Today's bowl lineups

January 01, 1999

Outback Bowl

No. 22 Penn State (8-3)

vs. Kentucky (7-4)

When: Today, 11 a.m.

Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.

TV: ESPN

Line: Penn State by 7

Outlook: The Nittany Lions looked awful in late-season losses at Michigan and Wisconsin, but closed with a 51-28 victory over Michigan State. The offense was hampered by inexperience, injuries and a lack of playmakers -- especially at WR. Junior QB Kevin Thompson (six TD passes) hasn't developed as hoped. Freshman Eric McCoo (822 yards rushing, 6.5 yards per carry) is a rising star, but fellow TB Cordell Mitchell may not play because of a shoulder injury. The defense is fierce, although it did bully some lesser opponents. The unit features LBs LaVar Arrington (second-team All-American) and Brandon Short and allows just 15.4 ppg. Coach Joe Paterno is 18-9-1 in bowls. Penn State will be playing in its eighth straight Jan. 1 bowl. The Wildcats lost to all the SEC heavyweights but can score with anyone. Prolific junior QB Tim Couch directs the nation's third-ranked total offense (534.2 ypg). Coach Hal Mumme's short-passing system has helped Couch complete 72.3 percent of his passes for 4,275 yards and 36 TDs. WR/KR Craig Yeast (85 catches, 1,311 yards, 15 TDs) is one of the most underrated players in the country. FB Derek Homer (716 yards rushing, seven TDs) provides a change of pace. RB Anthony White is also a fine receiver. The defense, not bad against the run but susceptible to the pass, might match up well here. Kentucky has not been to a bowl game since 1993 and has not been to a New Year's bowl since the 1952 Cotton Bowl. Cotton Bowl

No. 25 Mississippi State (8-4)

vs. No. 20 Texas (8-3)

When: Today, 11 a.m.

Where: Cotton Bowl, Dallas

TV: Fox

Line: Texas by 6 1/2

Outlook: The Bulldogs did not have to play Florida or Georgia in the SEC, but did win a nail-biter against Arkansas. And MSU even led No. 1 Tennessee in the fourth quarter of the league title game before falling, 24-14. RB James Johnson (1,383 yards rushing, 12 TDs) is a banger with speed. He was hobbled by a groin injury down the stretch, but should be healthy here. A strong offensive line is anchored by second-team All-America G Brandon Burlsworth. Freshman QB Wayne Madkin has shown flashes of promise but remains green. The attacking defense is excellent, and the kicking game is good. It's the first traditional New Year's Day game for the Bulldogs since the 1941 Orange Bowl. It will take a huge team effort to slow UT's star TB and balanced offense. The Longhorns rebounded from a 4-7 season with an enormously successful campaign that included big victories over Nebraska and Texas A&M. The high-powered offense starts with the leading rusher in Division I-A history, Heisman-winning TB Ricky Williams, but doesn't end there. Freshman QB Major Applewhite is a calm, accurate passer and WRs Wane McGarity (nine TDs) and Kwame Cavil are both deep threats. A powerful offensive line is paced by two All-Americans, Jay Humphrey (second team) and Ben Adams (third team). The defense improved all year long. The unit ranks 92nd in the nation against the pass but airing it out is not MSU's specialty. Gator Bowl

No. 12 Georgia Tech (9-2)

vs. No. 17 Notre Dame (9-2)

When: Today. 12: 30 p.m.

Where: Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.

TV: NBC

Line: Georgia Tech by 2 1/2

Outlook: This is Georgia Tech's 27th bowl appearance -- five of them in the Gator Bowl. The Yellow Jackets' bowl record is 18-8-0. Notre Dame is making its 23rd bowl trip. The Irish have a 13-9-0 bowl record and are trying for their first bowl victory since the 1994 Cotton Bowl. A victory could boost Notre Dame into the preseason top five for 1999. For the Yellow Jackets, a victory would cap a surprisingly good season. The Yellow Jackets have one of the nation's top pass-catching combinations in QB Joe Hamilton and WR Dez White. A sophomore, White averages 21.2 yards per catch. Hamilton is a threat as a passer and a runner. Punter Rodney Williams ranks sixth nationally in punting and is a key member of Georgia Tech's solid special teams. The Fighting Irish hope that QB Jarious Jackson has recovered from a sprained knee suffered against LSU on Nov. 21. Notre Dame relies on an option attack that features RB Autry Denson, Notre Dame's all-time leading rusher. Citrus Bowl

No. 11 Arkansas (9-2)

vs. No. 15 Michigan (9-3)

When: Today, 1 p.m.

Where: Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.

TV: ABC

Line: Michigan by 3

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