Five bowl games today, including Clemson and Maryland in action

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 29, 2006

Music City Bowl, Nashville, Tenn.

Clemson (8-4) vs. Kentucky (7-5) – 1 p.m. ESPN

Both teams put up a lot of points this season.


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Clemson did so with their running game and Kentucky has gone back to the Tim Couch era with a pass-heavy attack.

Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said that, from what he’s seen, only Arkansas had a better running game than Clemson’s combo of James Davis and C. J. Spiller.

Davis and Spiller combined for 27 TDs and over 2,000 yards.

QB Andre Woodson is a second-year starter for UK.

He threw for an SEC-high 3,216 yards and 28 TDs this year after struggling, as UK did as a whole, last year through a 3-8 season.

Kentucky fans are very excited as UK is in their first bowl since 1999 and Clemson is always a well-supported team, this will be the first sellout in nine years of the Music City Bowl.

Line – Clemson by 9.5

My pick – Clemson, 30-28

Sun Bowl, El Paso, Tex.

No. 24 Oregon St. (9-4) vs. Missouri (8-4) – 2 p.m. CBS

Sure it doesn’t mean quite as much in a 14-game season, and it’s not in the same category as Rutgers or Wake Forest, but Oregon State going for a 10-win season is a big surprise after a 5-6 season last year and most analysts thinking OSU was headed back down to their traditional spot in the Pac-10.

Not only has OSU won seven of their last eight games, but that includes their mammoth upset over USC as well as wins versus Oregon and Hawaii.

For Missouri, QB Chase Daniel has picked up where Brad Smith left off and then some.

In his first year as starter, Daniel, a sophomore, broke school records for yards (3,197) and TD passes (26).

Missouri’s season has been the opposite of OSU’s, the Tigers started 6-0 before struggling in the second half of the season.

OSU’s defense forced four turnovers against USC and that was their strength all season.

RB Yvenson Bernard had 1,210 yards and 12 TDs.

Line – OSU by 3.5

My pick – Missouri, 24-19

Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn.

Houston (10-3) vs. South Carolina (7-5) – 4:30 p.m. ESPN

What a great job of turning a program around, that coach must really know what he’s doing down there.

Who, Steve Spurrier?

No, try Houston’s Art Briles.

&uot;There was no respect for the University of Houston football program across the state when we got here,&uot; Briles said. &uot;I know how the image was when I got here and it has changed.&uot;

He’s taking Houston to its third bowl game in four years and Houston won their first Conference-USA championship this year.

As for South Carolina, is Spurrier really turning anything around?

USC went 3-5 in the SEC and its seven wins include Wofford, Mississippi St., Vanderbilt, Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee St.

Line – USC by 5.5

My pick – Houston, 34-17

Insight Bowl, Tempe, Ariz.

Texas Tech (7-5) vs. Minnesota (6-6) – 7:30 p.m. NFL Network

Minnesota has one of the worst passing defenses in the country, and that’s out of the Big Ten. So Mike Leach is probably licking his chops, and has been for a few weeks now, for the chance to turn his offense loose.

Coming off a 9-3 season and with expectations to be even better this season, this year hasn’t been the best for Leach’s offense.

The season included losses in which TCU held the Red Raiders to three points and Colorado held TT to six.

Joel Filani (80 rec., 1,138 yards, 12 TDs) and Robert Johnson (80 rec., 774 yds., 10 TDs) are the main targets out of many for QB Graham Harrell.

For Minnesota, their most impressive win came in their finale, a 34-24 win over now 6-6 Iowa.

Line – Texas Tech by 6.5

My pick – Texas Tech, 47-20

Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando, Fla.

Purdue (8-5) vs. Maryland (8-4) – 8 p.m. ESPN

Both teams missed out on bowl games last year and had supposedly rebuilding seasons go well.

Maryland won nail-biter after nail-biter until losing games to Boston Coll. and Wake Forest.

Maryland didn’t lose a game to a team, that at the time they played, was outside the top 20.

Maryland’s defense carried the team through wins versus Clemson and Miami.

RBs Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore have impressive numbers if you put them together (114 yards per game, 11 TDs), which doesn’t say much if that’s the strength of their offense.

Purdue started 4-0, then lost four of five, then finished up with three straight Big Ten wins before losing at Hawaii.

&uot;I am pleased for our players that they get this reward,&uot; Purdue coach Joe Tiller said. &uot;We have a young team that has worked hard, gotten better over the course of the season and put itself in position to play in this game.&uot;

In 10 seasons under Tiller, this will be Purdue’s ninth bowl game.

Line – Purdue by 1

My pick – Purdue, 28-23