Other major bowl matchups:
By PEYTON BERG
Nebraska vs. Northwestern: The Alamo Bowl offers what could be the most intriguing matchup of the non-BCS bowls. Nebraska, used to playing for the national championship in a more prominent bowl, faces a Northwestern team that literally came out of nowhere. Nebraska's offense should score at will all day. Eric Crouch has carried his team all year, and should continue against a markedly weak Northwestern defense. Don't count out Northwestern's offense. Who could forget the best game of the year: the Wildcats' 54-51 thriller over Michigan? Zac Kustok and Damien Anderson will make this game worth watching.
Michigan vs. Auburn: Despite their similar records, the Citrus Bowl pits two teams that had very different seasons. Overachieving Auburn played for the SEC title in Coach Tommy Tubberville's second season. Underachieving Michigan, despite a talented offense, found a way to drop three games due to an uncharacteristically porous defense. The Citrus Bowl will be a competition between two workhorse running backs: Michigan's Anthony Thomas and Auburn's Rudi Johnson. Let the big boys in the trenches settle it. Also, pay attention to Michigan quarterback Drew Henson; you're watching the next first overall pick in the NFL draft.
Clemson vs. Virginia Tech: The 11-1 Hokies are still smarting because the BCS invited 9-2 Notre Dame to the Fiesta Bowl. Add to the mix the fact that both North Carolina and Alabama expressed interest in head coach Frank Beamer, and it has been a tough season full of distractions in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech competed for a return trip to the BCS Championship all year until an ankle injury to Michael Vick resulted in a loss to Miami. Vick is healthy now, and he could very well be playing in his last college game. Match Vick against Clemson's Woody Dantzler, and watch the nation's most athletic quarterbacks pile up yardage. The Gator Bowl could be a preview of next season's Heisman race.
Kansas State vs. Tennessee: The Cotton Bowl will decide the best team with three losses in the nation. After a 2-3 start, Tennessee coach Philip Fulmer made an investment in the future. He inserted freshman quarterback Casey Claussen into the lineup, and the Vols won six straight. The last time Fulmer played a freshman was 1993. He thrust a skinny yet promising freshman named Peyton Manning into the lineup, and the rest is history. Kansas State needs to shake off its Oklahoma hangover and play well. Both teams have similar styles, but the Volunteer defense has matured into a solid unit that could give Wildcat quarterback Jonathan Beasley fits.
Georgia Tech vs. LSU: The Peach Bowl showcases two of this year's pleasant surprises in college football. In just his first year, coach Nick Saban led the Tigers to seven wins behind the solid play of quarterback Josh Booty. LSU wide receiver Josh Reid is the best SEC wideout you've never heard of. Tech quarterback George Godsey, Gary's older brother, stepped in for Joe Hamilton and directed the Yellow Jackets to seven straight wins to finish the season. Georgia Tech is a red-hot team, and this game will be played in Atlanta. Remember the close one it lost to Florida State 26-21 in September? The point? Georgia Tech fears no team — especially at home.
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, December 12, 2000