Going bowling

December 19, 2006|By GARY LAMBRECHT

Must-see games

BCS Championship

Matchup -- Ohio State (12-0) vs. Florida (12-1)

Site -- Glendale, Ariz.

Date, time, TV -- Jan. 8, 8 p.m., chs. 45, 5

Comment -- If anyone can derail Ohio State, it's the Gators (sorry, Michigan fans). Florida went through a brutal SEC nearly unscathed, and QB Chris Leak might be the best passer who gets least-hyped in the game. The Gators should be able to move the ball on the Buckeyes with their spread offense, but it's the Florida defense that could force the upset Michigan could not manage. Then again, Ohio State is the most balanced team in the country, and when was the last time QB Troy Smith did not make a big play when it was needed?

Rose

Matchup -- USC (10-2) vs. Michigan (11-1)

Site -- Pasadena, Calif.

Date, time, TV -- Jan. 1, 5 p.m., chs. 2, 7

Comment -- It hardly warms the hearts of the Wolverines to know that they could become AP national champions with a win or that this shapes up as possibly the best BCS game to watch. Enjoy it anyway. For starters, will Michigan and that high-pressure defense get to QB John David Booty or disrupt the timing of those superb Trojans receivers, led by Dwayne Jarrett? The X-factor is an underrated USC defense that figures to neutralize RB Mike Hart and force QB Chad Henne to make the plays that win the game for Michigan. First team to 20 wins?

Sugar

Matchup -- LSU (10-2) vs. Notre Dame (10-2)

Site -- New Orleans

Date, time, TV -- Jan. 3, 8 p.m., chs. 45, 5

Comment -- Look for Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn to be the first passer selected in the NFL draft. But that will not translate on this night into any magic for the Irish, even though Quinn, with fellow NFL prospects such as RB Darius Walker and WRs Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight, will put up some points. But Notre Dame's defense has been suspect all year, and LSU will send the Irish to their ninth straight bowl loss behind QB JaMarcus Russell and a squad probably as hot and talented as either playing Jan. 8. The Tigers have more speed overall, and their defensive line, anchored by Glenn Dorsey, could dominate.

Outback

Matchup -- Penn State (8-4) vs. Tennessee (9-3)

Site -- Tampa, Fla.

Date, time, TV -- Jan. 1, 11 a.m., ESPN

Comment -- This one is attractive because it pits two programs and two coaches who have recovered from recent wounds, some in the literal sense. Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer became one of the more unpopular people in Knoxville after the Volunteers flopped last year. Penn State's Joe Paterno has guided the Nittany Lions to two straight strong years after an extended slip. And Paterno is coming back from a broken leg suffered on the sideline last month. Maybe if Penn State can help its defense by actually scoring, Paterno can really enjoy his return.

Fiesta

Matchup -- Boise State (12-0) vs. Oklahoma (11-2)

Site -- Glendale, Ariz.

Date, time, TV -- Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m., chs. 45, 5

Comment -- You have to admire Oklahoma for its tenacity. The Sooners lost QB Rhett Bomar before the season in that "employment" scandal, then lost superstar RB Adrian Peterson to a broken collarbone and still won the Big 12. Almost everyone outside Norman will be rooting for the Broncos, who are in their first BCS game under first-year coach Chris Petersen.

Orange

Matchup -- Wake Forest (11-2) vs. Louisville (11-1)

Site -- Miami

Date, time, TV -- Jan. 2, 8 p.m., chs. 45, 5

Comment -- Just by getting here and earning that $17 million payout for the ACC to share, Wake Forest already has hit the lottery. Coach Jim Grobe did it despite losing QB Ben Mauk, RB Micah Andrews and OT Steve Vallos to injuries. The Demon Deacons thrive on winning the turnover battle - they tied for the national lead with 22 interceptions.

Worth a look

Meineke Car Care

Matchup -- Navy (9-3) vs. Boston College (9-3)

Site -- Charlotte, N.C.

Date, time, TV -- Dec. 30, 1 p.m., ESPN

Comment -- Navy is the irresistible force with its triple-option attack, and the Eagles are the immovable objects with great size and athleticism and pedigree. Even without departed coach Tom O'Brien, the Eagles are in good shape to win their NCAA-record seventh straight bowl game. First-team All-ACC QB Matt Ryan leads an offense equally comfortable with finesse or power. Navy's best bet is winning the time of possession and turnover battles, and QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada must shake off his shaky day against Army.

Champs Sports

Matchup -- Maryland (8-4) vs. Purdue (8-5)

Site -- Orlando, Fla.

Date, time, TV -- Dec. 29, 8 p.m., ESPN

Comment -- No wonder the oddsmakers rate this game as even. Neither team is strong or well-rounded enough to look the part of a favorite. Maryland could barely do a thing offensively while losing its past two games, as QB Sam Hollenbach hurt the Terps with turnovers. And neither team's defense has shown it can stop the run with any consistency. Purdue QB Curtis Painter threw for 3,721 yards and 21 TDs, but also 18 INTs. Expect a close one, which favors Maryland, a team that has shown lots of poise.

MPC Computers

Matchup -- Nevada (8-4) vs. Miami (6-6)

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