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November 22, 2006

The early forecast for the Bowl season

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Predicting bowl matchups is only slightly less precarious than blowing up balloons with your pet porcupine in your lap.

But hey, it's that time of year. You eat some turkey, and you make a few educated guesses - some of which no doubt will blow up in your face.

Every bowl predictions column assumes the outcome of several games that haven't been played. Most prominently, these predictions figure on USC, Arkansas and Georgia Tech winning the remainder of their games.

The five Big Ten teams slated here already have been announced. Navy and BYU also have accepted their bids, as has Hawaii.

After that, it's anyone's guess. Here are mine:

The BCS Bowls
BCS Championship Game: Ohio State vs. USC
I like the Trojans to leapfrog Michigan, currently No. 2 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings. All season the polls have shown that you can both gain ground and lose it while idle, and the Wolverines are done for the year. Meanwhile, USC can make itself more attractive for a shot at the top-ranked Buckeyes with games remaining against BCS No. 5 Notre Dame and UCLA.
Sugar Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Arkansas
The Irish are too attractive both in terms of fan base and TV ratings to pass up, even if they lose to the Trojans. The Razorbacks would narrowly miss out on a shot at Ohio State after beating BCS No. 10 LSU and BCS No. 4 Florida.
Orange Bowl: Louisville vs. Georgia Tech
The Cardinals will emerge as champs of the Big East, and they'll match up with the ACC champion Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech will beat Georgia and Boston College in the ACC title game to get here.
Rose Bowl: Michigan vs. West Virginia
The Wolverines will have to settle for a trip to Pasadena, something they never used to get for losing to Ohio State. Lloyd Carr's team can show everybody whether a rematch was warranted if they go out and throttle the explosive and well-coached Mountaineers.
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Boise State
The undefeated WAC champ rolls into the BCS and has a chance to prove its legitimacy against the Big 12 champion Longhorns. If not for an injury to freshman standout Colt McCoy, UT could have been playing for another national title.
The Rest of the Bowl Predictions
GMAC (Jan. 7): Southern Miss vs. Central Michigan
International (Jan. 6): Ohio vs. South Florida
Capital One (Jan. 1): Florida vs. Wisconsin
Outback (Jan. 1): Penn State vs. Auburn
Cotton (Jan. 1): Nebraska vs. LSU
Gator (Jan. 1): Clemson vs. Oklahoma
MPC Computers (Dec. 31): Nevada vs. Washington State
Chick-fil-A (Dec. 30): Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee
Meineke Car Care (Dec. 30): Maryland vs. Navy
Alamo (Dec. 30): Kansas State vs. Iowa
Liberty (Dec. 29): Houston vs. Georgia
Insight (Dec. 29): Minnesota vs. Missouri
Sun (Dec. 29): Rutgers vs. Oregon State
Music City (Dec. 29): Kentucky vs. Boston College
Champs Sports (Dec. 29): Purdue vs. Wake Forest
Holiday (Dec. 28): California vs. Texas A&M
Texas (Dec. 28): Oklahoma State vs. Cincinnati
Independence (Dec. 28): Texas Tech vs. Alabama
Emerald (Dec. 27): FSU vs. Arizona
Motor City (Dec. 26): Western Michigan vs. South Carolina
Hawaii (Dec. 24): UCLA vs. Hawaii
Armed Forces (Dec. 23): TCU vs. SMU
PapaJohns.com (Dec. 23): East Carolina vs. Northern Illinois
New Mexico (Dec. 23): New Mexico vs. San Jose State
New Orleans (Dec. 22): Middle Tennessee State vs. Tulsa
Las Vegas (Dec. 21): Oregon vs. BYU
Poinsettia (Dec. 19): Utah vs. Kansas

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