IS HAWAII legit? How about Illinois? And what does the Kansas quarterback like to do in his spare time?
There are 17 bowl games left, including the five BCS games. Those questions and others will be answered in this roundup as the college football season begins its final full week with six games today.
Who: Southern Cal (10-2) vs. Illinois (9-3)
Where: Pasadena, Calif.
When: Jan. 1, 4:30 p.m.
TV: Channel 6
Line: USC by 13 1/2. Over/under: 50.
USC's best win: at Arizona State, 44-24
USC's worst loss: vs. 4-8 Stanford, 24-23
Illinois' best win: at then-No. 1 Ohio State, 28-21
Illinois' worst loss: at 6-6 Iowa, 10-6
Rose buds: The Illini went 2-10 last season, before posting the nation's biggest turnaround . . . Illinois quarterback "Juice" Williams directs a spread offense that the Trojans did a reasonable job of containing in a seven-point loss to Dennis Dixon and Oregon. It'll be interesting to see how much no-huddle Illinois uses, a strategy that was effective in the Ohio State upset . . . Williams, a sophomore, weighed 13 pounds, 8 ounces at birth and nearly died because of his excessive weight . . . There's no period after the first name of highly decorated Illinois linebacker J Leman, whose first name is Jeremy . . . USC is making its third consecutive Rose Bowl appearance and 32nd overall, but first against Illinois. The Trojans last played the Illini during the 1996 regular season and pounded them, 55-3 . . .
Stinging from not playing in the national title game, Trojans coach Pete Carroll feels "that nobody would want to play us right now," and he's probably right. The Trojans have beaten four bowl teams after the Oregon loss . . . USC senior left tackle Sam Baker committed the first holding penalty of his career in the regular-season finale against UCLA. Baker is the son of Arena Football League commissioner David Baker and expected to be a first-round NFL pick.
Prediction: USC 31, Illinois 27
Who: Georgia (10-2) vs. Hawaii (12-0)
Where: New Orleans
When: Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m.
TV: Channel 29
Line: Georgia by 7 1/2. Over/under: 69.
Georgia's best win: at Florida, 42-30
Georgia's worst loss: at Tennessee, 35-14
Hawaii's best win: vs. then-No. 17 Boise State, 39-27
Hawaii's worst loss: None. The Warriors are the only undefeated team in college football.
Sugar cubes: Many Georgia fans are miffed their team didn't get a shot at the BCS title game. The Bulldogs have won six in a row, but couldn't escape the Tennessee loss that cost them a division title and a berth in the SEC title game . . . The win streak started at the same time freshman Knowshon Moreno took over as the starting running back. His 1,273 yards are second only to the 1,616 Herschel Walker posted in 1980 for UGA freshmen . . . UGA's campus is about 470 miles from New Orleans. Hawaii's is more than 4,200 . . . The demand for tickets surprised Hawaii officials, who originally scaled back their allotment by 4,000 seats to 13,500. Angry season ticketholders raised a ruckus, causing the university to scramble for more . . . This is only the Warriors' second bowl trip to the mainland. Hawaii beat Illinois in the 1992 Holiday Bowl in San Diego . . . Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier is a Philadelphia native who attended Germantown High. Frazier was a member of the 4 x 400 relay team that won a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics . . . Warriors quarterback Colt Brennan holds 25 NCAA passing records. This will be his first start against a ranked school not named Boise State, a WAC rival that Brennan went 1-1 against.
Prediction: Georgia 35, Hawaii 17
Who: Oklahoma (11-2) vs. West Virginia (10-2)
Where: Glendale, Ariz.
When: Jan. 2, 8 p.m.
TV: Channel 29
Line: Okla. by 7 1/2. Over/under: 63.
Oklahoma's best win: vs. then-No. 1 Missouri, 38-17, in Big 12 Championship game
Oklahoma's worst loss: at then 2-2 Colorado, 27-24
West Virginia's best win: vs. 9-3 Connecticut, 66-21
West Virginia's worst loss: vs. 5-7 Pittsburgh, 13-9
Fiesta facts: The Sooners are another of the two-loss teams griping at being excluded from the BCS title game. They point to the Big 12 title as their best argument. "I think everybody talks about how style points are a big factor in the BCS," said linebacker Curtis Lofton, "and the way on a neutral site we beat them by 21 points and had a chance to go up by more than that, I thought we had a chance definitely to go to the national championship." . . . Lofton had 142 tackles, tops for an OU player since Bob Stoops became coach in 1999 . . . Redshirt freshman Sam Bradford had 34 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions. His 180.5 rating is tops in the nation. Wouldn't mind seeing him and the Sooners go against Tim Tebow and Florida at some point . . . Imagine Tiger Woods with a one-shot lead on a Sunday at the Masters swinging and missing at the 18th tee. That's what West Virginia did in losing to Pittsburgh in the season finale. Favored by 28 points, the loss knocked them out of the BCS title game . . . Throw in the fact that head coach Rich Rodriguez bolted for Michigan and it's little surprise that the normally fervent West Virginia fan base failed to use 7,500 tickets for the bowl game . . . Associate head coach Bill Stewart is running the team . . . Tailback Steve Slaton (Conwell-Egan) started the season with four 100-yard rushing games. He ended with just two in the final eight.
Prediction: Oklahoma 35, West Virginia 10
Who: Virginia Tech (11-2) vs. Kansas (11-1)
When: Jan. 3, 8 p.m.
TV: Channel 29
Line: Virginia Tech by 3. Over/under: 53.
Virginia Tech's best win: vs. Boston College in ACC Championship, 30-16
Virginia Tech's worst loss: at LSU, 48-7
Kansas' best win: at Texas A & M, 19-11
Kansas' only loss: vs. Missouri, 36-28
Orange peels: The Hokies have won 10 of 11 since that drubbing by LSU. Their only other loss came in the closing seconds to Boston College on Oct. 25 . . . V-Tech's defense is third in the nation with 43 sacks, led by senior end Chris Ellis' 8.5. Ellis attended Bethel High School in Virginia, the same school that produced Allen Iverson . . . Leading rusher Branden Ore was late for a practice and will be benched for the first quarter. Kenny Lewis Jr., who gained 14.1 rushing yards per game, will start. His father is a former New York Jet and a member of the V-Tech hall of fame . . . A lot of people in the Show-Me State aren't happy that Kansas got a BCS bid. The argument is that Kansas didn't have a signature win and lost to Missouri. The Tigers, however, beat Rose Bowl-bound Illinois, but lost twice to Oklahoma. They're playing Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl . . . Kansas' strength of schedule was 109 out of 119 . . . The Jayhawks entered bowl season second in the nation with 44.3 points per game; they allowed 16 ppg, fifth best . . . Sophomore quarterback Todd Reesing has thrown 32 touchdown passes and six interceptions. Reesing, who stands just 5-10, includes "snake wrangling" as one of his favorite hobbies.
Prediction: Kansas 24, Virginia Tech 23
Who: LSU (11-2) vs. Ohio State (11-1)
Where: New Orleans
When: Jan. 7, 8 p.m.
TV: Channel 29
Line: LSU by 4. Over/under: 49.
LSU's best win: vs. Tennessee in SEC Championship, 21-14
LSU's worst loss: vs. Arkansas in three overtimes, 50-48
Ohio State's best win: at Michigan, 14-3
Ohio State's only loss: vs. Illinois, 28-21
BCS BS: The Tigers might as well be Lazarus University for all of their improbable comebacks this year. LSU already has lost twice while ranked No. 1 (both in three-overtime games), but is still in position to win the national title . . . If Ohio State wants to run the ball, it will have to get a couple blockers on LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, the winner of the Nagurski, Lombardi, Outland and Ronnie Lott awards. Dorsey will be an early NFL draft pick . . . The Tigers are 4-0 at the Superdome since 2001. They beat Tulane earlier this year, 34-9, and slipped past Oklahoma following the 2003 season for the national title. LSU's campus is about 70 miles from New Orleans . . . Just like last year, Ohio State will have had 51 days between its last regular-season game and the BCS title game. A year ago, the Buckeyes were flattened by Florida. Coach Jim Tressel changed the travel plans and the Buckeyes will arrive 4 days later than they did a year ago . . . Leading rusher and team MVP Chris "Beanie" Wells (1,463 yards, 14 TDs) got his chance when Antonio Pittman chose the NFL after last year. He got his nickname from his brother, Ray, who said he resembled a stringbean as a kid. Beanie now goes 6-1, 235 . . . Ohio State will wear its scarlet jerseys as opposed to the white ones its wore last year.
Prediction: Ohio State 20, LSU 10
12:30, Armed Forces Bowl, at Fort Worth, Texas, ESPN
This really isn't what Cal had in mind when it started the season drilling Tennessee. Air Force 38, California 35
2 p.m., Humanitarian Bowl, at Boise, Idaho, ESPN2
Figure on about 175 yards rushing for Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice. Georgia Tech 31, Fresno State 7
2 p.m., Sun Bowl, at El Paso, Texas, Ch. 3
Hard to believe that both of these teams spent time ranked No. 2 this season. South Florida 24, Oregon 20
4 p.m., Music City Bowl, at Nashville, Tenn., ESPN
The Seminoles will be without 36 players, many suspended because of a cheating scandal involving a music class. Ironic, given the name of the bowl they're in. Florida State 19, Kentucky 17
7:30 p.m., Insight Bowl, at Tempe, Ariz., NFL Network
The resurgence of the Hoosiers, in light of coach Terry Hoeppner's death in June, has been one of the best stories of the college football season. Oklahoma State 42, Indiana 38
7:30 p.m., Chick-Fil-A Bowl, at Atlanta, ESPN
Auburn is 16-4 away from home since 2004. That's an outstanding record for a team that plays in the rugged SEC. Auburn 20, Clemson 6
11 a.m., Outback Bowl, at Tampa, Fla., ESPN
The first of three SEC-Big 10 bowl games and the only one the Big Ten won't win. Tennessee 27, Wisconsin 17
11:30 a.m., Cotton Bowl, at Dallas, Ch. 29
With all the talk surrounding Arkansas' running back Darren McFadden and incumbent coach Bobby Petrino, Missouri can't help but feel a little overlooked. Missouri 28, Arkansas 26
1 p.m., Capital One Bowl, at Orlando, Fla., Ch. 6
Remember what Michigan looked like against Appalachian State's spread offense? Florida 42, Michigan 31
1 p.m., Gator Bowl, at Jacksonville, Fla., Ch. 3
Texas Tech junior quarterback Graham Harrell led the nation with 441.5 passing yards per game and 45 touchdown passes. Texas Tech 37, Virginia 20
SATURDAY (JAN. 5)
Noon, International Bowl, at Toronto, ESPN2
Two ways to make a bowl game insignificant are to hold it in Toronto and on the same day the NFL starts its playoffs. Ball State 27, Rutgers 20
SUNDAY (JAN. 6)
8 p.m., GMAC Bowl, at Mobile, Ala., ESPN
Two more ways are to hold it in Mobile, Ala., and on the night the NFL's first round ends. The over/under of 76 is the highest of all the bowl games. Tulsa 2, Bowling Green 0 *