The U.S. Naval Academy yesterday accepted a bid to play Ohio State in the Liberty Bowl Dec. 30 in Memphis.
"They're joyous down in Tennessee about us coming down to play Ohio State and, obviously, we're joyous here," said Bo Coppedge, Navy's athletic director, minutes after he officially accepted the bid.
From Memphis, A.F. (Bud) Dudley, executive director of the Liberty Bowl, said he has always wanted one of the service academies in his game, which this year will be televised on cable television for the first time. Rights to the game also have been sold to European and Japanese television interests.
"They're one of the few teams that's recognized in those parts of the world," Dudley said, "and it adds color to our game. It fits in with our patriotic theme."
Navy is expected to receive $400,000-$500,000 as its share of the Liberty Bowl receipts.
Meanwhile, the lineup for the five New Year's Day bowls produced no surprises among the guest teams that play conference representatives.
Second-ranked Clemson, after completing its first perfect season in 33 years, accepted a bid to play Big Eight champion Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
Top-ranked Pitt will play third-ranked Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The 9-1 Bulldogs, who have completed their Southeastern Conference season, got the host-team bid over Alabama.
This season, unlike previous years, the Sugar Bowl could choose which SEC team it wanted in case two teams tied for the championship and had not met during the regular season. Under the old rules, Alabama would have gone in case of a tie this year, because Georgia went last year.
Fourth-ranked Alabama accepted an invitation to the Cotton Bowl to play Texas, which finished second in the Southwest Conference behind Southern Methodist. SMU won the SWC title but is on probation.
A spokesman said the Cotton Bowl chose Alabama over Southern California because the Crimson Tide was ranked higher and is likely to be a conference cochampion.
Iowa and Ohio State finished as cochampions of the Big Ten after Iowa routed Michigan State, 36-7, and Ohio State defeated Michigan, 14-9. But Iowa got the Rose Bowl bid because Ohio State had made the most recent appearance. In its first appearance since 1959, Iowa will play Washington, which won the Pacific-10 championship with a 23-10 victory over Washington State.
In the Fiesta Bowl, Southern Cal will play Penn State.
In the lesser bowls, the games that made unofficial commitments before the official 6 p.m. bid time yesterday watched all but one of their teams -- Texas A&M in the Independence -- lose.
The Tangerine ended up with two losers. Ninth-ranked Southern Mississippi, a 13-10 loser to Louisville in the day's major upset, will play Missouri, a 19-11 loser to Kansas.
The Sun told Oklahoma it could come to El Paso win or lose, and the Sooners (5-4-1) get a Dec. 26 game against Houston. OU lost to Nebraska, 37-24 yesterday..
The Peach lined up West Virginia early in the week, and the Mountaineers celebrated with a 27-24 loss to Syracuse. The opponent in the Dec. 31 game will be determined Saturday when Florida plays Florida State, the winner going.
The Hall of Fame wanted the highest finisher in the Southeastern Conference not going to a Jan. 1 game as its host team. That school was Mississippi State, which lost to Mississippi. The Bulldogs' opponent, likely to be Kansas, probably will be named this afternoon.
The Bluebonnet pairs Michigan-UCLA and the Gator matches North Carolina-Arkansas.
The Holiday has Brigham Young as its host team against Washington State, making its first bowl appearance since the 1931 Rose Bowl.
The Liberty was one of only two lesser bowls not to end up with a team that lost yesterday. Ohio State beat Michigan, and Navy was idle. "The bowls took a tremendous beating today," said Dudley. "We feel delighted we came out smelling like a rose."
And so did Navy. "Three bowls in four years. I never dreamed that," said Navy tight end Greg Papajohn.