Tuesday December 29th, 2009

Northern Illinois (7-5) vs. South Florida (7-5) Jan. 2, Noon, ESPN2

Reason to watch: It's a college football game. It's on TV. What else are you going to watch? Depending on how much fun you had on New Year's Eve, you might still be hung over and in need of a reason to stay inside with the shades drawn.

Keep an eye on: South Florida coach Jim Leavitt, who, depending on the outcome of a university investigation, may be coaching his last game at USF. A FanHouse report cited several unnamed sources as saying Leavitt struck walk-on Joel Miller in the face during halftime of USF's game against Louisville. Leavitt and Miller have each publicly denied the incident occurred, but Miller's high school coach told FanHouse the player's story had changed, and Miller's brother called a Tampa radio station and offered an account similar to the one in the original FanHouse story. USF has hired an independent investigator to look into the accusations. What he finds could determine whether Leavitt is the Bulls' coach in 2010.

Did you know: Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill has coached 10 postseason games since 2003. How is that possible? Kill reached the FCS playoffs in his last five seasons as the head coach at Southern Illinois. In 2007, the Salukis reached the semifinals.

Final analysis: NIU's two-headed tailback monster of Chad Spann and Me'co Brown (combined 1,590 yards, 24 touchdowns) isn't expected to be 100 percent for the bowl. Spann has an injured shoulder, while Brown has an injured shoulder and ankle. Meanwhile, the Huskies will have to deal with a level of athleticism they haven't seen all season. USF redshirt freshman quarterback B.J. Daniels is a run/pass threat who looks like he'll mature into an elite player, while defensive ends George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul should give Huskies quarterback Chandler Harnish little time to throw.

The pick: USF 23, NIU 20.

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