Rose Bowl picks and the New Year's weekend slate!

Written by Paul Zeise on .

The greatest day of the year for college football fans is here! THe heck with your New Year's resoluations, today is all about laying around, stuffing your face and watching game after game of glorious gridiron action.

In our ongoing bowl poll, Ron Musselman and Ray Fittipaldo have pulled into a tie for first place, with Chuck Finder nipping at their heels and Paul Zeise bringing up the rear. The standings:

  • Fittipaldo: 11-11
  • Musselman: 11-11
  • Finder: 10-12
  • Zeise: 8-13 (Paul didn't pick the Pitt game) 

Thursday, Jan. 1

Rose Bowl: Southern Cal (11-1) vs. Penn State (11-1)

FITTIPALDO: I covered the last Penn State-USC game. It was at Giants Stadium in some kind of kickoff classic type of game. The Lions had negative yards rushing. They could be in for a similar day against the Trojans' defense. Take USC

ZEISE: I think it will be fun to watch USC linebacker Ray Malauga (or some spelling close to that) chasing Darryl Clark all around the field but I think anyone who thinks this will be a blow-out is kidding themselves. Penn State wins bowl games -- as does USC -- and the Nittany Lions have the kind of defense and offensive line to match physical with the Trojans. I also think Penn State has more motivation and more to prove as they feel like they are getting overlooked and dissed while USC would rather be anywhere else than playing a home bowl game for the fourth year in a row.

MUSSELMAN: Not picking this game for obvious reasons. I cover Penn State.

FINDER: Pete Carroll resigns once he realizes that Joe Paterno started working at Penn State the year before Pete was born. Oh, but it's a Trojans conquest, because the Nittany Lions haven't played a defense this good. Go with USC.

hugh hefner Pictures, Images and Photos
Everyone talks about JoePa's age, but no one ever tells Hef (also 82) to retire ...

Outback Bowl: Iowa (8-4) vs. South Carolina (7-5)

FITTIPALDO: You're not doing your job on New Year's Eve if you're up early enough to watch this game. Maybe you catch the ending, but definitely nothing before halftime. Iowa wins.

ZEISE: Iowa turned it on down the stretch and showed that Kirk Ference guy can still coach a little bit and smashmouth football is still not a bad way to go. South Carolina, like Georgia and LSU, is always overrated and mostly because the ESPN talent love to wax poetic about the greatness of Steve Spurrier. Unfortunately, Spurrier ain't been great since he left Gainesville and what he's done is taken South Carolina from mediocre to … mediocre. Pick: Iowa.

MUSSELMAN: The Hawkeyes beat the Ol’ Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier. Iowa wins.

FINDER: Offensive genius Steve Spurrier, please pick up a white courtesy phone. . . . This could be a 3-2 final, but Iowa's Shonn Greene will lead the boring victory charge.

Blake Mitchell & Steve Spurrier Pictures, Images and Photos
Watching Steve Spurrier go ballistic and throw his visor is one of the joys of college football.

Capital One Bowl: Georgia (9-3) vs. Michigan State (9-3)

FITTIPALDO: Better troubled Steelers first round pick, Georgia's Tim Worley or State's Plexico Burress? I'll take Burress. And I'll take Michigan State too.  

ZEISE: Georgia was going to win the national championship this year, we were told, over and over and over again all summer long. Of course, three losses later it can't be long before the SEC apologists in the national media start saying that those three losses is a testament to how tough the SEC really is, as opposed to the fact that, well, the Bulldogs just weren't that good. Michigan State is about as exciting as watching paint dry but Mark Dantonio is a great coach who knows how to coach winning football and they will maul the Bulldogs physically in this one.

MUSSELMAN: The Spartans will have to wait another year for a bowl victory. Give me Georgia.

FINDER: These two battled in a high-scoring thriller back when Plaxico Burress was a young gunslinger. Georgia's Knowshon Moreno has more around him than Michigan State's Javon Ringer, maybe even a lot more.


Gator Bowl: Nebraska (8-4) vs. Clemson (7-5)

FITTIPALDO: Can someone please tell me how Clemson gets to play in a New Year's Day bowl game? Or Nebraska for that matter? I'd like to propose a rule. You can only play if a New Year's Day bowl if you're ranked. Go with Nebraska

ZEISE: Pitt fans, remember the name Bo Pelini? He was one of the finalists for the Pitt job a few years back and in just one year at Nebraska he has the Big Red nation dreaming about national titles again. The Cornhuskers have a ways to go to get back to dominance but they are pretty good already. Clemson should not be in a January 1st game. Heck, given the way their season went they don't deserve to be in a Dec. 1st game. Pick: Nebraska.

MUSSELMAN: This would have been a great matchup 20 years ago, but in its current incarnation, I'll take Nebraska.

FINDER: West Virginia or Pitt probably wish they were here, in warmer, Florida climes. Clemson and its traveling fans introduce interim-turned-head coach Dabo (we're not making that up) Sweeney to what few Americans are watching and wondering, "Man, the Tigers have some talent."


Orange Bowl: Cincinnati (11-2) vs. Virginia Tech (9-4)

FITTIPALDO: Could the Bearcats beat the Bengals? I've got a better question: will anyone watch this game? Take Virginia Tech.

ZEISE: The ACC should thank its lucky stars that the Big East let them borrow Frank Beamer and company because, well, without Virginia Tech, who would win that wretched league on an annual basis? As for Cincinnati, the Bearcats want to prove they belong and they have the defense and the quarterback to do so.

MUSSELMAN: Cincinnati in a BCS game is almost comical. Pick: Virginia Tech.

FINDER: Wait, wasn't there supposed to be a Big East-ACC play-in game to get to a BCS bowl? Two teams that play to their defenses, but Cincinnati has more offense.

Who dey?
The Bearcts are the best football team in Cincinnati -- pro or college.

Friday, Jan. 2

Cotton Bowl: Texas Tech (11-1) vs. Mississippi (8-4)

FITTIPALDO: Mississippi is the only team to beat Florida this season. Texas Tech is the only team to beat Texas. What does it all mean? Absolutely nothing. Take Texas Tech in a shootout.

ZEISE: The Red Raiders will throw the ball all over the field but Houston Nutt has the Rebels headed in the right direction. Don't forget, the Rebels are the team that won at Gainesville against Tim Tebow and company while Texas Tech got spanked by Oklahoma. Finally one of those overrated SEC teams gets it right: Mississippi.

MUSSELMAN: The Red Raiders gunning for their first Cotton Bowl win. Take Texas Tech.

FINDER: Graham Harrell and Texas Tech take out their collective angst on Mississippi, 144-0.


Liberty Bowl: Kentucky (6-6) vs. East Carolina (9-4), 5 p.m.

FITTIPALDO: Shouldn't this game be played in late December when no one is watching? I'll take the Pirates to win because I can never say that during baseball season. East Carolina wins.

ZEISE: Kentucky has a coach in waiting in Joker Phillips. A coach in waiting, at Kentucky? Are you serious? Is that a joke...r? Why do you need a coach in waiting when your program is, well, mediocre in its best seasons? As for East Carolina, they are a giant killer as they opened the season with some very big wins over highly ranked opponents. And fortunately for them, Kentucky is neither a giant or highly ranked, or good for that matter.

MUSSELMAN: Coach Skip Holtz’s Pirates will finish back in the Top 25. East Carolina is the pick.
FINDER: After beating ranked Virginia Tech and West Virginia to open the season, wasn't East Carolina destined for greater things than . . . Memphis? Still and all, Pirates skipper Skip Holtz builds his coaching resume with an East Carolina triumph.


Sugar Bowl: Utah (12-0) vs. Alabama (12-1)

FITTIPALDO: Insert Mormons in New Orleans joke here. Roll Tide roll. Alabama is the winner.

ZEISE: Alabama is not very fun to watch but boy the things they do well, like run the football and play defense, they do very well. The Utes are probably the best of the non-BCS teams to have been selected for a BCS game in recent history -- even better than their last edition with Alex Smith, the one that smacked Pitt around the Fiesta Bowl. But I think they are also playing against the best opponent of the lot -- Alabama -- as well.

MUSSELMAN: Making first Sugar Bowl appearance since 1993, when it beat Miami to win its sixth national championship, it'll be a sweet night for Alabama.

FINDER: The ghost of Bear Bryant just won't let Alabama lose in the Sugar. Utah might make a game of it, though.


Saturday, Jan. 3

International Bowl: Connecticut (7-5) vs. Buffalo (8-5)

FITTIPALDO: It's not too late to fulfill your dream of playing college football. Call Randy Edsall and tell him you can play quarterback. He'll take you. I'll take Buffalo.

ZEISE: Pitt played 12 games this year and had some very poor play from its quarterbacks, especially down the stretch. Still, the Panthers quarterbacks played like Dan Marino compared to the Huskies mess under center. Buffalo is very well coached and has some very good skill positions and has a lot yet to prove.

Former Nebraska QB Turner Gill has done a great job with the Bulls. Buffalo stampedes.

Buffalo's Bills just lost in Toronto. Buffalo's Bulls are on deck at the old SkyDome. Go with UConn.

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