Penn St. vs. USC, VT vs. Cincy

Published 9:36 pm Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Outback Bowl, Tampa

South Carolina (7-5) vs. Iowa (8-4) – 11 a.m. – ESPN

New Year’s Day used to be special because it was the day for the best bowl games and the most bowl games. Neither one is true now.

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Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks come into the Outback Bowl off losses of 56-6 to Florida and 31-14 to Clemson.

“We are 7-5 and it is what it is. We will try our best to represent South Carolina better than we have these past two games,” said Spurrier.

“We are going to try to be a little bit more positive. Maybe, I’ve been a little negative at times.”

Iowa’s season included the one-point, last-second field goal win over Penn State. Running back Shonn Greene was the Offensive Player of the Year in the Big Ten and the Doak Walker Award winner (nation’s best running back).

Line – Iowa by 4

My pick – Iowa 31-21

Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla.

Nebraska (8-4) vs. Clemson (7-5) – 1 p.m. – WTKR

Clemson started the season ranked No. 9 in the nation and finished about No. 9 in the ACC. Take out wins against The Citadel, South Carolina St. and Duke and it’s no wonder Tommy Bowden finally got the boot.

Under first-year head coach Bo Pelini, the Cornhuskers have shown some signs of returning to their past glory. Beating up on the rest of the Big 12 North, Nebraska’s best win of the season is probably a 45-35 win over Kansas, isn’t quite getting back to what Nebraska expects, but it’s better than what Pelini took over from Bill Callahan.

Line – Clemson by 2.5

My pick – Nebraska 42-17

Capital One Bowl, Orlando

No. 16 Georgia (9-3) vs. No. 19 Michigan St. (9-3) – 1 p.m. – WVEC

It’s another opposite directions bowl game with Georgia, which started the year as No. 1 in the nation, against Michigan St., for which a 9-3 record is already the best mark this century.

Georgia was 7-1 and still in the title chase before a 49-10 thrashing by Florida. Then came an loss to little brother Georgia Tech as the Yellow Jackets ran for 409 yards on the Bulldogs.

Both running backs, UGA’s Knowshon Moreno and Michigan St.’s Javon Ringer, will be playing on Sundays soon. Moreno totaled 1,338 rushing yards and Ringer has 1,590 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns.

Line – Georgia by 7.5

My pick – Georgia 28-14

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Cal.

No. 6 Penn St. (11-1) at No. 5 Southern Cal (11-1) – 5 p.m. – WVEC

Ok, this is classic New Year’s Day football. It’s even a Big Ten (OK, OK, Big 11 with Penn State) vs. PAC-10 game in the Rose Bowl.

Want to listen to a football coach who has rare job security, here’s 82-year-old Joe Paterno.

“I hope we can go out there and be competitive with them. I’m a little bit nervous.”

The Trojans’ only loss came in September at Oregon St. Since then, only Oklahoma putting up 60-plus points a game looks stronger than the Trojans. For USC, it’s mostly about defense. After its loss, USC blanked three teams, held two more teams to three points and three more to either seven or 10 points.

The Nittany Lions were 9-0 before a 24-23 loss at Iowa. Only one of their 11 wins came in a one-possession game.

USC’s a little different than everyone in the Big Ten though. If the Lions are to make a game of it, QB Daryll Clark will need to stay true to his 17 TDs vs. four INTs stat line. Unlike Big Ten teams which have recently flopped in big bowls, PSU has speed all over the field.

Line – USC by 9

My pick – USC 23-20

Orange Bowl, Miami

No. 12 Cincinnati (11-2) vs. No. 21 Virginia Tech (9-4) – 8 p.m. – WVBT

The Hokies return to the scene of a 24-21 loss to Kansas last season, the fourth straight BCS bowl loss by VT. Overall, the Big Ten and the Big East have got nothing on the ACC, which has lost eight straight BCS games.

The Bearcats have pulled out games in all sorts of ways this season. Six wins have been by one possession. UC has two outstanding receivers, Marshwan Gilyard (74 rec., 1,118 yds., 10 TDs) and Dominick Goodman (78 rec., 977 yds., 7 TDs). Gilyard’s also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

Line – Cincinnati by 2.5

My pick – Hokies 20-13