DALLAS — Like chestnuts roasting on an open fire or George Bailey running down Main Street, I can't think of anything that says the holiday season is here quite like our 11th annual random collection of college football bowl selections.
Champ Sports Bowl
Florida State over Wisconsin
Bobby Bowden isn't quite feeling the Senior Citizen love that is flowing toward Joe Paterno these days. And it's not good that Seminoles quarterback Christian Ponder got benched in the last game. But I have trouble embracing a Wisconsin team that lost to five Big Ten teams, including Michigan, and finished the season with a puzzling 36-35 overtime win against Cal Poly.
Valero Alamo Bowl
Northwestern over Missouri
The Chase Daniel Lone Star Bowls Tour continues. Missouri lost the Sun Bowl two years ago, won the Cotton Bowl last season and thought Daniel and Jeremy Maclin would provide the keys to a BCS game this year. It didn't happen. Northwestern has a good enough pass offense and the Tigers a bad enough pass defense to keep this one close.
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
Oklahoma State over Oregon
One-sided losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma near the end of the year obscure how good the Cowboys are. The Ducks are pretty much the same team — all offense, no defense — but the leadership of OSU quarterback Zac Robinson makes the difference here.
Armed Forces Bowl
Houston over Air Force
In the first bowl ever to feature two teams that met in the regular season at SMU's Ford Stadium, the outcome will be reversed. The teams moved their Sept. 13 game to Dallas because of Hurricane Ike. Since then, the Houston offense has taken flight. Look for Case Keenum to ring up big numbers on the Falcons.
Kansas over Minnesota
Bad karma for the Gophers in this one as the Insight Bowl is where they blew a 31-point lead to Texas Tech two years ago. A team that finished its season with a 55-0 loss to Iowa won't need to worry about blowing a big lead to the Jayhawks, who closed with a win over Missouri.
Georgia Tech over Louisiana State
You knew it was going to be a weird season for the Tigers early in the year, when they tried to go with a transfer from Harvard at quarterback. They simply lost too many key players the last two years to compete, and the Yellow Jackets' triple option will give LSU fits.
Capital One Bowl
Georgiaover Michigan State
When you see just how good quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Knowshon Moreno can be outperforming the Spartans' Javon Ringer, you will wonder why Georgia couldn't play this way all season.e_SClBCiti Rose Bowl
Southern Cal over Penn State
This line is artificially low because of the good vibe everyone has about JoePa at Penn State these days. But there are two things USC does really well. One is complain about not getting into the national title game after foolishly losing to an inferior Pac-10 team (this year Oregon State, last year Stanford, another year UCLA). The other is whip Big Ten teams.
AT&T Cotton Bowl
Texas Tech over Mississippi
I like what the Rebels have done, and it's nice that former Texas quarterback Jevan Snead gets to play in this game. But Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree are set to deliver "Why Wasn't I at the Heisman Ceremony?" performances on the Rebels.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Ohio State over Texas
There is this notion that because the Longhorns are upset about not playing in the title game, they will take it out on the Buckeyes. That kind of thing almost never plays out.
BCS national title
Oklahoma over Florida
Remind me why a team that has scored 60 points in five straight games is getting points against a team that represents — for this season, anyway — an inferior conference. Too much has been made of Tim Tebow's speech after the Mississippi loss. Bob Stoops won his only national title when the game was all about defense. Even without DeMarco Murray, the Sooners have plenty of weapons to win a game that is all about offense.