Every Bowl Team's Best Bowl Moment - December

Posted Dec 8, 2012

The best games and the brightest moments for all the 2012-2013 bowl teams

Best Bowl Moments

Pre-BCS December Bowls 

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The 2012-2013 Pre-Bowl Rankings
- The Can't Miss - The Top 5  
- The Excellent - No. 6 to No. 10 
- Just Bowls. No More, No Less - No. 16 to No. 20
- The Mediocre - No. 21 to No. 25
- The Lousy - No. 26 to No. 30 
- Seriously? - No. 30 to No. 35  

Best Bowl Moments
- Pre-BCS December Bowl Teams 
- Pre-BCS January Bowl Teams
- BCS Bowl Teams

Gildan New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM University Stadium
Dec. 15, 1:00 pm, ESPN
Matchup Arizona vs. Nevada

Best Wolf Pack Bowl Moment: In one of the most exciting games of the 2005 bowl bonanza, Nevada got by UCF in the Hawaii Bowl, 49-48, in overtime. In a wild, see-saw game that featured 1,178 yards of offense, the Wolf Pack got off the island with a win after Matt Prater missed an extra point that would have sent the game to a second extra session.

Best Wildcat Bowl Moment: Arizona makes a return to the postseason after a one-year hiatus in Rich Rodriguez's first season in the desert. Although they've yet to appear in the Rose Bowl, the Wildcats were pretty formidable between 1986 and 1998, winning five games in eight tries. The pinnacle was the 1994 Fiesta Bowl spanking of No. 10 Miami. Arizona created four turnovers and got 142 yards on the ground from Chuck Levy, pitching the only shutout in Fiesta Bowl history.

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Famous Idaho Potato
Boise, ID Bronco Stadium
Dec. 15, 4:30 pm, ESPN
Matchup: Utah State vs. Toledo   

Best Rocket Bowl Moment: Toledo owns eight bowl wins, but the first three came against programs that currently reside in the Football Championship Subdivision. Last year's thriller over Air Force in the Military Bowl was something to write home about, but the 2005 GMAC Bowl rout of UTEP remains the Rockets' foremost bowl-game achievement. A thorough drubbing of one of Mike Price's best UTEP teams marked a flawless performance in a big game, a sweet taste of perfection that never fades away with the passage of time.

Best Aggie Bowl Moment: Charlie Weatherbie had himself quite a decade in the 1990s. He coached Navy to a bowl win in 1996, but three years earlier, he guided Utah State to its only bowl win in five tries. The USU crew topped Ball State, 42-33, to capture the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl. This season, Utah State will once again try to knock off a Mid-American Conference opponent.

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San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia
San Diego, CA Qualcomm Stadium
Dec. 20, 8:00 pm, ESPN 
Matchup: BYU vs. San Diego State  

Best Cougar Bowl Moment: From 1978 to 1984, BYU and the Holiday Bowl were synonymous with the magic and excitement of the postseason. That was never truer than in 1980, when Jim McMahon and the high-voltage Cougars engineered an incredible comeback for the school's first bowl triumph. Trailing SMU 38-19 at the start of the fourth quarter, BYU stormed back, pulling out a miraculous win when McMahon connected with TE Clay Brown from 41 yards out as time expired.

Best Aztec Bowl Moment: It is said that the first time is always the most special one, but San Diego State's history of bowl victories rates as an exception. With all due respect to Don Coryell's takedown of Boston University in the 1969 Pasadena Bowl, SDSU's second bowl win was better than its first. A 35-14 romp over Navy in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl gave the Aztecs a beautiful home-field finale, a glorious conclusion to a supremely distinguished season. San Diego State lost on its home field to Iowa in the 1986 Holiday Bowl, so the ability to win at Qualcomm Stadium against Navy gave the program its most indelibly happy postseason memory.

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Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg, FL Tropicana Field
Dec. 21, 7:30 pm, ESPN
Matchup: UCF vs. Ball State

Best Knight Bowl Moment: The Knights are a relative newcomer in big-time college football, so it's not hard to find the summit of their four bowl-game appearances. The best Knight moment without a doubt is the win over the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2010 Liberty Bowl. The Knights went toe-to-toe with its Southeastern Conference foe and were able to pull out the victory in a hard-fought defensive-struggle 10-6 when RB Latavius Murray scored on a 10-yard touchdown run with 9:01 left.

Best Cardinal Bowl Moment: Although the Cardinals have taken part in five bowl games throughout their history, they're still searching for their first postseason win. Ball State's best effort came in the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl, a 42-33 loss to Utah State that closed out a successful 8-3-1 campaign in Muncie.

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R+L Carriers New Orleans
New Orleans, LA Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Dec. 22, 12:00, ESPN
Matchup: East Carolina vs. Louisiana-Lafayette  

Best Pirate Bowl Moment: In one of the most memorable wins in school history, East Carolina rallied from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to beat long-time rival North Carolina State in the 1992 Peach Bowl. In front of the largest crowd to ever watch two North Carolina teams play, Pirate QB Jeff Blake ran for a score and threw a pair of touchdown passes in the final eight minutes for a pulsating 37-34 victory. The win gave the Pirates state bragging rights and a No. 9 ranking in the final AP poll

Best Ragin' Cajun Bowl Moment: Last year was a classic even if it is a part of a very small sample size. For the first time in 40 seasons, Louisiana-Lafayette went bowling in this very bowl against San Diego State. The Ragin' Cajuns won on a time-expiring field goal to pull out a 32-30 win thanks in large part to the 470 yards passing by QB Blaine Gautier. It'll be hard to top the effort and the drama.

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MAACO Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV Sam Boyd Stadium
Dec. 22, 3:30 pm, ESPN 
Matchup: Washington vs. Boise State 

Best Husky Bowl Moment: Steve Emtman. Billy Joe Hobert. Mario Bailey. These and other stars catapulted coach Don James's best Washington team to an emphatic 34-14 smackdown of Michigan in a highly anticipated 1992 Rose Bowl. The No. 2 Huskies and the No. 4 Wolverines played a game imbued with the electricity worthy of a game with national-title implications, and when Washington manhandled Michigan with noticeable ease, it was hard to deny the sense that the best collegiate football team in the United States was the team that resided in Seattle.

Best Bronco Bowl Moment: Is there really any debate? Boise State arguably delivered the most memorable and thrilling performance in bowl history in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, a 43-42 overtime upset of Oklahoma. A frequent participant in the local Humanitarian Bowl, the Broncos took their inventive brand of football on the road, winning on a Statue of Liberty two-pointer that'll forever be a part of sports lore. The electrifying finish made the Broncos' earlier exploits – including a tying hook-and-lateral touchdown at the end of regulation – look almost pedestrian by comparison.

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Sheraton Hawai'i
Honolulu, HI Aloha Stadium
Dec. 24, 8:00 pm, ESPN
Matchup: Fresno State vs. SMU   

Best Bulldog Bowl Moment: In one of the more historic victories in school history, Fresno State toyed with Pac-10 powerhouse USC in the 1992 Freedom Bowl. The Bulldogs picked off three Rob Johnson passes and outgained the favored Trojans 405-183 in a surprisingly easy 24-7 win.

Best Mustang Bowl Moment: SMU has only recently returned to the postseason on an annual basis, a welcome change from the two decades which followed the 1987 death penalty. However, those many dry years should not lead one to think that the school lacks history in this area. The Mustangs' most memorable moment came in the 1983 Cotton Bowl, a 7-3 win over Pittsburgh to finish the season with no losses and just a tie to Arkansas. Though Dan Marino was the more heralded quarterback entering the game, Lance McIlhenny was the hero, scoring the game's only touchdown and deftly running the option with the help of Eric Dickerson and Craig James.

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Little Caesars Pizza
Detroit, MI Ford Field
Dec. 26, 7:30 pm, ESPN 
Matchup: Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky 

Best Hilltopper Bowl Moment: There's not much to choose from, mainly because the Hilltoppers just began full play as an FBS school during the 2009 campaign. Since then Western Kentucky has not been shy about playing some of the big boys to try and expedite the program's rise. Its appearance in this year's Little Caesar's Bowl will be its first, and a victory would go a long way towards continuing to put a stamp in the type of college football program it would like to ultimately become.

Best Chippewa Bowl Moment: Central Michigan has taken part in six bowl games, but the 2006 Motor City Bowl stands out because of its dominating performance. The Chippewas handled Middle Tennessee State, 31-14, getting a pair of touchdowns from Ontario Sneed to cap a sensational MAC-championship year with their first 10-win season since 1979.
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Washington, DC RFK Stadium
Dec. 27, 3:00 pm, ESPN 
Matchup: Bowling Green vs. San Jose State

Best Spartan Bowl Moment: San Jose State owns five bowl wins, but the majority of those came in the more regional California and Raisin Bowls. More impressive was the Spartans decisive win over the hometown New Mexico Lobos in the inaugural New Mexico Bowl in 2006. Though the final score of 20-12 would suggest otherwise, the game was never in doubt as the Spartans jumped out to a 20-3 lead, then allowed nine points in garbage time from the Lobos. QB Adam Tafralis hooked up often with offensive MVP James Jones, who caught six passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns. The victory still stands as San Jose State's only bowl win outside the state of California.

Best Falcon Bowl Moment: In the inaugural 1992 Las Vegas Bowl, the Falcons withstood a furious second-half rally from Nevada, pulling the game out 35-34 on a fourth down touchdown pass from Erik White to Dave Hankins with 22 seconds left. It was the second win of what became a four-game postseason winning streak for the program.

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Charlotte, NC Bank of America Stadium
Dec. 27, 6:30 pm, ESPN 
Matchup: Duke vs. Cincinnati 

Best Bearcat Bowl Moment: Even a broken hand and unseasonably cold weather in Texas couldn't keep Cincinnati QB Gino Guidugli from carving up the Marshall defense in the 2004 Fort Worth Bowl. The senior threw for 231 yards and a pair of touchdowns, leading the Bearcats to a 32-14 victory, their first in postseason play in seven years.

Best Blue Devil Bowl Moment: Duke hasn't appeared in a bowl game since 1994, and you have to go all the way back to 1961 to find a victory when the Blue Devils beat Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. The best bowl moment for Duke though wasn't either of the aforementioned games, but rather its pasting of Nebraska 34-7 in the 1955 Orange Bowl. In that contest, Duke owned the trenches on both sides of the ball. Led by its captain and senior QB Jerry Barger, the Blue Devils amassed 288 yards on the ground, while the defense limited the Cornhuskers to just 88 yards rushing. The Orange Bowl victory was the cherry on top of an ACC championship for then head coach Bill Murray.

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Bridgepoint Education Holiday
San Diego, CA Qualcomm Stadium
Dec. 27, 9:45 pm, ESPN 
Matchup: UCLA vs. Baylor 

Best Bear Bowl Moment: Grant Teaff is the greatest coach in Baylor football history, but the Bears' most consequential bowl win came long before he arrived. Teaff's best Baylor squads were stopped by Joe Paterno and Penn State in the 1975 Cotton Bowl, and then by Bear Bryant's Alabama outfit in the 1981 Cotton classic. Baylor's signature bowl moment remains the 1957 Sugar Bowl, a 13-7 conquest of Tennessee and Heisman Trophy runner-up Johnny Majors.

Best Bruin Bowl Moment: UCLA was almost unbeatable in the 1980s, winning seven of eight bowl games, including three Rose Bowls. However, the 1960s were home to its most unforgettable postseason victory. Before 1964, the Bruins had played in five Rose Bowls, losing each one. The 1965 squad blessedly ended that futility in a thriller with No. 1 Michigan State that ended when three Bruin defenders stopped a game-tying two-point try by the Spartans with under a minute left in the game.

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AdvoCare V100 Independence
Shreveport, LA Independence Stadium
Dec. 28, 2:00 pm, ESPN  
Matchup: Ohio vs. ULM 

Best Bobcat Bowl Moment: The Bobcats have only had six postseason opportunities, so the high points are scarce. Ohio finally got off the schneid last year though in a thrilling come-from-behind 24-23 victory over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The win enabled the program to notch the program's first and only bowl victory in its history. The game itself was a seesaw battle with the outcome only sealed after QB Tyler Tettleton engineered a late-game drive, scoring on a one-yard keeper with just thirteen seconds left to seal the deal.

Best Warhawk Bowl Moment: How about this one? The Warhawks have only been playing as an FBS team since 1994, and this appearance will mark the first-ever bowl outing for the program. Coach Todd Berry will be looking to add to the already historic season for ULM that includes arguably its biggest win in its history with the upset of Arkansas during early season non-conference play. The team also nearly beat another SEC foe Auburn prior to Sun Belt play this year. The Warhawks will be looking to cap their season off with a win over a Bobcats team that is on a slide since being ranked in the Top 25 midway through the season.

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Russell Athletic
Orlando, FL Florida Citrus Bowl
Dec. 28, 5:30 pm, ESPN
Big East No. 2 vs. ACC No. 3
Matchup: Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech  

Best Scarlet Knight Bowl Moment: The Scarlet Knights knocked on the bowl door in 2005 before kicking it down a year later, picking up a school-first bowl victory in the inaugural Texas Bowl. Rutgers used big plays from RB Ray Rice and WR Tim Brown to jump on Kansas State early, pulling away in the second half for an easy 37-10 win.

Best Hokie Bowl Moment: Meeting Florida State for the national championship in the 2000 Sugar Bowl was quite an accomplishment, but whooping a one-loss Texas team in the 1995 game was even better. Led by big plays from receiver Bryan Still and an attacking defense, the Big East champs won their tenth straight game, earning a second helping of national respect.

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Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Houston, TX Reliant Stadium
Dec. 28, 9:00 pm, ESPN 
Matchup: Texas Tech vs. Minnesota 

Best Gopher Bowl Moment: It's been quite some time since Minnesota reigned supreme in the Big Ten or played a game in Pasadena. Almost half a century, in fact. Behind the play of legendary quarterback Sandy Stephens and a terrific defensive effort, the Gophers beat UCLA 21-3 in the 1962 Rose Bowl to avenge a loss to Washington in Pasadena a year earlier.

Best Red Raider Bowl Moment: Over the years, the bowl season has been anything but festive for Tech. Covering 34 games since 1937, it's lost 22 times and played in January just five times over the last half century. The 1953 squad was a rare exception. That explosive 11-1 team blew out Auburn 35-13 in a historic 1954 Gator Bowl. The game marked the first time Tech was broadcast on television and gave birth to the Masked Rider as a fabled school tradition.

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Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
Fort Worth, TX Amon G. Carter Stadium
Dec. 29, 11:45 am, ESPN
Matchup: Rice vs. Air Force 

Best Owl Bowl Moment: Back in the day, Rice was a feisty program under legendary coach Jess Neely, stepping up every few years and winning a Southwest Conference championship. Led by the dynamic pitch-and-catch combo of Tobin Rote to Froggy Williams and a cast of talented seniors, the 1949 squad was the best of the lot, going 10-1 and capping the year with a 27-13 Cotton Bowl victory over North Carolina and Choo Choo Justice.

Best Falcon Bowl Moment: One of the most decisive postseason wins in Air Force history came in the 1998 Oahu Bowl, a 45-25 demolition of the Pac-10's Washington Huskies. The Falcons were uncommonly balanced in the lopsided victory, generating 232 yards on the ground and 267 yards through the air from game MVP, quarterback Blane Morgan.

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Kraft Fight Hunger
San Francisco, CA AT&T Park
Dec. 29, 3:15 pm, ESPN or ESPN2 
Matchup: Navy vs. Arizona State

Best Middie Bowl Moment: Ben Fay will forever be a part of Navy football lore. He was the backup quarterback, who came off the bench in the fourth quarter of the 1996 Aloha Bowl to help upset Cal, 42-38. The senior led the offense on touchdown drives of 80 and 84 yards over the final 10:38 as the Academy captured its first bowl win in 18 years.

Best Sun Devil Bowl Moment: The 1983 Fiesta Bowl takedown of Oklahoma was fun, but the 1975 Fiesta Bowl win over a mighty Nebraska team is the postseason game that first catapulted Arizona State to national prominence on a particularly large scale. Iconic coach Frank Kush, the best coach in ASU history, outfoxed a young Tom Osborne in a game which hastened ASU's rise from the Western Athletic Conference to the Pac-10 a few years later.

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New Era Pinstripe
Bronx, NY Yankee Stadium
Dec. 29, 3:15 pm, ESPN or ESPN2 
Matchup: West Virginia vs. Syracuse 

Best Mountaineer Bowl Moment: The postseason had been a horror show for West Virginia…until the recent BCS game appearances of 2006, 2008, and then last year's blitzkrieg over Clemson. However, it was the win over Georgia in the Gator Bowl that stands out as a program changer. The same school that had lost 11 of its previous 12 bowls jumped all over heavily-favored Georgia in the Georgia Dome on the second night of 2006, holding on for a 38-35 win that ranks among the most important in school history. A couple of years later, the ‘Eers, seemingly a rudderless ship, were able to rally around interim coach Bill Stewart in 2008 to stun Oklahoma in Arizona, 48-28, behind the heroics of Pat White and Noel Devine.

Best Orange Bowl Moment: Syracuse has a solid bowl history, but any time a bowl win results in a national-title, it jumps out. Such was the case with the Orange's win over the Texas Longhorns in the 1960 Cotton Bowl. Syracuse came into the game undefeated, and ranked No. 1, staring down the possibility of its first bowl win and national title. The Orange matched up against a once-beaten Texas Longhorn team that provided more bite than expected throughout. In a game marred by bad officiating and a late second-quarter brawl between the two teams, Syracuse jumped ahead and outlasted the Longhorns largely because of a goal-line stand late in the third quarter. The win remains Syracuse's only national championship propelling victory.

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Valero Alamo
San Antonio, TX Alamodome
Dec. 29, 6:45 pm, ESPN 
Matchup: Oregon State vs. Texas 

Best Longhorn Bowl Moment: With all due respect to its recent thrilling comeback wins over USC and Michigan in the Rose Bowl, nothing defines the Texas bowl experience more than the Cotton Bowl, home to almost half of the program's bowl destinations. Arguably the most rewarding of those trips to Dallas was in 1970, when the ‘Horns came from behind twice in the fourth quarter to beat a Notre Dame team that was ending a 44-year self-imposed bowl-moratorium. The win, No. 500 in school history, cemented UT's second national title.

Best Beaver Bowl Moment: Oregon State has been to three Rose Bowls over the last 60 years, but even those trips to Pasadena paled in comparison to the 2001 Fiesta Bowl. Pac-10 laughingstocks no more, the Beavers rode a 29-point third quarter outburst to embarrass No. 10 Notre Dame, 41-9. Few victories in school history carry more clout for the OSU football program.

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Buffalo Wild Wings
Tempe, AZ Sun Devil Stadium
Dec. 29, 10:15 pm, ESPN 
Matchup: TCU vs. Michigan State 

Best Horned Frog Bowl Moment: Generations before the current Frogs were even out of diapers, TCU was winning Southwest and national titles in the 1930s with All-Americans, such as Sammy Baugh and Davey O'Brien. O'Brien's 1938 TCU team capped off a perfect season with a 15-7 Sugar Bowl victory over then- No. 5 Carnegie Tech. Yes, that win deserves just as much praise as 2011's Rose Bowl triumph over Wisconsin.

Best Spartan Bowl Moment: While rival Michigan has a timeshare in Pasadena, you have to look hard to find a lot of recent January bowl success for Michigan State notwithstanding last year. The Spartans are 3-1 in the Rose Bowl, including a couple of wins over UCLA in the 1950s. In the 1954 game, No. 3 Michigan State rallied from a 14-0 halftime deficit to pull out the win, getting a touchdown run and a back-breaking punt return for a score from RB Billy Wells.

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Franklin American Mortgage Music City
Nashville, TN LP Field
Dec. 31, 12:00 pm, ESPN 
Matchup: Vanderbilt vs. NC State

Best Wolfpack Bowl Moment: By ACC standards, State has had a rich and extensive postseason history. The Wolfpack over a dozen bowl wins and a handful of exciting finishes to back that up. However, to find its proudest moment, you only have to venture back several years, when the ‘Pack stuffed Notre Dame, 28-6, for a convincing win in the 2003 Gator Bowl.

Best Commodore Bowl Moment: Five bowl appearances have produced two victories for Vanderbilt, one of which occurred more than half a century ago in the 1955 Gator Bowl. Facing SEC rival Auburn, Vanderbilt pulled away behind the heroics of quarterback Don Orr, who was questionable to even dress for the game. Still recovering from a dislocated elbow suffered a month earlier, he rebounded with a touchdown pass and two touchdown runs to earn game MVP honors.

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Hyundai Sun
El Paso, TX Sun Bowl
Dec. 31, 2:00 pm, CBS 
Matchup: Georgia Tech vs. USC

Best Trojan Bowl Moment: There have been a ton of memorable Rose Bowl wins in USC's storied past; however, the 2005 Orange Bowl was the site of the program's most impressive moment, a 55-19 demolition of unbeaten Oklahoma to win a second straight national championship. Matt Leinart set an Orange Bowl record with five touchdown passes, while the mighty Trojans raised debates whether they were a modern-day dynasty.

Best Yellow Jacket Bowl Moment: Tech boasts more than 20 bowl wins. The Jackets did most of their big-game damage in the 1940s and 1950s; however, it was the 1991 Florida Citrus Bowl which means the most to today's generation of Tech fans. Led by the passing of Shawn Jones and the running of William Bell, Bobby Ross' team pummeled Nebraska, 45-21, en route to an unbeaten season and the UPI's share of the national championship.

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AutoZone Liberty
Memphis, TN Liberty Bowl
Dec. 31, 3:30 pm, ESPN 
Matchup: Tulsa vs. Iowa State

Best Cyclone Bowl Moment: Among the few bowl games Iowa State has won, the 2000 Insight Bowl stands out the most. The 2000 edition of the Cyclones won nine games, finishing off a memorable season by popping Pittsburgh, 37-29, in Phoenix. ISU jumped out to a big lead on the Panthers behind the running of Ennis Haywood, the receiving of Chris Anthony, and the passing of Sage Rosenfels. Subsequent bowl wins against Miami University and Minnesota have burnished the Cyclones' bowl profile, but that first win over Pittsburgh remains a crowning bowl moment in for Iowa State.

Best Golden Hurricane Bowl Moment: Tulsa's most impressive postseason win came more than 65 years ago, when the Hurricane swooped into Miami and used seven takeaways to upset Georgia Tech in the 1945 Orange Bowl. This generation, however, will have none of it. A younger set of Tulsa fans would point to a dramatic come-from-behind win over Fresno State in the 2005 Liberty Bowl that capped a stunning turnaround for the program. Other Golden Hurricane fans under 30 would cite a 63-7 rout of Bowling Green at the end of the 2007 season in the GMAC Bowl.

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Atlanta, GA Georgia Dome
Dec. 31, 7:30 pm, ESPN
Matchup: Clemson vs. LSU 

Best LSU Tiger Bowl Moment: Look no further than the 2004 Sugar Bowl, a more-dominant-than-the-score-indicated 21-14 win over Oklahoma, which gave LSU a share of its first national championship in 45 years. The Tigers harassed Heisman winner Jason White from the opening drive, getting just enough of an offensive spark from freshman back Justin Vincent to lift the championship crystal in the Superdome.

Best Clemson Tiger Bowl Moment: Prior to last year, It had been 30 years since Clemson participated in one of college football's marquee bowl games. Back in 1982, the Tigers played No. 4 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, with national supremacy hinging on the outcome. Danny Ford's underrated defensive unit frustrated the star-studded Husker offense in a 22-15 win that gave the Tigers a perfect season and their only national championship.

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