New Year’s Eve on the couch

Published 11:04 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Armed Forces Bowl, Houston

Air Force (8-4) vs. Houston (7-5) – 12 p.m. – ESPN

These schools met on Sept. 13 with Air Force winning, in Dallas, 31-28.

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The game was played in the outskirts of Hurricane Ike, which played to Air Force’s long-time strength. The Falcons completed no passes, running 71 times for 390 yards. Even with the conditions, Houston, and quarterback Case Keenum, still threw the ball 57 times for 362 yards.

Houston scored 70 points against then-No. 25 Tulsa (70-30) and also knocked off conference champion East Carolina.

Line – Houston by 3.5

My pick – Air Force 31-28

Sun Bowl, El Paso, Tex.

No. 24 Oregon St. (8-4) vs. No. 18 Pittsburgh (9-3) – 2 p.m. – WTKR

Even with three losses going into their regular-season finale, the Beavers were a win away from going to the Rose Bowl instead of USC. Instead, Oregon St.’s defense allowed Civil War rival Oregon to pile up 694 yards and 65 points. So the Beavers fell into the Sun Bowl.

OSU beat USC 27-21, the first win for the Beavers against a No. 1 team in 41 years. Freshman Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Following the loss, the Trojans allowed a total of 23 points in their next six games.

With head coach Dave Wandstadt, Pittsburgh’s quietly built on their 2007 season-ending upset which took West Virginia out of a possible national championship game.

Line – Oregon St. by 2.5

My pick – Beavers 38-21

Music City Bowl, Nashville

Boston College (9-4) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6) – 3:30 p.m. – ESPN

Perennial SEC doormats, the Commodores have been close to a bowl bid a couple times in recent years and now this is the school’s first one in 26 years.

Boston College, while with somewhat of a down season, has the nation’s longest bowl winning streak with nine straight wins.

Vandy was 5-0 and as high as No. 13 in the nation before losing six of its last seven, including games to Mississippi St. (4-8), Duke (4-8) and Tennessee (5-7).

The Eagles are still trying to replace NFL Rookie of the Year-to-be Matt Ryan, but BC’s defense is still as strong as usual. The Eagles have an NCAA-high 26 interceptions, which is a dangerous sign given Vandy’s recent form. Perhaps the certain home crowd for Vandy will help.

Line – BC by 3.5

My pick – Vandy 19-14

Insight Bowl, Tempe

Kansas (7-5) vs. Minnesota (7-5) – 5:30 p.m. – NFL

This is another prime example of one team going in the right direction to make a bowl and the other team having a disappointing year, but playing a bowl game because 68 teams make bowl games.

Minnesota was 1-11 last season. The Gophers are led by quarterback Adam Weber, who completed a Big Ten-high 62.8 percent of his passes, and receiver Eric Decker who had a conference-high and school-record 76 receptions this season.

Last bowl season, Kansas beat Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl to finish its own major turnaround with a 12-1 record.

Line – Kansas by 9

My pick – Kansas 44-40

Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Atlanta

LSU (7-5) vs. No. 14 Georgia Tech (9-3) – 7:30 p.m. – ESPN

It wasn’t so long ago when LSU and Georgia were supposed to be the BCS teams from the SEC. Instead, the defending national champions lost five of their last eight games.

LSU’s most exciting player is 5-foot-5 returner Trindon Holliday. Should LSU be able to force a couple punts against Georgia Tech’s option running game, wait to go to the fridge.

The former Peach Bowl has been good to LSU. The Tigers beat Georgia Tech in 2000 28-14 and beat Miami (Fl.) 40-3 three years ago.

The Yellow Jackets have become one of the most dangerous teams in the nation under first-year coach Paul Johnson. Johnson came from Navy and kept his option offense. Top 25 caliber athletes in his offense have meshed perfectly.

GT ran for 472 yards in a 41-23 win over Miami and 409 yards in a 45-42 win vs. Georgia. ACC MVP Jonathan Dwyer ran for 1,328 yards, 12 TDs and 7.0 yards per carry.

Line – GT by 4

My pick – GT 24-14

My record (through the Alamo Bowl) – 6-8