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Thursday, 01 January 2009 14:15
NCAAF Headline News

 Liberty Bowl
East Carolina (9-4) vs. Kentucky (6-6), 5 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: East Carolina by 3.
Series Record: Kentucky leads 1-0.
What's At Stake
Kentucky is attempting to win bowl game for the third consecutive season for the first time in school history.
East Carolina, which won the Conference USA championship for its first league title since 1976, is appearing in its third straight bowl and fifth since 2000. The Pirates are trying to win for the third time against major conference foes, having knocked off Virginia Tech and West Virginia to open the season.
Key Matchup
East Carolina has intercepted at least one pass in 26 of the last 27 games and ranked fourth in the country with 21 picks this season, including a season-high five in the Conference USA title game against Tulsa. After throwing no interceptions in the first three games, Kentucky QB Mike Hartline threw seven in the next four, temporarily losing his job.
Players to Watch
East Carolina: DE C.J. Wilson, an all-Conference USA pass-rushing specialist, ranks 12th in the country among active players in sacks per game and has racked up 10 of his 21 1/2 career sacks this season.
Kentucky: CB Trevard Lindley, first team all-SEC, has racked up 156 tackles, nine interceptions and a program record 34 pass breakouts in his three-year career.
Kentucky is appearing in its first Liberty Bowl. ... In the past two seasons, the SEC team has beaten the Conference USA champion in the Liberty Bowl ... Kentucky is appearing in its third straight bowl game for only the second time. Bear Bryant led the team to three bowls - and two wins - from 1950 to 1952 ... The Pirates have won six out of 15 games against BCS opponents in the Skip Holtz era.
Cotton Bowl
No. 7 Texas Tech (11-1) vs. No. 20 Mississippi (8-4), 2:15 p.m. (FOX)
Line: Tech by 4.
Series record: 2-2.
Last Meeting: 2003, Texas Tech 49-45.
What's at Stake
wl berth, also the Cotton.
Key Matchup
All-American DT Peria Jerry and the Ole Miss defense slowed Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and Florida at The Swamp; can they do it again to Graham Harrell, Michael Crabtree and the Red Raiders? Texas Tech leads the nation with 417.3 yards passing per game. The Rebels allow 209.8 yards per game, 62nd best in the country.
Players to Watch
Texas Tech: Harrell needs two TD passes to break the NCAA record. His 15,429 yards passing also are second-most in NCAA history. Crabtree, only a sophomore but possibly playing his final college game, is the school's career receiving leader and is ninth on the NCAA TD catch list. Three TDs would jump him into a tie for fourth.
Ole Miss: QB Jevan Snead, a Texas native, would love to continue his recent surge in front of family and friends. He's thrown almost twice as many TDs (23) and INTs (12) and will need to be smart, effective in case this turns into a shootout. His blind side will be protected by All-American OL Michael Oher.
Ole Miss is 6-1 in its last seven bowl games. ... The Rebels have won their last five bowl games against Big 12 schools. ... Ole Miss is 2-5 in bowl games played in Texas, winning the first (1956) and last (2004). Both wins came in the Cotton Bowl. ... Texas Tech is 0-3 all-time in the Cotton Bowl. ... Red Raiders coach Mike Leach can take sole possession of No. 2 on the school's coaching wins list. ... Harrell is almost certain to set the school's single-season completion percentage record. He's at 71.5 percent; the previous mark is 65.2.
Sugar Bowl
At New Orleans
Utah (12-0) vs. Alabama (12-1), 8 p.m. (Fox)
Line: Alabama by 9 1/2.
Series Record: First meeting.
What's At Stake
Utah has won seven straight bowls and a nation's best 13 straight games. With a victory, Utah would finish 13-0 and become the first team from a onn-BCS conference to win two BCS games. Alabama, which fell one victory short of an appearance in the BCS title game, looks to punctuate its return to national prominence with its ninth Sugar Bowl victory in school history.
Key Matchup
Alabama's powerful offensive line has spearheaded a running game averaging 196.5 yards. The unit significantly outweighs Utah's defensive line, but the Utes rank 12th in the country in scoring defense (17.2 points per game).
Players to Watch
roza and Ray Guy awards in the same season.
Alabama: RB Glen Coffee led Alabama's powerful running game with 1,347 yards and 10 touchdowns. WR Julio Jones had 51 catches for 847 yards.
Utah's last BCS bowl appearance resulted in a 35-7 victory over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl following the 2003 season. ... Utah has defeated five other teams that appeared in bowl games: Oregon State, BYU, TCU, Air Force and Colorado State. ... The Utes are 10-3 all-time in Bowls. ... Alabama has appeared in 55 previous bowl games, with a record of 31-21-3. ... Alabama's 13th appearance in the Sugar Bowl ties a record also help by LSU. ... Alabama's last appearance in the Sugar Bowl was in 1993, a 34-13 victory over Miami.

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