The bowl season has arrived. It'll start slowly, pick up steam just before New Year's Eve and hit full speed on New Year's Day with six games.
Then, college football finally stages a few games that count -- the Sugar Bowl between No. 2 Miami and No. 7 Florida on Jan. 2 and the Orange Bowl between No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 3 Florida State on Jan. 3.
As the Hurricanes (10-1) prepare to renew their rivalry with the Gators (10-2) and the Sooners (12-0) get ready to go for their first national crown since 1985, there are a few intriguing sidelights.
One is in the Orange Bowl, with Florida State's Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Chris Weinke going against Heisman runner-up Josh Heupel of Oklahoma.
-- Coaching carousel. The Oahu Bowl on Sunday has Virginia against Georgia. the Cavs' longtime coach, George Welsh, retires after this one, while Bulldogs coach Jim Donnan has already been fired, effective after the game.
-- End of a streak? West Virginia coach Don Nehlen gets a final chance to stop his bowl losing streak at eight games when his team plays Mississippi in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 28. Nehlen retires after the game, to be replaced by Rich Rodriguez.
-- QBs II. A healthy Michael Vick is set to lead Virginia Tech (10-1) against a healthy Woody Dantzler and Clemson (9-2) in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1. Both were injured late in the season, but the former Heisman contenders should be healthy for their meeting in Jacksonville.
-- Running men. The Citrus Bowl features two of the nation's top runners not named LaDainian Tomlinson or Damien Anderson. That would be Michigan's Anthony Thomas vs. Auburn's Rudi Johnson on Jan. 1. Thomas ran for 1,551 yards; Johnson 1,567 yards.
The picks: Mobile Alabama Bowl (Wednesday)
TCU (minus 7) vs. Southern Mississippi
Horned Frogs RB LaDainian Tomlinson is the difference in matchup of top two defenses. ... TCU, 21-17.
Las Vegas Bowl (Thursday)
UNLV (pick 'em) vs. Arkansas
Rebs have homefield edge, plus improving QB Jason Thomas. ... UNLV, 28-24.
Oahu Bowl (Sunday)
Virginia (plus 9½) vs. Georgia
Cavs' retiring coach George Welsh vs. 'Dawgs fired coach Jim Donnan. ... Virginia, 27-24.
Bowl Madness has arrived
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