Keep an eye out for the area kids in bowl games
Wide receivers Jaelen Strong (Arizona State) and William Fuller (Notre Dame) have had excellent seasons.
THINK THESE preliminary bowl games don't mean anything? Just look at the busted face of BYU defensive back Kai Nacua, who got seriously lumped up in a postgame brawl following the Miami Beach Bowl loss to Memphis.
With Round 2 of the bowl season preview rolling through, we're hoping for better sportsmanship, more domination from the local kids playing at Arizona State and Notre Dame, respectively, and a happy birthday for Duke Johnson's mom.
FRIDAY, DEC. 26
Heart of Dallas Bowl
At Dallas, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Illinois (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)
Line: Louisiana Tech -6. Total: 57 1/2.
Trend: La. Tech has covered five of the last six.
Bowl bits: Louisiana Tech lost its two games against power-conference opponents (Oklahoma and Auburn) by 32 and 28 points respectively . . . La. Tech won, 52-24, at Illinois in 2012 . . . Quarterback Reilly O'Toole, a career backup, led the Illini to a pair of wins to close out the season and gain bowl eligibility. He went to the same high school - Wheaton (Ill.) Warrenville South - as Red Grange . . . Penn State played here shortly after the Sandusky scandal broke late in the 2011 season. The game was called the TicketCity Bowl and the Nits lost to Case Keenum and Houston, 30-14 . . . Wonder where Chris Christie is gonna sit.
Quick Lane Bowl
At Detroit, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Rutgers (7-5) vs. North Carolina (6-6)
Line: North Carolina -3. Total: 67 1/2.
Trend: The over has come out in five of Rutgers' last seven games, but the under has hit in four of Carolina's last five.
Bowl bits: North Carolina gave up 70 points to East Carolina in September and a school-record 467 points this season. That's an average of 39 per. Coach Vic Koenning, who ran the defense, was let go in what was termed a "mutual decision." Yeah, right . . . Rutgers erased a 25-point deficit against Maryland in the season finale for the largest comeback win in school history . . . The Knights had three receivers with 100 yards against Maryland, including Leonte Carroo, who averages nearly 20 yards per catch.
St. Petersburg Bowl
At St. Petersburg (Fla.), 8 p.m. (ESPN)
UCF (9-3) vs. N.C. State (7-5)
Line: Central Florida -2 1/2. Total: 49 1/2.
Trend: Central Florida has covered its last four.
Bowl bits: N.C. State was 3-9 last year and winless in the ACC. This year, the Wolfpack went 3-5 in the conference under second-year coach Dave Doeren. Drilled archrival North Carolina, 35-7, in the season finale . . . Not a bad season for the Knights considering last year's star quarterback, Blake Bortles, was demoted to the Jacksonville Jaguars . . . UCF has won four in a row. It would have been 10 in a row if not for a midseason upset loss at UConn.
SATURDAY, DEC. 27
At Annapolis, Md., 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Virginia Tech (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)
Line: Cincinnati -3. Total: 50 1/2.
Trend: After starting 1-4, Cincinnati is on a 6-0-1 run against the spread.
Bowl bits: Virginia Tech needed a win over Virginia in the season finale to become bowl eligible. The Hokies had dropped four of five, including a 6-3 loss to Wake Forest - in double overtime. Yuck . . . The Hokies are appearing in the postseason for the 22nd consecutive year. Only Florida State (32) has a longer streak . . . Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville was at Auburn when he capped his undefeated 2004 season with a win over V-Tech in the Sugar Bowl . . . Quarterback Gunner Kiel had 30 TDs and 11 picks in his first season in Cincy after transferring from Notre Dame . . . This is the eighth year for the Military Bowl, known as the EagleBank Bowl when Temple was here in 2009. Only twice have one of the service academies played in this game.
At El Paso, Texas, 2 p.m. (CBS)
Duke (9-3) vs. Arizona St. (9-3)
Line: Arizona St. -7 1/2. Total: 65 1/2.
Trend: Eight of Duke's last 11 games have gone under.
Bowl bits: ASU redshirt junior Jaelen Strong (West Catholic) had another solid season. He had 75 catches, including 10 for touchdowns, and hauled in a Hail Mary pass to stun USC in October. Had 10 catches, 202 yards and three TDs in the game . . . Duke has lost its last four bowl games and hasn't won in the postseason since upsetting Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl following the 1960 season . . . Offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson is the first Blue Devils player to be named to at least six postseason All-America teams since halfback Jay Wilkinson in 1963. This concludes the Duke football history report.
At Shreveport, La., 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
Miami (6-6) vs. South Carolina (6-6)
Line: Miami -3 1/2. Total: 61 1/2.
Trend: These teams are 9-15 against the spread. Miami has lost its last three ATS.
Bowl bits: Miami running back Duke Johnson may decide to go to the NFL, but he's waiting until the day after the bowl game since it's his mom's birthday . . . The 'Canes nearly upset Florida State before fading down the stretch. They come into this bowl having lost three in a row . . . South Carolina went 3-5 in the SEC and still had a more fulfilling year than Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick it lost to the NFL last season . . . Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier has only coached once against Miami, losing to the 'Canes in the Sugar Bowl following the 2000 season . . . Officially, this game is called the Duck Commander Independence Bowl.
At Bronx, N.Y., 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Boston College (7-5) vs. Penn St. (6-6)
Line: Boston College -2 1/2. Total: 40.
Trend: Penn State hasn't covered in four of its last five.
Bowl bits: This game sold out in 36 hours, faster than any of the previous four Pinstripe Bowls, including last year when Rutgers played Syracuse . . . This will be the Nittany Lions' first bowl game since the NCAA relaxed the penalties following the Sandusky scandal . . . Penn State defensive tackle Anthony Zettel leads the team in sacks (eight) and is tied for most interceptions (three) . . . Penn State played at the old Yankee Stadium three times in the 1920s, going 0-2-1 . . . Boston College coach Steve Addazio led Temple to a win in the 2011 New Mexico Bowl . . . BC is 14th in the country in rushing. Tyler Murphy, a transfer from Florida, set an ACC record for quarterbacks with 1,079 yards. Murphy already has his bachelor's degree, in telecommunications.
At San Diego, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Nebraska (9-3) vs. Southern Cal (8-4)
Line: USC -7. Total: 62 1/2.
Trend: Nebraska has covered just one of its last five.
Bowl bits: Fired Nebraska coach Bo Pelini set off a figurative 10-alarm blaze on his way out the door, calling the athletic director every name in the book - the female anatomy book that is. Offensive assistant Barney Cotton will coach the 'Huskers in the bowl game and former Oregon State coach Mike Riley will take Pelini's job . . . Southern Cal defensive end Leonard Williams is a two-time All-America and was the team's MVP. One of his paintings made it into the school's "Artletics" exhibit.
MONDAY, DEC. 29
At Memphis, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
West Virginia (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (7-5)
Line: West Virginia -3 1/2. Total: 66 1/2.
Trend: West Virginia's last eight games all have gone under.
Bowl bits: West Virginia's best win of the season, against visiting Baylor (11-1), prevented the Big 12 from having a team in the playoff Final Four. The Mountaineers almost beat Texas Christian (also 11-1) 2 weeks later, but lost on a field goal at the gun . . . Quarterback Clint Trickett has been cleared to play after missing the final two games because of a concussion . . . Texas A&M started 5-0, putting former quarterback Johnny Manziel in the rearview mirror and QB Kenny Hill on Heisman watch lists. But then a three-game losing streak, all to top-12 teams, tempered the early exuberance. Hill was replaced by Kyle Allen . . . True freshman Myles Garrett, ESPN's top defensive lineman coming out of high school, lived up expectations with a team-best 11 sacks and a blocked field goal in the upset win at Auburn . . . Texas A&M's Kyle Field is in the middle of a $450 million redevelopment. The Aggies were 3-3 at home this year.
Russell Athletic Bowl
At Orlando, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Clemson (9-3) vs. Oklahoma (8-4)
Line: Oklahoma -3 1/2. Total: 53 1/2.
Trend: Clemson is 1-6 against the spread in its last seven. It won four of those games outright.
Bowl bits: OU quarterback Trevor Knight is back after missing the final three regular-season games with a neck injury. Knight was the MVP of last year's Sugar Bowl when the Sooners stunned Alabama, 45-31 . . . Sooners true freshman running back Samaje Perine set the single-game record with 427 yards rushing against Kansas . . . Clemson closed the season 8-1. It has won its last two bowls, including a win over Ohio State in the Orange last year . . . Clemson's defense is No. 1 in fewest yards allowed and No. 8 in fewest points allowed. The Tigers, however, lost all three of their games to ranked opponents (Georgia, Florida State, Georgia Tech). Clemson is No. 17 in the CFB playoff top 25. Oklahoma is not ranked.
At Houston, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Texas (6-6) vs. Arkansas (6-6)
Line: Arkansas -6. Total: 45 1/2.
Trend: Arkansas was 9-3 against the spread. A loss in the season finale broke a four-game streak of covering.
Bowl bits: Two 6-6 teams from power conferences yearning for past glory; kind of like a movie love scene with Sophia Loren and Omar Sharif . . . Despite the apparent mediocrity, the game is sold out. It's being played at NRG Stadium (cap. 71,054), home of the NFL's Texans. Bowl game president Jamey Rootes said 60,000 tickets were sold as soon as his game secured alliances with the Big 12 and SEC. Once Texas and Arkansas accepted invitations, selling the remaining tickets was relatively easy . . . These two first met in 1894 and were longtime rivals in the old Southwest Conference. Texas holds a 56-21 advantage.
TUESDAY, DEC. 30
Music City Bowl
At Nashville, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
Notre Dame (7-5) vs. LSU (8-4)
Line: LSU -7 1/2. Total: 52 1/2.
Trend: Notre Dame is on an 0-5 skid against the spread.
Bowl bits: Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said both Everett Golson and Malik Zaire will play at quarterback. Golson was the QB 2 years ago when the Irish went to the national championship game, but he's committed 22 turnovers this season . . . ND's defense in 2012 gave up 124 points in 12 regular-season games. This year's version has given up 351 . . . Notre Dame's William Fuller, a sophomore out of Roman Catholic, came into the bowl season tied with Alabama's Amari Cooper for second in the nation with 14 TD catches. Only Colorado State's Rashard Higgins (17) had more . . . LSU's Connor Neighbors was the team's offensive co-MVP. A fullback with zero carries on the year, Neighbors' nickname is "Bonesaw."
At Charlotte, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Louisville (9-3) vs. Georgia (9-3)
Line: Georgia -7. Total: 56 1/2.
Trend: Nine of UGA's 12 games went over, as have four of Louisville's last five.
Bowl bits: Louisville safety Gerod Holliman tied Washington's Al Worley's D-I record with 14 interceptions this season. Holliman, who picked off Jameis Winston twice as the Cardinals nearly upset Florida State, won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top d-back . . . Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Grantham held the same job for Georgia from 2010-13 . . . The Bulldogs' two conference losses were to Florida (4-4) and South Carolina (3-5). Those two upsets cost UGA a spot in the conference title game and a possible shot at the inaugural Final Four.
Foster Farms Bowl
At Santa Clara, Calif., 10 p.m. (ESPN)
Stanford (7-5) vs. Maryland (7-5)
Line: Stanford -14. Total: 47 1/2.
Trend: Nine of Stanford's 11 games have been under.
Bowl bits: Maryland's Brad Craddock hit 18 of 19 field goals and was named the nation's top kicker. One of his makes was a 57-yard bomb against Ohio State . . . Penn State fans surely were OK with Maryland going 1-2 after the Terps won at Penn State on Nov. 1. That was the game Maryland refused to shake hands with the Nittany Lions at the opening coin toss . . . This game previously had been the Fight Hunger, Emerald and San Francisco bowls . . . Foster Farms is a California poultry company. It is not related to Boone's farm, maker of the popular cheap wine.