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College Football Bowl News and Notes

College Football Bowl News and Notes

2007-08 College Football Bowl Schedule
December 2, 2007

All times Eastern

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia
Utah vs. Navy San Diego Dec. 20, 9 p.m. ESPN HD

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Memphis vs. Florida Atlantic New Orleans Dec. 21, 8 p.m. ESPN2 HD Bowl
Southern Miss vs. Cincinnati Birmingham, Ala. Dec. 22, 1 p.m. ESPN2 HD

New Mexico
Nevada vs. New Mexico Albuquerque, N.M. Dec. 22, 4:30 p.m. ESPN HD

Pioneer Las Vegas
UCLA vs. BYU Las Vegas Dec. 22, 8 p.m. ESPN HD

Sheraton Hawaii
Boise State vs. East Carolina Honolulu Dec. 23, 8 p.m. ESPN

Motor City
Purdue vs. Central Michigan Detroit Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m. ESPN HD

Pacific Life Holiday
Arizona State vs. Texas San Diego Dec. 27, 8 p.m. ESPN HD

Champs Sports
Boston College vs. Michigan State Orlando, Fla. Dec. 28, 5 p.m. ESPN HD

TCU vs. Houston Houston Dec. 28, 8 p.m. NFL Network

Maryland vs. Oregon State San Francisco Dec. 28, 8:30 p.m. ESPN HD

Meineke Car Care
UConn vs. Wake Forest Charlotte, N.C. Dec. 29, 1 p.m. ESPN HD

AutoZone Liberty
UCF vs. Mississippi State Memphis, Tenn. Dec. 29, 4:30 p.m. ESPN HD

Valero Alamo
Penn State vs. Texas A&M San Antonio Dec. 29, 8 p.m. ESPN HD

PetroSun Independence
Alabama vs. Colorado Shreveport, La. Dec. 30, 8 p.m. ESPN HD

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
California vs. Air Force Fort Worth, Texas Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. ESPN

Roady's Humanitarian
Georgia Tech vs. Fresno State Boise, Idaho Dec. 31, 2 p.m. ESPN2

Brut Sun
South Florida vs. Oregon El Paso, Texas Dec. 31, 2 p.m. CBS

Gaylord Hotels Music City
Kentucky vs. Florida State Nashville, Tenn. Dec. 31, 4 p.m. ESPN HD

Indiana vs. Oklahoma State Tempe, Ariz. Dec. 31, 6 p.m. NFL Network

Clemson vs. Auburn Atlanta Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. ESPN HD

Wisconsin vs. Tennessee Tampa, Fla. Jan. 1, 2008, 11 a.m. ESPN HD

AT&T Cotton
Missouri vs. Arkansas Dallas Jan. 1, 2008, 11:30 a.m. FOX

Texas Tech vs. Virginia Jacksonville, Fla. Jan. 1, 2008, 1 p.m. CBS

Capital One
Michigan vs. Florida Orlando, Fla. Jan. 1, 2008, 1 p.m. ABC HD

Rose Bowl presented by Citi
Illinois vs. USC Pasadena, Calif. Jan. 1, 2008, 4:30 p.m. ABC HD

Allstate Sugar
Hawaii vs. Georgia New Orleans Jan. 1, 2008, 8:30 p.m. FOX

Tostitos Fiesta
Oklahoma vs. West Virginia Glendale, Ariz. Jan. 2, 2008, 8 p.m. FOX

FedEx Orange
Virginia Tech vs. Kansas Miami Jan. 3, 2008, 8 p.m. FOX

Rutgers vs. Ball State Toronto Jan. 5, 2008, Noon ESPN2 HD

Bowling Green vs. Tulsa Mobile, Ala. Jan. 6, 2008, 8 p.m. ESPN HD

Allstate BCS Championship Game
LSU vs. Ohio State New Orleans Jan. 7, 2008, 8 p.m. FOX

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Bowl Banter

It was only fitting for the last weekend of the 2007 college football campaign to turn into the wildest, setting up a BCS title game between Ohio State and LSU in New Orleans on Jan. 7.

In order for the Buckeyes and Tigers to get a chance to win the national title, unranked Pittsburgh had to go into Morgantown – at night, no less – and beat West Virginia 13-7 as a 29-point underdog.

As I pointed out on the Power Hours last week, we had seen something almost as crazy before, when Texas beat Nebraska in the 1996 Big 12 title game. On that day, James Brown led John Mackovic’s Longhorns to the win as 21-point underdogs, clinching the shocking upset when Mackovic daringly opted to go for it on a fourth-and-two play with a late four-quarter lead from Texas’ own 28 yard line.

Nebraska’s loss to Texas in ’96 paved the way for Florida to make it to New Orleans and thump FSU 52-20 in the title game. Eleven years later, Pitt’s win sends LSU an hour south to face Ohio State in the Crescent City.

Missouri not only lost out on its chance to win the Big 12 by dropping a 38-17 decision to Oklahoma, but the previously top-ranked Tigers also got dismissed from the BCS picture altogether. They will now play Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.

Let’s get back to Ohio State and LSU. The Buckeyes will face an SEC team in a bowl game for the ninth time in school history. They are 0-for-8 to date, including last year’s 41-14 loss to Florida in the BCS Championship Game.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened LSU as a 4 ½-point favorite with a total of 48. Jim Tressel’s team is plus 170 on the money line.

The Tigers will continue to deal with the Les-Miles-to-Michigan rumors unless the Wolverines name a new head coach. Forget about everything Miles said before the SEC title game, he’s still Michigan’s No. 1 choice.

If the Wolverines don’t name a new coach in the next two weeks, you will know that they are waiting on Miles, who obviously won’t leave until after the Bayou Bengals play for the national title. I’ll still be extremely surprised if Miles doesn’t make the jump to Ann Arbor.

West Virginia absolutely blew it by losing the Backyard Brawl. Therefore, the Mountaineers will play Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. LVSC opened the Sooners as 4 ½-point ‘chalk’ with a 64-point total.

Despite losing to Missouri two weeks ago, Kansas got the BCS nod and will face Virginia Tech at the Orange Bowl. The Hokies are three-point favorites at most books.

Hawaii, the lone undefeated team in the nation, will face Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The Dawgs opened as eight-point favorites with a total of 70. A few books releasing early numbers had UGA at 11 with the total at 68½.

With Ohio St. making the BCS title game, Illinois slips into the Rose Bowl to face USC thanks to its second-place finish in the Big Ten. The Trojans opened as 14-point ‘chalk.’

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--I can’t believe Troy lost at home to FAU in what was the equivalent to a Sun Belt title game. Nevertheless, the Trojans should be going bowling, certainly ahead of Navy, which received an at-large bid from the Poinsettia Bowl. TCU also got an at-large bid ahead of Troy, and that’s also completely unfair. It says here that Troy would mash both TCU and Navy.

--If there’s a number that really surprised me, it’s LVSC sending out Va. Tech as just a one-point favorite. The books that posted a number Sunday night had the Hokies at three. I thought it should be closer to seven.

--With LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini taking the Nebraska job, you have another distraction for the Tigers, who beat Tennessee 21-14 in the SEC Championship Game. Remember when FSU offensive coordinator Mark Richt accepted the Georgia job but stayed on to call the plays for the Seminoles against Oklahoma in the 2000 national-title game? The Sooners won a 13-2 decision as the ‘Noles offense essentially took a bagel.

--Best non-BCS Matchups:

2-Texas-Arizona State

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Karl Dorrell fired as football coach at UCLA
December 3, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) -UCLA football coach Karl Dorrell was fired Monday, two days after losing to crosstown rival Southern California in a game that decided the Pac-10 berth for the Rose Bowl.

Dorrell went 35-27 in five years as coach, ending with a 6-6 record this season. His last day on the job was Monday, the school said.

A national search for a new coach has started, athletic director Dan Guerrero said.

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Fired Karl Dorrell decides he won't coach UCLA in Las Vegas Bowl against BYU December 4, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) -Ousted UCLA football coach Karl Dorrell has decided not to coach the Bruins when they play BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker will serve as interim coach for the Dec. 22 game.

When UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero fired Dorrell on Monday, Guerrero told Dorrell he could coach the team in the Dec. 22 game if he wished.

``I appreciate the opportunity to coach in the bowl game, but I have decided it is in the best interests of the program for me to decline that opportunity,'' Dorrell said Tuesday. ``The game should be about the players, especially the seniors.

``While I would love to take the field with these young men one last time, I felt that my situation would take the focus away from our players and their efforts and that's the last thing I would want to do.''

Dorrell, UCLA's coach for five years, was fired after the Bruins finished the regular season 6-6, with the final loss a 24-7 defeat by rival Southern California last weekend. He finished with a 35-27 record during his five years in the job, his first as a head coach.

The game against BYU (10-2) will be a rematch. UCLA beat the Cougars 27-17 on Sept. 8 at the Rose Bowl.

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Oklahoma CB Smith out for Fiesta Bowl
December 6, 2007

Associated Press

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Oklahoma cornerback Reggie Smith has a broken big toe on his right foot and will not be play when the third-ranked Sooners face No. 11 West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl.

Trainer Scott Anderson said Thursday that Smith, an all-conference selection as a defensive back, would not be healed in time to play in the Jan. 2 game.

Smith, a junior, has played in all 39 of Oklahoma's games since arriving on campus as a highly-touted recruit from Edmond Santa Fe High School. He ranks fourth on the Sooners (11-2) with 78 tackles and also has three interceptions. He returned his lone fumble recovery of the season 61 yards for a touchdown against Miami.

However, Smith is more than just a cornerback. He is also Oklahoma's top punt returner, and he has returned one punt for a touchdown in his college career.

Fellow cornerback Dominique Franks replaced Smith on defense and as the Sooners' punt returner after Smith was injured in the victory against Missouri in the Big 12 championship game.

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UTAH vs. NAVY (Poinsettia)
...Utes have been solid bowl team, winning last 6 and covering last 5 in postseason. Utah also covered 6 of last 7 in ‘07. Navy, however, has covered its last 3 bowls for Paul Johnson (who has taken the Georgia Tech job). Mids 2-2 as dog TY but 20-10-1 in role under Johnson. Navy won and covered this bowl vs. CSU in ‘05, and has won and covered last 2 bowls vs. MWC foes (’04 Emerald vs. UNM, ‘05 Poinsettia vs. CSU). Tech edge-slight to Navy, based on extended trends.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC vs. MEMPHIS (New Orleans)...Howard hasn’t coached a bowl since 1994 Liberty Bowl with Louisville. For what it’s worth, Howard was 4-0 SU and vs. line in bowl games with Miami & Louisville! FAU 2-3 vs. line against non-Belt fores TY after 0-7 previous 7 in role. Belt teams have covered last two N.O. Bowls but have won only 2 of 6 SU (Troy LY and UNT over Cincy in 2002). Tommy West 2-1 SU and vs. line in bowls at Memphis and is 4-2 vs. line in bowls at Memphis & Clemson. Tigers, however, lost to pair of Belt teams TY (MTSU & Ark. State), although Memphis has covered its last 4 away from Liberty Bowl. Owls did cover all 3 as chalk away from Lockhart Stadium TY. Tech edge-slight to Memphis, based on extended team trends.

CINCINNATI vs. SOUTHERN MISS ( bowl participant USM has won its last three years in bowls but its just 3-5 vs. spread last 8 bowls, and now must do it after Bower dismissal. USM 0-7 vs. line last 7 as dog (0-2 TY). Bearcats covered last 4 and 9 of 12 this season for Brian Kelly, whose teams are now 26-8-3 vs. number at CMU & Cincy since ‘05. Kelly’s teams 5-2 their last 7 as DD chalk (Cincy 3-1 TY), and Bearcats 5-1 vs. line away from Nippert in ‘07. Tech edge-Cincy, based on team trends.

NEVADA at NEW MEXICO (New Mexico)...Ugh! Rocky 0-4 SU and vs. line in bowls since ‘02. Lobos 2-2 as home chalk TY but just 4-9 vs. line in role since ‘04. Nevada covered its last 3 as dog TY and is 6-2 its last 8 as short. Wolf Pack involved in a pair of 1-point bowl games the last two seasons. Tech edge-Nevada, based on team trends.

UCLA vs. BYU (Las Vegas)...Rematch of 27-17 UCLA win and cover (fortunately so) at Rose Bowl Sept. 8. Cougs covered 3 of last 4 as road chalk TY, only non-cover a late backdoor by UNLV Oct. 13. Third straight L.V. Bowl for BYU, beat Oregon 38-8 LY. Cougs 22-10 vs. line alst 32 on board. No Dorrell, but Bruins were 5-0 as dog TY, and 9-1 in role as short since LY! Tech edge-UCLA, based on dog mark.

...Skip rediscovered pointspread magic later in season after a bit of a lull, as ECU covered 7 of its last 9. Skip 12-2 vs. line as dog away from Grrenville since ‘05, and 6-1 as DD dog that span. Boise is 5-2 SU in bowls since ‘99 but has covered only 2 of last 4. Broncos only 7-10-1 vs. line away from blue carpet since ‘05 (2-3 TY), also only 3-6 since LY laying points away from home, and 1-4 last 5 laying DDs away from blue carpet. Tech edge-ECU, based on team trends.

...Rematch of Purdue’s 45-22 win and cover earlier in season. Under Tiller, Boilermakers have lost and failed to cover their last 3 bowls, and 2-5 vs. spread last 7 bowls. CMU won this bowl over MTSU LY and is 3-0 SU and vs. spread at Ford Field since LY. Chips only 1-3 as dog TY after 3-0-1 mark in role LY. Tiller 7-12-2 his last 21 as chalk. Purdue was 1-7 its last 8 vs. line against non-Big Ten foes prior to TY, when it covered 2 of 3. Tech edge-slight to CMU, based on Purdue trends.

...Horns only 3-7 vs. line their last 10 away from home, including non-cover in Alamo Bowl vs. Iowa LY. Mack 1-2 SU and vs. line in past Holiday Bowls, but only 2-6 vs. spread last 8 bowls overall. ASU no covers its last 4 TY, and Erickson just 1-5 SU and vs. line last 6 bowls with Oregon State & Miami. Tech edge-slight to ASU, based on team trends.

MICHIGAN STATE vs. BOSTON COLLEGE (Champs Sports)...Note MSU 4-1 as dog TY, and Dantonio teams 8-3-1 as dog since LY. BC no covers 4 of last 5 TY overall, and no covers last 4 as chalk TY. Eagles have won 7 straight bowls, however, covering 6 (all O’Brien; non-cover was LY vs. Navy). Tech edge-MSU, based on recent trends.

TCU vs. HOUSTON (Texas Bowl)...Cougs no covers last 4 TY or 5 of last 6, and didn’t cover last 4 games within city limits TY. TCU only 1-4-1 vs. line away TY, but Frogs have covered their last 4 bowls for Gary Patterson. Tech edge-TCU, based on team trends.

...Coaches with San Diego Charger connections. OSU really got bad deal when Arizona State didn’t make BCS, as Beavers would have gone to Holiday Bowl otherwise. Riley has won his three bowl games as OSU HC, although didn’t cover in Sun LY vs. Mizzou. Ralph has also won his last 3 bowls, and has covered each, although he’s only 9-16 vs. line overall last 25 on board (4-7 TY). Tech edge-OSU, based on team trends.

UCONN vs. WAKE FOREST (Meineke Car Care)...Wake 5-1-1 vs. line last 7 TY, also much better as chalk in ‘07 (5-2) than previous years (4-16-2 previous 5). Wake 20-10-1 vs. line last 31 on board. UConn 8-3 vs. number this season and 4-2 as dog. Tech edge-slight to Wake, based on team trends.

UCF vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE (Liberty)...Sly 7-2-2 vs. line last 11 away from home. First MSU bowl since ‘00. UCF just 1-2 as favorite away from home TY, and 1-6 in role since ‘04. Tech edge-slight to MSU, based on team trends.

PENN STATE vs. TEXAS A&M (Alamo)...Rematch of ‘99 Alamo Bowl won by Shades 24-0. Shades just 2-9 vs. line last 11 away from home, and one of those covers was at Temple this season. Shades just 3-7 last 10 vs. line in ‘06. Ags 8-4-1 vs. line last 13 as dog. Tech edge-A&M, based on Shades road woes.

COLORADO vs. ALABAMA (Independence)...Hawkins 2-2 SU and vs. line in bowls at Boise, Saban just 3-5 vs. line in bowls with MSU & LSU. Bama just 1-7-1 vs. line last 9 this season, 3-9-2 last 14 against spread on board. Tide also no covers last 5 as chalk TY, 6-17 last 23 on role. Bama also just 1-5 vs. spread last 6 bowls. Tech edge-Colorado, based on Bama negatives.

AIR FORCE vs. CAL (Armed Forces)...Pointspread opposites this season, AFA 7 covers in a row, Cal no covers last 7 in ‘07! Bears 1-5 against spread away from home TY, 2-7 as chalk. Tedford 2-2 SU and vs. line in bowls at Cal, and 13-26-1 against number last 40 since late ‘04. Tech edge-Air Force, based on team trends.
OREGON vs. SOUTH FLORIDA (Sun)...Ducks no covers last 3 TY, and Bellotti no covers last 2 or 3 of last 4 bowls. USF 14-6 vs. spread last 20 on board. Tech edge-USF, based on recent trends.

FRESNO STATE vs. GEORGIA TECH (Roady’s Humanitarian)...Rematch of ‘02 Silicon Valley Classic won by Fresno, 30-21. GT 1-5-1 as chalk TY, 1-6-1 last 8 in role. Underdog team 11-2-1 vs. spread last 14 Jacket games on board. Fresno 4-2 as dog TY, and Pat Hill 4-0 as bowl underdog. Tech edge-Fresno, based on team trends.

...Bowden has covered last 3 bowls, but Noles only 2-4 vs. line away from home TY. Bowden also no covers last 2 as dog TY after 7-1 mark previous 8 as short, and just 14-19 against line last 33 on board. UK 5-2 vs. line last 7 away from Lexington. Cats won 28-20 in this bowl vs. Clemson LY. Tech edge-UK, based on team trends.

INDIANA vs. OKLAHOMA STATE (Insight)...IU’s first bowl since 1993, when Bill Mallory’s Hoosiers lost to Beamer’s VT in Independence Bowl. Gundy only 1-4 vs. line last 5 TY but did cover last 3 away from home in ‘07. Tech edge-slight to OSU, based on team trends.

AUBURN vs. CLEMSON (Chick-fil-A)...Tuberville just 1-2 vs. line last 3 bowls, but he has won SU 4 of last 5 in bowls. Auburn also 3-1 as dog TY, 13-4 in role since ‘02. Auburn 9-5 vs. spread last 14 away from Jordan-Hare. Tommy B. 3-2 as road chalk TY but 4-9 in role last 13 away from Death Valley. Tech edge-Auburn, based on team trends.

...Badgers have covered their last 3 and 4 of their last 5 bowls. UW, however, 0-5 vs. line away from home TY. UT just 2-5 vs. spread its last 7 bowls, but is 6-2-1 vs. line last 9 TY. Vols also 6-2 their last 8 as chalk away from Knoxville. Tech edge-Tennessee, based on team trends.

ARKANSAS vs. MISSOURI (Cotton)...Pinkel has covered last 2 bowls, and Mizzou 11-3 against number its last 14 on board. Tigers also 6-1 their last 7 away from Columbia. But Hogs 5-1 vs. line their last 6 TY, 5-2-1 last 8 as dog away from home. Tech edge-slight to Arkansas, based on team trends.

MICHIGAN vs. FLORIDA (Capital One)...Urban Meyer 4-0 SU and vs. line in bowls at Utah & Florida. Gators closed hot in ‘07, winning and covering last 4. Lloyd Carr no wins or covers last 2 bowls, only 2-5 vs. line last 7 bowls. Michigan 7-2 its last 9 as dog (1-1 TY). Tech edge-Florida, based on recent trends.

TEXAS TECH vs. VIRGINIA (Gator)...Leach has won 4 of last 5 bowls, but has failed to cover the last 2. TT covered 3 of 4 as chalk away from home TY after covering just 2 of 11 in role last 3 seasons. Groh 3-3 vs. line away TY but just 14-25 last 39 against number away from home, although he did cover last 3 as dog away from home TY. Groh has covered 3 of 4 in bowls with Cavs. Tech edge-slight to Texas Tech, based on team trends.

ILLINOIS vs. SOUTHERN CAL (Rose)...Pete has won and covered 4 of last 5 bowls. Although SC just 4-11 its last 15 laying DDs (3-5 TY). Illini has covered 4 of its last 5 as dog away from home, and is 6-1 as DD dog for Zook the last two years. Tech edge-Illinois, based on team trends.

HAWAII vs. GEORGIA (Sugar)...Richt has won 4 of last 5 bowls (3-2 vs. line). Dawgs also won and covered last 3 TY (all as dog) and 4 of last 5 in ‘07. UGa also 5-2 vs. line last 7 away from Athens. UH only 2-3 vs. line on mainland TY and just 4-6 vs. spread overall in ‘07. This is first try as dog TY after 2-0 mark in role LY. June Jones has also won his last 2 and 3 of last 4 bowls, but 2-2 vs. line in those bowls. Tech edge-slight to Georgia, based on recent trends.

WEST VIRGINIA vs. OKLAHOMA (Fiesta)...Rodriguez has won his last 2 bowls but is only 1-4 against number last 5 bowls. WVU 13-5 against line last 18 away from home. Mounties 4-2 as rare dog since ‘05. Stoops 1-3 vs. line last 4 bowls and covered just 3 of last 9 TY (but did cover last 2). OU covered only 1 of last 5 as chalk away from home in ‘07. Tech edge-WVU, based on team trends.

KANSAS vs. VIRGINIA TECH (Orange)...KU 10-1 vs. line TY, 14-2 last 16 on board, but only 3-2 as dog since LY (1-0 TY). Beamer only 2-4 vs. line last 6 bowls but he covered 7 of last 8 in ‘07 and is 18-5 against line last 23 away from home. Hokies also 13-4 their last 17 as chalk away from home. Tech edge-VT, based on extended trends.

BALL STATE vs. RUTGERS (International)...Rutgers 2-3 its last 5 as chalk TY, and covered only 1 of last 5 in '07. Scarlet Knights covered as chalk at Syracuse and Army but were just 1-5 their last 6 as chalk away from home entering TY. Rutgers has covered its last 2 bowls, however. Ball no covers last 2 away TY but had covered 12 of previous 13 away from home. Cards also 7-1 their last 8 as dog. Tech edge-Ball State, based on recent trends.

TULSA vs. BOWLING GREEN (GMAC)...Tulsa covered only 2 of last 11 in ‘07. Golden Hurricane 1-5 last 6 away from home and 1-6 last 7 as chalk. BGSU, however, covered last 4 TY and 5 of 7 away from home. Tech edge-slight to BGSU, based on recent trends,

OHIO STATE vs. LSU (BCS Championship)...LSU has won and covered impressively for Les Miles the last two years in bowls. Although Tigers juat 1-8-1 last 10 vs. spread TY, and 6-11-1 last 18 as chalk. But Miles 9-1-1 vs. spread against non-SEC opposition while at LSU. Tressel had won and covered 4 straight bowls prior LY’s loss to Florida, and is 4-3 as rare dog since ‘04. OSU also 13-4 against line last 17 away from home for Tressel. Tech edge-LSU, based on Miles’ non-conference and bowl marks.

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Michigan contacted LSU coach Les Miles last week

LSU coach has phone discussion with university's president, athletic director
December 11, 2007

Louisiana State coach Les Miles appears to be a Michigan coaching candidate again.

Miles had a phone conversation Friday morning with Michigan athletic director Bill Martin and school president Mary Sue Coleman, according to several people with knowledge of the call.

Michigan received permission Nov. 28 from LSU athletic director Skip Bertman to speak with Miles, as long as it was after the Dec. 1 SEC championship game. So asking LSU again for permission was not an issue; U-M is believed to have initiated Friday's call.

Bertman said Monday night he didn't know if Miles had had contact with Michigan. But he said he doubted anyone could sway Miles to leave LSU.

"He and Bo Schembechler were real close," Bertman said. "If Bo Schembechler were alive, I doubt he could have got him to go to Michigan. It's hard for people who don't live in the South to understand."

Miles played and coached under Schembechler at Michigan.

While the call between the two sides did not identify Miles as the leading candidate for the coaching vacancy, it did give them a chance to interact formally for the first time and to discuss a number of issues previously handled through intermediaries.

"We're not going to be discussing anything about recruiting (a new coach) until after the announcement is made," Coleman's spokesperson, Kelly Cunningham, said Monday.

Martin's representative, associate athletic director Bruce Madej, said U-M is not commenting on the search.

Miles' agent, George Bass also said he had no comment.

As the Free Press reported Dec. 1, discussions had occurred between Miles' side and Michigan representatives in the days leading up to the SEC championship game, enough to identify him as Michigan's leading candidate.

But Martin was unavailable when Bass, among others, tried to contact him that day. Miles eventually held two news conferences at the Georgia Dome -- one before the game, and one after winning it -- implying he would stay at LSU.

While Miles did sign an LSU contract extension late last week, adding a year to his deal, his yearly salary -- around $2.6 million if he loses the BCS national championship game and close to $3.4 million if he wins it -- remains unchanged. The $1.25-million buyout to leave for Michigan reportedly is still in place.

Bertman said Miles' amended contract includes free tuition for his children at LSU, academic incentives based on his players' achievements and a severe penalty -- paying off double the remaining years left -- if Miles is fired.

"Les made a decision he wanted to stay. He loves Michigan, but the truth is, for Les Miles at this time, this is probably a better place," Bertman said.

Yet those close to Miles insist he has always held Michigan as his dream job and there's no reason to believe that has changed, especially in light of Miles' recent national radio interviews, continually pointing out his love for U-M.

"He loves Michigan; he would never say anything bad about Michigan," Bertman said.

The reason for Michigan's reconnection with Miles is uncertain but, coming the same day that Rutgers coach Greg Schiano officially withdrew from consideration, the timing shows that Michigan is exploring all possible avenues.

A significant number of former players also made it known -- via e-mail, letters and phone calls to Martin, Coleman and the Board of Regents following the SEC title game -- that they wanted Miles hired.

Hiring Miles would be a bit more challenging for Michigan now, though. The morning of Dec. 1, the chances of Miles' LSU team playing for the national championship were distant. LSU had to win the SEC title game that afternoon and two teams ahead of the Tigers -- West Virginia and Missouri -- had to lose that night.

All three occurred.

Now, if Michigan is to hire Miles, it probably could not do so until after the Jan. 7 BCS title game, when LSU faces No. 1 Ohio State in New Orleans.

The two sides -- Miles and U-M -- are expected to speak again.

The known candidates for the coaching position, other than Miles, are Michigan's coordinators, Mike DeBord and Ron English. English is also reportedly a candidate at Arkansas.

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Bowling for dollars

Last year during bowl season I was lucky enough to be cruising through the Caribbean with my family during the middle of bowl season. 

A few drinks. A little sun. And a lot of sports betting.

Even though we were in the middle of the ocean, sports bettors could not be denied on this floating city. Unfortunately there was no sportsbook on board, but you didn’t have to be a Richard Tracy to find the gamblers.

Every night around chow time, all the same faces – predominantly male – would escape from their wives and children and head to the sports bar. We’d all stick around for a half or so to watch whatever game was on. After only about four minutes of watching the New Mexico Bowl, my investigative journalism skills told me not everyone in the bar was a San Jose State or New Mexico alum.

Could they be wagering on this game too?

Of course they were. All of us were. And we were either logging on to a very expensive Internet connection or making very expensive phone calls to certain individuals who work in bars, who are usually visited on Tuesdays.

After about a half, we all talked about who we had and who we liked in the upcoming games. Soon the topic of what I did for a living came up and many of the folks around me suddenly became very interested in my picks. Some of them even began to follow my plays.

Well, I didn’t do so well during the early part of the bowl season last year. I usually don’t do so hot in the early going. So now Jeff from Arizona, Tim from L.A. and Mike from Columbus all hate me.

Unfortunately, the cruise ended before my record improved and I finished up at 17-15 against the spread for the bowl season.

That record includes an ATS win in the championship game, which makes it two straight ATS wins in my annual Bowling for Dollars column. The year before, I went 12-13-1, so let’s see if we can keep the streak of hovering around .500 going, shall we?         

San Diego County Credit Union Pointsettia Bowl
Navy vs. Utah (-9, 67)
Looks like Navy coach Paul Johnson is off to Atlanta. The Middies were already inspired by the wonderful name of this bowl, but now they’ll be really inspired in the last game under their beloved coach.
Pick: Navy +9

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Florida Atlantic vs. Memphis (+2½, 67)
And the great bowl names just keep on comin’. I’m not sure if the party scene has been totally rejuvenated in New Orleans, but FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger hopes not. New Orleans is not the city a coach wants to take his team for the school’s first bowl game ever.  Pick: Memphis +2½ Bowl
Southern Miss vs. Cincinnati (-11, 56)
Dear Jeff Bower, You have done too awesome a job with our program, which was supposed to be mired in mediocrity. Therefore, you are fired.
Signed, the Alumni Association of Southern Miss.
Pick: Cincinnati -11   

New Mexico Bowl
Nevada vs. New Mexico (-3, 60½)
Last year the Lobos were favored by three points against a so-so WAC team and lost. This year the Lobos are favored by three points against a so-so WAC team.
Pick: Nevada +3

Las Vegas Bowl
UCLA vs. BYU (-6, 47)
I’m not sure how we can bet on the Bruins here. They are the most inconsistent team for the last, oh, four years or so and their coach just got fired. Sin City is probably not the best venue for them.
Pick: BYU -6

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
East Carolina vs. Boise State (-10½, 71)
Hope you liked your recent trip to Hawaii, Boise State. Now turn around and go back. I really like how tough East Carolina plays, but that is one long trip and the Pirates are probably going to want to enjoy it when they get there.
Pick: Boise State -10 ½

Motor City Bowl
Central Michigan vs. Purdue (-9, 72½)
Central Michigan’s defense won’t be able to keep this one close.
Pick: Purdue -9

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl

Texas vs. Arizona State (+2, 62½)
Guess what the Horns are working on leading up to the Holiday Bowl? Everything. But especially the pass defense, which has given up 543 yards per game over its last three.
Pick: Arizona State +2

Champs Sports Bowl
Michigan State vs. Boston College (-3, 56½)
This game’s a toughie. I’d like to take BC, but I’m worried it’ll be in for a letdown by missing out on a BCS bowl game. It’s not like the school will have any fans there to help it out. Michigan State is a good team that has a bit of a deceiving record this season. Its players will want to finish the season on a high note.
Pick: Michigan State +3

Texas Bowl
TCU vs. Houston (+4, 60½)
Expect a few cowboy hats in the stands for this one. You can also expect a Cougars offense that’s a little out of sorts after head coach Art Briles jumped ship for Baylor at the end of the season. Briles called all the plays for a Houston team that averaged 36 points per game this season. 
Pick: TCU -4

Emerald Bowl
Maryland vs. Oregon State (-4½, 49)
The Beavers were one of the hottest teams in the nation down the stretch with six wins and covered spreads in their last seven games.
Pick: Oregon State -4 ½ 

Meineke Car Care Bowl
Connecticut vs. Wake Forest (-3, 49)
For the second straight year, the Deacs were very good to bettors. They went 8-4 ATS and I think the players will want to win one more on what could be the last time they’ll see coach Jim Grobe.
Pick: Wake Forest -4

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Central Florida vs. Mississippi State (+3, 60½)
UCF’s Kevin Smith needs 181 rushing yards to break the all-time single season record. I think the Knights are going to be more worried about getting him those yards than they will be about winning the game. Unfortunately for them, this Bulldogs defense is pretty good and likes to hit – hard. MSU hasn’t given up more than 139 yards to a back this season. It held Darren McFadden to 88 yards and the NCAA’s second-leading rusher, Matt Forte, to just 47 yards. 
Pick: Mississippi State +3

Valero Alamo Bowl
Penn State vs. Texas A&M (+5½, 51½ )
Coach Fran is finally gone and that might just be a bit of a relief for A&M’s players. The Aggies had their best offensive game of the season in their last effort, a 38-30 win over Texas. I think they’ll carry that over into bowl season against a Penn State team I feel is overrated.
Pick: Texas A&M +5½

PetroSun Independence Bowl
Colorado vs. Alabama (-3½, 51)
Bama has only covered one spread in its last 10 games. That’s bad. I’m still not sure about this one though. It depends on which Tide team shows up – the one that whipped Tennessee 41-17 or the one that lost to Louisiana-Munroe 21-14. I’ll roll the dice and say the former.
Pick: Alabama -3½

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Air Force vs. California (-3½, 54)
A recent report from the San Jose Mercury says that the sprained ankle that Cal QB Nate Longshore suffered on Sept. 29 wasn’t a sprained ankle at all. Turns out he also has a bone chip in his ankle. Probably not coincidentally, after their QB went down, Cal lost six of its last seven games and failed to cover in all seven. The Bears have more talent than Air Force, no question, but it’s tough to take a hobbled Longshore.
Pick:  +3½

Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl
Fresno State vs. Georgia Tech (-4½ , 55)
Tech’s passing game under Taylor Bennett was just plain icky to watch this year. If you can slow Tashard Choice and the running game, you can at least keep it close with the Bumble Bees. This Frezzy State team can also put points on the board so this could be one of those unexpected great games of the bowl season.
Pick: Fresno State +4½

Brut Sun Bowl
Oregon vs. South Florida (-6½, 51½)
Dennis Dixon isn’t coming back for this one, right?
Pick: South Florida -6½

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
Florida State vs. Kentucky (-1, 56½)
Kentucky had a brutal schedule this season and I think the Cats started to run out of gas a bit down the final stretch. With time to rest up, they should handle Florida State.
Pick: Kentucky -1

Insight Bowl
Indiana vs. Oklahoma State (-4½, 69)
The Hoosiers’ season of inspiration isn’t over. They might not win this one, but the Cowpokes had better do up their chinstraps.     
Pick: Indiana +4 ½

Chick-fil-A Bowl
Auburn vs. Clemson (-2, 48½)
Watch Auburn take away the run and Cullen Harper’s short passes. Then go collect your winnings.
Pick:  Auburn +2

Outback Bowl
Wisconsin vs. Tennessee (-3½, 60)
It’s looking like the Badgers won’t have their star, P.J. Hill, ready to go in Tampa.
Pick: Tennessee -3 ½

AT&T Cotton Bowl
Arkansas vs. Missouri (-3, 70)
Mizzou got totally hosed in getting left out of a BCS bowl game. Totally. Hosed. So the Tigers have something to prove and they’ll do it against an Arkansas team that has made more news with its head pig situation than anything it did on the field all season.
Pick: Missouri -3

Capital One Bowl
Michigan vs. Florida (-10, 60)
Chad Henne and Mike Hart will finally be healthy by the time this bowl rolls around. Tim Tebow’s broken hand should be all healed up too. I’m thinking 10 points is too many in what should be a very inspired performance for the Wolverines for Lloyd Carr’s last game. On another note, how many times will Les Miles have to tell everyone that he will not be the coach at Michigan next year before people start believing him? 
Pick:  Michigan +10

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl
Texas Tech vs. Virginia (+5½, 60½)
This game is probably the truest offense vs. defense matchup of this bowl season. Texas Tech has a great offense and sketchy defense and Virginia is just the opposite. If All-American defensive end Chris Long, the best pass rusher in the nation, can get in Graham Harrell’s face early on then we could see the Hoos control this game.
Pick: Virginia +5½

Rose Bowl
Illinois vs. USC (-14, 50½)
Earlier in the year, I would have said to wrap this one up and put a bow on it – USC at -14 is a gift to gamblers. But Illinois steadily improved all season and I finally had to start believing. In particular, the passing game of Juice Williams has progressed by light years. I’m expecting a great Rose Bowl even though the spread says otherwise.
Pick: Illinois +14

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Hawaii vs. Georgia (-9½, 69 ½)
I’ve been saying all year that Hawaii shouldn’t be in a BCS bowl game, much to the displeasure of the very passionate Warriors fans out there. Now I’m going to put my money where my typing fingers are and fade them. This total is also too high, by the way.
Pick: Georgia -9½

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
West Virginia vs. Oklahoma (-6½, 65)
Don’t ask me to explain how WVU lost to Pitt. I can’t. Same way I can’t explain how Oklahoma lost to Colorado.
Pick: West Virginia +6½

FedEx Orange Bowl
Kansas vs. Virginia Tech (-3, 54)
Virginia Tech has learned how to master its two quarterback syst… hey, what the hell is Kansas doing here?
Pick: Virginia Tech -3

International Bowl
Ball State vs. Rutgers (-10, 59½)
Oh dear. We had so much momentum going here with all these great bowl games, didn’t we? Then all of a sudden we get smacked with the International Bowl. Just like Ball Boy State is going to get smacked by Rutgers.
Pick: Rutgers -10

Bowling Green vs. Tulsa (-4, 75½)
I know! Let’s pick on the MAC some more!   
Pick: Tulsa -4

BCS championship game
Ohio State vs. LSU (-4½, 51)
It’s time to put my amazing streak on the line. The past two seasons I have correctly picked the against-the-spread winner in the BCS championship game. 

This year I like Ohio State. You might be wondering how I can pick the Bucks against the SEC’s best team after taking the Gators to cover last year. Well, because it’s my column, dammit. And I think this year’s Buckeyes squad is just one of those teams that wins football games however it needs to.

Last year the Buckeyes had the distraction of the Heisman race hanging over their heads and I always wonder what impact that has on a team. They also have a better running game this year with Chris Wells emerging as the kind of power go-to back you need if you want to win a lot in the Big Ten. The defense is better too, ranking first in scoring defense as opposed to fifth a year ago.

As for the Tigers, they could very well be the best team in the nation. I just don’t think it will be by five points if they are.

Final score prediction: Ohio State 23, LSU 20

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Re: College Football Bowl News and Notes

Where the action is: Bowl game line moves

Bowl season is only a few days away, so it’s time to take stock of the lines.

What’s happened so far? Very little has changed in the way of spreads, but many totals have dropped. Here are the most significant moves in the first week-and-a-half since lines were originally released.

New Mexico Bowl: Nevada vs. New Mexico – total has dropped below 60 points

The total for the Wolf Pack and the Lobos opened at 62½ and 63 points. You’re now hard-pressed to find a 60-point total anywhere, with 59½ points being the most common number.

Nevada’s offense ended the season on a powerful note and put up some impressive numbers away from Reno. The Pack will have to do it again to overcome the Lobos on their home field.

Hawaii Bowl: East Carolina vs. Boise State – total down to 70 points

Football fans at Aloha Stadium are used to high-scoring games. Their beloved Hawaii Warriors won’t take the field in Honolulu this time around, however, which could explain why the total is poised to drop below 70 points.

Most sportsbooks opened with the total at 72 points, a fitting number given the shootouts the Pirates and Broncos have played this year.

Holiday Bowl: Arizona State vs. Texas – Longhorns becoming more of a favorite

Texas opened as a 1-point favorite for the Holiday Bowl but the spread has since edged up to 2½ points in recent days.

Arizona State failed to cover a spread in its last four games of the season, whether favored or an underdog.

Liberty Bowl: Central Florida vs. Mississippi State – total has fallen under 60 points

Can UCF’s Kevin Smith topple the single-season rushing record against the Bulldogs? The fact that the Knights are favored against an SEC opponent says ‘yes’.

The Liberty Bowl total, though, has steadily fallen in half-point increments from its opening number of 61. It is now at 58½ points.

Music City Bowl: Florida State vs. Kentucky – spread reaches key number

The Wildcats are now a 3-point favorite across the board and can be found at -3½ at some sportsbooks.

The Music City Bowl opened as a pick at many books, while others offered Kentucky -1 early in December.

Capital One Bowl: Florida vs. Michigan – another total drops below 60 points

The Gators and Wolverines both set their early-season sights on the national championship, so the Capital One Bowl might be a bit of a letdown.

Early bettors have banked on a lower-scoring game than oddsmakers originally anticipated, lowering the total from its opening number of 61½ points all the way to 59.

Sugar Bowl: Georgia vs. Hawaii – underdogs getting some early support

Hawaii opened as a double-digit underdog at most sportsbooks, but the Warriors have subsequently become 8½-point underdogs at most establishments.

The Hilton moved Hawaii to +7 on Thursday, perhaps an early indicator of where the line will end up at most books.

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Re: College Football Bowl News and Notes

Coaching impact on bowls
By Brian Edwards 

With the bowl season kicking off this week, let’s get gamblers caught up on the latest coaching changes and how they’ll impact schools in the postseason. There are nine different teams who are going bowling amid coaching changes.

Navy is in a bowl game for the fourth straight season, but Paul Johnson won’t be around when the Midshipmen face Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl. Navy assistant Ken Niumatalolo has been named to replace Johnson, who accepted the Georgia Tech job after also being courted by Duke and SMU. Niumatalolo becomes the first Polynesian head coach in college football history.

So. Miss forced Jeff Bower to resign following a seventh straight bowl invitation. The Golden Eagles have hired Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Larry Fedora as their new coach, but Bower will lead his alma mater one final time against Cincinnati in the Bowl.

UCLA offered Karl Dorrell the chance to coach against BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl, but he decided against it. Former defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker is the interim coach for the Bruins, who are six-point underdogs.

Art Briles left Houston to take over for Guy Morriss at Baylor. Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Kevin Sumlin will replace Briles, but he will remain with the Sooners through their Fiesta Bowl matchup against West Virginia.

Chris Thurmond will serve as the Cougars’ interim coach. He faces a tough task in getting Houston ready to play TCU with Briles and his top two offensive assistants already at work in Waco.

“Houston is a team that’s all about offense,” VI handicapper Christian Alexander said. “The Cougars are fourth in the nation in total offense, but they are facing a TCU defense that’s 16th in the country. With Houston losing its head coach and the two top offensive assistants, you have to give the Horned Frogs heavy consideration in this spot.”

Texas A&M sent Dennis Franchione packing, replacing him with former Green Bay head coach and current Texans offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. Franchione is long gone from College Station, while Sherman remains on Gary Kubiak’s staff until the end of the NFL season.

Gary Darnell will be the interim coach for the Aggies in the Alamo Bowl against Penn State. Darnell, the former head coach at Western Michigan, also served as an interim coach at Florida when Galen Hall was fired midway through the 1989 season.

Despite six straight winning seasons, Chan Gailey was jettisoned out of Atlanta and won’t coach Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl against Fresno State. Defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta will lead the Yellow Jackets into Boise and the blue turf.

Ga. Tech crushed Tulsa 52-10 at the Humanitarian Bowl in 2003. However, Fresno St. spanked the Yellow Jackets 30-21 as a 6½-point underdog in the 2002 Silicon Valley Bowl.

In my opinion, Arkansas and West Virginia are the teams most impacted by their respective coaching changes. According to a source in Fayetteville, the Razorback players have been fractured since the departure of Houston Nutt to Ole Miss.

The source said, “The younger players are bitter at Nutt for leaving, while the upperclassmen totally support Nutt’s decision to leave. It’s created a lot of tension in the lockerroom.”

Bobby Petrino is the new coach at Arkansas, but his focus is completely on recruiting right now. Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring is the interim coach for the Hogs in the Cotton Bowl against Missouri.

As for West Virginia, this is a team in a state of shock. For starters, the Mountaineers are still reeling from their inexplicable home loss to Pitt as 29½-point favorites that denied them a trip to the national-title game. Now with the departure of Rich Rodriguez to Michigan, gamblers have to question the team’s mental state going into the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma.

West Virginia hasn’t announced an interim coach yet. Terry Bowden and Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster are considered leading candidates, while Florida assistant “Doc” Holiday and FSU assistant Rick Trickett are also in the mix, as both previously served on Rodriguez’s staff.

Finally, Lloyd Carr will coach his final game at Michigan against Florida at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando. Rodriguez will not be involved in the preparation for that game.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Again, another apology is in order: My bad, Les. I repeatedly insisted Miles was en route to Ann Arbor and, to be honest, I wasn’t going to rip him if he did return to his alma mater. His situation was completely different from Nick Saban’s and Bobby Petrino’s, both of which came under heavy scrutiny. Good for Miles (and the coaching community in general) for showing tremendous loyalty.

--Congrats to ESPN for catching on to the FSU suspensions this morning – four days after initially reported it. Holy Hedge Situation for gamblers that listened to last week’s edition of the Power Hours and got down on Kentucky laying less than a field goal.

--There’s a 10th team that could be impacted by a coaching change in the coming days. Central Michigan’s Butch Jones will reportedly get an interview at West Virginia.

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Re: College Football Bowl News and Notes

OSU only suspending one CB 
Associated Press                       

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio State backup cornerback Eugene Clifford will not play in the BCS national championship game against LSU after being suspended Thursday for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

Columbus station WCMH-TV and The Columbus Dispatch reported earlier that Clifford, a freshman, and starting cornerback Donald Washington had both been suspended for the game on Jan. 7 in New Orleans.

The school released a statement later stating only Clifford would be suspended. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith did not immediately return a message. Athletic department spokeswoman Shelly Poe said no further comment on the situation was expected.

Clifford was a prized recruit from Cincinnati's Colerain High School. He was listed as Malcolm Jenkins' backup at border corner on the Buckeyes' latest two-deep chart.

The top-ranked Buckeyes' final workout before the holidays was Wednesday. They will be off until Dec. 26, then practice for a week before flying to New Orleans on Jan. 2.               

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