December 30, a Wednesday, was a nice day for some good bowl games, with Wisconsin snatching the Holiday Bowl away from USC, Auburn having something of a home game against Memphis, Mississippi State beating North Carolina State in Charlotte and Louisville making the Texas A&M season miserable in its finish too.
#25 USC (8-6) 21 Wisconsin (10-3) 23 (Holiday Bowl): Paul Chryst finishes his first season as the head coach of the Badgers with a nice bowl win in California over USC thanks to a Rafael Gaglianone field goal with 2:27 to go. Joel Stave managed to stay away from mistakes and even throw a touchdown pass, while Corey Clement ran for a touchdown. Cody Kessler looked bad with a TD and interception while his offensive line did a poor job of protecting him all game long.
Auburn (7-6) 31 Memphis (9-4) 10 (Birmingham Bowl): Auburn got to play in their own state and finish a bad season with a little something to smile about, and also win their first bowl game under Gus Malzahn. The Tigers (the Auburn ones) stuck to running the ball, finishing with 251 yards on the ground, including 126 with one touchdown from Jovon Robinson. Memphis were held to just 207 yards, and didn’t score a single point in the second half.
North Carolina State (7-6) 28 Mississippi State (9-4) 51 (Belk Bowl): A quiet year for the Bulldogs, who got to finish in style in Charlotte with an impressive win over the Wolfpack, getting a big day from Dak Prescott on his final collegiate game. He threw four touchdown passes and finished with 380 yards, while also leading a rushing effort that yielded 189 yards for the team. NCSU did put up some nice numbers, but they only started rolling after falling 0-21 behind.
Texas A&M Aggies (8-5) 21 Louisville (8-5) 27 (Music City Bowl): Bobby Petrino gets to lead Louisville to a bowl game victory for the first time since the Orange Bowl in 2006 (went through a few things since then), beating an Aggies team with Jake Hubenak playing quarterback, and mostly unable to stop Lamar Jackson. It was a year of growing pains for Jackson and the Cardinals, but he finished with two throwing touchdowns (227 passing yards) and two more rushing touchdowns, rushing for 226.
It’s a big day. December 31 is upon us, which means the foreplay is done with. There’s the Peach Bowl with Houston and Florida State going at it, but the main event(s) are the college football playoff semifinals: First#4 Oklahoma against #1 Clemson followed by #3 Michigan State taking on #2 Alabama.