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New Years Day Bowl Notes

New Years Day Bowl Notes


WISCONSIN vs. TENNESSEE (Outback)...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.

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OUTBACK BOWL (at Tampa, Fla.)

(18) Wisconsin (9-3, 4-7 ATS) vs. (16) Tennessee (9-4, 7-4-2 ATS)

Tennessee returns to the Outback Bowl for the second straight New Year’s Day, with the Vols hoping for a different result when they battle Wisconsin in an intriguing Big Ten/SEC clash.

The Vols had a five-game winning streak (4-1 ATS) snapped in a 21-14 loss to LSU in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 1, pushing as a seven-point underdog. Despite the defeat, Tennessee finished on an 8-2 tear (6-2-2 ATS) after starting the season 1-2 SU and ATS. The offense produced 33 points or more in seven of the team’s nine wins.

Wisconsin closed on a 4-1 run (3-2 ATS), including a 41-34 victory at Minnesota in the finale, failing to cash as a 13½-point road chalk. The Badgers scored 44, 33, 37 and 41 points in their four victories down the stretch.

The Vols lost 20-10 to Penn State in last year’s Outback Bowl, failing as a four-point favorite. Tennessee is a mediocre 7-7 SU and ATS in bowl games under Phil Fulmer, including 2-5 ATS in the last seven postseason outings. Fulmer is also just 3-2 SU and ATS against the Big Ten in bowls after last year’s defeat to Penn State.

Wisconsin has defeated a pair of ranked SEC teams in its last two bowl games, both on New Year’s Day, including a 17-14 upset of Arkansas in the 2007 Capital One Bowl to cap a 12-1 season, the first under coach Brett Bielema.

Both schools had trouble on the road this year, as the Vols went 2-4 (2-3-1 ATS), while Wisconsin was 2-3 (0-5 ATS).

The Badgers were 1-3 ATS as an underdog in the regular season, and they’re 2-6 ATS in their last eight against teams with a winning record. On the positive side, they’re on ATS runs of 11-2 in non-conference action, 4-1 in bowl games and 5-1 as a bowl underdog.

Tennessee is 6-1 ATS as a road favorite over the last two seasons.

With Penn State’s win over Tennessee in last year’s Outback Bowl, the underdog is now 5-2-1 ATS in the last eight editions of this postseason game, including 3-0-1 ATS in the last four.

Wisconsin topped the total in its final three regular-season contests, but the Vols enter this contest on a 5-1 “under” run. Also, the under is 4-0 in Tennessee’s last four bowl games and 5-2 in the Badgers’ last seven postseason affairs.


COTTON BOWL (at Dallas)

Arkansas (8-4, 7-4 ATS) vs. (7) Missouri (11-2, 9-3 ATS)

Two of the nation’s most explosive offenses led by a couple of Heisman Trophy finalists clash in the Cotton Bowl as QB Chase Daniel leads Missouri against RB Darren McFadden and the Razorbacks.

The Tigers’ dream of a national championship ended with a 38-17 loss to Oklahoma as a three-point underdog in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 1. The defeat snapped a six-game winning streak for Missouri, which suffered both of its losses to the Sooners. The Tigers were held to a season-low in points after tallying at least 31 points in its first 12 games.

Arkansas sprinted to a 5-1 SU and ATS finish, including a thrilling and stunning 50-48 triple-overtime upset win of then-No. 1 LSU as a 13-point underdog in the season finale. Following that monumental win, coach Huston Nutt resigned to take the job at SEC rival Ole Miss. Although the school hired Bobby Petrino to replace Nutt, defensive coordinator Reggie Herring will serve as interim coach in this contest.

The straight-up winner covered the spread in the Razorbacks’ final nine games.

The Tigers are playing in a New Year’s Day bowl game for the first time since 1970. Under head coach Gary Pinkel, they’re 2-1 SU and ATS in bowl games, including a 39-38 loss to Oregon State as a 3½-point underdog in last year’s Sun Bowl.

Arkansas is mired in a 3-12 funk in bowl games (4-11 ATS) dating to 1979, including last year’s 17-14 loss to Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl. The Razorbacks are also 3-6-1 all-time in the Cotton Bowl (1-2 ATS).

Daniel had a remarkable junior season for the Tigers, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for 4,170 passing yards with 33 TDs and 10 INTs. He led an offense that averaged 492.7 yards and exactly 40 points per game, putting up 43.8 during its six-game winning streak prior to the loss in the Big 12 title game.

With McFadden (1,725 rushing yards, 15 TDs) leading the way, Arkansas put up 39.8 points and 457.3 total yards per game, including 296.7 rushing yards per outing, which ranked third in the nation. The Razorbacks topped the 40-point mark seven times this year, all victories, while scoring 34 and 38 in their other two wins.

After a four-game stretch in the middle of the season when it surrendered a total of 49 points, Arkansas’ defense regressed big-time down the stretch, allowing a total of 149 points in the last four (37.3 per game) against South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi State and LSU. Like Arkansas, the Tigers’ defense also struggled toward the end of the season, allowing an average of 31 ppg in the final four contests.

Missouri is on spread runs of 11-3 overall, 8-2 as a favorite, 8-2 against winning teams, 5-1 in neutral-site games and 5-0 against non-league foes.

Arkansas has cashed in each of its last five games against the Big 12.

Three of the last four Cotton Bowls have been decided by exactly a field goal, including last year’s 17-14 victory by Auburn over Nebraska.

The over is 8-3 in Arkansas’ 11 lined games this year, including 4-1 in the last four. The over is also 8-2 in the Hogs’ last 10 non-conference contests and 10-4 in Missouri’s last 14 overall. On the flip side, Arkansas has stayed low in five straight bowl games and four of its last five versus the Big 12.


CAPITAL ONE BOWL (at Orlando, Fla.)

Michigan (8-4, 5-5-1 ATS) vs. (9) Florida (9-3, 8-3 ATS)

Lloyd Carr leads Michigan onto the field for the final time when it battles Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and the Gators in the Capital One Bowl.

Carr announced his retirement following Michigan’s lethargic 14-3 home loss to archrival Ohio State as a four-point home underdog, a defeat that cost the Wolverines the Big Ten championship. Michigan started the season 0-2, including an earth-shattering home loss to Division I-AA Appalachian State, then bounced back to win eight in a row (6-2 ATS) before dropping its final two to Wisconsin (37-21) and Ohio State.

Florida followed up its 2006 national championship with a somewhat disappointing season. The Gators started 4-0, then lost two of their next three before closing the regular season on a four-game SU and ATS winning streak, including a 45-12 rout of Florida State as a 14-point home chalk in the finale. Florida’s three losses to Auburn, LSU and Georgia came by margins of three, four and 12 points, respectively.

These two programs have a storied bowl history. Michigan is making its NCAA-leading 33rd straight postseason appearance, while Florida has third longest streak with 17 bowls in a row.  However, the Wolverines have struggled under Carr in bowl games, going 5-7 SU and 4-8 ATS, including four consecutive losses following last year’s 32-18 loss to USC in the Rose Bowl as a one-point favorite.

Conversely, Gators coach Urban Meyer has won four-straight bowl games (4-0 ATS), including two in a row since arriving in Gainesville. Last year, Florida was a controversial entrant into the BCS Championship Game, but shocked the world with a 41-14 rout of Ohio State as a seven-point underdog.

Florida put up a whopping 43 points and 462 yards per game this season, tallying 49, 51, 59 and 45 during its season-ending winning streak. The Gators were very balanced, putting up 197.7 rushing ypg and 264.3 passing ypg. The catalyst is Tebow, who completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 3,132 yards with 29 TDs and six INTs, to go along with 838 rushing yards and 22 rushing TDs.

The Wolverines were held to 24 total points in their final two games, this after averaging 31.3 points in their eight-game winning streak. Defensively, Michigan yielded 20.2 points and 330.4 yards per contest, holding eight of its final 10 foes to 22 points or less.

Florida is just 2-9 ATS as a road chalk since Meyer took over. Meanwhile, Michigan is on a 7-2 ATS roll as an underdog.

The Capital One Bowl has featured three outright upsets the last three years, including Wisconsin’s 17-14 victory over Arkansas as a 2½-point pup last New Year’s Day.

The over was 6-1 in Florida’s last seven games, the lone under occurring in the season finale against Florida State. Also, the over is on runs of 5-1 for Florida in bowl games, 5-0 for Florida against the Big Ten and 8-1 for Michigan in the postseason.


GATOR BOWL (at Jacksonville, Fla.)

Texas Tech (8-4, 6-5 ATS) vs. (21) Virginia (9-3, 6-6 ATS)

The Gator Bowl pits two teams with contrasting styles, as high-powered Texas Tech meets defensive-minded Virginia in a rare New Year’s Day game for both schools.

The Red Raiders stumbled down the stretch in losing three of four games, but they ended the year on a high note with a 34-27 upset victory over Oklahoma as a 7½-point home underdog, killing the Sooners’ national championship hopes. The straight-up winner covered the spread in 10 of Texas Tech’s 11 lined games, including the final nine in a row.

Virginia lost a shot at the ACC title game when it fell 33-21 to Virginia Tech in the regular-season finale on Nov. 24, failing to cash as a 3½-point underdog. The Cavaliers went just 2-5 ATS down the stretch, but both spread-covers came as an underdog.

Texas Tech, which is playing in its first New Year’s Day game since the 1954 Gator Bowl, is making its eighth straight postseason appearance under coach Mike Leach, going 4-3 SU and 3-4 ATS in the previous seven. Last year, the Red Raiders played arguably the most exciting bowl game of the season, rallying from a 35-7 halftime deficit to beat Minnesota 44-41 in the Insight Bowl, coming up shy as an eight-point chalk.

The Cavaliers are 7-9 SU and 7-8-1 ATS in their bowl history, including 3-1 SU and ATS under coach Al Groh. This is their first New Year’s Day game since 1994.

After averaging exactly 50 points per game in their first seven contests (6-1 SU), the Red Raiders produced 30.2 points in its final five contests (3-2 SU). As usual, the key to Mike Leach’s offense is the quarterback position, and he has a good one in Graham Harrell, who completed 72.7 percent completion of his passes for an NCAA-best 5,298 yards with 45 TDs and 14 INTs.

Virginia Tech was the only team to top the 30-point mark against the Cavaliers, who limited opponents to 18.8 points and 325 yards per game. They held 10 of their 12 foes to 23 points or fewer, with six opponents scoring 17 or less. The defense is anchored by ACC defensive player of the year Chris Long, who ranked third in the nation in sacks.

Offensively, Virginia put up just 24 points and 328.7 yards per game, scoring 21 or less in four of its final six contests.

Texas Tech was 3-1 ATS as a road favorite this year, while Virginia went 3-0 ATS as a road underdog after going 6-15 ATS in that role in Groh’s first six years.

The Red Raiders are 2-5 ATS as a favorite in bowl games and 4-10 ATS in their last 14 against winning teams.

The Cavs have failed to cash in seven of their last eight non-league contests.

Going back to 1996, the favorite is 8-3 SU and 9-2 ATS in the Gator Bowl, though Georgia Tech did cash last year as a 10-point underdog in a 38-35 loss to West Virginia.

Despite its potent offense, Texas Tech stayed under the total in six of its final seven games. The under is also 11-5-1 in Virginia’s last 17 overall and 26-12-2 in its last 40 on grass.


ROSE BOWL (at Pasadena, Calif.)

(13) Illinois (9-3, 7-4 ATS) vs. (6) USC (10-2, 6-6 ATS)

USC returns to the Rose Bowl for the 32nd time overall and the fourth time in five years, and the Trojans are a heavy favorite to defeat Illinois, which is making its first trip to Pasadena since 1983.

The Trojans began the season as the consensus No. 1 team in the nation, and Pete Carroll’s squad lived up to the hype early, winning their first four games. However, a historic 24-23 loss to Stanford as a 41-point home favorite ended USC’s title hopes, though the team did rally to win its final four games (3-1 ATS) by an average of 16 points per game (29-13).

Like the Trojans, Illinois closed the season on a four-game winning streak (3-1 ATS) to qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2001. The late-season surge included a shocking 28-21 upset of then-No. 1 Ohio State as a 15½-point underdog.

USC is 66-6 SU in its last 72 games, with the six defeats coming by combined 20 points. In bowl games, the Trojans are 4-2 SU and ATS under Carroll, including 2-1 SU and ATS in the Rose Bowl. That includes a 32-18 rout of Michigan as a one-point underdog last New Year’s Day in Pasadena.

The Illini are 3-8 SU in the postseason going back to 1982. Also, coach Ron Zook took Florida to two New Year’s Day games during his tenure there, going 0-2 SU and ATS.

Illinois put up 28.8 points and 423.3 per contest in Zook’s third season. The bulk of the damage was done on the ground, as the Illini ran for 266.2 yards per game (5.7 per carry), with versatile QB Juice Williams (774 rushing yards, 7 TDs) leading the charge. On the other side of the ball, Illinois held opponents to 19.5 points and 355.4 yards per game.

USC averaged 31.2 points and 418.4 yards per game (185.8 rushing ypg). But the defense was the team’s real strength, yielding just 16 points and 258.8 yards per outing, including 79.2 rushing ypg (2.4 per carry). The Trojans gave up more than 24 points just once all season, when Nebraska scored 31 in Week 2 in a game USC led 42-10 in the fourth quarter.

Both teams were solid on the highway in 2007. Illinois went 4-2 SU and ATS, while USC went 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS.

Illinois has cashed in six straight games as a double-digit underdog and is 7-2 ATS in its last nine as a pup of any price. On the downside, the Illini are 3-11 ATS in their last 14 on grass and 1-5 ATS in their last six non-Big Ten contests.

USC is on spread runs of 19-7 in non-conference games, 4-1 in bowl games, 4-1 as a favorite, 6-0 against the Big Ten and 9-3 against teams with a winning record. However, the Trojans have struggled in the role of big favorite, going 4-11 ATS in their last 15 as a double-digit chalk.

The underdog is 3-0 ATS in the last three Rose Bowls, including outright upsets the past two years.

The under was 10-2 in USC’s 12 games this year, (4-2 on the road). Also for the Trojans, the under is on runs of 16-5 overall, 15-3 on grass and 4-1 against the Big Ten. Finally, for Illinois, the under is 10-1 in its last 11 on grass and 9-4 in its last 13 as an underdog.


SUGAR BOWL (at New Orleans)

(10) Hawaii (12-0, 4-6 ATS) vs. (4) Georgia (10-2, 7-4 ATS)

One of the most intriguing matchups of the entire bowl season takes place inside the Superdome, where BCS party-crashers Hawaii looks to cap a perfect season when it battles red-hot Georgia.

The Warriors were the only Division I-A team to finish the regular season unbeaten, barely preserving their unblemished record with a thrilling 35-28 come-from-behind win over Washington in the season finale. June Jones’ squad, which rallied from a 21-0 deficit against the Huskies, failed to cover as a 14-point home chalk, falling to 2-5 ATS in its last seven. Four of those seven games were decided by a touchdown or less.

Hawaii has the nation’s longest winning streak (13 games) and is 22-1 SU in its last 23 outings.

Georgia finished as one of the hottest teams in the country, winning its final six games (4-2 ATS), including a 31-17 victory over archrival Georgia Tech as a four-point favorite in the season finale. The Bulldogs enter this contest on a 3-0 ATS roll, all as a favorite.

The Warriors are in a bowl game for the fifth time in the last six years, all under Jones. They won four of their previous five postseason appearances (3-2 ATS).

The Bulldogs are going bowing for the 11th straight year. Head coach Mark Richt has been at the helm for the last six, going 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS, including 31-24 come-from-behind upset win over Virginia Tech in last year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Hawaii averaged 46.2 points and 529 yards per game, including 450 passing yards per contest. Senior QB Colt Brennan, a Heisman Trophy finalist, was the star, completing 71.4 percent of his throws for 4,174 yards with 38 TDs and 14 INTs. Brennan owns the all-time NCAA touchdown passing record with 131.

Georgia put up 32 points and 379 yards per effort (178.8 rushing ypg). Over their final five games, the Bulldogs averaged 37.2 points and 192 rushing yards per game. QB Matthew Stafford passed for more than 200 yards in four of the team’s final five outings, tossing eight TD passes to go with five INTs during that stretch.

The Bulldogs rate the edge on defense, giving up 21 points and 324.7 yards per game, including 16.7 points and 276 yards over the final three contests. Conversely, Hawaii yields 24.2 points and 349 yards per outing, including 27 points and 361.7 in its last three games.

Georgia won four of its five road games (3-2 ATS), while the Warriors were perfect in their five contests off the Islands (2-3 ATS).

Hawaii, which plays its home games on artificial turf, is 17-6 ATS in its last 23 on the fake stuff. Meanwhile, Georgia has failed to cash in four of its last five on artificial turf.

The Warriors are just 7-18 ATS in their last 25 against teams with a winning record.

LSU crushed Notre Dame 41-14 as an 8½-point favorite in last year’s Sugar Bowl, ending a 3-0 ATS run by the underdog in this annual New Year’s Day game.

The over is 23-9-1 in Hawaii’s last 24 games on artificial turf. Also, the over is 4-0 in Georgia’s last four bowl games, 6-1 in its last seven at neutral sites and 4-1 in its last five overall. On the flip side, Hawaii capped the regular season on a 5-0 “under” streak.


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College Football Gameday

New Year's Day features another six bowl games, which lets you ring in 2008 with over twelve hours of football. Here's a look at all of the contests on the schedule for today …

Outback Bowl: Tennessee vs. Wisconsin, 11:00am ET

The Volunteers fell just short of a berth in a BCS bowl game this season, so they'll have to make due with a January 1 matchup against Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl. Tennessee ended up 6-2 in SEC conference play this season, and they went 9-4 overall to sit at No. 16 in the rankings. Wisconsin went 5-3 against Big 10 opponents this year, and they were 9-3 during the regular season. The oddsmakers like the Vols in this game, listing them as 2-point favorites. The contest's total has been listed at 58.5 points.

Cotton Bowl: Missouri vs. Arkansas, 11:30am ET

Missouri lost a chance at the national title when they fell to Oklahoma 38-17 in their last game of the season. In fact, the Sooners tagged the Tigers with their only two losses of the season as Missouri ended up 11-2 overall and at No. 7 in the rankings. Arkansas is coming off an 8-4 campaign (4-4 in the SEC), which put them at No. 25 in the rankings. Bobby Petrino is set to take over the Razorbacks next year, but he won't be coaching the team on Tuesday. Missouri is pegged as a 3.5-point favorite, with the total at 68.5.

Capital One Bowl: Michigan vs. Florida, 1:00pm ET

Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow will lead the No. 9 Gators against Michigan in this year's Capital One Bowl. Florida went 9-3 overall and 5-3 in the SEC this season, which only qualified them for a second-tier bowl against a Wolverines team that went 8-4 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten. Tuesday will also mark the final game for Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, who is leaving the team after the season. Ranked Florida is pegged as a big 10.5-point favorite in this contest down in Orlando, with the game's total set at 59 points.

Gator Bowl: Texas Tech vs. Virginia, 1:00pm ET

Virginia finished in second place in the ACC's Coastal Division, but their 9-3 overall and 6-2 conference record put them at No. 21 in the rankings. The Cavaliers finished under .500 last season, so an appearance in the Gator Bowl against Texas Tech is a big turnaround for this program. The Red Raiders ended up 8-4 overall and 4-4 against Big 12 conference opponents during the regular season, and unranked. The oddsmakers, though, have Texas Tech as a 6-point favorite in this contest, with the total at 59 points.

Rose Bowl: Illinois vs. Southern Cal, 4:30pm ET

Bigger things were expected from Southern Cal this season, but two losses to conference opponents (they were 10-2 overall) ruined their national title chances and put them into the Rose Bowl once again. And with Ohio State boosted into the championship game the Big Ten's representative in this bowl is Illinois, who went 9-3 overall and 6-2 in their conference this season. Oddsmakers, though, like the Trojans' chances of getting their 23rd Rose Bowl win - they're 13.5-point faves with a total of 50.

Sugar Bowl: Hawaii vs. Georgia, 8:30pm ET

Colt Brennan and the Warriors will be putting their perfect record on the line when they take on Georgia in New Orleans on New Year's Day. Hawaii went 12-0 this season, but that only put them at No. 10 in the rankings (thanks to their WAC schedule). However, a win over the No. 4 Bulldogs will give their program some added credibility. Georgia finished 10-2 overall and 6-2 in the SEC - and they're not happy about being passed over for the title game. The Bulldogs are 7.5-point favorites with the total at 68.5 points.


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Today's bowl games

Outback Bowl

No. 18 WISCONSIN (9-3) vs. No. 16 TENNESSEE (9-4)

Notes: Kicking off the New Year's Day football feast is the first round of the unofficial Big Ten-Southeastern Conference challenge. Tennessee QB Erik Ainge will be without top WR Lucas Taylor, an academic casualty. It will be up to WRs Austin Rogers and Josh Briscoe to take up the slack. . . . The Badgers aren't likely to get to Ainge much, but Vols RB Arian Foster will have to contend with Wisconsin LBs Jonathan Casillas and Elijah Hodge. . . . The Badgers hope to have standout RB P.J. Hill back from a foot injury. But even if Hill can't go the distance, RB Zach Brown has done fine relief work. . . . Badgers QB Tyler Donovan will try to get TE Travis Beckum involved to occupy Tennessee LB Jerod Mayo. . . . The Badgers are 0-2 in the Outback Bowl, losing to Georgia both times.

AT&T Cotton Bowl

No. 7 MISSOURI (11-2) vs. No. 25 ARKANSAS (8-4)

Notes: Razorbacks RB Darren McFadden finished second in Heisman Trophy balloting for the second consecutive year, putting on a show on the big stage in an upset of LSU. . . . The job of containing him and fellow speedster Felix Jones belongs to Tigers LBs Sean Weatherspoon and Brock Christopher. . . . Interim Arkansas coach Reggie Herring would like to get contributions from QB Casey Dick and FB Peyton Hillis to keep FS William Moore and the Missouri secondary off the line. . . . The Tigers' Heisman finalist was QB Chase Daniel, a deadly accurate passer with a .694 completion rate and a dazzling array of weapons. The most dangerous is versatile WR Jeremy Maclin. . . . SS Matt Hewitt is Arkansas' top hitter.

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl

No. 21 VIRGINIA (9-3) vs. TEXAS TECH (8-4)

Notes: The game's marquee matchup features the Red Raiders' aerial show against the Cavaliers' devastating pass rush. . . . If DEs Chris Long and Jeffrey Fitzgerald are able to generate pressure from the front as they've done all season, Virginia can avoid blitzing to gain optimal pass coverage. . . . The Cavs will need to keep as many people home as possible to slow Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell's prolific receiving corps, headlined by freshman sensation Michael Crabtree. . . . Virginia QB Jameel Sewell is an efficient passer and RB Mikell Simpson is a first-down maker.

Capital One Bowl

No. 9 FLORIDA (9-3) vs. MICHIGAN (8-4)

Notes: The day's second SEC vs. Big Ten encounter will be the send-off for retiring Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr. His legacy is secure with a national championship, but he'll be remembered even more fondly by Michigan faithful if he can come up with a final triumph against Heisman winner Tim Tebow. . . . The Tebow keeper is Florida's most used running play this season, but WR Percy Harvin can also take it the distance from multiple positions. . . . Michigan LBs Shawn Crable and Chris Graham must play their assignments well. . . . The long layoff after the Big Ten's pre-Thanksgiving wrap-up should benefit banged-up Wolverines QB Chad Henne and RB Mike Hart.

Rose Bowl

No. 6 USC (10-2) vs. No. 13 ILLINOIS (9-3)

Notes: Another year, another Pac-10 title and Rose Bowl for Pete Carroll's Trojans. . . . USC would be advised not to show any signs of complacency against Ron Zook's upstart Fighting Illini squad that handed Ohio State its only loss. . . . The Trojans have playmakers along the defensive front: T Sedrick Ellis, E Lawrence Jackson, and LBs Keith Rivers and Rey Maualuga. . . . Illini QB Juice Williams and RB Rashard Mendenhall are capable of turning small openings into positive yardage, but WR Arrelious Benn must provide a deep outlet. . . . Trojans QB John David Booty has an attack suited to mounting lengthy drives, and Chauncey Washington and Stafon Johnson pace a wave of running backs. . . . LB J Leman and the Illinois defense mustn't allow many third-down conversions.

Allstate Sugar Bowl

At New Orleans No. 4 GEORGIA (10-2) vs. No. 10 HAWAII (12-0)

Notes: The Bulldogs were playing as well as any team in the country during the final month of the season. . . . The most intriguing question of the game is if the Warriors' run-and-shoot attack can work against a Southeastern Conference defense. . . . Hawaii QB Colt Brennan, another Heisman Trophy finalist, must show pinpoint accuracy and make his reads quickly to beat the Bulldogs' pass rush, which will be led by DEs Marcus Howard and Jeremy Lomax. . . . WRs Ryan Grice-Mullen, Davone Bess, Jason Rivers and C.J. Hawthorne all have open-field moves that can get them extra yards if Brennan can deliver. . . . Georgia will try to rest its defense with a strong ground game

USA Today

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Bowl capsules


* Who: Wisconsin (9-3, fourth in Big Ten Conference) vs. Tennessee (9-4, second in Southeastern Conference East).

* Where, when: at Tampa, Fla.

* Story line: The Volunteers were inconsistent all season, but made the SEC title game and nearly won. Still, they gave up 41.5 points per game in their four losses. They are 2-5 in bowl games since winning the 1998 national title. Wisconsin has won six of its last eight bowl games, including the last two against SEC opponents. The Badgers rely on a rushing attack that averages 201.5 yards a game. Leading rusher P.J. Hill missed two of the last three games with a thigh injury, but should be ready.

* Key players: P.J. Hill (RB, Wisconsin, So.), Tyler Donovan (QB, Wisconsin, Sr.), Erik Ainge (QB, Tennessee, Sr.), Jerod Mayo (LB, Tennessee, Jr.).


* Who: Arkansas (8-4, tied for third in SEC West) vs. Missouri (11-2, tied for first in Big 12 North).

* Where, when: at Dallas

* Story line: Heisman Trophy finalists Chase Daniel of Missouri and Darren McFadden of Arkansas lead two of the nation's most prolific offenses. McFadden was cleared to play after the university reviewed a media report linking him and an agent to the purchase of a vehicle and found no reason to make the running back ineligible. The Tigers, who felt slighted when they weren't invited to a Bowl Championship Series game, are fifth in the nation in total offense at 492.7 yards per game and seventh in scoring at 40 points per game. Arkansas averages 39.8 points a game, doing most of its damage with a rushing attack that ranks No. 3 in the nation at 296.8 yards per game. Arkansas is transitioning between coaches, from Houston Nutt to Bobby Petrino, and will be led by interim Coach Reggie Herring.

* Key players: Darren McFadden (RB, Arkansas, Jr.), Felix Jones (RB, Arkansas, Jr.), Chase Daniel (QB, Missouri, Sr.), Jeremy Maclin (WR, Missouri, Fr.).


* Who: Michigan (8-4, tied for second in Big Ten) vs. Florida (9-3, third in SEC East).

* Where, when: at Orlando, Fla.

* Story line: The Lloyd Carr era comes to a close for Michigan, which hopes to end a disappointing season with its first bowl victory in five years. Seniors Chad Henne, Mike Hart and Jake Long have never won a bowl game. Florida had a good season but lost its three biggest games -- against Auburn, Louisiana State and Georgia. Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow leads a Florida offense that's No. 4 in the nation at 43.1 points per game. Michigan will counter with Hart, the nation's sixth-leading rusher at 136.9 yards per game.

* Key players: Tim Tebow (QB, Florida, So.), Percy Harvin (WR, Florida, So.), Derrick Harvey (DL, Florida, Jr.), Mike Hart (RB, Michigan, Sr.), Chad Henne (QB, Michigan, Sr.), Mario Manningham (WR, Michigan, Sr.).


* Who: Virginia (9-3, second in Atlantic Coast Conference) vs. Texas Tech (8-4, tied for third in Big 12 South).

* Where, when: at Jacksonville, Fla.

* Story line: The pass-happy Texas Tech offense averages a nation-leading 475.6 yards passing, is second in total offense at 537 yards per game and is sixth in scoring at 41.8 points per game. Virginia counters with a defense that gives up 323.4 yards per game to rank No. 17 and is 13th in scoring defense at 18.8 points per game. The Cavaliers can ill afford to get behind big because their offense, ranked 100th in the nation at 329.2 yards per game, won't be able to keep pace in a shootout. If it's close, give the edge to Virginia, which won an NCAA-record six games decided by five points or fewer.

* Key players: Graham Harrell (QB, Texas Tech, Jr.), Michael Crabtree (WR, Texas Tech, Fr.), Chris Long (DL, Virginia, Sr.), Mikell Simpson (RB, Virginia, So.).


* Who: Hawaii (12-0, first in Western Athletic Conference) vs. Georgia (10-2, tied for first in SEC East).

* Where, when: at New Orleans

* Story line: The Warriors are attempting to do what Boise State did in last season's Fiesta Bowl and become a BCS buster. Hawaii's success revolves around a passing game that averages 450.2 yards a game and an offense that leads the nation at 46.17 points per game. Georgia had a case to play in the BCS title game after finishing the season with six consecutive victories. The Bulldogs are among the top 25 in the nation in total defense and scoring defense and will try a ball-control offense.

* Key players: Colt Brennan (QB, Hawaii, Sr.), Davone Bess (WR, Hawaii, Jr.), Ryan Grice-Mullen (WR, Hawaii, Jr.), Knowshon Moreno (RB, Georgia, Fr.), Matt Stafford (QB, Georgia, So.).

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Re: New Years Day Bowl Notes

College Football Weather Forecast
Tuesday, January 1st

Wisconsin at Tennessee, 11:00 a.m. (Outback Bowl - Tampa, FL)
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Northwest at 15-20 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 70.

Arkansas at Missouri, 11:30 a.m. (Cotton Bowl - Dallas, TX)
Sunny Sunny. Winds blowing from the Northwest at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Near 45.

Michigan at Florida, 1:00 p.m. (Capital One Bowl - Orlando, FL)
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Northwest at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 70.

Texas Tech at Virginia, 1:00 p.m. (Gator Bowl - Jacksonville, FL)
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Northwest at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 60.

Illinois at U-S-C, 5:00 p.m. (Rose Bowl - Pasadena, CA)
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 25-35 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 70.

43759 Posts
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