PiRate Top 25/ Bowl Outlook

VandyMania's Howell Peiser takes the Top 25 national teams and the SEC. He also gives us a look at the bowl situation.

FIRST STORY
 
PiRate Top 25 For November 28, 2005
 
1. Southern California        11-0                134.1
2. Texas                                 11-0               133.8
3. Penn State                        10-1                123.2
4. Virginia Tech                   10-1                121.6
5. L S U                                   10-1                121.4
6. Ohio State                           9-2                121.1
7. Auburn                                9-2                120.7
8. West Virginia                     9-1                117.6
9. Notre Dame                       9-2                116.3
10. Miami (Fl)                         9-2                115.8
10. Georgia                            9-2                115.8
12. U C L A                              9-1                114.8
13. T C U                               10-1                114.4
14. Texas Tech                       9-2                114.0
15. Alabama                           9-2                113.3
16. Oregon                           10-1                113.2
17. Louisville                           8-2                113.0
18. Georgia Tech                  7-4                113.0
19. Michigan                           7-4                112.6
20. Fresno State                     8-3                111.8
21. Florida                              8-3                111.5
22. Clemson                            7-4                109.1
23. Iowa                                   7-4                108.2
24. Oklahoma                        7-4                108.0
25. Wisconsin                         9-3                107.9
 
PiRate Ratings For SEC
East
 
Georgia                     115.8
Florida                       111.5
South Carolina         107.4
Tennessee                 100.6
Vanderbilt                   99.1
Kentucky                     95.4
 
West
 
L S U                           121.4
Auburn                      120.7
Alabama                    113.3
Arkansas                   104.2
Mississippi St.             95.7
Ole Miss                       91.8
 
BOWL LOOK
(Bold means team has already accepted bid to that bowl)
 
New Orleans Bowl (played in Lafayette, LA)
Arkansas State 6-5 vs. Houston 6-5
 
The Indians wrapped up their first Sunbelt title with a win at North Texas coupled with a loss by Louisiana Monroe to UL-Lafayette. Memphis might have been the better choice to face ASU, but these teams have played each other the last two years. Give the Cougars the edge here, and send Memphis north to be an at-large team.
 
G M A C Bowl (Mobile, AL)
Toledo 8-3 vs. Central Florida 8-3
 
The Rockets accepted a bid to play in this game Monday afternoon. Their opponent should be the loser of the C-USA title game this week. I am picking UCF as I expect Tulsa to win the title game.
 
Las Vegas Bowl
B Y U 6-5 vs. California 7-4
 
Going under the assumption that USC will beat UCLA and Oregon will get shafted by the BCS in favor of Ohio State, the Bears will fall to this bowl.
 
Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego)
Navy 6-4 vs. Colorado State 6-5
 
The Poinsettia Bowl officials left this game with an at-large team with Navy in mind. Any time, the Midshipmen become bowl-eligible, expect them to end up in San Diego where they have a large Naval contingent. CSU has some experience stopping the triple option, but Air Force doesn't run the same system as Navy.
 
Ft. Worth Bowl
Kansas 6-5 vs. U T E P 8-3
 
One team will be joyful to be here, while the other would rather stay home. Kansas earned their trip to Amon Carter Stadium with an upset over Iowa State, while UTEP dropped its last two games to miss out on the C-USA title game.
 
Hawaii Bowl (Honolulu)
Nevada 8-3 vs. Southern Mississippi 6-5
 
This match up is close to being a done deal. The Hawaii Bowl officials want Nevada, and only some last minute wheeling and dealing could prevent that. Rumors have it that the Motor City Bowl has interest in the Wolf Pack as well. Southern Mississippi is the odds-on favorite to join them on December 24.
 
Motor City Bowl  (Detroit)
Northern Illinois 7-4 vs. Memphis 6-5
 
The winner of the MAC Championship game between NIU and Akron will get one bid. There is a side agreement with the Big East to send an extra bowl eligible team here if that team is 7-4 or better. If Connecticut beats Louisville, the Huskies would only be 6-5. If South Florida beats West Virginia and
Connecticut beats Louisville, then the Bulls could be in line for a bid. I don't see that happening, so Memphis should edge out New Mexico and Louisiana Tech for this at-large bid.
 
Champs Sports Bowl (Orlando, FL)
Florida State 7-4 vs. Missouri 6-5
 
The ACC and Big 12 still have unclear pictures for their bowl tie-ins. I have heard that the Music City Bowl would love Florida State if they lose to Virginia Tech, but I think that will not happen.
 
Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, and Iowa State have all been mentioned for this spot, but I am going with the Tigers as I think the Cornhuskers and Buffaloes will be spoken for by the time this bowl gets to choose.
 
Insight.Com Bowl (Phoenix)
Rutgers 7-4 vs. Arizona State 6-5
 
What's with Rutgers? Can they only play the Sun Devils in bowl games? The only other time the Scarlet Knights went bowling was way back in 1978 when they played Arizona State in the first Garden State Bowl (ASU won 34-18). This should be a high scoring classic reminiscent of the first couple of Fiesta Bowls.
 
MPC Computers Bowl (Boise, ID)
Boise State 9-3 vs. North Carolina State 6-5
 
Boise State returns to their home bowl for 2005. The Wolfpack may have wished they lost to Maryland once they discover they have to play on the blue field and receive a gift basket full of potatoes.
 
Alamo Bowl (San Antonio)
Iowa 7-4 vs. Nebraska 7-4
 
These two schools' fans travel well and should come close to selling out the Alamodome. I expect a low-scoring game if this is the match up.
 
Emerald Bowl  (San Francisco)
Utah 6-5 vs. Virginia 6-5
 
The Utes' fans can already wear a flower in their hair because they are definitely going to San Francisco. The Emerald Bowl officials struck a deal with the ACC to invite their number eight team this year. Virginia looks to fall to number eight, as their fans don't travel as well as the teams in line for the MPC Computers or Music City Bowls.
 
Holiday Bowl (San Diego)
Oregon 10-1 vs. Oklahoma 7-4
 
The Ducks will be mad when they are jilted by the Fiesta Bowl in favor of Ohio State. This is just another reason why the bowls continue to lose credibility.
 
The Fiesta could invite Penn State and Oregon and get two 10-1 teams, but they will settle for two 9-2 teams instead.
 
Oregon will fall to this bowl and probably play in it like Vanderbilt's basketball team played in the 2000 NIT. Meanwhile, Oklahoma will be tickled crimson to end up here after there slow start. A healthy Adrian Peterson could propel the Sooners to a bowl upset.
 
Music City Bowl (Nashville)
Minnesota 7-4 vs. Georgia Tech 7-4
 
This isn't the game Music City Bowl officials want, but it's the best they can expect under the circumstances. Northwestern will be taken by the time this bowl gets to choose the only team left. The Gophers have been to Nashville twice in the last three years and didn't fulfill their allotment of tickets. Georgia Tech fans can leave Atlanta at 7 AM on game day and easily drive to Nashville for the 11 AM CST kickoff. They can leave for home within an hour after the final gun. The only hotel rooms that may be needed would be in Monteagle if the weather turned nasty at the last minute.
 
Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX)
U C L A 9-1 vs. Northwestern 7-4
 
UCLA should fall to this bowl after losing to USC. Northwestern appears to be the frontrunner over Minnesota. The Wildcats haven't been here, while the Gophers were here two years ago.
 
This game should see 1,000 total yards and 100 points scored.
 
Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA)
Florida 8-3 vs. Colorado 7-4
 
This bowl is usually reserved for the 6-5 teams just lucky to be going to a bowl, but not this year. The Gators will fall to the sixth bowl spot because South Carolina and Steve Spurrier are the hot commodity in the SEC. The Gamecocks will more than likely steal a New Year's Day Bowl bid, forcing Alabama, Auburn, or even Georgia into the Peach Bowl. That leaves the Gators with a trip to Louisiana.
 
Colorado appeared in line for the Holiday Bowl until dropping their last two. It will be three by Saturday night, leaving the Buffs at 7-5.
 
Peach Bowl (Atlanta)
Clemson 7-4 vs. Georgia 9-2
 
This used to be one of the best September rivalry games back in the days when both teams played fewer conference games. This game should sell out the Georgia Dome. Thanks to the Sugar Bowl being played in Atlanta three days later, this match up makes since. The Sugar Bowl teams can already be in town using up the hotel space, while these two teams face off not having to house fans in hotels.
 
Of course, if the Bulldogs beat LSU, they will be playing in this arena three days later. LSU would probably end up in the Cotton Bowl, sending Alabama here.
 
Meineke Car Care Bowl (Charlotte, NC)
Boston College 8-3 vs. South Florida 6-4
 
With the Bulls losing to Connecticut last week, West Virginia clinched the Big East championship. USF now must hope that Louisville beats UConn, for if the Huskies win, then a USF loss to West Virginia could make the Bulls the odd team out.
 
Boston College deserves the Peach over Clemson, but it won't happen if the Clemson-Georgia match up evolves.
 
Liberty Bowl (Memphis)
Fresno State 8-3 vs. Tulsa 7-4
 
Fresno State received this bid before they lost to Nevada. The Bulldogs had lost to only Oregon and Southern Cal prior to that.
 
I am placing Tulsa here as I favor them to beat Central Florida in the C-USA title game.
 
This bowl takes a giant step backward after last year's Louisville-Boise State thriller.
 
Houston Bowl
T C U 10-1 vs. Iowa State 7-4
 
The Horned Frogs may have already won big in the post-season. Head Coach Gary Patterson will not take the Kansas State job. TCU has now won 10 games four times in the last six years.
 
Vanderbilt's two blocked field goals cost them a bowl bid this year. Iowa State's missed short field goals the last two years have cost the Cyclones a chance to play for the Big 12 title each season. Will ISU approach this game with all the intensity they will need to compete? I doubt it.
 
Outback Bowl (Tampa)
Michigan 7-4 vs. South Carolina 7-4
 
This bowl, like the Fiesta Bowl, shows why bowls are too powerful. While the Gamecocks are well-deserving of a bowl, they should not outrank Georgia or Alabama in priority just because Steve Spurrier is a big-name draw.
 
Michigan had a disappointing season but they should romp in this game if South Carolina is the opponent.
 
Cotton Bowl (Dallas)
Texas Tech 9-2 vs. Alabama 9-2
 
This will be a game of fantastic offense versus dynamite defense. Texas Tech's defense isn't all that shabby, so expect the Red Raiders to win this one comfortably.
 
Gator Bowl (Jacksonville)
Miami (Fl) 9-2 vs. Louisville 8-2
 
A late comeback win in by the Hurricanes in 2004 prevented Louisville from joining Utah as a mid-major BCS team. This should be an interesting rematch, but the 'Canes have too much for the Cards this year.
 
Capital One Bowl (Orlando, FL)
Wisconsin 9-3 vs. Auburn 9-2
 
Barry Alvarez's last game puts the Badgers ahead of the Wolverines for this spot.
 
Auburn may actually be the best SEC team at the end of the season. Realizing that Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge is worth at least five points to the home team, they are better than LSU on a neutral field.
 
Fiesta Bowl (Tempe, AZ)
Ohio State 9-2 vs. Notre Dame 9-2
 
The Fiesta Bowl gets to choose first among the BCS teams, and they won't take a second choosing Notre Dame. After the Orange Bowl takes away their teams, it will leave the Fiesta officials a choice between Ohio State and Oregon. It will be an easy choice. Take the team that will sell double the amount of tickets and forget the 10-1 team. If the Fiesta Bowl were smart, they would pick Penn State with their first choice, then grab Oregon to get two 10-1 teams. Ohio State has been here twice in the last three years.
 
Sugar Bowl (played in Atlanta)
L S U 10-1 vs. West Virginia 9-1
 
West Virginia has already clinched a BCS bowl berth, and this one is the almost sure thing for them. LSU must beat Georgia to get this automatic spot. Two one-loss teams would make this an interesting game.
 
Orange Bowl (Miami)
Penn State 10-1 vs. Virginia Tech 10-1
 
Once Notre Dame is picked by the Fiesta Bowl, the Orange Bowl will gobble up this match up between two teams with just one loss apiece. I think Virginia Tech will manhandle Florida State in a major blowout and move up in the polls a spot or two.
 
Penn State eagerly waits in the wings as the first alternate should Texas or Southern Cal lose in one of the biggest upsets in years. The Orange Bowl is still a nice reward.
 
Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA)
Southern California 11-0 vs. Texas 11-0

Forget the Oklahoma-Southern Cal game in last year's Orange Bowl or the Ohio State-Miami game in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl. The granddaddy of them all should see the grandest match up to date in the 21st Century. This one should be compared to the Nebraska-Oklahoma game of 1971, the Texas-Arkansas game of 1969, the Notre Dame-Michigan State game of 1966, and the Army-Notre Dame game of 1946. The difference is this will be the only one of these "greatest games ever" to be in the Rose Bowl.
 
This Week's PiRate Picks
 
Louisville @ Connecticut          Louisville -18 Over/Under 55
 
Connecticut needs this game to get to 6-5 and steal away the fourth Big East bowl bid. Louisville is playing for a spot in the Gator Bowl, but they could still get this bid if they lose. I don't think they will have to worry about that. The Cardinals should win this one by double digits.
 
PiRate Prediction: Louisville 38 Connecticut 17
 
Army vs. Navy @ Philadelphia            Navy -6 ½ Over/Under 50 ½
 
Don't be shocked if the Cadets pull off the upset this Saturday. Navy has whipped them three years straight by a combined score of 134-31! Army is much improved since early October, while Navy has stagnated this year.
 
Give Coach Paul Johnson lots of credit. Navy lost nine starters off last year's offense, and the Middies can still run the ball for 300 yards or throw it for 200 yards if the need arises. This team doesn't have the same quality defense of last year's squad, and that leaves them vulnerable, especially to the Cadet passing attack.
 
PiRate Prediction: Army 27 Navy 24
 
Louisiana Tech @ Fresno State            Fresno State -23 Over/Under 56 ½
 
In this battle of the Bulldogs, Louisiana Tech must pull of the upset to have any legitimate chance to gain at-large admission to a bowl.
 
Fresno State must win to be a tri-champ of the WAC. After dropping a heart-breaker to Southern Cal getting whipped by a Nevada team that wanted the game more, look for Fresno State to rebound and punish Tech.
 
PiRate Prediction: Fresno State 41 Louisiana Tech 20
 
West Virginia @ South Florida             West Va. -9  Over/Under 45
 
This game meant a ton more prior to last weekend when USF lost at Connecticut. West Virginia is almost assured to get a bid to the Sugar Bowl win or lose this week. USF can only be eliminated from a bowl if Connecticut upsets Louisville.
 
This should be a lackluster game. The Mountaineers will grind out yardage off-tackle and up the middle. They will pull away in the second half and win handily.
 
PiRate Prediction: West Virginia 31 South Florida 14
 
MAC TITLE GAME
Akron vs. Northern Illinois @ Detroit            NIU -13  Over/Under 52 ½
 
Last year with the great Charlie Frye at quarterback, The Zips went 6-5 and became the only bowl eligible team not on probation to play in a bowl. This year, they are also 6-5 and must win this game to play another game in Detroit.
 
Northern Illinois must also win this game, since the loser will have no place to go. The Huskies finished the regular season just 7-4, quite a letdown from last year's Silicon Valley Bowl-winning season.
 
This game should be high scoring, with the game not being decided until late. I give the Huskies the slight edge, but this one is too close to call.
 
PiRate Prediction: Northern Illinois 42 Akron 35 in overtime
 
C-USA TITLE GAME
Tulsa @ Central Florida             UCF -2  Over/Under 55
 
Central Florida went 0-11 last season and improved to 8-3 just one year later. Now, that's something Coach George O'Leary should put on his resume.
 
Tulsa was a mild surprise this year after being picked in the middle to lower part of the West Division standings.
 
The raw PiRates actually give the edge to UCF, but I am overriding that pick due to intangibles; this is based on the fact that I think Tulsa is tougher in the trenches.
 
PiRate Prediction: Tulsa 27 Central Florida 21
 
ACC TITLE GAME @ JACKSONVILLE
Florida State vs. Virginia Tech                        Va. Tech -14  Over/Under 43
 
This should be one great yawn.  You can stick a fork in Florida State; the Seminoles are not going to threaten in this game.  Their offensive line cannot push the Hokies' stop troops back, and their receivers and backs aren't talented enough to compensate for the inefficiencies in the trenches.  Florida State will be lucky to reach double digits in this game. 
 
Virginia Tech should score at least three touchdowns, and if their special teams come up with just one big play, this game will be a slaughter.
 
PiRate Prediction: Virginia Tech 27  Florida State 9
 
SEC TITLE GAME (ATLANTA)
L S U vs. Georgia               LSU -2  Over/Under 39 ½
 
The Bayou Bengals can look back to that September Monday night game against Tennessee and only wonder what happened. A botched play just before the end of the first half may have cost them a shot at the Rose Bowl, or it may have put them in position to win the Sugar Bowl and gain another split-poll championship.
 
Georgia can only wonder what might have been had D. J. Shockley not been injured. They more than likely would have handled Florida with him behind center, and who knows what would have happened against Auburn (if you ask me Auburn is better than both Georgia and LSU).
 
L S U will blitz Georgia several times Saturday night, and it will be up to Mr. Shockley to pick it up and spot the open "hot" receiver on blitz pickup. I don't think the Bulldogs will be able to penetrate the "Chinese Bandits" for enough points to win this one, while LSU only is a tad more successful, one score more to be exact.
 
PiRate Prediction: L S U 20 Georgia 14
 
BIG 12 TITLE GAME (HOUSTON)
Texas vs. Colorado           Texas -28  Over/Under 61
 
Four years ago, these two teams squared off in the Big 12 title game. The Longhorns were heavily favored after slaughtering Colorado in the regular season. The Buffaloes prevented the Longhorns from getting a chance to play in the Rose Bowl for the title against the number one team.
 
Forget history, because it will not repeat itself. Well, the one bit of history that might repeat itself is Colorado losing this game by as many points as they lost last year's Big 12 Championship game. That laugher was 42-3.
 
I see Texas rebounding from a sub-stellar rivalry game against Texas A&M. They will move the ball with little resistance, picking up 250 yards rushing and 200 yards passing. Colorado should be held to single digits once again, unless Mack Brown empties the bench earlier than the fourth quarter.
 
PiRate Prediction: Texas 45 Colorado 10
 
Game of the Week
 
U C L A @ Southern California             USC -21  Over/Under 73 ½
 
UCLA can score points just as quickly as Southern Cal or Texas. Just think how many they might score facing their own defense? Pete Carroll will have no trouble thinking of the many ways to do just that. The Trojans could top 50 points in the first half of this game if UCLA doesn't control the ball on offense.
 
I think the Bruins will be fired up just enough to make this game interesting into the third quarter. I can see no scenario where they would spoil the party with an upset, but they stay in this one for about 40 minutes.                   104.2
Mississippi St.             95.7
Ole Miss                       91.8
 
BOWL LOOK
(Bold means team has already accepted bid to that\r\n bowl)
 
New Orleans Bowl (played in Lafayette, LA)
Arkansas State 6-5 vs. Houston 6-5
 
The Indians wrapped up their first Sunbelt title with a win at North Texas coupled with a loss by\r\n Louisiana Monroe to UL-Lafayette. Memphis might have been the better choice to face ASU, but these teams have played each other the last two years. Give the Cougars the edge here, and send Memphis north to be an at-large team.
 
G M A C Bowl (Mobile, AL)
Toledo 8-3 vs. Central Florida 8-3
 
The Rockets accepted a bid to play in this game\r\n Monday afternoon. Their opponent should be the loser of the C-USA title game this week. I am picking UCF as I expect Tulsa to win the title game.
 
Las Vegas\r\n Bowl
B Y U 6-5 vs. California 7-4
 
Going under the assumption that USC will beat UCLA and Oregon will get shafted by the BCS in favor of Ohio State, the Bears will fall to this bowl.
 
Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego)
Navy 6-4 vs. Colorado State 6-5
 
The Poinsettia Bowl officials left this game with an at-large team with Navy in mind. Any time, the Midshipmen become bowl-eligible, expect them to end up in San Diego where they have a large Naval contingent. CSU has some experience stopping the triple option, but Air Force doesn't run the same system as Navy.
 
Ft. Worth Bowl
Kansas 6-5 vs. U T E P 8-3
 
One team will be joyful to be here, while the other would rather stay home. Kansas earned their trip to Amon Carter Stadium with an upset over Iowa State, while UTEP dropped its last two games to miss out on the C-USA title game.
 
Hawaii Bowl (Honolulu)
Nevada 8-3 vs. Southern Mississippi 6-5
 
This match up is close to being a done deal. The Hawaii Bowl officials want Nevada, and only some last minute wheeling and dealing could prevent that. Rumors have it that the Motor City Bowl has interest in the Wolf Pack as well. Southern Mississippi is the odds-on favorite to join them on December 24.
 
Motor City Bowl  (Detroit)
Northern Illinois 7-4 vs. Memphis 6-5
 
The winner of the MAC Championship game between NIU and Akron will get one bid. There is a side agreement with the Big East to send an extra bowl eligible team here if that team is 7-4 or better. If Connecticut beats Louisville, the Huskies would only be 6-5. If South Florida beats West Virginia and
Connecticut beats Louisville, then the Bulls could be in line for a bid. I don't see that happening, so Memphis should edge out New Mexico and Louisiana Tech for this at-large bid.
 
Champs Sports Bowl (Orlando, FL)
Florida State 7-4 vs. Missouri 6-5
 
The ACC and Big 12 still have unclear pictures for their bowl tie-ins. I have heard that the Music City Bowl would love Florida State if they lose to Virginia Tech, but I think that will not happen.
 
Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, and Iowa State have all been mentioned for this spot, but I am going with the Tigers as I think the Cornhuskers and Buffaloes will be spoken for by the time this bowl gets to\r\n choose.
 
Insight.Com Bowl (Phoenix)
Rutgers 7-4 vs. Arizona State\r\n 6-5
 
What's with Rutgers? Can they only play the Sun Devils in bowl games? The only other time the Scarlet Knights went bowling was way back in 1978 when they played Arizona State in the first Garden State Bowl (ASU won 34-18). This should be a high scoring classic reminiscent of the first couple of Fiesta Bowls.
 
MPC Computers Bowl (Boise, ID)
Boise State 9-3 vs. North Carolina State 6-5
 
Boise State returns to their home bowl for 2005. The Wolfpack may have wished they lost to Maryland once they discover they have to play on the blue field and receive a gift basket full of potatoes.
 
Alamo Bowl (San Antonio)
Iowa 7-4 vs. Nebraska 7-4
 
These two schools' fans travel well and should come close to selling out the Alamodome. I expect a low-scoring game if this is the match up.
 
Emerald Bowl  (San Francisco)
Utah 6-5 vs.\r\n Virginia 6-5
 
The Utes' fans can already wear a flower in their hair because they are definitely going to San Francisco. The Emerald Bowl officials struck a deal with the ACC to invite their number eight team this year. Virginia looks to fall to number eight, as their fans don't travel as well as the teams in line for the MPC\r\n Computers or Music City Bowls.
 
Holiday Bowl (San Diego)
Oregon 10-1 vs. Oklahoma 7-4
 
The Ducks will be mad when they are jilted by the Fiesta Bowl in favor of Ohio State. This is just another reason why the bowls continue to lose credibility.
 
The Fiesta could invite Penn State and Oregon and get two 10-1 teams, but they will settle for two 9-2 teams instead.
 
Oregon will fall to this bowl and probably play in it like Vanderbilt's basketball team played in the 2000 NIT. Meanwhile, Oklahoma will be tickled\r\n crimson to end up here after there slow start. A healthy Adrian Peterson could propel the Sooners to a bowl upset.
 
Music City Bowl (Nashville)
Minnesota 7-4 vs. Georgia Tech 7-4
 
This isn't the game Music City Bowl officials want, but it's the best they can expect under the circumstances. Northwestern will be taken by the time this bowl gets to choose the only team left. The Gophers have been to Nashville twice in the last three years and didn't fulfill their allotment of tickets. Georgia Tech fans can leave Atlanta at 7 AM on game day and easily drive to Nashville for the 11 AM CST kickoff. They can leave for home within an hour after the final gun. The only hotel rooms that may be needed would be in Monteagle if the weather turned nasty at the last minute.
 
Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX)
U C L A 9-1 vs. Northwestern 7-4
 
UCLA should fall to this bowl after losing to USC. Northwestern appears to be the\r\n frontrunner over Minnesota. The Wildcats haven't been here, while the Gophers were here two years ago.
 
This game should see 1,000 total yards and 100 points scored.
 
Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA)
Florida 8-3 vs. Colorado 7-4
 
This bowl is usually reserved for the 6-5 teams just lucky to be going to a bowl, but not this year. The Gators will fall to the sixth bowl spot because South Carolina and Steve Spurrier are the hot commodity in the SEC. The Gamecocks will more than likely steal a New Year's Day Bowl bid, forcing Alabama, Auburn, or even Georgia into the Peach Bowl. That leaves the Gators with a trip to Louisiana.
 
Colorado appeared in line for the Holiday Bowl until dropping their last two. It will be three by Saturday night, leaving the Buffs at 7-5.
 
Peach Bowl (Atlanta)
Clemson 7-4 vs. Georgia 9-2
 
This used to be one of the best September rivalry games back in the days when both teams played fewer conference games. This game should sell out the Georgia Dome. Thanks to\r\n the Sugar Bowl being played in Atlanta three days later, this match up makes since. The Sugar Bowl teams can already be in town using up the hotel space, while these two teams face off not having to house fans in hotels.
 
Of course, if the Bulldogs beat LSU, they will be playing in this arena three days later. LSU would probably end up in the Cotton Bowl, sending Alabama here.
 
Meineke Car Care Bowl (Charlotte, NC)
Boston College 8-3 vs. South Florida 6-4
 
With the Bulls losing to Connecticut last week, West Virginia clinched the Big East championship. USF now must hope that Louisville beats UConn, for if the Huskies win, then a USF loss to West Virginia could make the Bulls the odd team out.
 
Boston College deserves the Peach over Clemson, but it won't happen if the Clemson-Georgia match up evolves.
 
Liberty Bowl (Memphis)
Fresno State 8-3 vs. Tulsa 7-4
 
Fresno State received this bid before they lost to Nevada. The Bulldogs had lost to only Oregon and Southern Cal prior to that.
 
I am placing Tulsa here as I favor them to beat Central Florida in the C-USA title game.
 
This bowl takes a giant step backward after last year's Louisville-Boise State thriller.
 
Houston Bowl
T C U 10-1 vs. Iowa State 7-4
 
The Horned Frogs may have already won big in the post-season. Head Coach Gary Patterson will not take the Kansas State job. TCU has now won 10 games four times in the last six years.
 
\r\n
Vanderbilt's two blocked field goals cost them a bowl bid this year. Iowa State's missed short field goals the last two years have cost the Cyclones a chance to play for the Big 12 title each season. Will ISU approach this game with all the intensity they will need to compete? I doubt it.
 
Outback Bowl (Tampa)
Michigan 7-4 vs. South Carolina 7-4
 
This bowl, like the Fiesta Bowl, shows why bowls\r\n are too powerful. While the Gamecocks are well-deserving of a bowl, they should not outrank Georgia or Alabama in priority just because Steve Spurrier is a big-name draw.
 
Michigan had a disappointing season but they should romp in this game if South Carolina is the opponent.
 
Cotton Bowl (Dallas)
Texas Tech 9-2 vs. Alabama\r\n 9-2
 
This will be a game of fantastic offense versus dynamite defense. Texas Tech's defense isn't all that shabby, so expect the Red Raiders to win this one comfortably.
 
Gator Bowl (Jacksonville)
Miami (Fl) 9-2 vs. Louisville 8-2
 
A late comeback win in by the Hurricanes in 2004 prevented Louisville from joining Utah as a mid-major BCS team. This should be an interesting rematch, but the 'Canes have too much for the Cards this year.
 
Capital One Bowl (Orlando, FL)
Wisconsin 9-3 vs. Auburn 9-2
 
Barry Alvarez's last game puts the Badgers ahead of the Wolverines for this spot.
 
Auburn may actually be the best SEC team at the end of the season. Realizing that Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge is worth at least five points to the home team, they are\r\n better than LSU on a neutral field.
 
Fiesta Bowl (Tempe, AZ)
Ohio State 9-2 vs. Notre Dame 9-2
 
The Fiesta Bowl gets to choose first among the BCS teams, and they won't take a second choosing Notre Dame. After the Orange Bowl takes away their teams, it will leave the Fiesta officials a choice between Ohio State and Oregon. It will be an easy choice. Take the team\r\n that will sell double the amount of tickets and forget the 10-1 team. If the Fiesta Bowl were smart, they would pick Penn State with their first choice, then grab Oregon to get two 10-1 teams. Ohio State has been here twice in the last three years.
 
Sugar Bowl (played in Atlanta)
L S U 10-1 vs. West Virginia 9-1
 
West Virginia has already clinched a BCS bowl berth, and this one is the almost sure thing for them. LSU must beat Georgia to get this automatic spot. Two one-loss teams would make this an interesting game.
 
Orange Bowl (Miami)
Penn State 10-1 vs. Virginia Tech 10-1
 
Once Notre Dame is picked by the Fiesta Bowl, the Orange Bowl will gobble up this match up between two teams with just one loss apiece. I think Virginia Tech will manhandle Florida State in a major blowout and move up in the polls a spot or\r\n two.
 
Penn State eagerly waits in the wings as the first alternate should Texas or Southern Cal lose in one of the biggest upsets in years. The Orange Bowl is still a nice reward.
 
Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA)
Southern California 11-0 vs. Texas 11-0

Forget the Oklahoma-Southern Cal game in last year's Orange Bowl or the Ohio\r\n State-Miami game in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl. The granddaddy of them all should see the grandest match up to date in the 21st Century. This one should be compared to the Nebraska-Oklahoma game of 1971, the Texas-Arkansas game of 1969, the Notre Dame-Michigan State game of 1966, and the Army-Notre Dame game of 1946. The difference is this will be the only one of these \"greatest games ever\" to be in the Rose Bowl.
 
This Week's PiRate Picks
 
Louisville @ Connecticut          Louisville -18 Over/Under 55
 
Connecticut needs this game to get to 6-5 and steal away the fourth Big East bowl bid. Louisville is playing for a spot in the Gator Bowl, but they could still get this bid if they lose. I don't think they will have to worry about that. The Cardinals should win this one by double digits.
 
PiRate Prediction: Louisville 38 Connecticut 17
 
Army vs. Navy @ Philadelphia            Navy -6 ½ Over/Under 50 ½
 
Don't be shocked if the Cadets pull off the upset this Saturday. Navy has whipped them three years straight by a combined score of 134-31! Army is much improved since early October, while Navy has stagnated this year.
 
Give Coach Paul Johnson lots of credit. Navy lost nine starters off last year's offense, and the Middies can still run the ball for 300 yards or throw it for 200 yards if the need arises. This team doesn't have the\r\n same quality defense of last year's squad, and that leaves them vulnerable, especially to the Cadet passing attack.
 
PiRate Prediction: Army 27 Navy 24
 
Louisiana Tech @ Fresno State            Fresno State -23 Over/Under 56 ½
 
In this battle of the Bulldogs, Louisiana Tech must pull of the upset to have any legitimate chance to gain at-large admission to a bowl.
 
Fresno State must win to be a tri-champ of the WAC. After dropping a heart-breaker to Southern Cal getting whipped by a Nevada team that wanted the game more, look for Fresno State to rebound and punish Tech.
 
PiRate Prediction: Fresno State 41 Louisiana Tech 20
 
West Virginia @ South Florida             West Va. -9  Over/Under 45
 
This game meant a ton more prior to last weekend when USF lost at Connecticut. West Virginia is almost assured to get a bid to the Sugar Bowl win or lose this week. USF can only be eliminated from a bowl if Connecticut upsets Louisville.
 
This should be a lackluster game. The Mountaineers will grind out yardage off-tackle and up the middle. They will pull away in the second half and win handily.
 
PiRate Prediction: West Virginia 31 South Florida 14
 
MAC TITLE GAME
Akron vs. Northern Illinois @ Detroit            NIU -13  Over/Under 52 ½
 
Last year with the great Charlie Frye at quarterback, The Zips went 6-5 and became the only bowl eligible team not on probation to play in a bowl. This year, they are also 6-5 and must win this game to play another game in Detroit.
 
Northern Illinois must also win this game, since the loser will have no place to\r\n go. The Huskies finished the regular season just 7-4, quite a letdown from last year's Silicon Valley Bowl-winning season.
 
This game should be high scoring, with the game not being decided until late. I give the Huskies the slight edge, but this one is too close to call.
 
PiRate Prediction: Northern Illinois 42 Akron 35 in overtime
 
C-USA TITLE GAME
Tulsa @ Central Florida             UCF -2  Over/Under 55
 
Central Florida went 0-11 last season and improved to 8-3 just one year later. Now, that's something Coach George O'Leary should put on his resume.
 
Tulsa was a mild surprise this year after being picked in the middle to lower part of the West Division standings.
 
The raw PiRates actually give the edge to UCF, but I am overriding that pick due to intangibles; this is based on the fact that I think Tulsa is tougher in the trenches.
 
PiRate Prediction: Tulsa 27 Central Florida 21
 
ACC TITLE GAME @ JACKSONVILLE
Florida State vs. Virginia Tech                        Va. Tech\r\n -14  Over/Under 43
 
This should be one great yawn.  You can stick a fork in Florida State; the Seminoles are not going to threaten in this game.  Their offensive\r\n line cannot push the Hokies' stop troops back, and their receivers and backs aren't talented enough to compensate for the inefficiencies in the trenches.  Florida State will be lucky to reach double digits in this game. 
 
Virginia Tech should score at least three touchdowns, and if their special teams come up with just one big play, this game will be a slaughter.
 
PiRate Prediction: Virginia Tech 27  Florida State 9
 
SEC TITLE GAME (ATLANTA)
L S U vs. Georgia               LSU -2  Over/Under 39 ½
 
The Bayou Bengals can look\r\n back to that September Monday night game against Tennessee and only wonder what happened. A botched play just before the end of the first half may have cost them a shot at the Rose Bowl, or it may have put them in position to win the Sugar Bowl and gain another split-poll championship.
 
Georgia can only wonder what might have been had D. J. Shockley not been injured. They\r\n more than likely would have handled Florida with him behind center, and who knows what would have happened against Auburn (if you ask me Auburn is better than both Georgia and LSU).
 
L S U will blitz Georgia several times Saturday night, and it will be up to Mr. Shockley to pick it up and spot the open \"hot\" receiver on blitz pickup. I\r\n don't think the Bulldogs will be able to penetrate the \"Chinese Bandits\" for enough points to win this one, while LSU only is a tad more successful, one score more to be exact.
 
PiRate Prediction: L S U 20 Georgia 14
 
BIG 12 TITLE GAME (HOUSTON)
Texas vs. Colorado           Texas -28  Over/Under 61
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Four years ago, these two teams squared off in the Big 12 title game. The Longhorns were heavily favored after slaughtering Colorado in the regular season. The Buffaloes prevented the Longhorns from getting a chance to play in the Rose Bowl for the title against the number one team.
 
Forget\r\n history, because it will not repeat itself. Well, the one bit of history that might repeat itself is Colorado losing this game by as many points as they lost last year's Big 12 Championship game. That laugher was 42-3.
 
I see Texas rebounding from a sub-stellar rivalry game against Texas A&M. They will move the ball with little resistance, picking up 250 yards rushing and 200 yards passing. Colorado should be held to single digits once again, unless Mack Brown empties the\r\n bench earlier than the fourth quarter.
 
PiRate Prediction: Texas 45 Colorado 10
 
Game of the Week
 
U C L A @ Southern California             USC -21  Over/Under 73 ½
 
UCLA can score points just as quickly as Southern Cal or Texas. Just think how many they might score facing their own defense? Pete Carroll will have no trouble thinking of the many ways to do just that. The Trojans could top 50 points in the first half of this game if UCLA doesn't control the ball on offense.
 
I think the Bruins will be fired up just enough to make this game interesting into the third quarter. I can see no scenario where they would spoil the party with an upset, but they stay in this one for about 40 minutes.