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Big Ten Bowl Preview

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The reduced bowl slate still offers some compelling match-ups.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Ohio State vs Clemson Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Wed., Dec. 30

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Wake Forest (4-4) vs. Wisconsin (3-3)
Noon, ESPN

Wisconsin has not been its usual self on either side of the ball, and a narrow 20-17 victory against Minnesota prevented a four-game losing streak to end the season. Wake Forest pulled out a couple gritty wins against Virginia and Virginia Tech earlier in the season, but have not won a game since Oct. 31. Even in a down year, I’ll go with the .500 Big Ten team over a .500 ACC squad.
Prediction: Wisconsin-23, Wake Forest-20

*The Music City Bowl, originally scheduled for 4 p.m. on Dec. 30 between (#15)Iowa and Missouri, has been canceled.

Fri., Jan. 1

Citrus Bowl

(#14)Northwestern (6-2) vs. Auburn (6-4)
1 p.m., ABC

Northwestern gave an inspired effort in the Big Ten Championship before ultimately being worn down by the Buckeyes. They should meet this game with the same intensity with the chance to cap off a division championship with a Citrus Bowl victory against an SEC foe. Auburn is in the midst of an abrupt transition after replacing Gus Malzahn with Bryan Harsin from Boise State. Unless the Tigers can get the offense moving early, I like the Wildcats to grind out a close victory.
Prediction: Northwestern-20, Auburn-16

Sugar Bowl

(#3)Ohio State (6-0) vs. (#2)Clemson (10-1)
8 p.m., ESPN

Yet another showdown between these two perennial conference champs, a year after Clemson came back to stun the Buckeyes after giving up an early 16-0 lead in an instant classic. As talented as the Buckeyes are, you have to think that last year was their chance to beat Clemson with Chase Young and J.K. Dobbins on the roster. Ohio State will need a huge performance from Justin Fields, who is trying to quickly recover from a wrist injury in the Big Ten Championship, and who has looked more human in recent weeks. Clemson will be able to move the ball against the Buckeyes offense, and with the better defense, will be able to provide the necessary key stops to advance to the national title game.
Prediction: Clemson-41, Ohio State-33

Sat., Jan. 2

Outback Bowl

(#11)Indiana (6-1) vs. Ole Miss (4-5)
12:30 p.m., ABC

Ole Miss may come in with a losing record, but they are a dangerous team that can light up the scoreboard. After a 1-4 start, Ole Miss took advantage of the schedule lightening up and nearly ended the season on a four-game winning streak if not for last-second loss at LSU to close out the regular season. Indiana will come in determined to keep defying expectations by finishing with just one-loss (by a touchdown to Ohio State) and ending its best season in decades in the top 10. This should be one of the most entertaining bowl games on this season’s reduced slate.
Prediction: Indiana-38, Ole Miss-34