Eagle Bank Bowl (December 20 @ RFK Stadium, Washington, DC): Navy vs. Duke
With their triple-option attack humming as smoothly as ever despite the loss of Paul Johnson, the Midshipmen will stay close to home and take on my surprise bowler, the Duke Blue Devils. If not for Tim Brewster, David Cutcliffe would be a clear-cut choice for National Coach of the Year, because the restoration job he's done in Durham has been nothing short of remarkable.
New Mexico Bowl (December 20 @ University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM): Fresno State vs. Air Force
No disrespect to either of the projected participants, but this game is Exhibit A for the argument that there are too damned many bowls these days. Do we really need this game? I mean, Albuquerque is beautiful enough as a city, but it gets cold there in December.
St. Petersburg Bowl (December 20 @ Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL): Miami vs. South Florida
The Bulls and Hurricanes get an in-state postseason head start on their five-game series that begins next season.
Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl (December 20 @ Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV): Arizona vs. Texas Christian
With Utah snapped up by the BCS, Mountain West runner-up TCU slides into this spot to take on Mike Stoops' Wildcats, bowling for the first time since 1998.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (December 21 @ the Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA): Troy vs. Marshall
Mark Snyder saves his job as he squeezes the Thundering Herd into a match-up with the explosive Trojans of Troy.
SDCUU Poinsettia Bowl (December 23 @ Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA): Brigham Young vs. San Jose State
A strong contender for a BCS at-large earlier in the season, the Cougars will have to settle for a trip to their old Holiday Bowl stomping grounds and a match-up with Dick Tomey's Trojans, inserted into this game due to a shortage of six-win Pac-10 teams.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (December 24 @ Aloha Stadium, Aiea, HI): Memphis vs. Hawaii
The Rainbows do just enough to guarantee themselves a home bowl date on Christmas Eve against a singularly uninspiring Memphis squad.
Motor City Bowl (December 26 @ Ford Field, Detroit, MI): Ball State vs. Wisconsin
Congratulations, Ball State! Your reward for possibly going 13-0 is an all-expenses-paid trip to Detroit in the middle of freaking winter. Enjoy!
Meineke Car Care Bowl (December 27 @ Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC): Virginia Tech vs. Pittsburgh
Having seen their inside track to the Big East title go up in smoke with an embarrassing home rout to Rutgers, Wann-stache's Panthers wind up in a match-up with a disappointing Virginia Tech team, which saw its own season go sideways in this very stadium against East Carolina back in August.
Champs Sports Bowl (December 27 @ the Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL): Maryland vs. Iowa
The schizoid Terps take their bi-polar game to central Florida to take on a surprisingly respectable Iowa team.
Emerald Bowl (December 27 @ AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA): Virginia vs. Oregon
Back from the dead after a god-awful September, the Cavaliers will head west to face an Oregon team beset by upheaval at the quarterback position as well as some of the ugliest uniforms in all of college football. If I were a Giants fan, I would not be happy at all about my club's beautiful ballpark being churned up by a couple of second-rate teams in a second-rate bowl game.
PetroSun Independence Bowl (December 28 @ Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA): Nebraska vs. Kentucky
It's Big Red vs. Big Blue in Shreveport, as Bo Pelini's dubious Cornhuskers tangle with Rich Brooks' equally dubious Wildcats.
Papajohns.com Bowl (December 29 @ Legion Field, Birmingham AL): Louisville vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
The Sun Belt gets a second bid, thanks to a shortage of SEC teams meeting the six-win minimum for bowl eligibility. A train wreck in 2007, Louisville has been a quiet surprise this year. This would be the first postseason game for the Rajin' Cajuns since a loss to Tennessee State in the 1970 Grantland Rice Bowl.
Valero Energy Alamo Bowl (December 29 @ the Alamo Dome, San Antonio, TX): Illinois vs. Oklahoma State
A couple of high-powered offenses take center stage in a monument to read-option football and the color orange. The duel between Juice Williams and Zac Robinson should be a crowd-pleaser.
Roady's Humanitarian Bowl (December 30 @ Bronco Stadium, Boise, ID): Boise State vs. Wake Forest
The Broncos will probably finish the season undefeated, but with Utah in line to receive the BCS at-large for non-BCS teams, the reward for Chris Peterson's crew will be a home game on the frigid Smurf Turf against a Wake Forest team that has had all sorts of problems scoring the football this year.
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl (December 30 @ Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA): Oregon State vs. Texas Tech
If the Beavers don't take advantage of their inside track to their first Rose Bowl bid since 1965- they've already beaten USC and have Cal and Oregon at home in Corvallis in November- they'll head to the Land of Jack Tripper to face Mike Leach's volatile Red Raiders, who thrashed Cal the last time they appeared in this game.
Texas Bowl (December 30 @ Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX): Colorado vs. East Carolina
A contender for a BCS at-large spot before an October swoon, the Pirates will settle for a trip to Houston and a match-up with Dan Hawkins' Buffs, who have come to earth after a hot start but should have enough juice to go bowling.
Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl (December 31 @ Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX): Colorado State vs. Houston
Two mildly surprising non-BCS teams under first-year head coaches square off in this rather bellicosely named game in Fort Worth.
Brut Sun Bowl (December 31 @ Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, TX): California vs. Connecticut
The mercurial Golden Bears take on the Huskies in college football's second-oldest bowl game.
Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl (December 31 @ LP Field, Nashville, TN): Vanderbilt vs. Boston College
The Commodores have struggled on the cusp of bowl eligibility, but I still think they'll get that sixth win- my guess is over Tennessee- and qualify for a virtual home game against the Eagles.
Insight Bowl (December 31 @ Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ): Northwestern vs. Kansas
The Wildcats, safely bowl-eligible but plagued by injuries, will meet Mark Mangino's Jayhawks, who have found out the hard way that it's a lot tougher to win double-digit games when there are actual good teams on the schedule.
Chick-fil-A Bowl (December 31 @ the Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA): Georgia Tech vs. Auburn
Paul Johnson's Yellow Jackets stay close to campus to face the punch-less Auburn Tigers, to whom I'm probably giving too much credit by even projecting a bowl game at all, let alone this bowl game. Auburn is a symbol of one of the more soft-peddled stories of this college football season- the relative weakness of the SEC. Thanks to coaching upheaval, injuries, and lousy play from the quarterback position, God's Gift to Conferences just isn't as deep as it's made out to be.
Outback Bowl (January 1 @ Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL): Michigan State vs. South Carolina
Mark Dantonio's Spartans make their first New Year's Day appearance since 2000, as they take on the Ole' Ball Coach and his stingy Gamecocks.
Capital One Bowl (January 1 @ Citrus Bowl Stadium, Orlando, FL): Minnesota vs. Georgia
The Bulldogs, of whom everything was expected, meet the Gophers, of whom nothing was expected, in Orlando. In two seasons in Gold Country, Tim Brewster will pull off what Glen Mason couldn't pull off in eleven- a trip to a New Year's Day bowl game. And bigger things aren't yet outside the realm of possibility: if Minnesota wins out, Penn State stays perfect and gets the BCS title bid, and Ohio State slips up again, the Gophers could be off to Pasadena for their first Rose Bowl since 1962.
Konica Minolta Gator Bowl (January 1 @ Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Jacksonville, FL): Florida State vs. Notre Dame
The surprising Seminoles and the revived Irish square off in a meeting somewhat less significant than their 1-vs-2 showdown back in 1993. Look for Charlie Weis's team to break out the green jerseys in a desperate bid to snap their nine-game bowl losing streak.
AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic (January 2 @ the Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX): Oklahoma vs. LSU
The Sooners will finish up an unfulfilling season in Dallas against LSU, which started out the season as a national title contender but has been badly exposed in lopsided losses to Florida and Georgia.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl (January 2 @ Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN): Tulsa vs. Ole Miss
Another possibly undefeated non-BCS qualifier, the explosive Golden Hurricane will travel to Memphis to face the Rebels, who will enjoy a decided home-field advantage in this one.
International Bowl (January 3 @ Rogers Centre, Toronto, ON): Cincinnati vs. Central Michigan
Brian Kelly's new team takes on Brian Kelly's old team north of the border. I believe I was saying something about "too damned many bowl games"...
GMAC Bowl (January 6 @ Leed Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL): Rice vs. Western Michigan
The Owls take their high-octane passing attack to Mobile in search of their first postseason victory since beating Bart Starr and Alabama in the 1954 Cotton Bowl (a game made famous by ‘Bama's Tommy Lewis coming off the sideline to tackle Rice's Dicky Moegle.)
Rose Bowl (January 1 @ the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA): Ohio State vs. USC
The Buckeyes and Trojans meet in a re-match of USC's 35-3 rout in September. Ohio State can probably absorb another loss- and I think there's a good chance they will lose again, to Illinois in mid-November- and still get a BCS at-large bid. USC still has hopes of getting to the title game but would need an out-and-out bloodletting to get there. Due to Penn State's elevation into BCS title-game frontrunner status, I'm revising my prediction from a few weeks ago, when I had the Buckeyes in the Cap One Bowl against Georgia.
FedEx Orange Bowl (January 1 @ Dolphin Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL): North Carolina vs. West Virginia
Two weeks ago, I had Virginia Tech and Pitt in this game. Now I've bumped the Hokies and Panthers down to the Meineke Car Care Bowl, and elevated Butch Davis's Tarheels and Bill Stewart's Mountaineers to BCS status. I've said it before, I'll say it again- no BCS conferences are as tough to prognosticate as the Big East and ACC. This may be a BCS game in name and payout, but it feels more like one of those mid-December bowls they used to televise on Raycom. Honestly, have either of these leagues done more in the last five years to deserve an automatic bid than, say, the Mountain West?
Allstate Sugar Bowl (January 2 @ the Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA): Alabama vs. Texas
As impressive as the Longhorns have looked in beating Oklahoma, Missouri, and Oklahoma State the last three weeks, I'm still inclined to think they're going to get tripped up in the Big 12 title game in Kansas City against the same Missouri team they hung 56 points on a couple of weeks ago. And I don't think that Alabama will survive an SEC title-game match-up with a Florida team that looks to be hitting its stride in a big way right now. So we'll be left with a meeting of old-school powerhouses, one-loss at-large teams, in the Big Easy. It should be fun.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (January 5 @ University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ): Missouri vs. Utah
I've been on Missouri's bandwagon since day one, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let a couple of losses push me off now. I still like Chase Daniel and Co. to win the Big 12 North, and I still like them to knock off Texas in the title game in front of a friendly crowd in Arrowhead Stadium. I'm a stubborn bastard like that. As for Utah, they get TCU and BYU at home, and they should win both of those games and run the table to lock down an at-large spot.
FedEx BCS National Championship Game (January 8 @ Dolphin Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL): Florida vs. Penn State
Penn State is all but home free to a perfect regular season after defeating Ohio State last Saturday. Florida is starting to hit on all cylinders, and when the Gators are playing well, they're the best team in the SEC and, quite possibly, the best in the nation. I see them winning out, jumping past Alabama with a win over the Tide in the conference title game, and taking advantage of a Texas loss to get a crack at the crystal football.