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December 31, 2007|Peter Yoon


* Who: California (6-6, tied seventh Pac-10) vs. Air Force (9-3, second Mountain West)

* Where, when: Fort Worth, 9:30 a.m., ESPN.

* Story line: California never seemed to recover from a loss to Oregon State that cost the Bears a chance at the No. 1 ranking. They lost six of their last seven games and, despite prolific offensive weapons, averaged only 19 points after the Oregon State loss, dragging the season average down to 28.3. Speedy slot back Chad Hall leads an Air Force option offense that was second in the nation in rushing with 298.5 yards a game. The Falcons' defense gives up more than 350 yards a game.

* Top players: Justin Forsett (RB, California, Sr.), Nate Longshore (QB, California, Jr.), Chad Hall (WR, Air Force, Sr.), Carson Bird (DB, Air Force, Sr.).


* Who: South Florida (9-3, tied third Big East) vs. Oregon (8-4, tied fourth Pac-10).

* Where, when: El Paso, 11 a.m., CBS.

* Story line: Both these teams were ranked No. 2 in the nation at some point this season before sliding out of the top 25. Oregon's slide coincided with the season-ending knee injury to quarterback Dennis Dixon. The Ducks lost three consecutive games to end the season and averaged only 18.3 points after averaging 42.7 in their first nine. South Florida had a three-game losing streak in the middle of the season. The Bulls rely on an opportunistic defense that forced a nation-leading 18 fumbles.

* Top players: George Selvie (DL, South Florida, So.), Matt Grothe (QB, South Florida, So.), Jonathan Stewart (RB, Oregon, Jr.), Nick Reed (DL, Oregon, Jr.).


* Who: Fresno State (8-4, third WAC) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5, third ACC Coastal).

* Where, when: Boise, Idaho, 11 a.m., ESPN2.

* Story line: Georgia Tech has a staunch defense that gives up only 310.3 yards a game and 100.2 on the ground, but the one-dimensional offense relies too much on the run game and ranks No. 102 in passing. Fresno State is the opposite, with an offense that's generating 406.9 yards a game, but a defense that gives up 409.8. The Bulldogs excel on special teams.

* Top players: Tashard Choice (RB, Georgia Tech, Sr.), Vance Walker (DL, Georgia Tech, Jr.), Ryan Mathews (RB, Fresno State, Fr.), Clifton Smith (PR, Fresno State, Sr.).


* Who: Florida State (7-5, fourth ACC Coastal) vs. Kentucky (7-5, tied fourth SEC East).

* Where, when: Nashville, 1 p.m., ESPN.

* Story line: The Florida State cheating scandal has become the story of this game because the Seminoles will be short some 36 players after many of them were caught cheating in a class. That will leave the team without about 19 players who were expected to play in this game. The high-octane Wildcats average 438.6 yards and 36.7 points, so they have the ability to wear down the Seminoles. Kentucky enters on a slide, however, having lost four of five games since an upset over Louisiana State.

* Top players: Andre Woodson (QB, Kentucky, Sr.), Wesley Woodyard (LB, Kentucky, Sr.), Rafael Little (RB, Kentucky, Sr.), Drew Weatherford (QB, Florida State, Jr.).


* Who: Indiana (7-5, tied seventh Big Ten) vs. Oklahoma State (6-6, tied third Big 12 South).

* Where, when: Tempe, Ariz., 3 p.m., NFL Network.

* Story line: Oklahoma State became known for Coach Mike Gundy's news conference tirade, and that overshadowed one of the nation's most explosive offenses. The Cowboys averaged 484.1 yards and those yards were equally balanced between running and passing. Their problems were on defense as they gave up 292.8 yards passing per game to rank 116th in the nation. Indiana, with a winning season for the first time in 12 years, is making a bowl appearance for the first time since 1993.

* Top players: Zac Robinson (QB, Oklahoma State, So.), Dantrell Savage (RB, Oklahoma State, Sr.), Adarius Bowman (WR, Oklahoma State, Sr.), Kellen Lewis (QB, Indiana, So.), James Hardy (WR, Indiana, Jr.).


* Who: Clemson (9-3, tied second ACC Atlantic) vs. Auburn (8-4, second SEC West).

* Where, when: Atlanta, 4:30 p.m., ESPN.

* Story line: Clemson is giving up only 297.1 yards and 18.3 points to rank No. 6 and 10 nationally, respectively, though the unit will be missing starters Nick Watkins and Tramaine Billie, who are academically ineligible. Auburn is giving up 298.3 yards and 16.7 points to rank No. 8 and 6. But Auburn's offense is 101st in the nation with 327 yards a game and the team scored more than 30 points only three times. Clemson has a strong rushing attack that's helped produce 34.2 points a game.

* Top players: Tray Blackmon (LB, Auburn, So.), Chris Evans (LB, Auburn, Jr.), James Davis (RB, Clemson, Jr.), Cullen Harper, (QB, Clemson, Jr.).

-- Peter Yoon

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