News, thoughts and more from the world of college sports across the nation and Long Island.
Gamecocks vs. Badgers highlight non-BCS Bowls
While many are waiting for the BCS Bowl games to begin, here's a preview of several non-BCS Bowl matchups that are worth a look.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Notre Dame (8-4) vs. Rutgers (6-6) (Dec. 28, Noon, ESPN): Notre Dame playing in Yankee Stadium? The Fighting Irish will be the big draw. Rutgers should have no problems with that. Just playing Notre Dame in a major venue on national TV is enough to make the Rutgers’ higher-ups happy. For the Scarlet Knights to have a chance, they have to play the pass better. Rutgers has given up nearly 4,000 yards through the air. Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees has thrown for 2,938 yards and 27 TDs.
Russell Athletic Bowl
Louisville (11-1) vs. Miami (9-3) (Dec. 28, 6:45, ESPN): Its show time for Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater (3,523 yds, 28 TDs, 4 INTs). Bridgewater is viewed as arguably the top quarterback prospect in college. Miami took a considerable nosedive, dropping three in a row in November, but came back with two high-scoring wins over Virginia and Pittsburgh. Defense has been an issue for Miami, which has given up 31 or more points in four of its last five games.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Kansas State (7-5) vs. Michigan (7-5) (Dec. 28, 10:15, ESPN): Michigan coach Brady Hoke will start freshman Shane Morris at QB due to an injury to starting QB Devin Gardner (toe). This game just got more interesting. Gardner threw for 451 yards and 4 TDs in a loss to Ohio State.
Oregon (10-2) vs. Texas (8-4) (Dec. 30, 6:45, ESPN): This will be the swan song for Texas coach Mack Brown, who deserves to be carried out on the shoulders of the team captains after the way he resurrected the Longhorns. As for the, it will be Texas' revamped defense vs. Marcus Mariota and a powerful Oregon offense.
Boston College (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5) (Dec. 31, 12:30 ESPN): It will be Boston College RB Andre Williams (2,102 yds, 17 TDs) against Arizona’s top rusher Ka’Deem Carey (1,716 yds. 17 TDs) two potential NFL prospects. It should be fun.
UCLA (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (8-4) (Dec. 31, 2:00, CBS): This could be the game that puts UCLA QB Brett Hundley firmly on the NFL radar. If the sophomore QB can best Virginia Tech’s vaunted defense, he will be on his way. But does UCLA rely on Hundley too much? The sophomore led the Bruins in passing and rushing (587 yds, 9 TDs). Virginia Tech has a top-notch defense, especially against the run (103 ypg). The Hokies also have 37 sacks. With 19 interceptions, Frank Beamer's crew will be ball hawks.
Texas A&M (8-4) vs. Duke (10-3) (Dec. 31, 8:00, ESPN): This could be Johnny Manziel’s final calling card. And there’s no doubt he will want to go out with a bang. Duke suspended leading rusher Jela Duncan from school for violating university policy, which will leave the ball carrying duties to Josh Snead. That could force the Blue Devils into a passing game, which might not be the worse thing. QB Anthony Boone (1,833 yds, 18 TDs, 11 INTs) has had a solid season.
Capital One Bowl
South Carolina (10-2) vs. Wisconsin (9-3) (Jan. 1, 1:00, ABC): This could be the best of the non-BCS bowls. It could also be one of the lowest scoring non-BCS games. Both teams feature big time running attacks. Wisconsin has James White (1,337 13 TDs) and Mel Gordon (1,466 12 TDs), while South Carolina features Mike Davis (1,134 yds, 11 TDs). The Gamecocks will need to be strong on the ground, especially with the loss of second-leading receiver Damiere Byrd (knee). But Gamecocks QB Connor Shaw (2,135 yds, 21 TDs, 1 INT) may thrive regardless. Yes, Jadeveon Clowney is expected to play despite a second speeding ticket.