Why to watch: The Bearcats went 9-3 under first-year coach Tommy Tuberville, and the Tar Heels finally seemed to figure out second-year coach Larry Fedora's spread offense in the second half of the season. After a 1-5 start, the Tar Heels won five of their last six games to become bowl-eligible. Both offenses are capable of producing plenty of explosive plays.
Who to watch: North Carolina sophomore Marquise Williams took over for injured Bryn Renner in November, and helped guide the Tar Heels to five consecutive victories before losing to Duke 27-25 in the regular-season finale. Williams completed 58.2 percent of his passes for 1,527 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions, while running for 490 yards with six scores.
Motivating factor for Cincinnati: The Bearcats can win their third consecutive bowl game for only the second time in school history. They defeated Duke 48-34 in the Belk Bowl last season.
Motivating factor for North Carolina: UNC has never won a bowl game in its home state, losing three times in the game played in Charlotte. UNC lost twice in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, 31-30 to West Virginia in 2008 and 19-17 to Pittsburgh in 2009.
Pick: Cincinnati 28, North Carolina 27
Miami vs. Louisville, Dec. 28 (ESPN, 6:45 p.m. ET)
Why to watch: Both teams were ranked in the top 10 of the polls at one point this season, but fell short of winning their respective leagues. ACC fans can get a sneak peak at the Cardinals, who are leaving the AAC for the ACC next season. It also might be the final college game for Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a Miami native, who committed to the Hurricanes before signing with Louisville.
Who to watch: ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay rank Bridgewater as the No. 1 quarterback and No. 8 prospect overall available for next spring's NFL draft. Bridgewater completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 3,523 yards with 28 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions in 382 pass attempts. Bridgewater, who is scheduled to graduate from Louisville on Thursday, told ESPN's Brett McMurphy that he's undecided on entering the NFL draft or returning to Louisville for his senior season in 2014.
Motivating factor for Miami: The Hurricanes haven't played in the postseason since losing to Notre Dame 33-17 in the 2010 Sun Bowl. After a self-imposed, two-year bowl ban because of NCAA sanctions, Miami will try to end a three-game losing streak in the postseason. The Hurricanes haven't won a bowl game since beating Nevada 21-20 in the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl.
Motivating factor for Louisville: The Cardinals were one victory away from winning the AAC and playing in a BCS bowl game in their final season in the league. The Cardinals can win 12 games in a season for only the second time in school history; they also finished 12-1 under coach Bobby Petrino in 2006.
Pick: Louisville 28, Miami 24
Michigan vs. Kansas State, Dec. 28 (ESPN, 10:15 p.m. ET)
Why to watch: Both teams were disappointments and finished 7-5 this season. Kansas State might be the more motivated team, after winning five of its past six games following a 2-4 start. The Wolverines limp into Tempe, Ariz., having lost five of their past six games.