Liberty BowlPittsburgh (6-5) vs. No. 22 Southern Miss...

December 31, 1997

Liberty Bowl

Pittsburgh (6-5) vs. No. 22 Southern Miss (8-3)

Site: Memphis, Tenn.

Time: 3: 30 p.m., today

TV: ESPN

Line: Southern Miss by 10

Coaches: Walt Harris (6-5);

Jeff Bower (42-35-1)

Outlook: Southern Mississippi, which went undefeated in Conference USA, is led offensively by junior QB Lee Roberts and senior RB Harold Shaw (1,045 yards rushing, 16 TDs), the league's top rusher. The Golden Eagles' defense, ranked 11th in the nation against the pass and 18th in total defense, has one of the nation's best secondaries, led by third-team All-America CB Patrick Surtain and first-team all-CUSA FS Perry Phenix. Pittsburgh became eligible for a bowl with late-season wins over Virginia Tech and West Virginia. Senior QB Pete Gonzalez (2,657 yards passing, 30 TDs) has become a pro prospect with a strong finish, including a five-touchdown performance in a 41-38 win over West Virginia. WR Terry Murphy (13 TDs), a junior-college transfer, is his favorite target.

Fiesta Bowl

No. 10 Kansas State (10-1) vs. No. 14 Syracuse (9-3)

Site: Tempe, Ariz.

Time: 7 p.m., today

TV: CBS

Line: Kansas State by 3 1/2

Coaches: Bill Snyder (65-37-1);

Paul Pasqualoni (60-21-1)

Outlook: Kansas State closed out the regular season by winning seven straight. QB Michael Bishop is a second-team all-Big 12 and the league's Offensive Newcomer of the Year. The junior-college transfer passed for 13 TDs and ran for nine, but the ground game is the key for Kansas State, which will rely on RBs Eric Hickson (750 yards rushing, 10 TDs) and Mike Lawrence. After suffering disappointing losses to N.C. State and Oklahoma, Syracuse won eight straight and captured its first outright Big East championship with a 33-13 win at Miami. QB Donovan McNabb has led the turnaround with 2,892 total yards, throwing just six interceptions. Syracuse's defense features quick LB Antwaune Ponds and first-team All-America and Big East Defensive Player of the Year Donovin Darius at safety.

Sun Bowl

No. 16 Arizona State (8-3) vs. Iowa (7-4)

Site: El Paso, Texas

Time: 2: 15 p.m., today

TV: CBS

Line: Iowa by 6

Coaches: Bruce Snyder (40-27);

Hayden Fry (140-80-6)

Outlook: Freshman starting QB Ryan Kealy injured his knee in Arizona State's season finale, a 28-16 loss to rival Arizona, and will not play. The Sun Devils replace him with Steve Campbell, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound junior who will make his first career start. Campbell will get help from sophomore RB J. R. Redmond, one of the most exciting players in the Pacific-10. Redmond led the league in all-purpose yards (2,455), including 865 rushing despite a midseason injury. Senior QB Matt Sherman missed Iowa's last five games of the season with a hand injury but is expected to play. Iowa allows only 12.9 ppg and is ranked second in the Big Ten in total defense. DT Jared DeVries is a second-team All-America.

Pub Date: 12/31/97

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