Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
No. 21 Georgia vs. No. 19 Purdue
Time/TV: 11 a.m., ESPN.
Records: Georgia 7-4 (5-3, third in SEC East Division); Purdue 7-4 (4-4, tied for sixth in Big Ten).
Coaches: Georgia, Jim Donnan; Purdue, Joe Tiller.
Payout: $1.9 million per team.
Of Note: The Bulldogs have won five straight bowl games and have a 17-14-3 bowl record. The Boilermakers are 6-1 in bowls and have won their last two, including an upset of Kansas State in the 1998 Alamo Bowl.
The trick to stopping Purdue QB Drew Brees is to hurry him and disrupt his quick passing motion. Georgia sacked Kentucky QB Dusty Bonner (who has a similarly quick motion) 11 times on Oct. 23, and the result was a 49-34 victory. Georgia QB Quincy Carter has announced he will be back next season, instead of trying his luck in the NFL or in baseball. Georgia's defense gave up 382 yards per game, so stopping Purdue's high-powered offense could be a concern. The Bulldogs will have to establish RBs Jasper Sanks and Patrick Pass to keep Purdue's offense off the field.
Rushing: Jasper Sanks (908 yards on 177 carries, 6 TDs).
Passing: Quincy Carter (216 of 380 for 2,713 yards, 17 TDs, 6 INTs).
Receiving: Terrence Edwards (53 catches for 772 yards, 9 TDs); Randy McMichael (34 catches for 457 yards, 3 TDs).
Defense: CB Cory Robinson (5 INTs); CB Jamie Henderson (5 INTs).
Carter has the arm strength of Notre Dame's Jarious Jackson (who threw for 267 yards and ran for two TDs against the Boilermakers on Sept. 11) and the running ability of Indiana's Antwaan Randle El (who ran for a TD and had 329 passing yards against Purdue on Nov. 20), so the Boilermakers could have trouble containing him. Despite Brees's second-straight 3,000-yard passing season, Purdue averaged 128 rushing yards and will surprise people with its running ability. Brees had five INTs returned for TDs this season, but should be able to pass against Georgia's mediocre defense.
Rushing: Montrell Lowe (775 yards on 158 carries, 5 TDs).
Passing: Drew Brees (301 of 494 for 3,531 yards, 21 TDs, 11 INTs).
Receiving: Chris Daniels (109 catches for 1,133 yards, 5 TDs); TE Tim Stratton (48 catches for 585 yards, 4 TDs); Randall Lane (47 catches for 630 yards, 5 TDs); Vinny Sutherland (35 catches for 640 yards, 6 TDs).
Defense: SS Adrian Beasley (70 tackles, 5 INTs); DE Akin Ayodele (59 tackles, 10 sacks).
Cotton Bowl, Dallas
No. 14 Texas vs. No. 24 Arkansas
Time/TV: 11 a.m., WTTG-5, WBFF-45, WXTR-820.
Records: Texas 9-4 (6-2, first in Big 12 South Division); Arkansas 7-4 (4-4, tied for third in SEC West Division).
Coaches: Texas, Mack Brown; Arkansas, Houston Nutt.
Payout: $2.5 million per team.
Of Note: The Longhorns and Razorbacks previously belonged to the Southwest Conference and have met 60 times, but never in a bowl. Only three teams have more bowl appearances than the Longhorns' 38. The Razorbacks have lost six of their past seven bowl games.
Despite setting school single-season records for yardage, attempts and completions and being named the Big 12 offensive player of the year, Major Applewhite will share time with backup Chris Simms, who played for most of Texas's loss to Texas A&M in the regular season finale. This sets up a possible dual-quarterback system next year. The Longhorns need to establish their running game to help the quarterbacks along. In its loss to Nebraska in the Big 12 title game, Texas managed just six rushing yards and Applewhite was sacked seven times. Texas's defensive front four is tough to run on, allowing only three 100-yard rushers this season.
Rushing: Hodges Mitchell (1,343 yards on 256 attempts, 9 TDs).
Passing: Major Applewhite (271 of 467 for 3,357 yards, 21 TDs, 9 INTs).
Receiving: Kwame Cavil (100 catches for 1,188 yards, 6 TDs); Montrell Flowers (34 catches for 552 yards, 6 TDs).
Defense: DT Casey Hampton (101 tackles); DE Aaron Humphrey (74 tackles, 10 sacks).
The Razorbacks have been woeful on the road (1-4), with their lone victory coming against Southern Methodist at the Cotton Bowl. WR Anthony Lucas has recovered from arthroscopic knee surgery and will start, but his play might be limited if his knee can't hold up. At 6 feet 3, Lucas has a chance to hurt Texas's undersized secondary. Since the Longhorns have failed when Applewhite has faced heavy pressure, Arkansas may blitz a lot. But the defense could be more cautious after defensive coordinator Keith Burns took the head coaching job at Tulsa.
Rushing: Cedric Cobbs (708 yards on 116 carries, 3 TDs); Chrys Chukwuma (547 yards on 127 carries, 8 TDs).
Passing: Clint Stoerner (177 of 317 for 2,293 yards, 19 TDs, 10 INTs).
Receiving: Anthony Lucas (37 catches for 822 yards, 5 TDs).
Defense: FS Kenoy Kennedy (95 tackles, 3 INTs); LB Jamel Harris (77 tackles).
Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.
No. 17 Georgia Tech vs. No. 23 Miami
Time/TV: 12:30 p.m., WRC-4, WBAL-11.
Records: Georgia Tech 8-3 (5-3, tied for second in ACC); Miami 8-4 (6-1, second in Big East).
Coaches: Georgia Tech, George O'Leary; Miami, Butch Davis.
Payout: $1.4 million per team.
Of Note: Georgia Tech is in the Gator Bowl for the second straight season after beating Notre Dame a year ago. Davis is undefeated in two bowl appearances at Miami. The Hurricanes are making their 15th bowl appearance in the past 17 years.
After storming out of the gates and nearly upsetting Florida State, the Yellow Jackets ended the season with three three-point victories. This is the last chance to see QB Joe Hamilton in a college game, and he was the main reason Georgia Tech was the only Division I team to average more than 500 yards per game. Leading WR Kelly Campbell, who was arrested last month on misdemeanor drug-possession charges, will play (he passed a drug test). The Yellow Jackets' defense collapsed late in the season and finished 100th in the nation, yielding 413.8 yards per game. The defense forced a Division I-worst 12 turnovers and had just 16 sacks.
Rushing: Sean Gregory (871 yards on 172 attempts, 13 TDs); QB Joe Hamilton (861 yards on 154 attempts, 6 TDs).
Passing: Hamilton (203 of 305 for 3,060 yards, 29 TDs, 11 INTs).
Receiving: Kelly Campbell (69 catches for 1,105 yards, 10 TDs); Dez White (44 catches for 860 yards, 5 TDs).
Defense: LB Recardo Wimbush (91 tackles); DE Greg Gathers (71 tackles, 7 sacks).
The Hurricanes have a bit of a quarterback controversy on their hands. Kenny Kelly started the first eight games but partially tore a ligament in his left knee against Virginia Tech on Nov. 13. In stepped Ken Dorsey, who threw nine TDs and led the Hurricanes to 155 points over their final three games. Kelly has sufficiently recovered and will start, but Dorsey probably will play because Kelly has been somewhat inconsistent. The Hurricanes also used a three-running back system at times, with Clinton Portis, James Jackson and Jarrett Payton (son of Walter) rotating each series. The three combined for 216 yards in the season finale against Rutgers.
Rushing: Clinton Portis (873 yards on 143 attempts, 8 TDs); James Jackson (834 yards on 169 attempts, 9 TDs).
Passing: Kenny Kelly (141 of 259 for 1,913 yards, 15 TDs, 14 INTs).
Receiving: Santana Moss (54 catches for 899 yards, 6 TDs).
Defense: LB Nate Webster (159 tackles, 4 sacks); LB Dan Morgan (139 tackles, 5 sacks).
Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando
No. 10 Florida vs. No. 9 Michigan State
Time/TV/Radio: 1 p.m., WJLA-7, WMAR-2, WXTR-820.
Records: Florida 9-3 (7-1, first in SEC East Division); Michigan State 9-2 (6-2, tied for second in Big Ten).
Coaches: Florida, Steve Spurrier; Michigan State, Bobby Williams.
Payout: $3.8 million per team.
Of Note: TThe Spartans haven't won a bowl game since the 1990 John Hancock Bowl. The Gators have won in three straight bowl appearances, averaging 35 points over that span. They defeated Penn State in the Citrus Bowl after the 1997 season.
The Gators are perhaps the team with the most turmoil heading into a New Year's Day game. Spurrier has come under fire for losing two straight games for the first time and for his criticism of the offense, which didn't score more than 23 points over the last four games and gained only 114 yards in an SEC title game loss to Alabama. Spurrier has since apologized and said he was too hard on his offense, but whether this odd attempt at reverse psychology works on the young Gators is anyone's guess. QB Doug Johnson struggled all season without a game-breaking WR, so the Gators often needed a strong running game. But running on the Spartans, who gave up only 77 rushing yards per game, is no walk in the park.
Rushing: Earnest Graham (659 yards on 117 attempts, 5 TDs).
Passing: Doug Johnson (190 of 337 for 2,569 yards, 20 TDs, 13 INTs).
Receiving: Darrell Jackson (67 catches for 1,151 yards, 9 TDs).
Defense: CB Bennie Alexander (5 INTs); DE Alex Brown (13 sacks).
Things looked bad for the Spartans after former coach Nick Saban bolted to big money at Louisiana State after the regular season, but new coach Williams has kept the team's spirits up with a cocky attitude. "We took some teams to the woodshed in East Lansing," Williams said recently. "Now, we're bringing the woodshed to Florida." In order to do that, the Spartans will have to keep Florida off the scoreboard. In two losses, Michigan State gave up 92 points; in nine wins, the Spartans yielded 119 points. QB Bill Burke started off hot but threw seven INTs over the last four games, sometimes making way for Ryan Van Dyke, who will start next season.
Rushing: Lloyd Clemons (870 yards on 171 attempts).
Passing: Bill Burke (152 of 277 for 1,957 yards, 17 TDs, 16 INTs).
Receiving: Plaxico Burress (53 catches for 957 yards, 9 TDs).
Defense: LB T.J. Turner (61 tackles, 5 INTs); LB Julian Peterson (Crossland High, 74 tackles, 12 sacks).
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
No. 22 Stanford vs. No. 4 Wisconsin
Time/TV: 4:30 p.m., WJLA-7, WMAR-2.
Records: Stanford 8-3 (7-1, Pac-10 champion); Wisconsin 9-2 (7-1, Big Ten champion).
Coaches: Stanford, Tyrone Willingham; Wisconsin, Barry Alvarez.
Payout: $12 million per team.
Of Note: Stanford's previous Rose Bowl appearance came after the 1971 season. Wisconsin is in the Rose Bowl for the second straight year and the third time in six years. The Badgers have won four of their past five bowl games.
This could be a very ugly game for the Cardinal. WR Troy Walters, the nation's second-leading receiver this season at 132.4 yards per game and the all-time leading receiver in the Pac-10, dislocated his right wrist in practice Tuesday and will miss today's game. Then there's the defense, which ranked 110th in the nation at 452.8 yards per game. Fortunately, Stanford's main defensive weakness is against the pass, and Wisconsin rarely does that. The Cardinal's main hope is that it can top its 37.2-point average. Wisconsin has the fifth-ranked pass defense, and the loss of Walters will make it even harder for Stanford to go through the air.
Rushing: Brian Allen (658 yards on 115 attempts, 4 TDs).
Passing: Todd Husak (176 of 308 for 2,688 yards, 18 TDs, 11 INTs).
Receiving: DeRonnie Pitts (58 catches for 853 yards, 8 TDs).
Defense: LB Marc Stockbauer (92 tackles, 7 sacks); LB Riall Johnson (42 tackles, 13 sacks).
The only thing that could stop the Badgers is overconfidence because they might have been the best team in the country when the regular season ended. DB Jamar Fletcher is the mainstay of a Wisconsin defense that intercepted 16 passes, and Fletcher returned two for touchdowns. The Badgers' offense is about as predictable as a professional wrestling event: Give the ball to Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne and watch him rumble behind mammoth offensive linemen that average 6 feet 5 and 301 pounds. QB Brooks Bollinger was named Big Ten freshman of the year and threw just two INTs, but Dayne is the main weapon.
Rushing: Ron Dayne (1,885 yards on 303 attempts, 19 TDs).
Passing: Brooks Bollinger (75 of 126 for 1,028 yards, 8 TDs, 2 INTs).
Receiving: Chris Chambers (36 catches for 502 yards, 4 TDs).
Defense: DB Jamar Fletcher (7 INTs); LB Chris Ghidorzi (108 tackles).
Pro Player Stadium, Miami
No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 5 Alabama
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., WJLA-7, WMAR-2.
Records: Michigan 9-2 (6-2, tied for second in Big Ten); Alabama 10-2 (7-1 SEC champion).
Coaches: Michigan, Lloyd Carr; Alabama, Mike DuBose.
Payout: $11-13 million per team.
Of Note: The Wolverines, winners of two straight bowl games, are 15-15 in the postseason. Alabama has the most bowl appearances (50) and victories (28) of any team and has won five of its last six. The teams met in the 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl, with the Wolverines winning 28-24.
RB Anthony Thomas was a force this season, but because Alabama is so tough against the run, the Wolverines might pass the ball a lot. Still, the offensive line healed after early-season injuries, and the Wolverines ran for 129 yards against Penn State and 129 against Ohio State to end the season. Thomas has rushed for more than 100 yards 13 times in his career, and the Wolverines have won 12 of those games. QB Tom Brady might be the most underrated passer in the country, but the receiving corps still has a lot to prove. The Wolverines have the edge if the game is close late, since Brady has led the team to fourth-quarter comebacks in three straight games.
Rushing: Anthony Thomas (1,257 yards on 283 attempts, 16 TDs).
Passing: Tom Brady (180 of 295 for 2,217 yards, 16 TDs, 6 INTs).
Receiving: David Terrell (61 catches for 888 yards, 4 TDs).
Defense: LB Ian Gold (83 tackles); S Tommy Hendricks (73 tackles).
The Crimson Tide has big problems on the offensive line. Outland Trophy winner Chris Samuels, who likely will be a top 10 pick in the NFL draft, probably will miss the game with a knee injury. Dante Ellington will move from right tackle to left tackle, but Bart Raulston, Ellington's replacement on the right side, injured an ankle and might not play. QBs Andrew Zow and Tyler Watts will both play, and if Alabama can't establish the run because of the injuries to the line, it will probably be up to Watts, who is the better passer, to lead the team. RB Shaun Alexander is the most complete RB in the nation. He had five receiving TDs this season. Alabama's rush defense was a terror, allowing 75.3 yards per game to rank second in the nation.
Rushing: Shaun Alexander (1,481 yards on 302 attempts, 19 TDs).
Passing: Andrew Zow (148 of 264 for 1,799 yards, 12 TDs, 9 INTs).
Receiving: Freddie Milons (65 catches for 733 yards, 2 TDs).
Defense: LB Saleem Rasheed (84 tackles); FS Reggie Miles (5 INTs).