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December 13, 2007

Is the television writers' strike bringing you down? Thankfully, bowl games are here with a compelling 32-game "season."

College football this season brings us all the moments of your favorite TV dramas and sitcoms.

Pilots: Air Force returns to a bowl game for the first time since 2002 (Dec. 31, 4 p.m., ESPN).

Stars: Darren McFadden and Chase Daniel (Jan. 1, 11:30 a.m., ESPN), Tim Tebow (Jan. 1, 1 p.m., ABC) and Colt Brennan (Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m., FOX).

Fresh faces: Michael Crabtree (Jan. 1, 1 p.m., CBS) and Jeremy Maclin (Jan. 1, 11:30 a.m., ESPN).

The hits no one is watching: Kevin Smith (Dec. 29, 4:30 p.m.) and Dan LeFevour (Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m.)

Reruns: Rematches for BYU-UCLA (Dec. 22, 8 p.m., ESPN) and Central Michigan-Purdue (Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m., ESPN).

A season finale: The Ohio State-LSU championship game (Jan. 7, 8 p.m., Fox)

And maybe even a cliffhanger: Split national championship, anyone?

Rivals.com is here with your TV guide for December and January, outlining the top storylines, players to watch and entertainment value for this season's bowls.

Poinsettia Bowl
Utah (8-4) vs. Navy (8-4)

Site: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Time: 9 p.m.
Network: ESPN (Rece Davis play-by-play, Lou Holtz and Mark May analysts)
The line: Utah by 9
Top storyline: Navy will move on without coach Paul Johnson, who left for Georgia Tech after taking the Midshipmen to five consecutive bowls. Utah is led by another Johnson, quarterback Brian Johnson. He returned from a shoulder injury to lead the Utes to seven wins in their final eight regular-season games.
Player to watch: Navy slot back Reggie Campbell doesn't get the most touches in the triple option, but he's among the most effective with 7.2 yards per carry and five touchdowns. He's also a special teams demon, with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the final three weeks of the season.
Watchability factor: Not the best December bowl game, but not the worst.

New Orleans Bowl
Florida Atlantic (7-5) vs. Memphis (7-5)

Site: Superdome, New Orleans
Time: 8 p.m.
Network: ESPN2 (Eric Collins play-by-play, Bill Curry analyst)
The line: FAU by 2
Top storyline: Master program-builder Howard Schnellenberger, 73, brings Florida Atlantic to its first bowl game in only its seventh season of existence. Schnellenberger returns to a bowl for the first time since leading Louisville to the 1993 Liberty Bowl.
Player to watch: FAU redshirt freshman cornerback Tavious Polo finished second in the country in interceptions with seven on a team that led the nation in turnover margin.
Watchability factor: It's the third-best bowl game in New Orleans this season … by a wide margin.

PapaJohns.com Bowl
Southern Miss (7-5) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)

Site: Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala.
Time: 1 p.m.
Network: ESPN2 (Pam Ward play-by-play, Ray Bentley analyst)
The line: Cincinnati by 11
Top storyline: Want to know about college coaching in a nutshell? Take a look at the sidelines. Jeff Bower resigned under pressure despite a 119-82-1 record and 10 bowls in 17 seasons at Southern Miss. Cincinnati will be happy if hot-shot Brian Kelly sticks around for another season or two.
Player to watch: Cincinnati strong safety Haruki Nakamura is the heart and soul of a defense that forced 39 turnovers, a total second in the nation to USF's 40.
Watchability factor: This is the Papa John's pizza of bowl games. It whets the appetite, but there are far better options out there.

New Mexico Bowl
Nevada (6-6) at New Mexico (8-4)

Site: University Stadium, Albuquerque.
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Network: ESPN (Dave Barnett play-by-play, Rod Gilmore analyst)
The line: New Mexico by 3
Top storyline: Maybe home-field advantage will help the Lobos in their second trip to the New Mexico Bowl. New Mexico is 0-4 in bowl games under Rocky Long, including a 20-12 loss to San Jose State in last season's game in Albuquerque.
Player to watch: New Mexico kicker John Sullivan has made 26-of-29 field goals this year despite a torn ACL in his plant leg.
Watchability factor: Take our advice: Find something better to do on a Saturday night.

Las Vegas Bowl
BYU (10-2) vs. UCLA (6-6)

Site: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas
Time: 8 p.m.
Network: ESPN (announcing crew TBA)
The line: BYU by 5.5
Top storyline: By September of next season, UCLA and BYU will be more familiar with each other than with conference opponents. The Bruins beat BYU 27-17 on Sept. 8 and will meet the Cougars next season in Provo on Sept. 13. Even stranger, BYU could face three different UCLA coaches: fired coach Karl Dorrell, interim coach DeWayne Walker and a yet-to-be named new coach.
Players to watch: BYU's young offense (sophomore quarterback Max Hall, redshirt freshman running back Harvey Unga, sophomore wide receiver Austin Collie and sophomore tight end Dennis Pitta) has grown up since its first meeting against UCLA.
Watchability factor: Despite being the most accomplished of the Western non-major programs, BYU has only watched while Utah, Boise State and Hawaii have taken the BCS spoils. Could this game be a springboard for BYU?

Hawaii Bowl
Boise State (10-2) vs. East Carolina (7-5)

Site: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu
Time: 8 p.m.
Network: ESPN (announcing crew TBA)
The line: Boise State by 10.5
Top storyline: Neither is a stranger to bowl thrillers. Each of Boise State's past four bowls has been decided by less than a touchdown, including the landmark win over Oklahoma in last season's Fiesta Bowl. One of East Carolina's recent bowl appearances was the highest-scoring bowl in history: a 64-61 loss in double-overtime to Marshall in the 2001 GMAC Bowl. This might not be one of those games.
Player to watch: East Carolina tailback Chris Johnson (not UCF tailback Kevin Smith) led the country in all-purpose yardage, with 1,200 rushing yards, 496 receiving yards and 856 yards on kickoff returns. That's 1,210 more yards than Boise State star Ian Johnson.
Watchability factor: Not exactly the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Just ask the Broncos faithful: Fewer than 200 Boise State fans had bought tickets as of early December.

Motor City Bowl
Central Michigan (8-5) vs. Purdue (7-5)

Site: Ford Field, Detroit
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Network: ESPN (announcing crew TBA)
The line: Purdue by 9.5
Top storyline: Not an exciting ending for Purdue: The Boilermakers finished the season on a three-game losing streak and have lost five of their past seven. Now, they face a team they've already beaten this season (45-22 on Sept. 15).
Player to watch: Central Michigan sophomore quarterback Dan LeFevour is only the second player with 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in the same season. The other is Vince Young.
Watchability factor: The first meeting between these teams this year wasn't too exciting. Why should the rematch be any different?

Holiday Bowl
Arizona State (10-2) vs. Texas (9-3)

Site: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Time: 8 p.m.
Network: ESPN (announcing crew TBA)
The line: Texas by 1.5
Top storyline: Old buddies Dennis Erickson and Mack Brown will coach against each other for the first time. They have three national championships between them. The bowl also pairs a Pac-10 team snubbed by the BCS facing a team from Texas. The last time that happened, Texas Tech beat California 45-31 in 2004.
Player to watch: Texas junior tailback Jamaal Charles broke out over the final four games of the season with 736 yards and eight touchdowns. Now he goes against the nation's No. 13 rush defense.
Watchability factor: Two name teams ranked in the top 20 means this will be one of the best non-BCS games of the season.

Champs Sports Bowl
Boston College (10-3) vs. Michigan State (7-5)

Site: Citrus Bowl, Orlando.
Time: 5 p.m.
Network: ESPN (announcing crew TBA)
The line: Boston College by 3
Top storyline: Two offseason coaching hires had immediate results. Michigan State's Mark Dantonio took the Spartans to their first bowl since 2003. Under Jeff Jagodzinski, BC won 10 games in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.
Player to watch: Michigan State tailbacks Javon Ringer and Jehuu Caulcrick combined for 2,159 yards and 27 touchdowns during the regular season but face the nation's No. 1 rush defense in the bowl.
Watchability factor: Boston College was ranked as high as No. 2 in the country and played in the ACC Championship Game, but still winds up in its eighth consecutive December bowl game.

Texas Bowl
TCU (7-5) vs. Houston (8-4)

Site: Reliant Stadium, Houston
Time: 8 p.m.
Network: NFL Network (Brad Sham play-by-play, Charles Davis and Mike Mayock analysts)
The line: TCU by 3.5
Top storyline: Old Southwest Conference foes meet with TCU on a seven-game winning streak in the series dating to 1993. Since the two Lone Star State teams went their separate ways, one (Houston) has been noted for offense and the other (TCU) for defense.
Player to watch: TCU defensive end Tommy Blake missed five games but hit his stride at the end of the season with three sacks and five tackles for loss in the last three games. Fellow end Chase Ortiz (nine sacks) played well in his absence.
Watchability factor: This would have been a compelling coaching matchup between TCU's Gary Patterson and Art Briles. It's still an interesting game, though Briles has moved on to Baylor.

Emerald Bowl
Oregon State (8-4) vs. Maryland (6-6)

Site: AT&T Park, San Francisco
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Network: ESPN (announcing crew TBA)
The line: Oregon State by 4.5
Top storyline: The defining factor for major-conference teams playing in second-tier bowls is which team is excited to be there and which is going through the motions. That could be the story here: Oregon State finished third in the Pac-10, defeating Cal and Oregon (albeit while both fielded backup quarterbacks), and Maryland comes in having lost four of its past six.
Player to watch: Maryland's Erin Henderson and Oregon State's Derrick Doggett are often overshadowed by other linebackers in their respective conferences. Don't be fooled, though. These two have been among the most productive linebackers in the country the past two seasons. Henderson has 236 tackles since 2006. Doggett has 28 tackles for loss and seven interceptions in that span.
Watchability factor: Not the most star-studded bowl, but it might not be a snoozer, either.

Meineke Car Care Bowl
Connecticut (9-3) vs. Wake Forest (8-4)

Site: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
Time: 1 p.m.
Network: ESPN (announcing crew TBA)
The line: Wake Forest by 3.5
Top storyline: Connecticut coach Randy Edsall resisted overtures from Georgia Tech after winning a share of the Big East title. Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe turned down Arkansas' entreaties. You'd be hard-pressed to find a bowl with a better pairing of overachieving programs.
Player to watch: Four interceptions in the last two games of the regular season gave Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith the national lead. He has scored three touchdowns on his eight interceptions.
Watchability factor: Would get bumped up a star if a basketball game was the halftime show.

Liberty Bowl
UCF (10-3) vs. Mississippi State (7-5)

Site: Liberty Bowl, Memphis
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Network: ESPN (announcing crew TBA)
The line: UCF by 3
Top storyline: UCF tailback Kevin Smith is 181 yards short of Barry Sanders' single-season rushing record of 2,628 yards. Plus, Mississippi State and UCF are making only their second bowl appearances this decade. The Bulldogs went to the 2000 Independence Bowl, the Knights to the 2005 Hawaii Bowl.
Player to watch: Apart from Smith? How about Mississippi State safety Derek Pegues? If UCF decides to pass (and we don't think the Knights will often), Pegues is a threat in the secondary with three interceptions and six pass breakups.
Watchability factor: You won't want to miss Smith making a bid for history.

Alamo Bowl
Penn State (8-4) vs. Texas A&M (7-5)

Site: Alamodome, San Antonio
Time: 8 p.m.
Network: ESPN (announcing crew TBA)
The line: Penn State by 5.5
Top storyline: Penn State coach Joe Paterno will coach his 500th game for the Nittany Lions. Since his first win – 15-7 over Maryland on Sept. 17, 1966 – Texas A&M has had seven coaches (Gene Stallings, Emory Bellard, Tom Wilson, Jackie Sherrill, R.C. Slocum, Dennis Franchione and new guy Mike Sherman).
Player to watch: Linebacker Dan Connor claimed the third consecutive Bednarik Award for Penn State (Paul Posluszny has the other two). He and heir apparent Sean Lee take on the versatile Texas A&M running attack.
Watchability factor: This would have been a great matchup circa 1994.

Independence Bowl
Alabama (6-6) vs. Colorado (6-6)

Site: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, La.
Time: 8 p.m.
Network: ESPN (announcing crew TBA)
The line: Alabama by 3.5
Top storyline: Let's just say Nick Saban and Dan Hawkins aren't cut from the same mold. Their teams have had similar seasons, though. Alabama beat Tennessee 41-17 before losing its last four, including one to the Sun Belt's Louisiana-Monroe. Colorado upset Oklahoma 27-24 in September but lost four of its last five.
Player to watch: Colorado linebacker Jordon Dizon was a Butkus finalist and finished second in the nation with tackles with 149. How many fans outside the Big 12 have seen him, though?
Watchability factor: Two big-name teams don't necessarily make this a big game.

Armed Forces Bowl
California (6-6) vs. Air Force (9-3)

Site: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
Time: 12:30 p.m.
Network: ESPN (announcing crew TBA)
The line: Cal by 4
Top storyline: First-year Air Force coach Troy Calhoun oversaw one the biggest turnarounds in the nation, taking a Falcons team that was 4-8 last year to their first bowl since 2002. Meanwhile, Cal coach Jeff Tedford oversaw one of the biggest collapses of the season. The Bears were ranked as high as No. 2 before losing six of their last season.
Player to watch: Air Force running back/wide receiver Chad Hall (rather than Cal's DeSean Jackson) might be the most productive player in the game. He averaged 179.6 rushing yards over the final seven games of the season to go with 11 total touchdowns.
Watchability factor: Your enthusiasm in watching this game could match Cal's enthusiasm about playing in it.

Sun Bowl
Oregon (8-4) vs. USF (9-3)

Site: Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas
Time: 2 p.m.
Network: CBS (Craig Bolerjack play-by-play, Steve Beuerlein analyst)
The line: USF by 6.5
Top storyline: This is a meeting between teams that were ranked No. 2 in the nation at one time this season (there were quite a few of those teams). Oregon freshman quarterbacks Cody Kempt and Justin Roper will have their work cut out for them. They will face an aggressive USF defense featuring cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Trae Williams and pass rusher extraordinaire George Selvie.
Player to watch: USF quarterback Matt Grothe actually averaged more yards of total offense per game than injured Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon (275.4 yards to 271.9).
Watchability factor: Oregon lost some of its watchability when Dixon was lost to a torn ACL. Then again, if Dixon were healthy, Oregon wouldn't be playing in the Sun Bowl.

Humanitarian Bowl
Fresno State (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)

Site: Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho
Time: 2 p.m.
Network: ESPN2 (announcing crew TBA)
The line: Georgia Tech by 4.5
Top storyline: The Yellow Jackets make the 2,100-mile trip from Atlanta to Boise led by interim coach Jon Tenuta before Paul Johnson takes over full-time. The last time these teams met, Georgia Tech threw six interceptions and allowed 10 fourth-quarter points in a 30-21 loss in the 2002 Silicon Valley Bowl.
Player to watch: Georgia Tech tailback Tashard Choice has carried the Yellow Jackets' offense. He led the ACC in rushing with 1,310 yards despite missing all or part of three games.
Watchability factor: Georgia Tech is 3-7 against Bulldogs since 2002. Since those three wins were against the I-AA Samford Bulldogs, this one has upset potential.

Music City Bowl
Kentucky (7-5) vs. Florida State (7-5)

Site: LP Field, Nashville
Time: 4 p.m.
Network: ESPN (Ron Franklin play-by-play, Ed Cunningham analyst)
The line: Even
Top storyline: For Kentucky, it's another season, another trip to Nashville to face a Bowden. The Wildcats hope the results are the same as when they defeated Clemson 28-20 last December.
Player to watch: Quarterback Andre' Woodson has taken Kentucky to consecutive bowls for the first time since 1998-99. This is the swan song for Kentucky with Woodson; UK also is losing wide receivers Keenan Burton and Steve Johnson, tailback Rafael Little and tight end Jacob Tamme.
Watchability factor: Florida State fans get to see how an effective offense performs.

Insight Bowl
Indiana (7-5) vs. Oklahoma State (6-6)

Site: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
Time: 6 p.m.
Network: NFL Network (Bob Papa play-by-play, Sterling Sharpe and Mike Mayock analysts)
The line: Oklahoma State by 4.5
Top storyline: The game should be an emotional landmark for Indiana. The Hoosiers achieved the "Play 13" goal of late coach Terry Hoeppner by reaching a bowl for the first time since 1993. Oklahoma State is making its second consecutive bowl appearance as a 6-6 team.
Player to watch: Oklahoma State tailback Dantrell Savage quietly became one of the most productive running backs in the country with 100-yard rushing games in each of the past nine games.
Watchability factor: An historic occasion for Indiana will be difficult to find on the NFL Network.

Chick-fil-A Bowl
Clemson (9-3) vs. Auburn (8-4)

Site: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Network: ESPN (announcing crew TBA)
The line: Clemson by 2.5
Top storyline: The "Tiger Bowl" will be a tough test for Clemson's tailback tandem of C.J. Spiller and James Davis. Auburn was the only SEC team to beat both Heisman winner Tim Tebow and runner-up Darren McFadden.
Player to watch: Clemson defensive end Phillip Merling could cause trouble for a lackluster Auburn offense. He finished the season with four sacks in the last three games.
Watchability factor: This should be one of the premier non-BCS games. As a bonus, Tommy Tuberville and Tommy Bowden can compare contract extensions they received after overtures from Arkansas.

Outback Bowl
Tennessee (9-4) vs. Wisconsin (9-3)

Site: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
Time: 11 a.m.
Network: ESPN (announcing crew TBA)
The line: Tennessee by 4
Top storyline: Big Ten "inferiority" (especially compared the SEC) is a popular topic, but Wisconsin has bowl victories over SEC teams in each of the past two seasons. Tennessee, meanwhile, has lost three of its past four bowl games by double digits.
Player to watch: It doesn't seem to matter who runs the ball for Wisconsin. Badgers freshman Zach Brown carried 56 times for 358 yards and four touchdowns in the last two games without P.J. Hill. Hill is doubtful for the bowl with a leg bruise.
Watchability factor: The first of three bowl meetings between the Big Ten and the SEC this season.

Cotton Bowl
Missouri (11-2) vs. Arkansas (8-4)

Site: Cotton Bowl, Dallas
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Network: Fox (Pat Summerall play-by-play, Brian Baldinger analyst)
The line: Missouri by 3.5
Top storyline: No shortage of offensive star power here. Heisman finalists Darren McFadden and Chase Daniel are only the beginning. Missouri is playing its first New Year's Day game since 1970, but is disappointed with being left out of a BCS game.
Players to watch: How about a changing of the guard? Can Arkansas tailback Felix Jones and Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin make the Heisman trip to New York in future seasons?
Watchability factor: This could be a showcase game for a number of offensive playmakers.

Gator Bowl
Virginia (9-3) vs. Texas Tech (8-4)

Site: Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Jacksonville
Time: 1 p.m.
Network: CBS (Verne Lundquist play-by-play, Gary Danielson analyst)
The line: Texas Tech by 5.5
Top storyline: Virginia won a Division I-A-record five games by two points or less. Texas Tech would prefer to win by a few touchdowns and continue to pass in the fourth quarter. Watching free-spirited Tech coach Mike Leach interact with tight-lipped counterpart Al Groh during pre-bowl events might be worth the trip to Jacksonville alone.
Player to watch: Texas Tech's pass-first offense will give Virginia defensive end Chris Long ample opportunities to showcase his pass-rush abilities.
Watchability factor: This one should have high-entertainment value because of the contrast in styles.

Capital One Bowl
Florida (9-3) vs. Michigan (8-4)

Site: Citrus Bowl, Orlando
Time: 1 p.m.
Network: ABC (announcing crew TBA)
The line: Florida by 10.5
Top storyline: Sending Lloyd Carr out on a high note will be a tall task as the Wolverines face Heisman winner Tim Tebow and Florida's spread offense. Heisman winners are 2-5 in their past seven bowl games, but Tebow is the first Heisman winner since 1999 playing in a non-BCS game.
Player to watch: Michigan quarterback Chad Henne, tailback Mike Hart and offensive tackle Jake Long are leaving school winless against Ohio State. This is their last chance to leave with a bowl victory.
Watchability factor: The game appears to be a mismatch on paper, but there are enough variables to make it interesting.

Rose Bowl
USC (10-2) vs. Illinois (9-3)

Site: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Network: ABC (announcing crew TBA)
The line: USC by 13.5
Top storyline: The Rose Bowl bypassed some higher-ranked teams to maintain its Pac-10/Big Ten tie-in. Playing in its first Rose Bowl since 1984, Illinois will try to prove doubters wrong. USC ended the season playing as well as any team in the country, defeating four bowl teams to end the season. Oddsmakers have made Illinois the biggest underdog in the bowl games.
Player to watch: USC senior quarterback John David Booty won't finish his career with a national title or a Heisman, but he did win two Pac-10 titles and has a chance for two Rose Bowl rings. After returning from a finger injury in November, Booty has thrown eight touchdowns (and one interception) in four games.
Watchability factor: The Rose Bowl, Ron Zook and Illinois alumni are probably the only ones psyched about this BCS matchup.

Sugar Bowl
Georgia (10-2) vs. Hawaii (12-0)

Site: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Network: Fox (Thom Brennaman play-by-play, Charles Davis analyst)
The line: Georgia by 11
Top storyline: Playing in only their second bowl on the mainland, Hawaii looks to copy Boise State by capping an undefeated season with an upset in a BCS game. Georgia ended the season on a six-game winning streak.
Player to watch: Will June Jones call for a Heisman recount if Colt Brennan does something Tim Tebow didn't do: beat Georgia on a neutral field? Brennan has won three of his past four against BCS-conference teams.
Watchability factor: Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense will be tested by an SEC defense. And can Hawaii's defense hold up?

Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma (11-2) vs. West Virginia (10-2)

Site: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Time: 8 p.m.
Network: Fox (Matt Vasgersian play-by-play, Pat Haden and Terry Donahue analysts)
The line: Oklahoma by 6.5
Top storyline: Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and defensive coordinator Brent Venables have beaten Missouri's version of the spread offense twice this season. Now they get to face West Virginia's.
Player to watch: How much does quarterback Pat White mean to the Mountaineers? A big game from White is West Virginia's only hope of defeating Oklahoma.
Watchability factor: This should be one of the best bowl matchups of the season – provided neither is too disappointed about missing out on the national championship game.

Orange Bowl
Virginia Tech (11-2) vs. Kansas (11-1)

Site: Dolphin Stadium, Miami
Time: 8 p.m.
Network: Fox (Kenny Albert play-by-play, Darryl Johnston and Barry Alvarez analysts)
The line: Virginia Tech by 3.5
Top storyline: The Orange Bowl bypassed Big 12 North champion Missouri to select Big 12 North runner-up Kansas. The Jayhawks look to justify that selection in the first true non-conference test they've faced this season. Virginia Tech rebounded from its 48-7 loss to LSU by winning 10 of its past 11, including a victory over Boston College in the ACC Championship Game.
Player to watch: Quarterback Todd Reesing has enough swagger for the entire Kansas offense despite his 5-foot-10 frame, but he hasn't faced a defense as tough as Virginia Tech's this season.
Watchability factor: The matchup between Kansas' prolific offense (44.3 points per game) and Virginia Tech's fast and physical defense will be the game's key matchup.

International Bowl
Rutgers (7-5) vs. Ball State (7-5)

Site: Rogers Centre, Toronto
Time: Noon
Network: ESPN2 (announcing crew TBA)
The line: Rutgers by 10
Top storyline: Rutgers didn't make the same kind of splash it did last season, but three consecutive bowls for the Scarlet Knights is a monumental feat. Ball State is in the postseason for the first time since 1996 and only the third time in school history.
Player to watch: Ball State sophomore Nate Davis is a star in the MAC, passing for 3,376 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Watchability factor: Davis and Rutgers tailback Ray Rice give the game some star power, but it's still a letdown after the New Year's Day games.

Tulsa (9-4) vs. Bowling Green (8-4)

Site: Ladd Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Ala.
Time: 8 p.m.
Network: ESPN (announcing crew TBA)
The line: Tulsa by 4.5
Top storyline: This game matches two mid-majors carried by their passing attacks. The two starting quarterbacks in this game have passed for a combined 7,876 yards and 65 touchdowns.
Player to watch: Here's your average game for Tulsa senior quarterback Paul Smith this season: 23-of-38, 366 yards, three touchdowns. He also rushed for 12 touchdowns and leads the nation's No. 1 offense.
Watchability factor: Why isn't this bowl played in December?

BCS National Championship Game
Ohio State (11-1) vs. LSU (11-2)

Site: Superdome, New Orleans
Time: 8 p.m.
Network: Fox (Thom Brennaman play-by-play, Charles Davis analyst)
The line: LSU by 5.5
Top storyline: Another Big Ten-SEC matchup will determine the national championship. Last year, the SEC won 41-14. Lots of questions this season: What adjustments will Ohio State make after last season's embarrassment? How much of a factor will the long layoff have for Ohio State? How much of a home-field advantage will LSU have? Can Les Miles, Michigan man, beat the Buckeyes?
Player to watch: Florida flew past Ohio State's offensive line to sack Heisman winner Troy Smith five times last season. How quarterback Todd Boeckman and the Ohio State offensive line respond this season will be critical. LSU's pass rushers this season aren't as good as Florida's last season, but Tigers tackle Glenn Dorsey is disruptive up the middle.
Watchability factor: After all the surprises and upset this season, a preseason favorite and last season's runner-up are in the national championship game. With a title on the line, this is a can't-miss game.

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.