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Today's bowl games

January 02, 2006|Lonnie White

TEXAS TECH (9-2) vs. ALABAMA (9-2)

8 a.m. PST, Channel 11, Dallas

*--* COTTON BOWL

*--*

* Line: Texas Tech by 3.

* Update: Texas Tech's high-scoring offense carried the Red Raiders to a strong season, with losses only to Texas and Oklahoma State. The key to the attack is quarterback Craig Hodges, who ranked second in the nation in passing yards with 4,042. Hodges, first nationally in total offense at 378.8 yards a game, also threw for 30 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. Quarterback-turned-receiver Robert Johnson is second in the Big 12 Conference in catches per game (5.82) and receiving yards per game (81.7). Free safety Dwayne Slay was the Big 12 defensive player of the year after setting a conference record with eight forced fumbles. Behind All-American linebacker DeMarcus Ryans, Alabama's defense is first in the nation in points allowed (10.7) and second in yards given up per game (248.3). The Crimson Tide held opponents to two touchdowns or less eight times, and in four games Alabama kept an opponent from reaching the end zone entirely. Quarterback Brodie Croyle, a four-year starter, is the Crimson Tide's career leader in passing yards (6,107), completions (469) and touchdown passes (40). Wideout D.J. Hall is a big target, who caught 48 passes for 676 yards and five touchdowns. Running back Kenneth Darby led the team in rushing with 1,161 yards and averaged 5.5 yards a carry.

* Facts: Mike Leach has led Texas Tech to bowl appearances in all six seasons he has coached the Red Raiders. Alabama began the season 9-0 but has lost two consecutive games.

*--* OUTBACK BOWL

*--*

IOWA (7-4) vs. FLORIDA (8-3)

8 a.m., ESPN, Tampa

* Line: Pick.

* Update: Thanks to the emergence of Albert Young, who rushed for 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns, Iowa's offense has balance. Drew Tate completed 63% of his passes for 2,482 yards and 19 touchdowns with only six interceptions. Tate's top receiver is senior Ed Hinkel, who despite suffering a broken arm, caught 31 passes for 431 yards and five touchdowns. Linebackers Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway combined for more than 220 tackles. The Hawkeyes, who have won five of their last seven games, also have kicker Kyle Schlicher, who made 14 of 17 field-goal attempts. Under first-year Coach Urban Meyer, Florida has won three of its last four games, including a 34-7 decision over Atlantic Coast Conference champion Florida State. Quarterback Chris Leak had an up-and-down season but still threw for 2,361 yards and 19 touchdowns. DeShawn Wynn and Markus Manson led the team in rushing but neither back gained more than 600 yards. Wideout Chad Jackson has 81 catches for 824 yards and nine touchdowns. Linebacker Brandon Siler and end Jeremy Mincey lead the Gator defense.

* Facts: Coach Kirk Ferentz led Iowa to a victory over Florida in the Outback Bowl two years ago. Florida defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's son, Bryan, plays defensive end for Iowa. Florida is making its 14th straight bowl appearance.

*--* GATOR BOWL

*--*

LOUISVILLE (9-2) vs. VIRGINIA TECH (10-2)

9:30 a.m. Channel 4, Jacksonville, Fla.

* Line: Virginia Tech by 8 1/2 .

* Update: Louisville quarterback Hunter Cantwell will get his second start in place of Brian Brohm, who suffered a late season knee injury. Cantwell, who led the Cardinals to a victory over Connecticut in their last game, will be aided by a healthy Michael Bush, who sat out two games in November because of a foot injury. Bush, the nation's leading scorer, has 24 touchdowns and 1,049 rushing yards in nine games. The Cardinals have the nation's third most-productive offense, averaging 494 yards and 45.2 points a game. The Louisville defense is led by Elvis Dumervil, the Bronco Nagurski Award winner as college football's top defensive lineman. Dumervil set NCAA records for forced fumbles in a season (10), sacks in a game (six) and consecutive games with a sack (nine). Virginia Tech, upset by Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, is 2-2 in its last four games after an 8-0 start. The jury is still out on quarterback Marcus Vick, who has good statistics but did not get the job done against Miami and Florida State. Vick has completed nearly 62% of his passes for 2,190 yards. Virginia Tech's running game is suspect with Cedric Humes leading the team with 639 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Hokies are ranked third in the country in defense, giving up 239 yards and 12 points a game.

* Facts: Louisville, which finished second in its first season in the Big East Conference, is 29-7 in three years under Coach Bobby Petrino. Virginia Tech is making its fifth appearance in the Gator Bowl.

*--* CAPITAL ONE BOWL

*--*

WISCONSIN (9-3) vs. AUBURN (9-2)

10 a.m., Channel 7, Orlando

* Line: Auburn by 10 1/2 .

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