How to watch Michigan-Florida, South Carolina-Virginia | News Coverage from USA

How to watch Michigan-Florida, South Carolina-Virginia

You know all about Saturday’s marquee games as the College Football Playoff kicks off with the semifinals: Clemson-Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl and Alabama-Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. But the rest of Saturday’s bowl schedule sets up for plenty of drama as well.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Michigan (10-2) vs. Florida (9-3)

Time, TV: Noon ET, ESPN

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta

Reasons to watch

Michigan is playing on Dec. 29, but not the game it thought it would be. It’s College Football Playoff Saturday, and the Wolverines were wins away against Ohio State and Northwestern from going to the Orange Bowl to play Alabama. This game now becomes a referendum on the season and the Jim Harbaugh era. Blowing away Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan State was terrific, but the team didn’t pass the biggest tests against Notre Dame and Ohio State. A victory wouldn’t make things much better, but it would keep the offseason from being really rough.

The Gators were coming off a lifeless season under Jim McElwain, but Dan Mullen changed things in a hurry with more of an offensive spark to go with the terrific defense. The Gators are playing with house money, going from 4-7 to 9-3, but a win would be a massive statement. Lose, and whatever — Mullen is turning the program around.

Players to watch

QB Shea Patterson, Michigan: He never faced Florida in his few years at Mississippi. He stepped in at Michigan and was exactly what the team needed, completing 65 percent of his throws with 21 touchdowns and five picks spread throughout the season. 

QB Feleipe Franks, Florida: He put up a good season, completing 59 percent of his passes for 2,284 yards and 23 scores with six picks and rushing for 276 yards and six TDs, but the offense hasn’t exploded quite yet. After two losses in a row, he led a massive comeback against South Carolina on the way to a three-game winning streak. He’s not spectacular, but he doesn’t make mistakes. 

Belk Bowl

South Carolina (7-5) vs. Virginia (7-5)

Time, TV: Noon ET, ABC

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina

Reasons to watch

Can Virginia keep pushing after a decent season? The fan base had some fun on the way to a 6-2 start, but ACC title dreams quickly ended with losses in three of the last four games. This is a good, sound team that came up with a great win over Miami and rocked Duke.

South Carolina’s 7-5 record isn’t what the fans wanted, but the losses came against Georgia (CFP good), at Kentucky (shockingly good), Texas A&M (close battle with a strong team), at Florida (collapse to a great team) and at Clemson (in the CFP). It’s been a strange season with early blowouts, late blowouts and several good battles. If nothing else, the Gamecocks aren’t boring.

Players to watch

QB Jake Bentley, South Carolina: He throws a few too many interceptions, but he built off his brilliant comeback win over Michigan in last year’s Outback Bowl to come out as a 250-yard passing machine. Throwing for more than 10 yards per pass in November, he has to be great.

QB Bryce Perkins, Virginia: The Arizona State transfer turned out to be the perfect fit, completing 64 percent of his chances for nearly 2,500 yards and 22 TDs with nine picks, and rushing for 842 yards and nine TDs. He carried the team at times and cut down on his interceptions with just two in the final six games after throwing seven in the first six. After losing a fumble late in the loss to Virginia Tech, this is his shot to make amends.

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl

Arkansas State (8-4) vs. Nevada (7-5)

Time, TV: 1:15 p.m. ET, CBSSN

Arizona Stadium, Tucson

Reasons to watch

Arkansas State didn’t have the season it was hoping for, but it rolled to wins in five of its last six games, including its last four. It has a dangerous offense; the Red Wolves scored 31 points or more in each of their last six games.

Nevada quietly had a strong season under second-year coach Jay Norvell. The Wolf Pack won four in a row before losing the rivalry game to UNLV. The Air Raid offense is supposed to be a thing, but instead, the defense was terrific.

Players to watch

QB Ty Gangi, Nevada: The senior came through with his best season, completing 61 percent of his passes for 3,131 yards and 23 TDs and running for 155 yards and three scores. Interceptions were an issue (11), but he finally gets to play in a bowl game. 

QB Justice Hansen, Arkansas State: A statistical superstar, Hansen threw for close to 3,200 yards with 27 TDs and six interceptions and ran for almost 400 yards and six scores. The 6-4, 224-pounder will likely be drafted — he’ll definitely be part of an NFL camp — with good mobility to go with his deep arm. He has thrown one interception in the last six games.

 

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