Viewers' Guide to College Bowl Games
MONDAY, DECEMBER 25
3:30 p.m. (ABC)
No. 11 Kansas (9-2) vs. UCLA (7-4),
Both coaches head elsewhere after this game. Kansas's Glen Mason goes to the University of Georgia after giving the Jayhawks the kind of national attention usually reserved for its No. 1-rated basketball team. Two lopsided losses - at archrival Kansas State, 41-7, and at home to Nebraska, 41-3 - marred the year. But Kansas can also point to a nine-win season.
UCLA coach Terry Donahue, retiring to the broadcast booth, has a bowl record of 8-3-1, ranking him second behind Florida State's Bobby Bowden for best career winning percentage. The Bruins beat crosstown rival Southern Cal (for the fifth consecutive year) to cap their season. Watch for Karim Abdul Jabbar, who averaged 142 yards rushing per game. Gigantic offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden (6 ft., 8 in., 310 pounds) helps open the holes.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 27
Copper Bowl **
8 p.m. (ESPN)
Air Force (8-4) vs. Texas Tech (8-3),
in Tucson, Ariz.
Air Force bombed Army and Navy to continue its domination of the other military academies. The Falcons shared the Western Athletic Conference title with Colorado State, Utah, and Brigham Young. Beau Morgan has emerged as one of the nation's top quarterbacks, a running threat who threw 19 TDs.
Texas Tech, moving to the new Big 12 Conference after the demise of the Southwest Conference, began with a near-upset of Penn State and later beat highly rated Texas A&M. Back Byron Hanspard rushed for 1,374 yards and caught passes for 474 yards.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28
Alamo Bowl **
8 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 19 Texas A&M (8-3) vs. No. 14 Michigan (9-3),
in San Antonio
The A&M Aggies lost only to bowl-bound Colorado, Texas Tech, and Texas. Versatile All-American Leeland McElroy rushed for 1,122 yards, caught 25 passes for 379 yards, returned 9 kicks for 208 yards, and scored 16 touchdowns.
Michigan played five bowl-bound teams and went 2-3. But one of those wins was a late-season defeat of Ohio State that knocked it out of the Rose Bowl and national championship contention. Wolverine running back Tim Biakabutuka averages 6.2 yards per carry. That, with his 300-plus yard game against Ohio State, won him some Heisman votes.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29
Sun Bowl *r
2:30 p.m. (CBS)
No. 20 Washington (7-3-1) vs. Iowa (7-4),
in El Paso, Texas
Washington's Huskies aren't the national championship contenders former coach Don James put together a few years back, but they still managed quality wins over UCLA and Stanford and tied Rose Bowl-bound Southern Cal.
Iowa's Hawkeyes flew high for a while, winning the first five games in a soft schedule. But they dropped four in a row to the iron of the Big Ten before recovering to take their final two and a bowl bid. Look for gimmick plays from longtime Iowa Coach Hayden Fry. Iowa's tight ends provide a visual quirk: They stand, rather than crouch, at the line of scrimmage to see the field better.
Independence Bowl *
5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Michigan State (6-4-1) vs. Louisiana State (6-4-1),
in Shreveport, La.
The Spartans are one of six Big Ten teams playing in bowls this year. They capped their season with a 28-25 upset of archrival Michigan.
LSU struggled at times, but beat bowl-bound Auburn and Arkansas.
Holiday Bowl **
9 p.m. (ESPN)
Colorado State (8-3) vs. No. 10 Kansas State (9-2),
in San Diego
Western Athletic Conference cochampion Colorado State has shown in recent years that some pretty good football is played in Ft. Collins, Colo., as well as in Boulder. In addition to his standout play at defensive back, CSU's Greg Myers set a school record by returning three punts for touchdowns and broke the WAC mark for career punt-return yardage.
Kansas State lost only to highly ranked Colorado and Nebraska. Its offense rides on the arm of quarterback Matt Miller, who passed for 2,043 yards and 22 TDs. K-State defensive back Chris Canty tied for the NCAA lead with eight interceptions, including two for touchdowns.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30
Liberty Bowl *
East Carolina (8-3) vs. Stanford (7-3-1),
in Memphis, Tenn.
East Carolina, whose season was highlighted by a 27-24 upset over Syracuse, is led by Marcus Crandell (2,952 yards in total offense).
Stanford beat Oregon, but lost to three other bowl teams. Placekicker Eric Abrams (16 of 18 on field goals) is one of the most accurate in the nation.
Carquest Bowl *
7:30 p.m. (TBS)
North Carolina (6-5) vs. No. 24 Arkansas (8-4),
The Tarheels beat cross-state rival North Carolina State to grab a season finale sixth win and a bowl berth. Watch for senior defensive lineman Marcus Jones.
Arkansas may be Cinderella No. 2 this year (Northwestern is No. 1). The Razorbacks overachieved their way to impressive wins over Alabama and Auburn.
Peach Bowl *
8 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 18 Virginia (8-4) vs. Georgia (6-5),
The Cavaliers beat Florida State, knocking them out of national-championship contention and ended their season with an upset of Virginia Tech.
Georgia's Bulldogs finished with a 18-17 squeaker over Georgia Tech to grab a bowl berth. It wasn't enough to save the job of coach Ray Goff, who was not rehired and will be coaching his final game.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31
Sugar Bowl ***
7 p.m. (ABC)
No. 9 Texas (10-1-1) vs. No. 13 Virginia Tech (9-2),
in New Orleans
Texas is back in a big way, ready to make a big impression on the new Big 12 Conference (formerly the Big 8) next year. Only a big loss to Notre Dame and a tie with Oklahoma flawed its, well, big season. Fullback Ricky Williams broke Earl Campbell's single-season rushing record. He teams with tailback Shon Mitchell to give the Longhorns' ground attack a 1-2 punch.
Tech's Hokies tied for the Big East title, beating mighty Miami (sitting out this bowl season on NCAA suspension) and Syracuse, earning their first visit to a major bowl. The defense, anchored by lineman Cornell Brown, is ranked No. 1 in the nation against the run and 10th overall.
MONDAY, JANUARY 1
Outback Bowl **
11 a.m. (ESPN)
No. 15 Penn State (8-3) vs. No. 16 Auburn (8-3),
in Tampa, Fla.
After losing three players early in the first round of the NFL draft last year, the Nittany Lions could be expected to have an "off" year. A lesser bowl is about as "off" as it ever gets for coach Joe Paterno, who has a 16-8-1 record in bowl games.
Auburn, coached by Terry Bowden, son of the legendary Florida State coach, will meet Penn State for the first time ever. It lost to bowl-bound Florida, LSU, and Arkansas, but finished with a satisfying 31-27 win over Alabama.
Citrus Bowl ***
1 p.m. (ABC)
No. 4 (tie) Tennessee (10-1) vs. No. 4 (tie) Ohio State (11-1),
in Orlando, Fla.
Tennessee lost only to undefeated Florida, while an upset by Michigan was the only thing between Ohio State and perfection. Vols Quarterback Peyton Manning, an early favorite for next year's Heisman Trophy, had a monster year, leading an offense that scored 30 or more points in nine of 11 contests.
The Buckeyes' All-Big-10 quarterback Bobby Hoying had some eye-popping stats, too. But most eyes will be on Heisman Trophy-winner Eddie George, who led the nation with 24 touchdowns and was fifth overall in rushing, averaging 152 yards per game. First-team All-American Terry Glenn caught 57 passes for a school-record 1,316 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Gator Bowl *
12:30 p.m. (NBC)
No. 23 Clemson (8-3) vs. Syracuse (8-3),
in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Clemson Tigers lost to three bowl-bound teams, then finished strong with five straight wins. Clemson is No. 4 in the nation in rushing, averaging 259 yards a game. Raymond Priester broke the team's season rushing record with 1,286 yards.
The Orangemen's nimble quarterback Donovan McNabb threw for 1,991 yards and 16 TDs. Marvin Harrison caught 56 passes for 1,131 yards.
Cotton Bowl **
1:30 p.m. (CBS)
No. 7 Colorado (9-2) vs. No. 12 Oregon (9-2),
The Colorado Buffaloes, under boyish rookie coach Rick Neuheisel, stampeded to a 5-0 record before Kansas and Nebraska lassoed them.
The Ducks were mighty, but missed the Rose Bowl by falling at home against Arizona State and Stanford. All-purpose back Ricky Whittle provides excitement.
Rose Bowl ***
5 p.m. (ABC)
No. 3 Northwestern (10-1) vs. No. 17 U. of S. California (8-2-1),
in Pasadena, Calif.
The scoreboard snapshot of the season: Miami 30, Northwestern 28. That was Miami of Ohio, mind you. Without that improbable loss, Northwestern would be in the middle of the "Who's No. 1?" debate. Not only did the Wildcats win all their other games, but those victories included steam-rollering traditional powers Notre Dame, Penn State, and Michigan. This year's Cinderella team heads to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1949. Heisman Trophy candidate Darnell Autry, a sophomore, gained 1,675 yards and scored 15 TDs. The Wildcats' defense yielded the fewest points in the nation. Suddenly successful Gary Barnett is rumored to be filling just about every vacant head coaching job in the land.
Southern Cal rolled to six straight wins this year until its old nemesis, Notre Dame, derailed it. Coach John Robinson knows the Rose Bowl; it's his fourth visit as USC coach. Everybody's All-American wideout Keyshawn Johnson set a national record with 12 straight 100-yard receiving games.
Orange Bowl ***
8 p.m. (CBS)
No. 6 Notre Dame (9-2) vs. No. 8 Florida State (9-2),
Florida State has won 10 straight bowls under veteran coach Bobby Bowden, who's 14-3-1 in bowl visits. Watch for Warrick Dunn, the first FSU back to run for more than 1,000 yards in back to back seasons.
Notre Dame looked as if it might be in for a tough year when it lost its opener to Northwestern (before anyone knew just how good Northwestern was). Coach Lou Holtz, who this year became only the 15th college coach to win 200 or more games, was absent for part of the year with a physical problem. But despite losing highly touted quarterback Ron Powlus to an injury, the Irish finished strong with a 44-14 finale at Air Force.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 2
Fiesta Bowl ****
8:30 p.m. (CBS)
No. 1 Nebraska (11-0) vs. No. 2 Florida (12-0),
in Tempe, Ariz.
Every poll agrees: The Cornhuskers and Gators are No. 1 and No. 2, and this will be the "championship". Payout per team: $8.58 million.
* If you're not a graduate and you're still watching, you're a pro scout, right?
** Beats shoveling the walk.
*** Exciting players, crafty coaches, glittery pageantry: football memories in the making.
**** The Game: No. 1 and No. 2 knock heads. It doesn't get any better than this.