Which pre-New Year's bowl do you most want to see?

4-CORNERS

Before the BCS party gets under way, these matchups will set the table

December 24, 2009

Oklahoma vs. Stanford
Andrea Adelson

Orlando Sentinel

I have had my eye on the Sun Bowl between Stanford and Oklahoma since the games were announced earlier this month. Why? For one, I want to see Stanford in its first bowl appearance since 2001, against what has been one of the premier programs in the country over the last decade.

For another, I want to see Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart go against the tough Oklahoma run defense. Gerhart is averaging 144.7 rushing yards per game, while the Sooners rank No. 7 in the country in rushing defense at 88.6 yards per game.

The coaching matchup between Jim Harbaugh and Bob Stoops also is intriguing. Harbaugh has proved he has what it takes to beat Pete Carroll. Can he dispatch of Stoops, too, on Dec. 31?

aadelson@tribune.com

Taste for Chick-fil-A Bowl
Nick Mathews

Daily Press

For those attending a New Year's Eve party at a friend's or family member's house, kindly ask them to turn the television to ESPN. That 7:30 p.m. Chick-fil-A Bowl between Virginia Tech (9-3) and Tennessee (7-5) will be worthy of cursory glances between sips of your favorite beverage. And it just might be one of the more competitive and exciting matchups of the bowl season.

Virginia Tech was ranked No. 4 before back-to-back losses in October. Tennessee seems to get more attention because of Lane Kiffin's antics, but the Volunteers can play football. The Hokies (34-24 loss in the opener) and Vols (12-10 loss after Bama blocked a potential winning field goal) gave No. 1 Alabama two of its toughest games of the season.

nmathews@tribune.com

Can USC bounce back?
Chris Dufresne

Los Angeles Times

For a lot of reasons, the game I'm looking forward to most before New Year's is the Emerald Bowl between USC and Boston College. There are better games on the board, but none more intriguing in terms of seeing how USC reacts to playing in a game it doesn't want to be in while it deals with controversy surrounding the program.

After seven straight BCS bowls, now we get to see Pete Carroll in full damage control. And you thought 8-4 was bad enough? The Joe McKnight/Land Rover allegations have knocked the Trojans off stride again. This and the fact several other players have been declared ineligible adds a cloud that only can be cleared with a resounding, resilient performance against a formidable Boston College team. cdufresne@tribune.com

Sun Bowl worship

Brian Hamilton

Chicago Tribune

Pass the old El Paso? Absolutely, in most years. Sun Bowl matchups past have been less than inspiring, the teams typically irrelevant, disappointing or indifferent enough to undermine interest in the game.

As a veteran of two Sun Bowls, I'll concede this: Landing in a dust cloud and spending New Year's Eve in the less-than-tropic far reaches of American soil has me biased. But this year? There's a gem in western Texas, with marquee teams and personalities in Stanford and Oklahoma.

Toby Gerhart, the nation's best tailback, versus the Sooners' defense? Bob Stoops in a battle of egos with Jim Harbaugh?

Suffice it to say, this one is worth watching - from a couch thousands of miles away, anyway.

bhamilton@tribune.com

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