Three bowl matchups that caught my eye:
1. Chick-fil-A Bowl: Clemson wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins combined for 126 receptions for 1,922 yards and 19 touchdowns. LSU finished ninth in the nation in pass efficiency defense, allowing only 13 touchdowns through the air. The Tigers secondary, rebuilt around safety Eric Reid and corner Tharold Simon, is the rare group that can match Hopkins and Watkins in athleticism.
2. Outback Bowl: the Southeastern Conference had few answers for South Carolina All-American Jadeveon Clowney, the sophomore defensive end who combines size (6-foot-6, 256 pounds) and quickness as few ever have. Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan also has received All-American attention. He’s 6-foot-8, 302 pounds and the leader of a line that allowed only 16 sacks, fewest in the Big Ten. That’s only three more than Clowney got on his own. If the Wolverines can neutralize Clowney, they can neutralize the Gamecock defense.
3. Rose Bowl: Wisconsin needed more than half the season for its traditional power running game to take shape (237.8 yards per game). The offensive line slowly learned to become a unit after head coach Bret Bielema fired the offensive line coach. Tailback Montee Ball got healthy and set an NCAA career record for touchdowns. But the Stanford defensive front is big, physical and deep. The Cardinal allowed fewer than 88 rushing yards per game, third in the nation.