By Stewart Mandel
December 26, 2008
Navy Wake Forest
Washington, D.C.
Dec. 20, 11 a.m.
Eaglebank Bowl
Navy (8-4) vs Wake Forest (7-5)

Navy has a better record, beat the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem and this time will be playing close to home in front of a heavily partisan crowd. So why do I still like Wake? [EagleBank Preview]

Wake Forest 20, Navy 13
Fresno State Colorado State
Albuquerque, N.M.
Dec. 20, 2:30 p.m.
New Mexico Bowl

It's all about motivation in these lower-level bowls. The Rams, 3-9 a year ago, are thrilled to be here. The Bulldogs, which seem to begin every season with deluded BCS hopes, are not. [New Mexico Preview]

Colorado State 31, Fresno State 21
USF Memphis
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Dec. 20, 4:30 p.m.
St. Petersburg Bowl
USF (7-5) vs Memphis (6-6)

If it seems like Matt Grothe has been the Bulls' quarterback forever ... guess what? He's only a junior. Grothe, playing in USF's backyard, is due for his first big bowl performance. [St. Petersburg Preview]

USF 38, Memphis 13
BYU Arizona
Las Vegas
Dec. 20, 8 p.m.
Las Vegas Bowl
BYU (10-2) vs Arizona (7-5)

How did Arizona manage to go 10 years without reaching a bowl game? These days, you've got to try to do that. BYU will push the Mountain West to 7-1 against the Pac-10 this year. [Las Vegas Preview]

BYU 35, Arizona 32
Southern Miss Troy
New Orleans
Dec. 21, 8 p.m.
New Orleans Bowl
Southern Miss (6-6) vs Troy (8-4)

Troy's last visit to Louisiana came on Nov. 15, when the Trojans jumped to a 31-3 lead on LSU in Baton Rouge before succumbing, 40-31. This one should bring a more pleasant ending. [New Orleans Preview]

Troy 30, Southern Miss 23
Boise State TCU
San Diego
Dec. 23, 8 p.m.
Poinsettia Bowl
Boise State (12-0) vs TCU (10-2)

I was truly looking forward to this clash before learning that Lou Holtz and Mark May are serving as color commentators. So, somehow this game will touch off a debate about Charlie Weis. [Poinsettia Preview]

TCU 20, Boise State 17
Hawaii Notre Dame
Dec. 24, 8 p.m.
Hawaii Bowl
Hawaii (7-6) vs Notre Dame (6-6)

Why are the Irish traveling 4,500 miles to possibly incur further postseason embarrassment? To impress this guy. Also, at last, Notre Dame is matched against a bowl team it can actually beat. [Hawaii Preview]

Notre Dame 27, Hawaii 20
Central Michigan Florida Atlantic
Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m.
Motor City Bowl

Last year's Motor City Bowl -- a 51-48 shootout in favor of Purdue -- was one of the most entertaining of the postseason. This year, Central Michigan winds up on the winning end. [Motor City Preview]

Central Michigan 47, Florida Atlantic 34
North Carolina West Virginia
Charlotte, N.C.
Dec. 27, 1 p.m.
Meineke Car Care Bowl

Who says the economy is dead? And who says North Carolina is a basketball state? Fans of the Mountaineers and Tar Heels have bought up all of the 73,000 available tickets for this game. [Meineke Preview]

North Carolina 24, West Virginia 17
Florida State Wisconsin
Orlando, Fla.
Dec. 27, 4:30 p.m.
Champs Sports Bowl
Florida State (8-4) vs Wisconsin (7-5)

You can always count on Bobby Bowden for brutal honesty about the bowl system. "If you're not playing for the national championship, who cares?" he said. "You can enjoy yourself." [Champs Sports Preview]

Florida State 24, Wisconsin 13
Cal Miami
San Francisco
Dec. 27, 8 p.m.
Emerald Bowl
Cal (8-4) vs Miami (7-5)

You know what? I kind of like the Emerald Bowl. You know why? When else do you get to see Miami or Florida State play a West Coast team like UCLA or Cal? We should do this more often. [Emerald Preview]

Cal 23, Miami 17
Louisiana Tech Northern Illinois
Shreveport, La.
Dec. 28, 8 p.m.
Independence Bowl

NIU, which lost close games to Minnesota and Tennessee, is better than its record. La. Tech, which lost 29-0 to Kansas, 38-3 to Boise State and 14-7 to Army, is worse. [Independence Preview]

Northern Illinois 27, Louisiana Tech 24
Rutgers N.C. State
Birmingham, Ala.
Dec. 29, 3 p.m.
(ESPN) Bowl
Rutgers (7-5) vs N.C. State (6-6)

These two slow-starters are a combined 8-0 since Nov. 8, sparked by torrid performances from QBs Russell Wilson (N.C. State) and Mike Teel (Rutgers). I see the freshman prevailing. [ Preview]

N.C. State 24, Rutgers 20
Northwestern Missouri
San Antonio, Texas
Dec. 29, 8 p.m.
Alamo Bowl
Northwestern (9-3) vs Missouri (9-4)

The Tigers have taken their lumps this season, but in the final collegiate games for Chase Daniel and (most likely) Jeremy Maclin, Mizzou's offense is destined to put on one last clinic. [Alamo Preview]

Missouri 41, Northwestern 20
Nevada Maryland
Boise, Idaho
Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m.
Humanitarian Bowl
Nevada (7-5) vs Maryland (7-5)

The ACC bowl gods can be cruel, sending one 7-5 team (Clemson) to the Gator Bowl while sending another (Maryland) to Boise. And the Terps run into a Nevada team that got hot in November.

Nevada 27, Maryland 24
Oregon Oklahoma State
San Diego
Dec. 30, 8 p.m.
Holiday Bowl
Oregon (9-3) vs Oklahoma State (9-3)

Chip Kelly has presumably spent the past three weeks scribbling up double-reverses to the tight end. Mike Gundy has been camped out on his equipment chest scripting plays. Let?s get it on! [Holiday Preview]

Oregon 55, Oklahoma State 50
Rice Western Michigan
Dec. 30, 8 p.m.
(NFL Network)
Texas Bowl
Rice (9-3) vs Western Michigan (9-3)

Rice's aerial attack includes a top 10 passer (Chase Clement) and two top 10 receivers (Jarett Dillard and James Casey). Remember a few years ago when the Owls still ran the wishbone? [Texas Preview]

Rice 45, Western Michigan 35
Air Force Houston
Fort Worth, Texas
Dec. 31, Noon
Armed Forces Bowl
Air Force (8-4) vs Houston (7-5)

Meet Houston QB Case Keenum. Over his past three games, the sophomore has thrown for 1,376 yards, 14 touchdowns and one interception. Those are Sam Bradford-type numbers, folks [Armed Forces Preview]

Houston 40, Air Force 34
Pittsburgh Oregon State
El Paso, Texas
Dec. 31, 2 p.m.
Sun Bowl
Pittsburgh (9-3) vs Oregon State (8-4)

With Oregon State RBs Jacquizz Rodgers and Jeremy Francis likely out, either QB Lyle Moveao needs to play the game of his life, or the defense needs to shut down LeSean McCoy. Neither seems likely.

Pittsburgh 27, Oregon State 17
Boston College Vanderbilt
Nashville, Tenn.
Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m.
Music City Bowl
Boston College (9-4) vs Vanderbilt (6-6)

Stranger things have happened, and this game is a really big deal for Vandy, but why would a team that lost to Duke and Wake Forest turn around and beat ACC divisional champ BC? [Music City Preview]

Boston College 24, Vanderbilt 13
Kansas Minnesota
Tempe, Ariz.
Dec. 31, 5:30 p.m.
(NFL Network)
Insight Bowl
Kansas (7-5) vs Minnesota (7-5)

Oh, what a glorious day this will be for Glen Mason. His two former teams square off in the same bowl game where he once blew the biggest lead in postseason history. I pray he gets to attend.

Kansas 34, Minnesota 17
Georgia Tech LSU
Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m.
Chick-fil-A Bowl
Georgia Tech (9-3) vs LSU (7-5)

The two teams went in opposite directions this season, with Tech rising to national prominence and LSU plummeting. But something tells me Les Miles will get the Tigers back on track, starting here. [Chick-fil-A Preview]

LSU 31, Georgia Tech 27
Iowa South Carolina
Tampa, Fla.
Jan. 1, 11 a.m.
Outback Bowl
Iowa (8-4) vs South Carolina (7-5)

These teams have been Outback Bowl regulars this decade (four combined appearances). Do you think bowl officials have complimentary Bloomin' Onions waiting in the coaches' hotel rooms? [Outback Preview]

Iowa 28, South Carolina 24
Georgia Michigan State
Orlando, Fla.
Jan. 1, 1 p.m.
Capital One Bowl
Georgia (9-3) vs Michigan State (9-3)

Who will win the battle of the one-time Heisman-candidate running backs, Knowshon Moreono or Javon Ringer? That would be the guy, Moreno, whose team also has a lethal passing game.

Georgia 45, Michigan State 24
Nebraska Clemson
Jacksonville, Fla.
Jan. 1, 1 p.m.
Gator Bowl
Nebraska (8-4) vs Clemson (7-5)

What does it take to reach a New Year's Day bowl nowadays? If you're Clemson: A .500 conference record and five FBS wins. If you're Nebraska, one win over a fellow Big 12 bowl team.

Nebraska 28, Clemson 21
USC Penn State
Pasadena, Calif.
Jan. 1, 4:30 p.m.
Rose Bowl
USC (11-1) vs Penn State (11-1)

Pete Carroll has already beaten Big Ten teams in three previous BCS games, plus a blowout of Ohio State earlier this season. If he does it again, Jim Delany might have to write another open letter.

USC 21, Penn State 13
Cincinnati Virginia Tech
Jan. 1, 8 p.m.
Orange Bowl
Cincinnati (11-2) vs Virginia Tech (9-4)

This matchup is getting its share of knocks, and rightfully so -- but the Bearcats are still extremely fun to watch. In fact, Hokies fans will find it to be the most offense they've seen all season.

Cincinnati 30, Virginia Tech 24
Texas Tech Ole Miss
Jan. 2, 2 p.m.
Cotton Bowl
Texas Tech (11-1) vs Ole Miss (8-4)

There will be a lot of nicknames flying around the stadium -- the "Right Reverend" against "The Pirate." The "Wildcat" against the "Air Raid." Michael Crabtree will be running around a lot, too.

Texas Tech 45, Ole Miss 21
East Carolina Kentucky
Memphis, Tenn.
Jan. 2, 5 p.m.
Liberty Bowl
East Carolina (9-4) vs Kentucky (6-6)

By the time this game is played, the Wildcats will have gone two months since their last victory, 14-13 at Mississippi State. The good news is, that 56-3 loss to Florida a week earlier will seem like a distant memory.

East Carolina 21, Kentucky 12
Utah Alabama
New Orleans
Jan. 2, 8 p.m.
Sugar Bowl
Utah (12-0) vs Alabama (12-1)

It seems BCS games are becoming old hat to Utes fans. That, and New Orleans is nowhere near Salt Lake City. The school sold 10,000 tickets, but Alabama fans have been buying up the rest.

Alabama 34, Utah 14
Buffalo Connecticut
Jan. 3, Noon
International Bowl
Buffalo (8-5) vs Connecticut (7-5)

Who would have ever thought there would be a day when Buffalo and UConn met in a bowl game? And who would have thought neither of their coaches would be at Syracuse by now.

Connecticut 33, Buffalo 28
Texas Ohio State
Glendale, Ariz.
Jan. 5, 8:30 p.m.
Fiesta Bowl
Texas (11-1) vs Ohio State (10-2)

Do you think Ohio State tackle Alex Boone will break into cold sweats the first time he walks back into University of Phoenix Stadium? Don't worry, Alex, Derrick Harvey is long gone. Brian Orakpo, on the other hand...

Texas 31, Ohio State 20
Ball State Tulsa
Mobile, Ala.
Jan. 6, 8 p.m.
Ball State (12-1) vs Tulsa (10-3)

Five years ago, Ben Roethlisberger turned the GMAC Bowl into his own personal NFL showcase. Ball State's Nate Davis, a potential first-round pick should he enter the draft, may just do the same. [GMAC Preview]

Ball State 45, Tulsa 38
Florida Oklahoma
Miami, Fla.
Jan. 8, 8 p.m.
BCS Championship Game
Florida (12-1) vs Oklahoma (12-1)

The Gators will win because they're from the SEC, and therefore they play defense, and therefore OU doesn't stand a chance. Or, the Sooners will win because the SEC stunk this year and Florida is about to be exposed. One of the two.

Check back on Jan. 8

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