Tonight's Bowl Games

College Football

December 26, 2003|By Orlando Sentinel

Motor City Bowl

Bowling Green (10-3) vs. Northwestern (6-6)

Time, TV: 5 p.m., ESPN

Line: Bowling Green by 6 1/2

Why you should watch: There could be a lot of points scored, so the chance is there for an entertaining game.

About Bowling Green: The Falcons, MAC West champs, won at Purdue but lost at Ohio State by seven and to Miami, Ohio, by 22 and 23. Senior Josh Harris (263.6 passing yards per game with 24 TDs, 58.6 rushing yards per game with 12 TDs) is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation. WRs Cole Magner and Charles Sharon have combined for 139 catches and 18 TD receptions. DE Mitchell Crossley is a good pass rusher (nine sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss).

About Northwestern: The Wildcats have been outscored by 59 points and outgained by an average of 40.5 yards per game, but nevertheless are in a bowl for the first time since the 2000 season. TB Jason Wright (1,151 yards, 19 TDs) is the focal point of the offense, and backup Noah Herron has been productive, too (659 yards, three TDs). DE Loren Howard (65 tackles, seven sacks, 15 tackles for loss) is the best player on a poor defense.

The key: This could get ugly if Wright and/or Herron is shut down. Bowling Green is going to move the ball. But Northwestern won't be able to counter if it can't run.

The buzz: This is Bowling Green's first bowl since 1992.

The pick: Bowling Green, 38-23.

Insight Bowl

California (7-6) vs. Virginia Tech (8-4)

Time, TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Line: Virginia Tech by 3

Why you should watch: It's your last chance to see Tech TB Kevin Jones before he's making big money in the NFL. And there's a bit of intrigue to a Pacific-10/Big East matchup.

About California: This is the first bowl for the Golden Bears since 1996. The offense is centered on TB Adimchinobe Echemandu (96.8 ypg, 12 TDs), a first-team All-Pac-10 pick. WR Geoff McArthur (85 catches, 115.7 ypg, 10 TDs) is the best receiver and has 33 percent of the Bears' receptions. The defense improved as the season progressed, not allowing more than 23 points in any of the final six regular-season games.

About Virginia Tech: The Hokies collapsed down the stretch. They started 6-0, lost to West Virginia, beat Miami, then beat only lowly Temple (by one point) in their final four regular-season games. This is the last game for Jones (124.5 ypg, 20 TDs), a junior who is turning pro. There's a burgeoning quarterback controversy with Bryan Randall and Marcus Vick. The defense is in disarray: The Hokies gave up an average of 428.5 yards in the last half of the season.

The key: It's all on Jones and his backup, Cedric Humes. Tech needs to control the ball and the clock with the running game. If the Hokies are held to 150 rushing yards or under, Cal wins.

The buzz: This is the 11th consecutive bowl for the Hokies.

The pick: Virginia Tech, 26-21.

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