Advertisement

Five bowl games will be contested Thursday

ARMED FORCES

Houston (10-3) vs. Air Force (7-5)

* Kickoff: 9 a.m. Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth.

* TV: ESPN.

* About Houston: Quarterback Case Keenum’s career numbers are mind-boggling: 12,728 yards passing, 101 touchdowns. And he’s still a junior.

* About Air Force: The Falcons have a completely different kind of offense. They are ranked fourth in the country in rushing yardage (273.6 yards per game).

* Bowl records: Houston 8-10-1; Air Force 8-10-1.

* Previous meetings: Series tied, 1-1.

* Worth noting: This should be a great test for Houston’s top-ranked offense (581.2 yards per game) and passing attack (450.0) because Air Force is first in the nation in pass defense (148.1 yards), third in turnover margin (1.42 per game), ninth in scoring defense (15.3) and 10th in total defense (284.8).

* Prediction: Air Force 50, Houston 48.

SUN

Stanford (8-4) vs. Oklahoma (7-5)

* Kickoff: 11 a.m., Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso.

* TV: CBS.

* About Stanford: Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart leads the nation with 1,736 rushing yards and 26 rushing touchdowns, but the offensive firepower doesn’t end there. Freshman quarterback Andrew Luck passes for 244.1 yards per game, and the offense totals 441.4 yards per game, 13th in the nation.

* About Oklahoma: The Sooners are ranked seventh nationally in total defense (273.5 yards), scoring defense (13.5 points) and rushing defense (88.58). Offensively, Oklahoma has rebounded from its loss of 2008 Heisman winner Sam Bradford in the sixth game of the season and is led by freshman Landry Jones.

* Bowl records: Stanford 9-10-1, Oklahoma 24-17-1.

* Previous meetings: Oklahoma leads the series, 3-1.

* Worth noting: Luck, who broke the index finger on his throwing hand in the season finale against Notre Dame, might play. If he can’t go, he’ll be replaced by senior Tavita Pritchard, who led the Sooners to a 24-23 win over then-No. 2 USC in 2007.

* Prediction: Oklahoma 28, Stanford 23.

TEXAS

Missouri (8-4) vs. Navy (8-4)

* Kickoff: 12:30 p.m., Reliant Stadium, Houston.

* TV: ESPN.

* About Missouri: Missouri won three straight games to end the season, knocking off Kansas State, Iowa State and Kansas. But a second-place finish in the Big 12 North wasn’t enough to get the Tigers into a higher-rated bowl. Receiver Danario Alexander is their go-to player on offense (107 catches, 1,644 yards, 13 TDs).

* About Navy: The Midshipmen are winners of three of their last four, including a win at Notre Dame and their eighth straight victory over rival Army. Quarterback Ricky Dobbs is Navy’s top threat with 924 rushing yards and 23 TDs.

* Bowl records: Missouri 12-14, Navy 6-8-1.

* Previous meetings: Missouri leads the series, 2-0.

* Worth noting: Navy’s rushing production (272.5 yards per game) is more than double that of Mizzou’s (132.2) in 2009.

Prediction: Navy 30, Missouri 20.

INSIGHT

Minnesota (6-6) vs. Iowa State (6-6)

* Kickoff: 3 p.m., Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

* TV: NFL Network.

* About Minnesota: The Gophers make their third appearance in the Insight, all in the last four seasons; they lost to Kansas, 42-21, in 2008. Minnesota has been outscored, 295-259, this season.

* About Iowa State: Paul Rhoads became the first ISU rookie head coach to win six or more games since Charles Mayser in 1915. Quarterback Austen Arnaud leads the Cyclones’ offense with 13 passing touchdowns and seven rushing TDs.

* Bowl records: Minnesota 5-8, Iowa State 2-7

* Previous meetings: Minnesota leads the series, 22-2-1.

* Worth noting: The Gophers’ last bowl win was a 20-16 decision in the 2004 Music City Bowl.

* Prediction: Minnesota 24, Iowa State 23.

CHICK-FIL-A

Virginia Tech (9-3) vs. Tennessee (7-5)

Kickoff: 4:30 p.m., Georgia Dome, Atlanta.

TV: ESPN.

About Virginia Tech: The Hokies feature ACC Rookie of the Year Ryan Williams, who rushed for 1,538 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. Their defense is pretty good, ranking No. 1 in scoring defense in the ACC, giving up 15.8 points per game.

About Tennessee: Coach Lane Kiffin has the Volunteers back in a bowl game in his first season as coach, but his off-the-field antics have brought them more attention than anything that has happened on the field. Their player to watch is All-American safety Eric Berry, who recently won the Jim Thorpe Award.

Bowl records: Virginia Tech 8-14; Tennessee 25-22.

Previous meetings: Tennessee leads the series, 5-2.

Worth noting: The teams first met in 1896; Tennessee won, 6-4.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 23, Tennessee 12.

-- Orlando Sentinel


Advertisement