Today's bowls

December 31, 2005|By ORLANDO SENTINEL

Meineke Car Care Bowl

North Carolina State (6-5) vs. South Florida (6-5)

WHERE -- Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.

TIME -- 11 a.m.

TV -- ESPN2

ABOUT N.C. STATE -- Defense car ried the Wolfpack, which won four of its last five regular-season games. The offense has struggled, and the Wolfpack gained more than 300 total yards just three times in the final nine regular-season games. The team's strength is its defensive line.

ABOUT SOUTH FLORIDA -- The Bulls need a big game from TB Andre Hall (114.2 ypg, 14 TDs) if they're going to win. The passing attack is awful. The defense has been stout and ranks 20th overall.

THE BUZZ -- Don't expect much of fense. We'd bet big bucks that the winners will say they won ugly.

THE LINE -- N.C. State by 3 1/2

THE PICK -- N.C. State, 20-14

Liberty Bowl

Fresno State (8-4) vs. Tulsa (8-4)

WHERE -- Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn.

TIME -- 1 p.m.

TV -- ESPN

ABOUT FRESNO STATE -- The Bull dogs were 8-1 when they almost won at Southern California. But that loss started a three-game spiral. Paul Pinegar is trying to become the first quarterback in NCAA history to start four bowl wins. TBs Wendell Mathis and Bryson Sumlin (a combined 1,675 yards and 18 rushing TDs) run behind a big, physical line. The de fense fell apart late.

ABOUT TULSA -- The Golden Hurri cane won the Conference USA title in its first season in the league. Sopho more QB Paul Smith had a solid first season as the starter, and TE Garrett Mills (83 catches, 1,183 yards, nine TDs) is the go-to receiver. Tulsa has an op portunistic defense (20 interceptions), but the Golden Hurricane also gave up at least 27 points six times.

THE BUZZ -- These teams are former Western Athletic Conference rivals, and Fresno won all four meetings.

THE LINE -- Fresno State by 7

THE PICK -- Fresno State, 34-24

Houston Bowl

Iowa State (7-4) vs. Texas Christian (10-1)

WHERE -- Reliant Stadium, Houston

TIME -- 2:30 p.m.

TV -- ESPN2

ABOUT IOWA STATE -- The Cy clones haven't run the ball consis tently. QB Bret Meyer is a solid passer, and his mobility could hurt TCU. The Cyclones haven't allowed more than 126 rushing yards since Game 3, and they've allowed just eight rushing TDs this season.

ABOUT TCU -- The Horned Frogs' only loss was an 11-point head-scratcher to Southern Methodist in the second week of the season. TCU won its last seven league games by al most 29 per game. TBs Robert Merrill and Aaron Brown combine for 143.9 ypg. The defense, which uses a 4-2-5 set, has been stout all season.

THE BUZZ -- How good is TCU? The Frogs beat Oklahoma in the opener, but they beat no one else with more than six wins. Iowa State, which was a mild disappointment this season, should be a good test.

THE LINE -- TCU by 3

THE PICK -- Iowa State, 23-21

Orlando Sentinel

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