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December 29, 2006|Peter Yoon

MUSIC CITY BOWL

CLEMSON (8-4) VS. KENTUCKY (7-5)

at LP Field, Nashville, Tenn., 10 a.m., ESPN

* Line: Clemson by 9 1/2 .

* Story line: Clemson lost three of its last four games after reaching No. 10 in the nation, including a season-ending loss to state rival South Carolina. The Tigers averaged only 156.8 yards rushing their last four games, more than 100 fewer than they averaged during their 7-1 start. Kentucky is making its first bowl appearance since 1999. Wildcats quarterback Andre Woodson led the Southeastern Conference with 3,216 yards passing. He'll face a Clemson defense that gave up only 15.2 points a game, 15th in the nation.

*

SUN BOWL

NO. 24 OREGON STATE (9-4) VS. MISSOURI (8-4)

at Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Tex., 11 a.m., Channel 2

* Line: Oregon State by 3 1/2 .

* Story line: Oregon State won seven of its last eight games, a stretch that included victories over USC, Hawaii and Oregon. The Beavers' defense is fourth in the nation in turnovers created with 31 and is also fourth with 3.38 sacks a game. That will challenge a Missouri offense that relies on quarterback Chase Daniel, who is 10th in the nation with 3,197 yards passing. The Tigers were No. 19 in the nation after a 6-0 start but lost four of their final six games.

*

LIBERTY BOWL

Houston (10-3) vs. South Carolina (7-5)

at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tenn., 1:30 p.m., ESPN

* Line: South Carolina by 5 1/2 .

* Story line: Houston is the Conference USA champion only five years after it was 0-11. Credit the turnaround to fourth-year Coach Art Briles. The Cougars have won six consecutive games behind a passing attack led by Kevin Kolb. He has 27 touchdown passes with only three interceptions. The Cougars are sixth in the nation in total offense, averaging 439.85 yards a game. All of South Carolina's losses came against ranked teams, the last four by an average of 5.25 points.

*

INSIGHT BOWL

Texas Tech (7-5) vs. Minnesota (6-6)

at Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz., 4:30 p.m., NFL Network

* Line: Texas Tech by 6 1/2 .

* Story line: Texas Tech began the season in the top 25 but did not win consecutive games after September. The Red Raiders have the nation's No. 7 offense, averaging 439.5 yards a game, and quarterback Graham Harrell is third in the nation with 4,110 yards passing. Minnesota won four of its last five, losing only to top-ranked Ohio State. The Golden Gophers had only 13 turnovers this season, second fewest in the nation, but were seventh worst in pass defense, giving up 253.5 yards a game through the air.

*

CHAMPS SPORTS BOWL

Purdue (8-5) vs. Maryland (8-4)

at Citrus Bowl Stadium, Orlando, Fla., 5 p.m., ESPN

* Line: Pick 'em.

* Story line: Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter is fifth in the nation with 3,721 yards passing and directs an offense that is sixth in the nation in passing at 293.7 yards a game and 10th in total offense at 425.8 yards a game. The Boilermakers, however, give up 432.69 yards a game, the fifth most in the nation. Maryland enters having lost its last two games. The Terrapins were masters of the close games, with five of their eight victories coming by four points or fewer. They were 1-4 against ranked teams.

-- Peter Yoon

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