‘Tis The Season To Go Bowling

Bobby Curran
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Friday - December 30, 2005
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The bowl season is well under way, and of those already played, the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl was one of the most exciting, ending in a 49-48 overtime shootout victory for WAC entrant Nevada over Central Florida.

Here’s a guide to the BCS games, as well as the best of the rest.

Holiday Bowl Dec. 29, Oregon (10-1) vs. Oklahoma (7-4). 3 p.m. ESPN

Oregon had an argument for being included in the BCS. Their lone blemish was a loss to top-ranked USC, whom they led at halftime. Usually you can analyze a bowl match-up by examining who has more to lose. Oregon needs to forget about the BCS snub lest they suffer the fate of California last year. Oklahoma had a down year by recent standards, and will look at this game as the beginning of next year’s season. The disappointed rarely fare as well as the optimistic; look for the underdog Sooners to play well and very possibly pull off the upset.

Peach Bowl Dec. 30, Miami (9-2) vs. LSU (10-2) 2:30 p.m. ESPN

There but for a few plays go a pair of teams that could have been in the BCS. Each features outstanding individual players that will undoubtedly grace NFL rosters for the next decade. Each features outstanding team speed, and relies on big plays defensively.

Neither has an advantage on having something to prove. I’ve got a feeling about Miami in this one.

Cotton Bowl Jan. 2, Alabama (9-2) vs. Texas Tech (9-2). 6 a.m. FOX

Stingy defense vs. high-powered offense. Alabama will be the season opening opponent for Hawaii next year, and the Crimson Tide will have the vast majority of these players back. They are terrific on D, and will need to be against the Red Raiders. Tech throws early and often and puts up numbers that are obscene. Alabama wants to demonstrate that its last two games were the flukes and not the nine straight wins. Texas Tech has to demonstrate that its drubbing at the hands of Texas was an aberration. Defense wins. Roll Tide.

The BCS got lucky this year. Not only a bona fide national championship game, but good match-ups elsewhere. Even a blind squirrel stumbles on the occasional acorn.

Sugar Bowl Jan. 2, Georgia (10-2) vs. West Virginia (10-1) 3:30 p.m. ABC The Bulldogs have great physical talent but don’t regard their record as particularly impressive. They should. First year senior QB D.J. Shockley was way more than adequate after waiting patiently for David Greene to move on. Productive offensively, great speed on defense, solid on special teams, Georgia could overmatch Big East champion West Virginia. Sorry, Mountaineer fans. You’re the best of a weak conference, but the good news is you’ve got the most to prove here.

Fiesta Bowl Jan. 2, Notre Dame (9-2) vs. Ohio State (9-2) Noon. ABC When Notre Dame requested more than 45,000 tickets for the game, other bowl directors wept. They could have sold 150,000 tickets for the game, and with good reason. Two exceptionally well-coached, talented and disciplined teams. Two of the best football traditions in the nation. The best linebacking corps (OSU) against the best ball-control offense. Great coaching match-up between Jim Tressler (one national championship ring) and Charlie Weiss (three Super Bowl rings). A close one, but I’m gonna wake up the echoes, lest I get disowned.

Orange Bowl Jan. 3, Penn State (10-1) vs. Florida State (8-4) 3 p.m. ABC

Two coaching legends with 155 years on the planet between them. Joe Paterno was just named AP Coach of the Year, and the Nittany Lions were one play from being undefeated. Unbelievable defense, and finally some speed on offense.

Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles were up and down this year, but all the pieces are here and they played well at the end. I think it’s Joe Pa’s year.

Rose Bowl Jan. 4, Texas (12-0) vs. USC (12- 0) 3 p.m. ABC Yes, it is a dream match-up. Both teams have immense physical talent. Both are supremely confident. Texas will try to prove it is the best team in the country, USC that it is the best of all time. The best way to beat the Trojans may well be to control the ball and chew up yards on the clock, like ND did to within one play of victory.

But Texas may well believe it can win a shootout. Ah, hubris! I won’t be shocked whoever wins, but I’ll pick USC because they have Reggie Bush.

Happy bowling!

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