Picking away at the bowls 

The easiest approach to this bowl preview would be to talk about what could have been. But we've done enough of that already. Let's deal only with reality.

Some matchups are better than others. For instance, if you're looking for a likely rout, start with Texas whipping Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, as the Longhorns prove they deserved a shot at the national title. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

And if you want a great game, look for the close scores below, such as Oregon and Oklahoma State in the Holiday, among others.

How about Air Force? We'll discuss the Armed Forces Bowl in detail next week, but three other Mountain West teams play during the days ahead, and all (Colorado State, TCU and Brigham Young) could win.

Enough preliminaries. Let's go through the bowl predictions:

EagleBank, Washington, D.C., Dec. 20: Wake Forest 24, Navy 20. Middies can't quite keep up with Demon Deacons.

New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 20: Colorado State 20, Fresno State 17. CSU finished better, and Fresno struggled.

magicJack, St. Petersburg, Fla., Dec. 20: South Florida 37, Memphis 16. This one could be ugly.

Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Dec. 20: BYU 41, Arizona 27. BYU passer Max Hall has a big night.

R+L Carriers, New Orleans, Dec. 21: Troy 34, Southern Miss 22. Does anybody care in this part of the world? Didn't think so.

Poinsettia, San Diego, Dec. 23: TCU 31, Boise State 17. Not many people know it, but TCU's defense is as good as any in the nation.

Hawaii, Honolulu, Dec. 24: Hawaii 29, Notre Dame 27. Irish are underdogs, so this wouldn't be a surprise.

Motor City, Detroit, Dec. 26: Central Michigan 22, Florida Atlantic 10. Lots of depth in the Mid-American Conference.

Meineke, Charlotte, N.C., Dec. 27: West Virginia 19, North Carolina 17. Last game for WVU quarterback Pat White.

Champs Sports, Orlando, Fla., Dec. 27: Florida State 27, Wisconsin 23. FSU has the edge in speed.

Emerald, San Francisco, Dec. 27: California 35, Miami (Fla.) 20. Hurricanes ran out of gas late in season, and Cal is just a few miles from its campus.

Independence, Shreveport, La., Dec. 28: Louisiana Tech 16, Northern Illinois 10. Yuck. This has to be the least-appealing bowl of them all.

Papajohns.com, Birmingham, Ala., Dec. 29: North Carolina State 31, Rutgers 30. Entertaining from start to finish, but the Wolfpack is a program on the rise.

Alamo, San Antonio, Dec. 29: Missouri 40, Northwestern 29. Wildcats are a threat, but Mizzou rules with quarterback Chase Daniel and receiver Jeremy Maclin.

Humanitarian, Boise, Idaho, Dec. 30: Maryland 27, Nevada 17. Unless the overlooked Terps can't handle the blue turf, they'll handle Nevada.

Texas, Houston, Dec. 30: Rice 28, Western Michigan 16. They weren't making national headlines, but the Owls were hot in November, and this is a home game.

Holiday, San Diego, Dec. 30: Oklahoma State 49, Oregon 48. Two superior offenses, a four-hour thriller, worth planning your night (it's a Tuesday) to watch.

Armed Forces, Fort Worth, Texas, Dec. 31: Air Force 37, Houston 34. Falcons want their first bowl victory in eight years, but it won't come easily.

Sun, El Paso, Texas, Dec. 31: Oregon State 35, Pittsburgh 23. Hard to imagine Panthers keeping pace with the Pac-10 Beavers, who were one win away from the Rose Bowl.

Music City, Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 31: Vanderbilt 25, Boston College 22. Logic points to BC, but Vandy has the home crowd and more to prove in its first bowl since 1982.

Insight, Tempe, Ariz., Dec. 31: Kansas 24, Minnesota 17. KU did win the Orange Bowl last year and still has many players from that team.

Chick-fil-A, Atlanta, Dec. 31: Georgia Tech 33, LSU 27. This one is based simply on the fact that Tech was tough in November, while LSU finished with two losses.

Outback, Tampa, Fla., Jan. 1: Iowa 22, South Carolina 20. Hawkeyes' star runner Shonn Greene makes the difference in the first game of 2009.

Capital One, Orlando, Fla., Jan. 1: Georgia 26, Michigan State 20. Bulldogs' speed will be too much, and runner Knowshon Moreno makes his case for jumping to the NFL.

Gator, Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 1: Clemson 37, Nebraska 27. Clemson's James Davis and C.J. Spiller, nicknamed Thunder and Lightning, run through the Cornhuskers.

Rose, Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 1: Southern Cal 41, Penn State 17. Trojans make their case for national playoffs by spanking the Big Ten champion Nittany Lions.

Orange, Miami, Jan. 1: Cincinnati 24, Virginia Tech 21. Bearcats were overlooked by many.

Cotton, Dallas, Jan. 2: Texas Tech 37, Mississippi 20. Rebels can't keep up with Tech.

Liberty, Memphis, Tenn., Jan. 2: East Carolina 17, Kentucky 16. Low-scoring game on a cold night. (Air Force old-timers remember some frigid games in this one, especially 1989.)

Sugar, New Orleans, Jan. 2: Utah 27, Alabama 24. Somebody has to pick this upset.

International, Toronto, Jan. 3: Connecticut 23, Buffalo 13. Big East beats Mid-American.

Fiesta, Glendale, Ariz., Jan. 5: Texas 45, Ohio State 24. OSU's warts show on BCS stage.

GMAC, Mobile, Ala., Jan. 6: Ball State 34, Tulsa 31. Both teams hoped for more than this.

BCS Championship Game, Miami, Jan. 8: Florida 40, Oklahoma 37. Instant classic, with Tim Tebow outlasting Sam Bradford, who hasn't seen a defense this quick.



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