Bowl Plans Being Made

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

Wisconsin believes its third straight trip to the Rose Bowl could be the charm. Stanford is hoping for another victory in its charmed run through the Bowl Championship Series.

The unranked Badgers (8-5) and the No. 8 Cardinal (11-2) will meet in the 99th edition of the Rose Bowl on January 1st. Arroyo Seco will be filled with fans wearing red and white when two schools with virtually identical colors play a rematch of the 2000 Rose Bowl, won 17-9 by Wisconsin behind Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Ron Dayne. That loss was Stanford's most recent trip to the Granddaddy of Them All while the Badgers lost the last two Rose Bowls to TCU and Oregon. Stanford is in its third consecutive.

Northern Illinois has busted the BCS and is heading to the Orange Bowl. The Mid-American champions (12-1) finished 15th in the final Bowl Championship Series standings. Finishing in the top 16 and ahead of a qualifying conference champion meant the Huskies were automatically BCS-bound and they'll play Atlantic Coast Conference champion Florida State (11-2) January 1st in Miami.

Northern Illinois actually finished ahead of two conference titlists, Big East winner Louisville and Big Ten champion Wisconsin. The Huskies beat Kent State for the MAC title on Friday night. Dave Doeren will not coach the Huskies in the Orange Bowl. He was hired Saturday as the new coach at North Carolina State.

Oregon will meet Kansas State in another marquee matchup at the Fiesta Bowl. Still in the BCS championship chase just two weeks ago, the fifth-ranked Ducks and seventh-ranked Wildcats will play in the January 3rd game at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

Oregon (11-1) has a Heisman Trophy contender in running back Kenjon Barner and one of the nation's most dynamic offenses. Kansas State (11-1) has a Heisman hopeful of its own in quarterback Collin Klein and a stingy defense.

Once the top two teams in the BCS standings, the Ducks and Wildcats dropped to fourth and fifth after losing on the same day in November. Oklahoma State beat Stanford in overtime win last year's Fiesta Bowl and this one has a chance to be even better.

After missing out on the BCS, Big 12 co-champion Oklahoma will instead take on Johnny Football and former conference rival Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. The 12th-ranked Sooners (10-2) had their chances of an at-large BCS bid extinguished when Mid-American Conference champion Northern Illinois moved up far enough to claim an automatic bid. Instead, they'll take on Heisman Trophy contender Johnny Manziel and the 10th-ranked Aggies, who had been divisional rivals and yearly opponents for the past 16 seasons before A&M left for the Southeastern Conference.

It'll be the first chance for Oklahoma's Bob Stoops to coach against Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin, who was an assistant with the Sooners for five years. The game will be played at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on January 4th.

Oklahoma State and Purdue will finally play again, 15 years later in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The Cowboys, one of five Big 12 teams with a 7-5 record, and Purdue (6-6), from the Big Ten, were chosen as the participants for the New Year's Day game played at the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium.

It is a rematch of the 1997 Alamo Bowl won 33-20 by the Boilermakers, their first bowl appearance in 15 years, at the end of then-coach Joe Tiller's first season. Tiller's successor, Danny Hope, was fired after four seasons with a 22-27 record. That decision came a day after the Boilermakers ended the regular season with a 56-35 win over Indiana for their third consecutive win since losing five in a row.

No. 4 Florida will meet No. 22 Louisville in the Sugar Bowl. Despite finishing behind Georgia in the Southeastern Conference East Division, Florida (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) was a likely candidate for the Sugar Bowl because the winner of Saturday's SEC title game, Alabama, is headed to the BCS championship while Georgia, which beat Florida and won the SEC East, was left with two losses and a lower BCS ranking than the one-loss Gators.

Louisville (10-2, 5-2 Big East) finished in a tie for Big East championship, but earned its invitation to a BCS bowl thanks to having the highest BCS ranking of any team in the league. The Cardinals opened the season 9-0 before falling to Syracuse and Connecticut, but then beat Rutgers to lock up their league's BCS bid. The Sugar Bowl is January 2nd in New Orleans.

Michigan has been invited to represent the Big Ten in the Outback Bowl against South Carolina of the Southeastern Conference. It's the second trip in five seasons to the New Year's Day game for No. 11 South Carolina (10-2), which lost 31-10 to Iowa in Tampa in January 2009.

Michigan (8-4) hasn't played in the Outback in 10 years. The Wolverines beat Florida 38-30 to conclude the 2002 season and faced Alabama in two previous trips to Tampa.

Michigan State and Texas Christian will meet in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Two of the nation's best defensive teams, the Spartans and Horned Frogs will play at Sun Devil Stadium on December 29th.

TCU (7-5) had an up-and-down first season in the Big 12, winning its first four games, then losing three of four before clinching its eighth straight bowl appearance with a double-overtime victory over West Virginia on November 3rd.

Michigan State (6-6) also got off to a solid start before losing five games in the Big Ten by a combined 13 points. The Spartans are making their eighth bowl appearance since 2001.

Oklahoma beat Iowa 31-14 in last year's game, then called the Insight Bowl.

LSU will face Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Officials announced their selection of No. 9 LSU (10-2) after a day of frenzied speculation about how the Southeastern Conference bowl hierarchy would shake out. No. 14 Clemson (10-2) was a lock to be the Atlantic Coast Conference representative in the December 31st game after Florida State won the league championship.

LSU has won its five previous appearances in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, most recently a 38-3 rout over Georgia Tech in 2008. Coach Les Miles' team will be trying to lock up the seventh 11-win season in school history.

Clemson is set to play in the Atlanta game for the eighth time, having lost to LSU 10-7 in 1996 when it was known as the Peach Bowl.

Georgia Tech is heading back to the Sun Bowl for the second straight year and will face underachieving Southern California. The Yellow Jackets, who got a waiver from the NCAA to play in the postseason despite having a 6-7 record following a loss in the ACC championship game, will play in a bowl game for the 16th straight season. That's the fourth-longest streak in the nation.

USC (7-5), which was ranked No. 1 to start the season, hasn't faced Georgia Tech since 1973. The Trojans have won two of the three previous meetings. The Sun Bowl will be played December 31st in El Paso, Texas.

Northwestern and Mississippi State will play in the Gator Bowl. The Wildcats (9-3) and Bulldogs (8-4) accepted invitations Sunday, giving the New Year's Day bowl a less-than-marquee matchup. The Gator Bowl pitted Florida and Ohio State last season, an intriguing matchup that featured Urban Meyer's former team against his future team.

This time, the bowl wasn't nearly as fortunate. Sure, Northwestern is playing on New Year's Day for the third time in four years, but the Wildcats aren't known for filling stadiums. And Mississippi State is back in Jacksonville for the second time in three years. In 2010, coach Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs were one of the surprises of the Southeastern Conference. This time, though, MSU comes in having lost four its last five games.

The 17th-ranked UCLA Bruins and Baylor Bears will play each other for the first time when they meet in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on December 27th at Qualcomm Stadium.

The Bruins (9-4) won the Pac-12 South Division and are coming off a 27-24 loss to No. 8 Stanford in the conference championship game.

Baylor (7-5) closed the regular season with three straight victories, including a 52-24 upset of then-No. 2 Kansas State on November 17th. At the time, K-State was ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings. On Saturday, the Bears beat Oklahoma State 41-34, knocking the Cowboys out of the Top 25.

After earning a share of the Mountain West Conference title for the first time since 1998, San Diego State will face BYU in the Poinsettia Bowl December 20th at Qualcomm Stadium.

The Aztecs (9-3, 7-1) finished the regular season on a seven-game winning streak to share the conference title with No. 20 Boise State and Fresno State. San Diego State is just two years removed from its last Poinsettia Bowl appearance, a 45-17 victory over Navy in 2010.

The Cougars (7-5), an independent program, lost three regular-season games to ranked teams, including a 17-14 defeat to national championship participant Notre Dame. Four of the Cougars' five losses were by six points or fewer.

The Poinsettia Bowl pits SDSU's powerful rushing offense, averaging 229 yards per game, against a BYU defense allowing just 14.7 points per game.

Fresno State (9-3) has accepted an invitation to play SMU (6-6) in the Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu on Christmas Eve. Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter says his team is in for a good week and a challenge in competing against SMU. Fresno State finished in a three-way tie for first place in the Mountain West.

SMU accepted its invitation last week. SMU Athletics Director Rick Hart said the game is a tremendous reward for the school's players. SMU finished second in Conference USA's West Division.

Louisiana-Monroe, playing in its first bowl game, will meet Ohio in the Independence Bowl. The Independence Bowl selected Ohio (8-4, 4-4 Mid-American Conference) after being told Louisiana Tech was not yet ready to accept an invitation to the December 28th contest that could have been a matchup of two north Louisiana schools.

The Warhawks (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt Conference) announced Saturday that they had accepted an invitation to play in Shreveport, which is a drive of less than two hours from Monroe. The Bobcats opened the 2012 season 7-0 and were ranked as high as No. 25 in the AP poll, but lost four of their last five games. Ohio, coached by former Husker Frank Solich, will be playing in its fourth straight bowl and second in Louisiana since 2010.

Kent State will meet Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in the first bowl appearance in 40 years for the Golden Flashes. The game will be played January 6th. It's the second straight appearance in Mobile for Arkansas State, which lost 38-20 to Northern Illinois last season.

Kent State has won a program-record 11 games. The Golden Flashes are 0-2 all time in bowl games, including trips to the Refrigerator Bowl in 1954 and the Tangerine Bowl in 1972. The Golden Flashes lost to Orange Bowl-bound Northern Illinois in double-overtime in the Mid-American Conference championship game.

The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt Conference title and are 9-3 under first-year head coach Gus Malzahn.

Rutgers and Virginia Tech will square off in the Russell Athletic Bowl on December 28th. The Scarlet Knights (9-3), representing the Big East, are making their first appearance in an Orlando bowl. The co-Big East champions have a five-game bowl win streak, tied for the nation's longest.

Rutgers is looking for its first double-digit win season since 2006. Next season will be its last in the Big East, after announcing plans to join the Big Ten in 2014.

The Hokies (6-6), from the Atlantic Coast Conference, lost twice to Big East teams this season. They fell 35-17 to Pittsburgh and 27-24 to Cincinnati. Virginia Tech and Rutgers were Big East foes before the Hokies left for the ACC in 2004. Virginia Tech holds an 11-3 all-time edge against Rutgers.

Rice is carrying a four-game winning streak into the Armed Forces Bowl, where the Owls will play Air Force. The December 29th game will be played in the completely redone stadium on the TCU campus. For its 10th game, the bowl is returning to its original location after two years at SMU.

Air Force (6-6) will play in its fourth Armed Forces Bowl, the most for any team. The Falcons, with a school-record sixth consecutive bowl season, played in three Armed Forces Bowls in a row from 2007-09, losing to California and splitting a pair of games against Houston.

The Owls (6-6) won five of their last six games to get bowl eligible. Rice is in its third bowl game since a postseason drought from 1961 to 2006.

Bowling Green has accepted an invitation to play San Jose State in the Military Bowl. The Falcons from the Mid-American Conference will face the Spartans in the game at RFK Stadium in the nation's capital on December 27th.

Bowling Green went 8-4 in the regular season and is one of a MAC-record seven teams from the conference who are bowl-bound. San Jose State of the Western Athletic Conference accepted its bid Friday. The Spartans are 10-2 and entered the AP Top 25 Sunday at No. 24.

This year's Military Bowl was set to feature Army against a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference, but Army isn't bowl eligible and the ACC doesn't have enough eligible teams to fulfill its bowl tie-ins.

Minnesota will face Texas Tech in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston on December 28th. It's the first bowl appearance since 2009 for the Gophers (6-6), who reached the postseason despite winning just two Big Ten games.

Texas Tech (7-5) returns to the postseason after a one-year absence. The Red Raiders dropped their final regular-season game to Baylor in overtime 52-45, but they beat West Virginia and TCU and doubled their Big 12 win total from last season.

Minnesota and Texas Tech played each other in the 2006 Insight Bowl. The Gophers suffered an epic meltdown, blowing a 31-point lead and losing 44-41.

Vanderbilt will only have to travel a few miles from campus for its bowl game. The Commodores (8-4) will face North Carolina State (7-5) in the Music City Bowl on December 31st at LP Field.

This game matches a coach who just signed a contract extension against an interim coach. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin agreed to a new contract Sunday after reaching a bowl game for a second straight season, the first time the Commodores ever have gone bowling in back-to-back years.

North Carolina State offensive coordinator Dana Bible will serve as the Wolfpack's interim head coach in place of Tom O'Brien, who was fired last weekend. Vanderbilt is making its second Music City Bowl appearance in the last four years. The Commodores beat Boston College 16-14 in 2008.

Pittsburgh is making its third straight trip to the BBVA Compass Bowl. The Panthers will face Mississippi on January 5th in a matchup of 6-6 Big East and Southeastern Conference teams. Both are led by first-year coaches.

Pitt became bowl eligible for the fifth consecutive season with Saturday's 27-3 rout of South Florida, rebounding after losing its first two games to Youngstown State and Cincinnati. Paul Chryst's Panthers also took No. 1 Notre Dame to triple overtime before losing.

Mississippi won its sixth game with a 41-24 upset of Mississippi State for their first Egg Bowl win in four years. Rebels coach Hugh Freeze led a resurgence of a team with one Southeastern Conference win over the previous two seasons.

Western Kentucky is heading to its first bowl since joining college football's top tier in 2009. The Hilltoppers will play in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit on December 26th against Central Michigan. Western Kentucky (7-5) was also bowl eligible last year, but didn't get to play in one.

The Sun Belt Conference team received an invite from the Pizza Bowl, which has ties with the Big Ten and Mid-American conferences. With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible, postseason options from the Big Ten were limited this year. This is Western Kentucky's fourth season in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Central Michigan (6-6) played in this bowl three straight years from 2006-08.

Syracuse is headed back to the Pinstripe Bowl for the second time in three years and will face former Big East foe West Virginia December 29th in Yankee Stadium.

Syracuse (7-5) won five of its last six games to capture a share of the Big East championship with a 5-2 league mark. The Mountaineers (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) completed their regular season with a 59-10 win over Kansas.

This is the 11th straight bowl trip for West Virginia, which started the season with five straight wins and was ranked as high as fifth before five straight losses. It will be Syracuse's 24th bowl appearance overall. The Orange is 13-9-1 all-time and 4-2 against the Big 12 in the postseason.

The Las Vegas Bowl will have a Northwest flavor with a matchup featuring No. 20 Boise State and Washington. The Broncos and Huskies accepted invitations to the December 22nd bowl, setting up just the second-ever matchup between the two schools from neighboring states.

The Broncos (10-2) have played in the Las Vegas Bowl each of the last two years, beating Arizona State last year and Utah the year before. Washington (7-5) is making its third straight bowl appearance.

The Broncos earned the invitation after knocking off Nevada on Saturday to earn a share of the Mountain West Conference title with Fresno State and San Diego State. The Huskies beat Boise State 24-10 in their first meeting in Seattle in 2009, snapping the Broncos' 14-game winning streak.

Two teams that ended their regular-season schedules in disappointing fashion will meet at University Stadium on December 15th when Nevada faces Arizona in the New Mexico Bowl. Nevada (7-5, 4-4 Mountain West) got off to a 6-1 start to become eligible for a bowl, but an overtime loss to San Diego State sent the Wolf Pack into a 1-4 tailspin to close the season.

Arizona (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12) looked bound for a winning conference record in its first year with Rich Rodriguez at the helm, but the Wildcats lost 41-34 at home to rival Arizona State in their season finale.

Both teams feature powerful rushing offenses that rank in the top 15 nationally in yards per game. Both programs also are among the best in the Football Bowl Subdivision in points scored and among the worst in points allowed.

The Duke Blue Devils will make their first bowl appearance since 1994, taking on the Cincinnati Bearcats in the 11th annual Belk Bowl December 27th in Charlotte. It's the first appearance for both schools in the Belk Bowl.

Duke finished the season with a 6-6 overall record, including a 3-5 in the ACC. The Blue Devils won six of their first eight games. They beat rival North Carolina 33-30 to become bowl eligible, but lost their final four contests. Coach David Cutcliffe was named the 2012 ACC Coach of the Year and nine Blue Devils earned All-ACC recognition.

Cincinnati (9-3 overall, 5-2 in the Big East) won their first five games and then four of their last five contests to earn a share of the Big East title.

Central Florida's loss in the Conference USA championship game has the Knights staying close to home for the holidays against Ball State in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl. UCF (9-4) will make the 100-mile trip west from Orlando to St. Petersburg to face the Cardinals, who will carry a six-game winning streak in the December 21st matchup at Tropicana Field.

Ball State (9-3) received its first postseason berth since appearing in the 2008 GMAC Bowl, filling a slot for the Big East, which didn't have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill the league's commitments.

UCF lost the Conference USA championship game 33-27 to Tulsa in overtime. Ball State went 6-2 in the Mid-American Conference.

Utah State and Toledo have accepted invitations to play in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. No. 18 Utah State (10-2) is making its second straight appearance in a game played at the home of Boise State University and its funky blue turf.

The Aggies lost a last-second thriller 24-23 last year against Ohio. They get a shot at redemption on December 15th against the Rockets, another Mid-American Conference team. Toledo (9-3) is making a return to the postseason after missing out last year. The Rockets beat Air Force in the 2011 Military Bowl.

Utah State won the Western Athletic Conference title this season and set a school record for wins in a season. Toledo won eight straight at one point this year, including a victory over No. 18 Cincinnati.


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