HOW THEY LINE UP

Date Bowl/(Location)/Comment; Teams/Associated Press Rankings; Time (EST)/Network Rating

* Fri., Dec. 24 John Hancock Bowl (El Paso, Texas) Texas Tech (6-5) vs. No. 19 Oklahoma (8-3) 2:30 p.m. (CBS)

Tech finished strong with five straight wins; Sooners lost all the big ones, beat the rest. * Aloha Bowl (Honolulu) Fresno State (8-3) vs. No. 17 Colorado (7-3-1) 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

Western Athletic Conference co-champs have nation's top-rated passer and third-best total offense; Buffaloes were the runners-up in the Big Eight. * Tue., Dec. 28 Liberty Bowl (Memphis) Michigan State (6-5) vs. Louisville (8-3) 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Spartans are one of seven Big Ten teams in bowl games; Cardinals' losses were all to top-ten teams. * Wed., Dec.29 Copper Bowl (Tucson, Ariz.) Wyoming (8-3) vs. No. 20 Kansas State (8-2-1) 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Cowboys, defeated by the likes of New Mexico and Colorado State, may find a Big Eight opponent hard to lasso. * Thu., Dec. 30 Holiday Bowl (San Diego) Brigham Young (6-5) vs. No. 10 Ohio State (9-1-1) 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Even in an off year, the Cougars put on a good show; it's a no-win situation for the Buckeyes, who saw national championship and Rose Bowl chances dashed in a season-ending loss to Michigan. * Freedom Bowl (Anaheim, Calif.) Southern California (7-5) vs. Utah (7-5) 9 p.m. (Raycom)

Trojan losses were all to ranked teams; Utah has one of those high-scorin' WAC-y offenses. * Fri., Dec. 31 Independence Bowl (Shreveport, La.) Virginia Tech (8-3) vs. Indiana (8-3) 12:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Tech held its own in a strong Big East; Hoosiers' defense posted three shutouts. * Peach Bowl (Atlanta) Clemson (8-3) vs. Kentucky (6-5) 6 p.m. (ESPN)

Tigers lost to Florida State 57-0 (ouch!); but then the Wildcats ended their season with a 48-0 thumping from Tennessee. * Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, Fla.) No. 18 Alabama (8-3-1) vs. No. 12 North Carolina (10-2) 7 p.m. (TBS)

Last year's national champs have to settle for a lesser bowl against a tough, underrated opponent. * Alamo Bowl (San Antonio) Iowa (6-5) vs. California (8-4) 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Hawkeyes had few highlights this year, except for legendary coach Hayden Fry's 200th win; Cal opened with a win at Rose Bowl-bound UCLA and then slid. * Sat., Jan. 1 Hall of Fame Bowl (Tampa, Fla.) Michigan (7-4) vs. North Carolina State (7-4) 11 a.m. (ESPN)

Wolverines usually are thinking roses this time of year; State beat two bowl-bound teams. * Citrus Bowl (Orlando, Fla.) No. 13 Penn State (9-2) vs. No. 6 Tennessee (9-1-1) 1 p.m. (ABC)

Lions didn't grab Big Ten title in their first try, but a major bowl ain't bad; Volunteers' quarterback Heath Shuler may be drafted ahead of Florida State's Heisman-winner Charlie Ward. * Fiesta Bowl (Tempe, Ariz.) No. 10 Miami (9-2) vs. No. 16 Arizona (9-2) 1 p.m. (NBC)

Hurricanes, usually in the battle for No. 1, settle for a visit to the Pac-10 co-champs. * Carquest Bowl (Miami) No. 15 Boston College vs. Virginia (7-4) 1:30 p.m. (CBS)

BC's last-minute win at Notre Dame was arguably the most dramatic moment of the season; it certainly altered the national championship picture. * Cotton Bowl (Dallas) No. 7 Texas A&M (10-1) vs. No. 4 Notre Dame (10-1) 4:30 p.m. (NBC)

A rematch of last year's game, won by the Fighting Irish. Both teams scored gobs of points; Aggies have better defensive stats. * Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.) No. 14 UCLA (8-3) vs. No. 9 Wisconsin (9-1-1) 4:30 p.m. (ABC)

How can you not pull for the surprising Badgers, making their first Rose Bowl appearance in 31 years? * Orange Bowl (Miami) No. 2 Nebraska (11-0) vs. No.1 Florida State (11-1) 8 p.m. (NBC)

Can't play in warm weather? Fear of Florida? Whatever the reason, New Year's Day has been a Blue Year's Day for the `Huskers, who always seem to lose the big bowl game. Seminoles destroyed ordinary teams and cruised past even the good ones, except for one stumble. Beating Notre Dame would have made it all so much simpler. * Sugar Bowl (New Orleans) No. 8 Florida (10-2) vs. No. 3 West Virginia (11-0) 8:30 p.m. (ABC)

A win by the Gators could help arch-rival Florida State become No. 1. Mountaineers get a prime-time slot to state their case.

Only if you're trapped at the in-laws and want to avoid small talk.

The Big Names, the Big Games, the Glamor and the Glory.

Something intriguing here -- if you're a football fan. The national championship game (well, almost).

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