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Twenty bowls you should know

IN THE NEXT 7 days, some fans will snack on the Buffalo Wild Wings and Chick-fil-A bowls, while others will visit San Francisco for the Fight Hunger Bowl. There will be a trip to Memphis for Liberty and Shreveport, Miss., for Independence.

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota in action against Stanford during the first half of their NCAA college football game in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. (Don Ryan/AP)
Oregon QB Marcus Mariota in action against Stanford during the first half of their NCAA college football game in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. (Don Ryan/AP)Read more

IN THE NEXT 7 days, some fans will snack on the Buffalo Wild Wings and Chick-fil-A bowls, while others will visit San Francisco for the Fight Hunger Bowl. There will be a trip to Memphis for Liberty and Shreveport, Miss., for Independence.

Remember, the Alamo Bowl is in San Antonio.

From Yankee Stadium to Honolulu, a gluttony of bowl games will be played that have absolutely nothing to do with deciding the national champion. Who cares, football is football. Here is a look at the next 20 bowls:


Ohio U. (8-4) vs. La.-Monroe (8-4)

When: Friday, Dec. 28, 2 p.m. (ESPN)

Where: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, La.

Payout: $1.2 million per team

Line: La.-Monroe -7 Over/under: 61

Bowl bits: This is Ohio's first Independence Bowl, but the second for Bobcats coach Frank Solich, who lost to Eli Manning and Ole Miss in the 2002 game . . . The Bobcats opened the season with a win at Penn State and eventually got to 7-0 before fading . . . This is the fourth year in a row the BobKittens have made a bowl. They beat Utah State last year in the Potato Bowl for the first postseason win in school history . . . Louisiana-Monroe got everybody's attention in September when it beat Arkansas and lost to Auburn and Baylor by a total of eight points . . . This is the first bowl game for the Warhawks, who were coached in the late-1970s by John David Crow. Before this year, Crow's 1957 Heisman was the only one ever won by a Texas A&M player . . . Current ULM coach Todd Berry never won a Heisman, but he was the head coach at Army in 2001, the last time the Cadets beat Navy.

Pick: Louisiana-Monroe, 24-20


Rutgers (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)

When: Friday, Dec. 28, 5:30 (ESPN)

Where: Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando

Payout: $2.275 million per team

Line: Virginia Tech -2.5

Over/under: 41.5

Bowl bits: These two played in the Big East for 13 years, but Virginia Tech left for the ACC just as Rutgers was getting good. Rutgers is headed to the Big 10 perhaps as early as 2014 . . . This is the Scarlet Knights' seventh bowl appearance in 8 years. They have won five in a row, all under current Tampa Bay Bucs coach Greg Schiano . . . Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan, a junior from South Jersey's Eastern High, would be playing in his final game if he decides to enter the NFL draft in April . . . Virginia Tech had a very disappointing season, but did qualify for a bowl for the 20th consecutive season . . . The Hokies were ranked 13th before losing to Pittsburgh on Sept. 15. They lost to Cincinnati, another Big East team, 2 weeks later. Their best win was against Duke (41-20).

Pick: Rutgers, 20-19


Minnesota (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)

When: Friday, Dec. 28, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Where: Reliant Stadium, Houston

Payout: $1.7 million per team

Line: Texas Tech -13

Over/under: 57.5

Bowl bits: These two played in the 2006 Insight Bowl when Texas Tech overcame a 31-point deficit (in the middle of the third quarter!) and won in overtime. It's the largest comeback in bowl history and it cost then-Gophers coach Glen Mason his job . . . Minnesota went 2-6 in the Big Ten this year. Sounds like a bowl team to me . . .

Offensive line coach Chris Thomsen will run the show for Texas Tech after head coach Tommy Tuberville bolted for Cincinnati . . . Left tackle LaAdrian Waddle was the only Tech player on the all-Big 12 first team . . . The Red Raiders dropped four of their final five, with only win against 1-11 Kansas.

Pick: Texas Tech, 30-10.


Rice (6-6) vs. Air Force (6-6)

When: Saturday, Dec. 29, 11:45 a.m. (ESPN)

Where: Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas

Payout: $600,000 per team

Line: Air Force -1 Over/under: 61.5

Bowl bits: The full title is the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. But given each team's record, shouldn't it be sponsored by Josh Harris and the Sixers? . . . Rice started the season 1-5, but closed with a four-game winning streak . . . Junior Tanner Leland played safety his first two seasons before switching to defensive end . . . Air Force is second in the nation in rushing, which might not mean a whole lot. Army (2-10) is first. Oregon (11-1) is third . . . Senior Cody Getz, who had 286 career rushing yards prior to this year, became the first Falcons player with three 200-yard games in the same season. He's listed at 5-7, 175, but his coach said he's closer to 160.

Pick: Rice, 37-30.


Syracuse (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5)

When: Saturday, Dec. 29, 3:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Where: Yankee Stadium, New York

Payout: $1.8 million per team

Line: West Virginia -4

Over/under: 74.5

Bowl bits: Big East fans thought they were rid of this rivalry when West Virginia bolted for the Big 12 while Syracuse scooted for the ACC next year. The rivalry is fine, it's the Big East that's in trouble . . . Syracuse won five of its final six . . . This will be the final game for quarterback Ryan Nassib, a Malvern High product who owns almost every major record for quarterbacks at Syracuse . . . Five seemed to be West Virginia's number this year. They started 5-0, rose to fifth in the BCS rankings, then dropped five straight to end up here. Quarterback Geno Smith's December trip to New York was supposed to be for dinner at the Heisman club, not a bowl game in the Bronx . . . Don't blame Smith for the lackluster season, though. He threw 40 touchdowns and six interceptions while the Mountaineers defense had a seven-game stretch where they allowed an average of 50.9 points.

Pick: Syracuse, 31-29.


Navy (8-4) vs. Arizona State (7-5)

When: Saturday, Dec. 29, 4 p.m. (ESPN2)

Where: AT&T Park, San Francisco

Payout: $837,500 per team

Line: Arizona State -14

Over/under: 56

Bowl bits: The Midshipmen opened the season with a 50-10 loss in Ireland to Navy and a 34-7 drubbing at the hands of Penn State. They closed it by winning seven of eight, including an 11th consecutive win over Army in Philadelphia . . . Navy runs the ball out of its triple-option offense 80 percent of the time . . . Middies coach Ken Niumataolo has never lost to Army, but he's just 1-3 in bowl games . . . Arizona State's offense is ranked in the top-50 in passing and rushing yardage . . . Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton was named first-team All-American by the Associated Press. He also was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year, which is named after former ASU linebacker Pat Tillman.

Pick: Arizona State, 38-10.


Texas (8-4) vs. Oregon State (9-3)

When: Saturday, Dec. 29, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN)

Where: Alamodome, San Antonio

Payout: $3.2 million per team

Line: Oregon State -2

Over/under: 57.5

Bowl bits: There will be enough Orange in the stands that the Alamodome will resemble a Flyers game. The Flyers were a professional hockey team that used to play in Philadelphia . . . Texas has had another subpar (for them) season and will not reach 10 wins for the third consecutive year . . . Mack Brown is 9-4 in bowl games as Texas' coach . . . Oregon State's leading rusher, Storm Woods, is from just outside Austin . . . The Beavers ended the regular season with a 77-3 pasting of poor Nicholls State . . . Each team could wind up playing two quarterbacks.

Pick: Oregon State, 27-23.


Michigan State (6-6) vs.

Texas Christian (7-5)

When: Saturday, Dec. 29, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

Payout: $3.35 million per team

Line: TCU -2.5 Over/under: 41.5

Bowl bits: This game had been known as the Insight Bowl from 1997-2011 before somebody added hot sauce . . . Michigan State was ranked 10th after the second week of the season, but lost to Notre Dame and struggled to find consistency . . . Sparty is 10th in the nation in scoring defense (16.3 points per game) . . . MSU junior running back Le'Veon Bell could make a run at Lorenzo White's school rushing record if he decides to return. Bell trails White (1984-87) by 1,687 yards . . . TCU also has a decent defense, which it relied upon when starting quarterback Casey Paschall left school in midseason with substance abuse issues forcing Gary Patterson to turn the offense over to redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin . . . The Horned Frogs' last nine regular-season games were against bowl teams.

Pick: TCU, 19-14.


N.C. State (7-5) vs. Vanderbilt (8-4)

When: Monday, Dec. 31, noon (ESPN)

Where: LP Field, Nashville

Payout: $1.8 million per team

Line: Vanderbilt -6.5

Over/under: 52.5.

Bowl bits: N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon (6-6, 232) is expected to be one of the first quarterbacks drafted in April . . . Dana Bible, who was the Eagles offensive coordinator the year before Andy Reid arrived, is coaching the Wolfpack in the bowl game while Dave Doeren makes the transition from Northern Illinois . . . Vanderbilt's home stadium is 5 miles away from LP Field . . . A victory would give the Commodores their first nine-win season since 1915 . . . Vandy won this game in 2008 when its punter (Brett Upson) was the game's MVP . . . LP field is named for the Louisiana-Pacific building materials company, not for Lance Parrish.

Pick: Vanderbilt, 26-17.


Georgia Tech (6-7) vs. Southern Cal (7-5)

When: Monday, Dec. 31, 2 p.m. (CBS)

Where: Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas

Payout: $2 million per team

Line: USC -10 Over/under: 63.5

Bowl bits: Because of its losing record, Georgia Tech had to get a special waiver from the NCAA to play in this game. So the rules are the rules unless they need to be bent . . . G-Tech has lost its last seven bowl games and has a good chance here to make it eight in a row, unless they get a special waiver from the NCAA . . . USC coach Lane Kiffin started the season ranked No. 1 and will end it with the humble resignation of his father, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, after the bowl game . . . USC quarterback Matt Barkley has been ruled out with his shoulder injury . . . The Trojans have dropped four of their last five and were 0-4 against ranked teams . . . Because of NCAA sanctions, this is USC's first bowl game since the 2009 Emerald Bowl when Stanley Havili scored twice in USC's win over Boston College.

Pick: USC, 24-10.


Iowa State (6-6) vs. Tulsa (10-3)

When: Monday, Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Where: Liberty Bowl, Memphis

Payout: $1.4 million per team

Line: Pick 'em Over/under: 51.5

Bowl bits: These teams will meet three times in about a year. Tulsa lost at Iowa State, 38-23, in this season's opener. They're playing in this bowl game, and Iowa State goes to Tulsa next September . . . The Liberty Bowl has an agreement with the SEC, but the conference didn't have enough bowl-eligible teams so it picked Iowa State. Louisiana Tech (9-3) thought it was getting this spot, but didn't and were left without a bowl game chair by the time the music stopped.

Pick: Tulsa, 24-21


Clemson (10-2) vs. Louisiana State (10-2)

When: Monday, Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta

Payout: $3.45 million per team

Line: LSU -4 Over/under: 58.5

Bowl bits: Any player who slaps a teammate on the butt after a good play will be flagged 15 yards because Chick-fil-A doesn't go for that kind of stuff. But it's OK to do it to someone who plays on the opposite team . . .

After being just the third freshman ever to be named first-team All-America (Adrian Peterson and Herschel Walker were the others), Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins had a disappointing sophomore season. He started the year with a two-game suspension after an arrest on drug charges and contracted a virus midseason. Watkins has vowed to redeem himself here . . . LSU junior linebacker Kevin Minter was named the team's MVP. He had a school-record 17 solo tackles against Texas A&M on Oct. 20 and twice was named the national defensive player of the week . . . LSU is 5-0 in Chick-fil-A/Peach Bowls and 9-1 at the Georgia Dome.

Pick: LSU, 23-13.


Purdue (6-6) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5)

When: Tuesday, Jan. 1, noon (ESPNU)

Where: Cotton Bowl, Dallas

Payout: $1.1 million per team

Line: Oklahoma State -17

Over/under: 70.5.

Bowl bits: Just so we're clear, this game is played at the Cotton Bowl, but the Cotton Bowl game is played at Dallas Cowboys Stadium . . . This is the third year for this game, which had been known as the TicketCity Bowl. It's where Penn State made the controversial decision to accept a bid and play last year . . . Despite a second-consecutive bowl, Purdue fired head coach Danny Hope after the season and hired Darrell Hazell, a longtime Ohio State assistant who led Kent State to an 11-2 mark this year. Purdue started 0-5 in the Big Ten . . . Oklahoma State, which beat Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl last season, also took a step back . . . The Cowboys still had a powerful offense, posting at least 30 points in 11 of 12 games. The quarterback position was a bit of a merry-go-round, but running back Joseph Randle is NFL quality.

Pick: Oklahoma State, 42-14


Northwestern (9-3) vs. Mississippi State (8-4)

When: Tuesday, Jan. 1, noon (ESPN2)

Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville

Payout: $3.5 million per team

Line: Mississippi State -2.5

Over/under: 51.5

Bowl bits: Northwestern is trying to get to 10 wins for the third time in school history and first since 1995, when current coach Pat Fitzgerald was the star linebacker . . . Maybe it's the pressure of midterm exams, but the Wildcats are 0-9 in bowl games since 1995. The program's only postseason win came in the Rose Bowl following the 1948 season . . . Mississippi State senior cornerback Corey Broomfield talked about the SEC's dominance over the Big Ten recently. "You can look at the track record," he said earlier this month, "and [come to] whatever conclusion you come to." Broomfield was a sophomore when MSU thumped Michigan (52-14) in the Gator Bowl 2 years ago.

Pick: Mississippi State, 23-19


Michigan (8-4) vs. South Carolina (10-2)

When: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 1 p.m. (ESPN)

Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

Payout: $3.5 million per team

Line: South Carolina -5.5

Over/under: 48.5

Bowl bits: Michigan's national title hopes were extinguished before Labor Day when they were thumped by Alabama, 41-14, on the Saturday before the holiday. Michigan's four losses were to teams that are a combined 46-4 - Alabama (12-1), Notre Dame (12-0), Nebraska (10-3) and Ohio State (12-0) . . . South Carolina's Bruce Ellington, the team's leading wide receiver (38 catches, six TDs),

averages about 10 points per game for the basketball team. A 5-9 point guard, Ellington has played in four hoops games this season . . . Jadeveon Clowney (6-6, 260) is one of the best defensive ends in the country. He's only a sophomore and said his goal next year is to at least be a finalist for the Heisman. Hopefully, his goal for the year after that is to be a Philadelphia Eagle.

Pick: Michigan, 24-23


Nebraska (10-3) vs. Georgia (11-2)

When: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 1 p.m. (ABC)

Where: Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando

Payout: $4.6 million per team

Line: Georgia -10 Over/under: 59.5

Bowl bits: When last we saw Nebraska, it was giving up 70 to Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. Georgia also lost in its conference title game, but were 5 yards away from beating Alabama and getting into the BCS title game . . . The Cornhuskers also gave up 63 points to Ohio State and 36 to UCLA. They held Michigan to nine . . . Georgia, at No. 7, is the highest ranked team not in a BCS bowl . . . Quarterback Aaron Murray is an NFL prospect who would be a 2013 Heisman candidate if he returned for his senior season . . . Georgia has a pair of true freshmen running backs who already are stars. Todd Gurley broke Herschel Walker's school freshman record with 16 rushing TDs and Keith Marshall averages nearly 7 yards every time he touches the ball.

Pick: Georgia, 35-20


Wisconsin (8-4) vs. Stanford (11-2)

When: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 5 p.m. (ESPN)

Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

Payout: $17 million per team

Line: Stanford -6.5

Over/under: 47.5.

Bowl bits: Wisconsin is the first team with five losses to play in the Rose Bowl . . . The Badgers wouldn't be here if not for NCAA sanctions to Ohio State and Penn State, each of which finished ahead of Wisky but were ineligible to play in the Big Ten title game . . . The euphoria of the 70-31 win over Nebraska quickly ended when Badgers coach Bret Bielema bolted for the Arkansas job. Athletic director Barry Alvarez, the winningest coach in Wisconsin history, will coach the team in the bowl game and get an extra $118,500 for his troubles. He gets an extra 50 grand if Wisconsin wins . . . Stanford is one of three schools that have been to three consecutive BCS bowls. Oregon and Wisconsin are the others, though Wisky's comes with an asterisk . . . Stanford's Zach Ertz was a finalist for the Mackey Award given to the nation's top tight end. Last year, former teammate and current Indianapolis Colt Coby Fleener also was a finalist.

Pick: Wisconsin, 37-35.


Northern Illinois (12-1) vs. Florida State (11-2)

When: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami

Payout: $17 million per team

Line: Florida State -13.5

Over/under: 58.5

Bowl bits: Northern Illinois getting to a BCS bowl created the same kind of stir as when St. Joe's basketball team was given a No. 1 seed in 2004. The most pointed criticism came from ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who called it "an absolute joke" . . . The first three Orange Bowls were won by Bucknell, Catholic U. and Duquesne (1934-36 seasons) . . . UNI's only loss was to 4-8 Iowa. Its best win was in the MAC Championship against 11-2 Kent State. Huskies coach Dave Doeren jumped ship for the N.C. State job . . . Florida State has one of the best defenses in the country but were thumped by Florida and held on to beat Georgia Tech down the stretch . . . FSU defensive end Bjoern Werner was a German exchange student who played two years of American high school football. He has 13 sacks this season and was the ACC defensive player of the year.

Pick: Northern Illinois, 21-17.


Louisville (10-2) vs. Florida (11-1)

When: Wednesday, Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Where: Superdome, New Orleans

Payout: $17 million per team

Line: Florida -14 Over/under: 45.5

Bowl bits: Louisville coach Charlie Strong won two national titles as the defensive coordinator at Florida from 2003-09 . . . The Cardinals received the Big East's automatic BCS bid, something that will evaporate when the new playoff system begins in 2014. It's a big reason the Cardinals (ACC) and other top football schools are fleeing the league . . . Florida, like many schools, was having trouble selling tickets for this game. It's not only the $135-$200 for seats, but also lodging and other travel costs . . . Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (George Washington High) leads Florida with 11 tackles for loss.

Pick: Florida, 41-14


Kansas State (11-1) vs. Oregon (11-1)

When: Thursday, Jan. 3, 8:30 (ESPN)

Where: University of Phoenix

Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

Payout: $17 million per team

Line: Oregon -8 Over/under: 76.5

Bowl bits: This bookies expect a track meet and have set the over/under at 76.5, highest of any of the top bowls. That number is five touchdowns higher than the line for Alabama-Notre Dame. Each team had seven of its 11

eligible games this season go over . . . Kansas State and Oregon were 1-2 in the Nov. 11 BCS rankings before each was upset the following week . . . K-State quarterback Collin Klein was a Heisman finalist and probably the front-runner until the Wildcats lost to Baylor. Klein, 23, can play the piano, violin and mandolin and last summer married the daughter of former Kansas City Chiefs star Gary Spani . . . This will be Oregon's first trip to Glendale since losing to Cam Newton and Auburn in the title game following the 2010 season . . . Ducks coach Chip Kelly is reportedly a candidate for the Eagles job . . . Oregon

senior Kenjon Barner is tied for third in the nation with 21 rushing touchdowns and fifth with 1,624 rushing yards. He had 321 yards against USC.

Pick: Kansas State, 38-35.