Rutgers/KSU, AM/Cal should provide good viewing

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 29, 2006

Independence Bowl,

Shreveport, La.

Oklahoma St. (6-6) vs. Alabama (6-6) – 4:30 p.m. ESPN


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Alabama’s coaching search is making the Crimson Tide’s bowl game an afterthought.

A 6-6 record and the Independence Bowl wasn’t good enough for Mike Shula, their 2-6 SEC record was the biggest factor.

But since firing Shula, Alabama’s found out that it isn’t the job the fans, boosters and school think it is.

Rich Rodriguez decided West Virginia was just fine with him and Nick Saban, at least so far, has said no.

After a 4-7 season last year, Oklahoma State is back in a bowl game for the fourth time in five seasons.

The two big wins of the year were in October, 42-32 at Kansas and 41-29 v. Nebraska.

Against the Jayhawks, WR Adarius Bowman had 13 catches for a school-record 300 yards and four touchdowns.

Line – OSU by 2

My pick – OSU, 35-21

Texas Bowl, Houston, Tex.

No. 16 Rutgers (10-2) vs. Kansas St. (7-5) – 8 p.m. NFL Network

&uot;Certainly, there’s disappointment,&uot; said Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, the Big East and national coach of the year. &uot;We had an opportunity to be in the BCS, and more importantly to be league champions. To come close and not get it hurts.

&uot;But in 137 years of football, we’ve only been to two bowl games, so we’re thrilled to be going to another bowl game.&uot;

Rutgers was a play away from being Big East champions, but a triple-overtime loss to West Virginia relegates Rutgers, even with their dream season, to the Texas Bowl.

The next bit of tough news for the Scarlet Knights is that Kansas St. is a talented team, talented enough to beat Texas, 45-42, on Nov. 11.

KSU is also inconsistent enough to then lose, 39-20, to Kansas a week later.

If Rutgers has an even better season next year, and RB Ray Rice (1624 yards, 19 TDs) has a better season, Rice could be a Heisman candidate.

Line – Rutgers by 7

My pick – KSU, 27-24

Holiday Bowl, San Diego, Cal.

No. 21 Texas A&M (9-3) vs. No. 20 California (9-3) – 8 p.m. ESPN

Thanks to UCLA’s win over USC, Cal got a share of the Pac-10 title, the Bears’ first conference title since 1975.

A four-season bowl streak is a program record for Cal.

Texas A&M closed their regular season with the biggest win in coach Dennis Franchione’s career, a 12-7 win versus Texas.

Cal has the offensive and defensive players of the year for the Pac-10.

Junior RB Marshawn Lynch is probably heading for the NFL after his second 1,000+ yard season and senior CB Daymeion Hughes had eight interceptions and two returned for TDs.

The Aggies bring the best offense in the Big 12 this season.

They do it mostly on the ground with 275-pound Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson.

Lane and Goodson combined for 23 TDs and more than 1,400 yards.

Line – Cal by 4

My pick – Texas A&M, 20-17