Mark Story

A UK-centric guide to this year's bowl games

With 68 teams and 34 games, wading through college football bowl season is a labyrinth.

So I'm here to help with my first annual (maybe) Kentucky-centric guide to the bowls.

3 teams for UK backers to root against

3. South Carolina (vs. Connecticut) in the Bowl. If you can't beat a Head Ball Coach, you may as well root against him.

2. Cincinnati (vs. Florida) in the Sugar Bowl. The more successful the Bearcats program becomes, the bigger threat it is to UK recruiting in Northern Kentucky.

1. Tennessee (vs. Virginia Tech) in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Even if The Streak hadn't recently celebrated its Silver Anniversary, it would still be real easy (and real fun) to root against Lane Kiffin.

3 players who got away from Ky. schools

3. Bill Stull, Pittsburgh (vs. North Carolina) in Meineke Car Care Bowl. Back in the 2005 recruiting season, the current Pitt QB committed to Kentucky, then reneged shortly before signing day.

If Stull had stayed with his UK pledge, how much better would the Cats record have been the past two years?

2. Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech (vs. Iowa) in Orange Bowl. The former Louisville running back wasn't a "fit" in Steve Kragthorpe's offense, but has run for almost 600 yards in Tech's lethal option attack.

1. Brandon Deaderick, Alabama (vs. Texas) in BCS Championship Game. The Elizabethown product turned down both UK and U of L and may end up a starting defensive lineman on a national championship team as a result.

How the mighty have fallen

Isn't it fun when the Rockefellers have to dine on pork-n-beans?

3. Georgia (vs. Texas A&M) in Independence Bowl. I don't think Mark Richt's perpetual tan will be enhanced by his stay in Shreveport.

2. Oklahoma (vs. Stanford) in Sun Bowl. At least Bob Stoops can't lose a BCS bowl in El Paso.

1. Southern California (vs. Boston College) in Emerald Bowl. Will the Song Girls deign to be associated with a USC team playing this far from football's limelight?

Coaching ex-files

Bowls where coaches give Kentuckians a reason to care.

3. Tony Franklin, Middle Tennessee (vs. Southern Mississippi) in New Orleans Bowl. Ex-Kentucky aide will be running the offense when the Blue Raiders go for the first major college bowl win in school history.

2. Mike Leach, Texas Tech (vs. Michigan State) in Alamo Bowl. Relive the good part of the bombs-away Mumme era with the former UK assistant's pass-happy Red Raiders.

1. Neal Brown, Chad Scott, John Schlarman, Troy (vs. Central Michigan) in GMAC Bowl. Believe it or not, there are more former Kentucky Wildcats coaching at Troy than are on the UK (Joker Phillips, Chuck Smith) staff.

Single sensations

Games worth watching for one player

3. Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan (vs. Troy) in GMAC Bowl. If you want to see a QB who has better career numbers than Tim Tebow, LeFevour is the guy.

2. Toby Gerhart, Stanford (vs. Oklahoma) in Sun Bowl. An absolute moose of a running back.

1. Nkdamukong Suh, Nebraska (vs. Arizona) in Holiday Bowl. After the demolition the Huskers defensive tackle performed on Texas in the Big 12 championship, if I had a Heisman vote, it would go to a boy named Suh.

The Goodbye Guys

If you call yourself a college football fan, you cannot miss these farewells.

3. Colt McCoy, Texas (vs. Alabama) in BCS Championship Game. Sure, everyone is going to watch this game regardless; while you do, acknowledge the final Texas contest for the all-time wins leader (44) among major-college quarterbacks.

2. Tim Tebow, Florida (vs. Cincinnati) in the Sugar Bowl. What will be more missed in college football: Tebow or Tebow-isms?

1. Bobby Bowden, Florida State (vs. West Virginia) in the Gator Bowl. One of the all-time class acts coaches his final game against his former school.

Nashville Cats

Three things to watch when Kentucky plays Clemson in a 2006 Music City Bowl do-over.

3. UK motivation. Minor bowls are often decided by which team is most inspired to be there. Can Rich Brooks get his team juiced for its third Music City appearance in four years?

2. Clemson revenge. Having ended its season losing to archrival South Carolina and then Georgia Tech in the ACC title game, the Tigers don't figure to be in a real positive state of mind themselves. Can they get pumped for the Music City Bowl off a vengeance motif from their '06 loss to the Cats?

1. Progress. When being invited to a well-run bowl in a great city against a quality foe is "old hat" for Kentucky, you have to say that's a sign of program progression.