously undefeated Ohio State on Jan. 8, 2007.

Next up, we have the Capital One Bowl, matching Nebraska and South Carolina:

South Carolina is one victory away from the winningest season in its history. To achieve that, the Gamecocks will need to overcome one of college football’s most storied programs - and one neither they nor their coach have defeated.

No. 10 South Carolina takes a stifling defense and an up-and-coming quarterback into Orlando on Jan. 2 to face No. 21 Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl.

Steve Spurrier’s teams have never posted a losing record since he became coach at South Carolina in 2005, and he has taken the program to new heights in his seventh year. The Gamecocks (10-2) have matched the 1984 team for the most wins in the 118-year history of the program, finished SEC play with a school-best 6-2 record and defeated all five of their East Division rivals.

Finally for this thread, we have the Outback Bowl, which matches up Michigan State and Georgia:

For the first time since the 1987 season, Michigan State finished alone with the Big Ten’s best regular-season record.

But after a tough loss in the conference’s inaugural championship game, the 12th-ranked Spartans will have to settle for another trip to Florida rather than a Rose Bowl appearance.

Michigan State seeks its first postseason victory under coach Mark Dantonio when it faces No. 18 Georgia in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2 in Tampa.

Leave all your thoughts in the comments. GO BEARS!