December Bowl Game Subplots
Cougs vs. Crowton
BYU vs. Oregon <br><br>BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall and many of the BYU players face off against the man that brought them to Provo, Gary Crowton. Now the offensive coordinator for Oregon, Crowton served as BYU's head coach from 2001 to '04, before he was forced out.
Troy vs. Rice <br><br>Despite a 1-4 start, Rice earned its first bowl bid since 1961. Can the Owls win their first bowl game since a 28-6 victory over Alabama in the 1954 Cotton Bowl.
C-USA's battle for respect
South Florida vs. East Carolina <br><br>While the Big East has a chip on its shoulder for losing teams to a supposedly greater conference (ACC), Conference USA has a similar feeling about losing teams to the Big East. C-USA representative East Carolina will look to knock off former conference foe South Florida, though the Bulls took all three games in the series during their short stay in the league (2002-04).
New Mexico vs. San Jose State <br><br>In his first season at San Jose State (2005), coach Dick Tomey went 3-8. But in year two the Spartans have an 8-4 record and are in the school's first bowl since the 1990 California Raisin Bowl.
Tulsa vs. Utah <br><br>A first-team All America as a corner on many lists, Eric Weddle is probably the most versatile player in America. Besides his standup work for Utah as a corner, Weddle has rushed 34 times for 147 yards and four touchdowns and has even thrown a touchdown pass.
Arizona State vs. Hawaii <br><br>Hawaii QB Colt Brennan is one touchdown pass shy of tying David Klinger's national record (54) and 198 passing yards short of Ty Detmer's WAC single-season record (5,188).
Novice head coaches face off
Central Michigan vs. <br> Middle Tennessee State <br><br>While Middle Tennessee State's Rick Stockstill is in his first year as a head coach, Central Michigan's Jeff Quinn is making his head-coaching debut. When Brian Kelly took the Cincinnati job, Quinn was named interim coach for the Chippewas.
Quarterback musical chairs
Florida State vs. UCLA <br><br>Neither UCLA nor Florida State has a sure-fire starter behind center. (Could this be part of the reason they're playing in this secondary bowl?) Both Seminole QBs -- Drew Weatherford (11) and Xavier Lee (9) -- finished the season in upsetting fashion, throwing a combined seven picks over the final three games. Patrick Cowan played the game of his life in a shocking win over USC, but Ben Olson should be fully healthy.
Oklahoma State vs. Alabama <br><br>Both Oklahoma State and Alabama started 3-0, but both also lost three of the last four games. Which school will add to its slide?
Will Cal show up in San Diego
Cal vs. Texas A&M <br><br>The last time Cal played in the Holiday Bowl, in 2004, the Golden Bears were smarting from being the odd team out of the BCS and were run off the field by Texas Tech. This year, Cal can't be too happy about missing a chance to go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1958. Will it show in the Bears' bowl performance?
Rutgers vs. Kansas State <br><br>Rutgers' offensive line has allowed just eight sacks all season (tied for first with Arkansas nationally), but Kansas State racked up 40 sacks (fifth nationally). Something's got to give.
Clemson vs. Kentucky <br><br>With its dynamic duo of James Davis and C.J. Spiller, Clemson ranks fifth in rushing offense (225.17 yards per game). Unfortunately for Wildcats faithful, Kentucky ranks 111th in rush defense (giving up a whopping 189 yards per game).
Hot and cold
Missouri vs. Oregon State <br><br>Oregon State started 2-3, but won seven of its last eight. Missouri kicked off the season at 6-0, only to lose four of its last six.
Kolb's swan song
South Carolina vs. Houston <br><br>Although he remains a relatively anonymous player nationally, Houston's Kevin Kolb is fourth in NCAA history in total offense. The four-year starter will use this game vs. South Carolina as a showcase game for NFL scouts.
Minnesota vs. Texas Tech <br><br>When taking on Mike Leach's high-flying Texas Tech offense, it's probably best to have a pass defense ranked higher than 115th. Unfortunately, Minnesota doesn't have this luxury.
Maryland vs. Purdue <br><br> On paper, it's very hard to see how Maryland won eight games. The Terrapins aren't ranked in the top 70 in any offensive category and aren't in the top 60 in any defensive category.
David vs. Goliath
Navy vs. Boston College <br><br>When Navy lines up against Boston College, nothing will stand out more than the size differential. For example, BC's O-line averages 306 pounds, while Navy's D-line averages a healthy 250.
Tate's Texas homecoming
Iowa vs. Texas <br><br>As a prep QB in Baytown, Texas, Drew Tate set state career records for completions, attempts, passing yards and touchdowns. He committed to Texas A&M after his sophomore season of high school, but eventually ended up in Iowa City. Now he'll return to his home state for his final college game.
Virginia Tech vs. Georgia <br><br>Over the first 10 games, freshman QB Matthew Stafford threw just four touchdown passes to 12 interceptions. But over the final two contests, Stafford tossed two touchdowns and no picks. How will he fair against the nation's No. 1 defense?
Cold 'Canes, Dec. 31
Nevada vs. Miami <br><br>With snow being a big possibility in Boise, Miami players will have to deal with elements very foreign to South Florida. How will the 'Canes cope? "All of our players are fluent skiers," Miami coach (for one last game) Larry Coker told The News-Press. "They don't need lessons. We'll go right to the black diamonds and attack the slopes."