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Stewart Mandel inside.c.football

Posted: Tuesday December 14, 2004 11:09AM; Updated: Monday January 3, 2005 4:43PM
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SI.com's Stewart Mandel forecasts this season's 28 bowl games.
Dec. 14-Jan. 4
 
Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
NEW ORLEANS BOWL
North Texas (7-4) vs. Southern Miss (6-5)

Death, taxes and North Texas playing in the New Orleans Bowl. The Mean Green are making their fourth straight appearance in the Big Easy's "other" bowl game. Soon the school will have its own float in the Mardi Gras parade.
Southern Miss 24, North Texas 17
 
Dec. 21, 7:45 p.m. ET | ESPN
CHAMPS SPORTS BOWL
Georgia Tech (6-5) vs. Syracuse (6-5)

Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni is a modern-day Harry Houdini. As coaches were being axed all around him, Pasqualoni, despite massive rumors to the contrary, escaped the firing block for a 14th season. Where's the rabbit?
Georgia Tech 24, Syracuse 13
 
Dec. 22, 8 p.m. ET | ESPN
GMAC BOWL
Bowling Green (8-3) vs. Memphis (8-3)

The official payout is only $750,000 per team, but ask Ben Roethlisberger how many millions he made off this game. This year's launching-pad subject: Memphis RB DeAngelo Williams, the best 1,828-yard rusher you've never seen.
Memphis 35, Bowling Green 31
 
Dec. 23, 6:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
FORT WORTH BOWL
Marshall (6-5) vs. Cincinnati (6-5)

Both teams are back in the postseason following a year's absence. Both teams are joining new conferences next year. Both teams feature underrated senior QBs (Stan Hill and Gino Guidugli). Now are you going to watch? Didn't think so.
Cincinnati 27, Marshall 22
 
Dec. 23, 9:45 p.m. ET | ESPN
LAS VEGAS BOWL
UCLA (6-5) vs. Wyoming (6-5)

A bunch of Los Angelenos crashing Vegas? Not exactly a novel sight. A bunch of Wyoming folks in the desert? Now that should be something. A word of advice, Cowboys fans: They won't let you bring your shovel or parka to the pool.
UCLA 34, Wyoming 17
 
Dec. 24, 7 p.m. ET | ESPN
HAWAII BOWL
UAB (7-4) vs. Hawaii (7-5)

It's the end of an era in Hawaii -- Timmy Chang's last game. It wouldn't be right for him to go out with anything less than another 400-yard game. But the Blazers are no strangers to aerial displays themselves. Will it end before Christmas?
Hawaii 44, UAB 40
 
Dec. 27, 2 p.m. ET | ESPN
MPC COMPUTERS BOWL
No. 18 Virginia (8-3) vs. Fresno State (8-3)

What do you get for being academic-minded in college football today? If you're Tyrone Willingham, you get fired. And if you're Virginia, and your president refuses to play in a bowl game that conflicts with finals, you get sent to Boise.
Virginia 34, Fresno State 27
 
Dec. 27, 5:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
MOTOR CITY BOWL
Connecticut (7-4) vs. Toledo (9-3)

The Huskies, apparently not content with just dominating the men's and women's basketball tournaments, are setting their sights for the first time on football's postseason. This year, they're about a 12 seed, but their RPI is improving.
Connecticut 33, Toledo 27
 
Dec. 28, 6:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
INDEPENDENCE BOWL
Miami of Ohio (8-4) vs. Iowa State (6-5)

Putting the Big 12 North's champion up against the Big 12 South's wasn't really fair, so now the division's co-champ, Iowa State, will get a shot at someone more its size: the MAC East. If that doesn't work, we'll try the NFC West.
Miami of Ohio 28, Iowa State 17
 
Dec. 28, 9:45 p.m. ET | ESPN
INSIGHT BOWL
Notre Dame (6-5) vs. Oregon State (6-5)

Speaking of bad NFC West teams, the 49ers play Charlie Weis' Patriots on Jan. 2, which means the N.D. coach shouldn't worry about taking four hours to watch the Irish. The question is, will he still want to come to South Bend?
Oregon State 27, Notre Dame 24
 
Dec. 29, 4:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
HOUSTON BOWL
UTEP (8-3) vs. Colorado (7-5)

UTEP has not finished its season with a win since 1986, has not won a bowl game since 1967, has not beaten a Big 12 school since 1957 and has not won on national TV ... ever. We know Mike Price is a miracle worker, but c'mon.
Colorado 31, UTEP 14
 
Dec. 29, 8 p.m. ET | ESPN
ALAMO BOWL
Oklahoma State (7-4) vs. No. 24 Ohio State (7-4)

The Alamodome already has been good to Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr. once. He was MVP of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl there last year, breaking a 98-yard kickoff return. He'll need to do something similar if the Buckeyes hope to win.
Oklahoma State 24, Ohio State 17
 
Dec. 30, 1 p.m. ET | ESPN2
CONTINENTAL TIRE BOWL
No. 25 Boston College (8-3) vs. North Carolina (6-5)

The Big East wanted Connecticut to play in this game instead of the departing Eagles. The ACC wanted new member Boston College and lobbied the organizers. What a shocker, the ACC won a power struggle over the Big East.
North Carolina 27, Boston College 21
 
Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m. ET | ESPN2
EMERALD BOWL
New Mexico (7-4) vs. Navy (9-2)

It's a bowl game that would make the Village People -- who sang both San Francisco (You Got Me) and In the Navy -- proud. Meanwhile, Navy's Kyle Eckel has brought much pride to the nation's often forgotten fullbacks.
Navy 28, New Mexico 14
 
Dec. 30, 8 p.m. ET | ESPN
HOLIDAY BOWL
Texas Tech (7-4) vs. No. 4 Cal (10-1)

The Holiday Bowl has a proud history of high-scoring thrillers, and this one should be no exception -- at least the high-scoring part. And hey, if the Bears win, they can take a short drive up I-5 and get to L.A. in plenty of time for the Rose Bowl.
Cal 52, Texas Tech 28
 
Dec. 30, 11 p.m. ET | ESPN2
SILICON VALLEY CLASSIC
Northern Illinois (8-3) vs. Troy (7-4)

Who, you ask, would possibly watch this game besides fans of the two teams and hardcore gamblers? Drunk bar patrons across the country, that's who. It's 11 p.m. ET the night before New Year's Eve. No one's going to work tomorrow.
Northern Illinois 26, Troy 22
 
Dec. 31, Noon ET | ESPN
MUSIC CITY BOWL
Minnesota (6-5) vs. Alabama (6-5)

This is the second time in three years the Gophers enter their bowl game having lost at least three straight. Glen Mason doesn't do second halves of seasons particularly well. Somehow, though, he always turns it around by bowl time.
Minnesota 27, Alabama 16
 
Dec. 31, 2 p.m. ET | CBS
SUN BOWL
No. 21 Arizona State (8-3) vs. Purdue (7-4)

How is it that CBS shows all these great SEC games all year, but its only piece of the postseason is the Sun Bowl? What's the problem, Verne Lundquist doesn't like to travel during the holidays? At least give the man a New Year's Day game.
Purdue 34, Arizona State 27
 
Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
LIBERTY BOWL
No. 10 Boise State (11-0) vs. No. 7 Louisville (10-1)

For all the bitching the Liberty Bowl guy did about losing Utah, he still ended up with a phenomenal game. The last thing you want when watching a bowl game is a 13-7 snoozer, and barring a blizzard, that's not going to happen here.
Louisville 55, Boise State 48
 
Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
PEACH BOWL
No. 14 Miami (8-3) vs. No. 20 Florida (7-4)

The last time these teams met in a bowl game, the 2001 Sugar, there was a pregame scuffle between the players on Bourbon Street. Expect them to throw down again this year -- when a 'Cane tries to steal a Gator's Chick-fil-A sandwich.
Miami 24, Florida 20
 
Jan. 1, 11 a.m. ET | ESPN
OUTBACK BOWL
No. 8 Georgia (9-2) vs. No. 16 Wisconsin (9-2)

If you like watching quarterbacks get flattened, tune in to this one. Georgia has first-team All-America defensive end David Pollack. Wisconsin has first-team All-America end Erasmus James. The over/under on sacks between the two is five.
Georgia 27, Wisconsin 24
 
Jan. 1, 11 a.m. ET | FOX
COTTON BOWL
No. 15 Tennessee (9-3) vs. No. 22 Texas A&M (7-4)

The Aggies have a distinguished history of losing in the Cotton Bowl, which they've done in each of their past four trips there and five of their last six. The Vols, however, have a recent history of flopping against inferior teams in bowl games.
Texas A&M 31, Tennessee 24
 
Jan. 1, 12:30 p.m. ET | NBC
GATOR BOWL
No. 17 Florida State (8-3) vs. West Virginia (8-3)

There will be few dry eyes as Chris Rix jogs out of the tunnel for the last time as a 'Nole. And then gets benched in the second quarter for the last time as a 'Nole. And then has to bail out Wyatt Sexton in the fourth quarter for ...
Florida State 21, West Virginia 16
 
Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET | ABC
CAPITAL ONE BOWL
No. 12 LSU (9-2) vs. No. 11 Iowa (9-2)

Who says you need to run the ball to win? Iowa ranks 117th nationally in rushing yardage -- dead last -- and it's playing on New Year's Day. It's a fitting reward, then, that Kirk Ferentz has wound up his season at the Magic Kingdom.
LSU 17, Iowa 13
 
Jan. 1, 4:30 p.m. ET | ABC
ROSE BOWL
No. 6 Texas (10-1) vs. No. 13 Michigan (9-2)

Should they be here? Should they not be here? The 'Horns will be too busy chowing down at Lawry's to worry about it. Linebacker Derrick Johnson might not eat much, though -- he'll be saving room for Michael Hart and Chad Henne.
Texas 29, Michigan 24
 
Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET | ABC
FIESTA BOWL
No. 5 Utah (11-0) vs. No. 19 Pittsburgh (8-3)

Lame-duck coaches staying for bowl games is nothing new, but two in the same game? A BCS game? Why wouldn't Urban Meyer and Walt Harris just cut the cord? You'd stay too if it meant getting to coach Alex Smith and Tyler Palko.
Utah 38, Pittsburgh 27
 
Jan. 3, 8 p.m. ET | ABC
SUGAR BOWL
No. 3 Auburn (12-0) vs. No. 9 Virginia Tech (10-2)

The Hokies started the year playing the nation's No. 1 team, USC, and now they're ending it against No. 3. Their last opponent, Miami, was also ranked as high as No. 3. Any interest in opening next season against Oklahoma?
Auburn 24, Virginia Tech 14
 
Jan. 4, 8 p.m. ET | ABC
ORANGE BOWL
No. 1 USC (12-0) vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (12-0)

Two Heisman-winning quarterbacks. Two Heisman-finalist running backs. Two former national coaches of the year. Ten current AP All-Americans. There hasn't been this much star power in Miami since ... Saturday night in South Beach.
Oklahoma 24, Southern Cal 20
Last week: 7-1. Overall: 72-40.

Stewart Mandel covers college sports for SI.com.

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