Every Team's Best
Jan. 8 / 8 p.m. Miami Gardens, Fla. FOX
*BCS #1 vs. BCS #2
Oklahoma vs. Florida
Gator Bowl Moment:
How good was the 41-14 thumping of Ohio State in the BCS
Championship Game two years ago? Good enough to trump the 52-20
annihilation of No. 1 and unbeaten Florida State in the 1997 Sugar
Bowl as the best moment in Florida bowl history. Considered by many
to be out of the top-ranked Buckeyes’ league, the Gators feasted on
their slower opponent, holding Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and
Ohio State to just 82 yards of total offense.
Best Sooner Bowl Moment: Although the last four BCS bowl
appearances have been eminently forgettable, OU’s 24-16-1 bowl
record ranks among the best of any program with at least 15
appearances. The Sooners, regulars in Miami throughout the years,
used the 2001 Orange Bowl as a vehicle to regaining their status as
a perennial national title contender. The Oklahoma defense
suffocated high-powered Florida State in a shocking 13-2 win that
captured the school’s seventh national championship.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 5 / 8 p.m. Phoenix, Ariz. FOX
*BCS vs. BCS (Big 12 Champion, if available)
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 46 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 Buckeye Bowl Moment: Beyond the plethora of Rose Bowl
wins, nothing could compare to the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. In one of the
most thrilling college football games of all-time, Ohio State upset
Miami in overtime to cop its first unanimous national championship
in 34 years. A distant runner-up was the come-from-behind win
against USC in the 1969 Rose Bowl that put the finishing touches on
that previous national title.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Jan. 2 / 8:30 p.m. ET New Orleans, La. FOX
*BCS vs. BCS (SEC Champion, if available)
Ute Bowl Moment:
Four years ago, the Utes set the bowl bar pretty doggone high for
future teams to reach. Utah got four touchdown passes from Alex
Smith, adding an exclamation point to a perfect regular season by
completely obliterating Pittsburgh in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl. The win
more than justified the Utes’ selection as the first non-BCS program
to ever get invited to a BCS bowl game.
Best Crimson Tide Bowl Moment: With an NCAA-record 54 invites
and 31 victories, you can make a credible argument for about a dozen
different games. By a sliver, the nod here goes to the 1979 Sugar
Bowl over the 1993 Sugar Bowl. Both produced national championships,
but the 14-7 win over top-ranked Penn State more than a quarter
century ago featured an epic, game-saving goal line stand from the
‘Bama D that’s etched in the memory of everyone that witnessed it.
FedEx Orange Bowl
Jan. 1 / 8 p.m. Miami Gardens, Fla. FOX
*BCS vs. BCS (ACC Champion, if available)
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 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.
Rose Bowl presented by Citi
Jan. 1 / 5:10 p.m. ET Pasadena, Calif. ABC
*BCS vs. BCS (Big Ten Champion vs. Pac 10 Champion, if available)
USC vs. Penn State
Best Trojan Bowl
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 Nittany Lion Bowl Moment: In one of the most memorable
bowl games of all-time, Penn State shocked Miami in the 1987 Fiesta
Bowl to earn its second national championship in four years. With a
record-breaking 70 million viewers watching, the Lions intercepted
Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde five times, the last one by Pete
Giftopoulos at the Penn State one-yard line to seal an unexpected
and heart-stopping 14-10 win.
Dec. 20 / 11 a.m.. ET Washington, D.C.
Tie-Ins: ACC vs. Army or Navy
Best Middie Bowl
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 Demon Deacon Moment: Given little chance for victory in
the 2002 Seattle Bowl, the Demon Deacons routed favored Oregon 38-17
behind a balanced offensive attack that featured 256 yards on the
ground and 241 yards through the air. Game MVP James MacPherson ran
for a score, and passed for two touchdowns and 241 yards on just
New Mexico Bowl
Dec. 20/12:30 p.m. Albuquerque, N.M. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Mountain West vs. WAC
Colorado State vs.
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 Ram Bowl Moment: Colorado State’s first-ever bowl
victory came in a 32-31 thriller over Oregon in the 1990 Freedom
Bowl. The WAC co-champion took particular delight in breaking into
the win column against a member of the Pac-10. The teams played a
seesaw game that wasn’t decided until the final minute, when the
Rams stopped a potential game-winning two-point conversion just
inches from the goal line.
Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl
Dec. 20 / 8 p.m. ET Las Vegas, Nev. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Mountain West No. 1 vs. Pac-10 No. 4
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 Wildcat Bowl Moment: Arizona makes its long-awaited
return to the postseason, snapping a 10-year drought. 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.
magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl
Dec. 20 / 9 p.m. ET St. Petersburg, Fl.
Tie-Ins: Big East vs. Conference USA
South Florida vs. Memphis
Best Tiger Bowl
Since Memphis’ bowl dossier consists of just five games, one of
which was the 1971 Pasadena Bowl, the nod would have to go to the
2003 New Orleans Bowl triumph over North Texas. The Tigers snapped
a 32-year bowl drought that December by beating the perennial Sun
Belt champs, 27-17.
Best Bull Bowl Moment: In 2005, South Florida played in its
first bowl game, a 14-0 loss to NC State in the Meineke Car Care
Bowl. A year later, the Bulls won their first bowl game, a
24-7 defeat of East Carolina in the inaugural PapaJohns.com Bowl. In
another important stride for head coach Jim Leavitt and the program,
USF got a pair of touchdown runs from RB Benjamin Williams and an
outstanding effort from a defense that delivered six sacks and was
particularly nasty in the red zone.
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Dec. 21 / 8 p.m. ET New Orleans, La. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Sun Belt No. 1 vs. C-USA
Golden Eagle Bowl Moment:
TCU entered the 2000 Mobile Alabama Bowl with the nation’s No. 1
defense, top rusher in LaDainian Tomlinson, and a nifty 10-1 record.
The Horned Frogs left the Heart of Dixie with their second blemish.
Southern Miss rallied in the fourth quarter to stun the TCU 28-21
when Jeff Kelly found Kenneth Johnson for the game-winning touchdown
with eight ticks left in the game.
Best Trojan Bowl Moment: In its brief stay in the FBS, Troy
has split its two bowl appearances, losing to Northern Illinois in
the 2004 Silicon Valley Bowl and routing Rice in the 2006 New
Orleans Bowl. As was the case throughout the season, QB Omar
Haugabook was the headliner for the Trojans, accounting for 319
total yards and five touchdowns.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Dec. 23 / 8 p.m. ET San Diego, Calif. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Mountain West vs. Pac 10 (WAC if no Pac 10 team
TCU vs. Boise
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.
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 upset
of Oklahoma in overtime. 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.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Dec. 24 / 8 p.m. ET Honolulu, Hawaii ESPN
Tie-Ins: Pac 10 vs. WAC
Warrior Bowl Moment:
The 54-48, three-overtime win over Houston in the 2003 Hawaii Bowl
may have been more fun, but the 1999 Oahu Bowl had much more
meaning. Just one year removed from an 0-12 season, the Warriors
completed the biggest one-year turnaround in NCAA history with a
23-17 win over Oregon State. It wasn’t particularly pretty, but for
Hawaii and first-year coach June Jones, it marked the launching
point for a successful run that still endures today.
Best Irish Bowl Moment: As hard as it is to imagine, it’s
been 15 years since the Irish have won a bowl game. Prior to the
current nine-game losing streak, however, it had plenty of huge
victories in the 1970s and 1980s. In particular, the 1973 Sugar Bowl
pitting No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Notre Dame lived up to the billing
of the game of the century. In a thriller that featured six lead
changes, the Irish won the game 24-23 and the national championship
with an 11-0 record.
Motor City Bowl
Dec. 26 / 7:30 p.m. ET Detroit, Mich. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 7 vs. MAC
vs. Central Michigan
Owl Bowl Moment:
Just last year, Florida Atlantic played in the 2007 New Orleans
Bowl, a reward for winning the Sun Belt championship. The Owls
jumped out to a fast start against Memphis, going on to a
comfortable 44-27 victory in their first-ever bowl appearance. The
hero was QB Rusty Smith, who threw five touchdown passes to five
Best Chippewa Bowl Moment: Central Michigan has taken
part in four bowl games, but only the 2006 Motor City Bowl ended
with a victory. 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.
Champs Sports Bowl
Dec. 27 / 4:30 p.m. ET Orlando, Fla. ESPN
Tie-Ins: ACC No. 4 vs. Big Ten No. 4 or No. 5
Seminole Bowl Moment:
The ‘Noles’ 14-game bowl unbeaten streak from 1982-1998 is one of
the most incredible runs of any kind in college football history.
The high point of that boon—and there were many—was the classic 1994
Orange Bowl with Nebraska that matched the top two teams in the
country. Florida State took an 18-16 lead on a Scott Bentley chip
shot with 21 seconds left, but had to watch as a Byron Bennett field
goal attempt fittingly sailed wide left before wrapping up the win
and the school’s first national championship.
Best Badger Bowl Moment: Wisconsin won three Rose Bowls under
the watchful eye of Barry Alvarez, but none that generated more
electricity in Madison than the 1994 victory. The 21-16 win over
UCLA was the school’s first on New Year’s Day, capping the Badgers’
first Big Ten title in 32 years. More than 70,000 rabid fans made
the trip to Pasadena, giving Wisconsin a unique home-field advantage
in the Bruins’ home stadium.
Dec. 27 / 8:30 p.m. ET San Francisco, Calif. ESPN
Tie-Ins: ACC No. 7 vs. Pac-10 No. 5
Hurricane Bowl Moment:
The first of Miami’s five national championships came on the heels
of one of the most riveting games in college football history, the
1984 Orange Bowl. The ‘Canes, a team with few stars, were
considerable underdogs to Nebraska, which entered the game on a
22-game winning streak. The game featured Husker guard Dean
Steinkuhler's "fumblerooskie" touchdown run and a game-saving tip of
an attempted two-point conversion pass by Miami safety Ken Calhoun.
The 31-30 win marked the emergence of the ‘Canes as a national
Best Bear Bowl Moment: You’ve got to venture all the way back
to 1938 and the days of Vic Bottari to find a truly meaningful Cal
bowl victory. The “Thunder Team”, as it was dubbed, shut out Alabama
13-0 in the Rose Bowl, en route to the Bears’ second and last
national championship. Cal finished its season in Pasadena eight
times from 1921-1959, but hasn’t been back since.
Meineke Car Care Bowl
Dec. 27 / 1 p.m. ET Charlotte, N.C. ESPN
Tie-Ins: ACC No. 6 vs. Big East
North Carolina vs.
Best Tar Heel
The Gator Bowl has been the scene of some of North Carolina’s
biggest postseason triumphs, and nearly half of its 12 bowl wins.
None was more impressive than the 1998 win, which featured a 42-3
Tar Heel demolition of Virginia Tech. The blowout put an exclamation
point on an 11-1 season, one of the most successful in Carolina
Best Mountaineer Bowl Moment: The postseason had been a
horror show for West Virginia…until the 2006 Sugar Bowl and the 2008
Fiesta Bowl. The same program that had lost 11 of its previous 12
bowl games jumped all over heavily-favored Georgia in the Georgia
Dome before holding on for a 38-35 win that ranks among the most
important in school history. This past January, the ‘eers, seemingly
a rudderless ship, rallied around interim coach Bill Stewart, to
stun Oklahoma in Arizona, 48-28, behind the heroics of Pat White and
Dec. 29 / 3 p.m. ET Birmingham, Ala. ESPN2
Tie-Ins: Big East vs. SEC (or Sun Belt if no SEC team
Rutgers vs. NC State
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 Wolfpack Bowl Moment: By ACC standards, State has had a
rich and extensive postseason history. They’ve got a dozen wins and
a handful of exciting finishes to back that up. However, to find its
proudest moment, you only have to venture back a couple of years,
when the ‘Pack stuffed Notre Dame 28-6 for a convincing win in the
2002 Gator Bowl.
Dec. 28 / 8 p.m. ET Shreveport, La. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Big 12 No. 7 vs. SEC No. 8 (Or WAC & the third
choice of Sun Belt teams if no Big 12
or SEC team available)
Louisiana Tech vs. Northern Illinois
There wasn’t much drama or many style points, but Northern Illinois’
34-21 win over Troy in the 2004 Silicon Valley Classic was a
landmark victory for a program that was breaking a 21-year
postseason dry spell
Best Bulldog Bowl Moment: Louisiana Tech’s bowl history
consists of four appearances and just a single victory more than
three decades ago. Bulldog QB Keith Thibodeaux was the game’s MVP,
throwing two touchdown passes in a 21-point first quarter outburst.
Tech held on for a 24-14 victory to finish the season 9-1-2.
Dec. 29 / 8 p.m. ET San Antonio, Texas ESPN
Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 4 or No. 5 vs. Big 12 No. 4
No contest. When you’re the Big Ten’s perennial doormat and you
haven’t been to a bowl game in 47 years, an unexpected berth in the
Rose Bowl is more than a great bowl moment—it’s the modern day high
point for your program. Such was the case for the 1995 ‘Cats, who
shocked the world by winning the conference title and earning a trip
to Pasadena. They led favored USC early in the fourth quarter before
Best Tiger Bowl Moment: The 2005 comeback win over South
Carolina in the Independence Bowl was nice, but Missouri’s biggest
bowl conquests reside deep in the past, nine New Year’s Day bowl
games before 1971 and not one until 2007. A 21-14 defeat of Navy in
the 1961 Orange Bowl ended a seven-game bowl losing streak,
propelling the Tigers to No. 5 in the AP Poll and capping the best
season in school history. In the win, the Mizzou D held Heisman
winner Joe Bellino to just four yards on the ground.
Dec. 30 / 8 p.m. NFL Network
Tie-Ins: Houston, Texas
Big 12 vs. C-USA
Best Owl Bowl
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
Best Bronco Bowl Moment: Western Michigan’s next bowl victory
will be its first. The Broncos came close in the 1988 California
Bowl, nearly shocking high-powered Fresno State at Bulldog Stadium
before falling short, 35-30, to the passing of Mark Barsotti and the
running of game MVP Darrell Rosette.
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
Dec. 30 / 8 p.m. ET San Diego, Calif. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Big 12 No. 3 vs. Pac-10 No. 2
One of the great offensive displays in postseason history, Oklahoma
State ambushed Wyoming 62-14 in the 1988 Holiday Bowl. The Cowboys
cranked out 698 yards and 34 first downs behind Heisman winner Barry
Sanders’ 222 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, and a near-
perfect passing performance from current head coach Mike Gundy.
Best Duck Bowl Moment: There have been Rose Bowls, a Cotton
Bowl and a slew of minor bowls in Oregon’s history, all of which
paled in comparison to the 2002 Fiesta Bowl. Joey Harrington threw
four touchdown passes, Steve Smith picked off three passes, and the
No. 2 Ducks put a bow on the most successful season in school
history by pummeling No. 3 Colorado 38-16.
Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl
Dec. 30/4:30 p.m. Boise, Idaho ESPN
Tie-Ins: ACC No. 8 vs. WAC
Terrapin Bowl Moment:
In what is still the biggest win in Maryland history, the Terps
shocked No. 1 and regular season national champ Tennessee in the
1952 Sugar Bowl. The upset, led by Ed Modzelewski’s 153 yards
rushing and Ed Fullerton’s two scores, one on offense and one on
defense, sealed the only perfect season in Maryland history.
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.
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Dec. 31 / 12 p.m. ET Fort Worth, Texas ESPN
Tie-Ins: Mountain West vs. Conference USA
Air Force vs.
Cougar Bowl Moment:
The last second upset of Nebraska in the 1980 Cotton Bowl warrants
real strong consideration; however, it’s the 30-21 win over unbeaten
Maryland in the 1977 Cotton Bowl that has a special place in the
hearts of Cougar fans. The school’s first trip to a New Year’s Day
bowl game was the finishing touch on an unforgettable season that
saw Houston stun the Southwest Conference by winning the league in
its debut as a member.
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. The Falcons were uncommonly
balanced in the lopsided victory, generating 232 yards on the ground
and 267 yards through the air from game MVP, QB Blane Morgan.
Dec. 31 / 2 p.m. ET. El Paso, Texas CBS
Tie-Ins: Big 12/Big East/Notre Dame vs. Pac-10 No. 3
Ranked No. 9 before the 1976 season began, Pittsburgh wrapped up the
national championship with a dominant 27-3 win over Georgia in the
Sugar Bowl. Heisman winner Tony Dorsett rushed for a Sugar
Bowl-record 202 yards, and the Panther defense one-upped the vaunted
Junkyard Dawgs, keeping the Bulldogs out of the end zone for the
first time all season.
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
carried more clout for the OSU football program.
Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
Dec. 31 / 3:30 p.m. ET Nashville, Tenn. ESPN
Tie-Ins: ACC vs. SEC No. 5
The 1984 season will forever be remembered fondly by Eagle fans. It
was the year of Flutie, the Heisman and the miracle in Miami. It was
also the scene of Boston College’s first bowl win in 44 years, a
45-28 thumping of Houston in the 1985 Cotton Bowl. Flutie threw
three touchdown passes, but the real hero was running back Troy
Stradford, who ran for 196 yards and was named the game’s MVP.
Best Commodore Bowl Moment: Three bowl appearances. One
victory, which occurred more than half a century ago in the 1955
Gator Bowl. Facing SEC rival Auburn, Vanderbilt pulled away behind
the heroics of QB 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.
Dec. 31 / 7:30 p.m. ET Atlanta, Ga. ESPN
Tie-Ins: ACC No. 2 vs. SEC
Yellow Jacket Bowl Moment:
Tech boasts a nifty 22-14 bowl record, including 8-6 since 1985. 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
Best 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 RB Justin Vincent to pull off the mild upset in the
Dec. 31 / 5:30 ET Tempe, Ariz. NFL Network
Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 6 vs. Big 12 No. 6
Best Jayhawk Bowl Moment: Kansas capped one of the best
seasons in school history with one of the best victories in school
history, a 24-21 win over favored Virginia Tech in the 2008 Orange
Bowl. Obviously motivated by pre-game whispers about a soft D and a
soft regular season schedule, the Jayhawks delivered their best
defensive effort of the year to finish ranked No. 7 in the final AP
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.
Jan. 1 / 11 a.m. ET Tampa, Fla. ESPN
Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 3 vs. SEC
For the 11 members of the Big Ten conference, success is measured in
terms Rose Bowl berths and victories. For the Hawkeyes, that level
of success hasn’t reached their campus since the latter half of the
1950s. Iowa beat Oregon State and Cal in 1957 and 1959,
respectively for their only Rose Bowl victories. The 38-12 win over
the Golden Bears was particularly impressive as the offense rolled
up 441 of its 528 total yards on the ground.
Best Gamecock Bowl Moment: South Carolina has won four of its
last five bowl games, the only four postseason victories in school
history. In the 2002 Outback Bowl, the Gamecocks allowed Ohio State
to rally from a 28-point deficit before Daniel Weaver booted a
game-winning 42-yard field goal for a sigh-of-relief victory. It was
South Carolina’s second straight win over the Buckeyes in Tampa and
a symbol of just how far the program had progressed under Lou Holtz.
Konica Minolta Gator Bowl
Jan. 1 / 1 p.m. ET Jacksonville, Fla. CBS
Tie-Ins: ACC No. 3 vs. Big 12/Big East/Notre Dame
Tiger Bowl Moment:
It’s been a quarter of a century 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 its only national championship.
Best Husker Bowl Moment: Nebraska’s massive bowl resume
includes an unheard of 30 New Year’s Day appearances. You can go in
so many directions with this question, such as pasting No. 2 Alabama
in the 1972 Orange Bowl, pounding Notre Dame 40-6 in the 1973 Orange
Bowl in Bob Devaney’s final game, breaking a seven-game bowl slide,
or winning the national title with a win over Miami in the 1995
Orange Bowl. However, no game stands out more than the 62-24
demolition of Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. In a match up of No.
1 vs. No. 2, the Huskers rushed for a bowl-record 524 yards, putting
forth one of the most dominant big game performances the sport has
Capital One Bowl
Jan. 1 / 1 p.m. Orlando, Fla. ABC
Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 2 vs. SEC No. 2
Georgia has a very rich bowl tradition that includes 41 invites and
victories in the Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Gator Bowl, Orange Bowl,
and Sugar Bowl. Fueled by freshman sensation Herschel Walker, the
Dawgs took a perfect mark into the 1981 Sugar Bowl, where No. 7
Notre Dame awaited. Walker shook off a dislocated shoulder in the
first quarter to score a pair of touchdowns leading Georgia to a
17-10 win and the national title.
Best Spartan Bowl Moment: While rival Michigan has a
timeshare in Pasadena, it’s been a long time since Michigan State
has played a meaningful game in January. 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.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Jan. 2 / 5:00 p.m. ET Memphis, Tenn. ESPN
Tie-Ins: C-USA No. 1 vs. SEC No. 6
East Carolina vs. Kentucky
Considering that Kentucky has won just four bowl games over the last
54 years, there aren’t many options. If you dig deep enough,
however, you’ll find a hidden gem in the 1951 Sugar Bowl. Under the
guidance of Bear Bryant, the Wildcats shocked national champion
Oklahoma 13-7 behind a stingy defense and a pair of Wilbur Jamerson
touchdowns to finish with 11 wins for the first time in school
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.
AT&T Cotton Bowl
Jan. 2 / 2 p.m. ET Dallas, Texas FOX
Tie-Ins: Big 12 No. 2 vs. SEC
Texas Tech vs.
Under legendary head coach Johnny Vaught, Ole Miss made a habit out
of playing in big bowl games in the 1950s and 1960s. The most
memorable was a 21-0 thumping of LSU in the 1960 Sugar Bowl that
avenged a loss to the Tigers during the regular season. The 10-1
Rebels notched their eighth shutout of the season and outgained
their SEC rival 363-74.
Best Red Raider Bowl Moment: Over the years, the bowl season
has been anything but festive for Tech. Covering 31 games since
1938, it’s lost 19 times and played in January just three 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
Jan. 3 / 12 p.m. ET Toronto, Canada ESPN2
Tie-Ins: Big East vs. MAC No. 4 or 5
All hail, Turner Gill, who’s leading Buffalo to its first-ever bowl
game, a silly notion just a couple of years ago. To put this
accomplishment in context, the Bulls went 12-79 between 1999-2006
before beginning to make some tangible strides in 2007.
Best Husky Bowl Moment: Connecticut’s first bowl
invitation was a stepping stone moment for a young program that
hadn’t been competing in I-A very long. Just three years after
elevating from I-AA, the Huskies pounded Toledo in the 2004 Motor
City Bowl, 39-10, behind the passing of star QB Dan Orlovsky and the
play of an opportunistic and unheralded defense.
Jan. 6 / 8 p.m. ET Mobile, Ala. ESPN
Tie-Ins: C-USA No. 2 vs. MAC/WAC
Tulsa vs. Ball State
Hurricane Bowl Moment:
Tulsa’s most impressive postseason win came more than half a century
ago, when the Hurricane swooped into Miami, and used seven turnovers
to upset Georgia Tech in the 1945 Orange Bowl. This generation,
however, will have none of it. It points to the dramatic
come-from-behind win over Fresno State in the 2005 Liberty Bowl that
capped a turnaround, or last year’s 63-7 rout of Bowling Green in
the GMAC Bowl.
Best Cardinal Bowl Moment: Although the Cardinals have taken
part in four 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.