Last bowl pieces about to fall into place Va. duo find bowls hot on warm-weather schools

Will Northwestern go to Disneyland or Disney World?

Will the Orange Bowl get a reprise of Catholics vs. Convicts?


Virginia is for Lovers . . . but is it also the home of overlooked major-college football teams?

The answers to those and other bowl questions will come this weekend, as spots in the 18 Division I-A bowl games continue to be handed out.


If Florida gets by Florida State tomorrow, it would be the Gators against top-ranked Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl. That would be for the undisputed national championship if Ohio State is upset at Michigan or has a close call in Ann Arbor.

If they win, the Buckeyes go to the Rose Bowl with a 12-0 record. If they lose, Northwestern gets its first Rose Bowl since 1949. The fourth-ranked Wildcats haven't been to a bowl game since then.

If they can't go to Disneyland in Anaheim, they'll go to Disney World in Orlando, and a date with fifth-ranked Tennessee in the Florida Citrus Bowl.

No justice in Virginia

The Alliance was supposed to bring some order to the bowl selection process, but No. 13 Virginia Tech and No. 19 Virginia learned that it's the same old beauty contest.

The Hokies and Cavaliers did great in the talent portion: Tech grabbed a share of the Big East title by beating Miami, and Virginia earned part of the ACC title by upsetting Florida State. Warm-weather teams, however, won the swimsuit competition -- the ability to sell tickets.

Virginia Tech beat Miami, 13-7, in September, and has a superior overall record and rating, but if the Hurricanes beat Syracuse tomorrow (7:30 p.m., ESPN), they'll be invited to play in the Orange Bowl, probably against Notre Dame. Who could pass on a reprise of the tasteless rivalry that was discontinued in 1990?

If Miami beats Syracuse, at least Virginia Tech would represent the Big East in the Gator Bowl. On the other side, the Gator gets the second pick out of the ACC, but it chose Clemson over co-champion Virginia, which finally got an invitation from the Peach Wednesday.


Late, great Big Eight

The surest bowl bet of all is that Nebraska will end up in the Fiesta as the top pick of the Alliance. The Cornhuskers are 34-point favorites to beat Oklahoma today and finish unbeaten in the Big Eight for the third straight year.

Everyone who knocked the Atlantic Coast Conference when Florida State won its first 29 games there needs to know that the Cornhuskers have won 23 straight in the Big Eight, where they're since 1991.

This is the last football weekend for the Big Eight, which will grow to the Big 12 with the addition of Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M; and Texas Tech next year. They're coming over from the soon-to-disband Southwest Conference, which doesn't even have one last Cotton Bowl to crow about. That game will match Colorado and Oregon.

Game to watch

No. 6 Florida State (9-1)


at No. 3 Florida (10-0)

Site: Griffin Stadium, noon

TV: Chs. 2, 7

Join the club: Miami won the national championship in 1983, '87, '89 and '91. Florida State got the honor two years ago. Florida is sick of that history lesson from its fellow Sunshine State braggarts. Roll like it did in its first 10 games, and Florida could leap over Ohio State, be No. 2 again come the Sunday polls, and in line to face Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.

The blitz key: Florida State (574.5 yards) leads the nation in total offense, and Florida (548) is fourth. The Seminoles were slowed by Virginia, which sacked quarterback Danny Kanell five times in the Cavaliers' 33-28 upset win. The Gators haven't lost since last year's Sugar Bowl, when Florida State got to Danny Wuerffel five times in a 23-17 Seminoles' win.

Play on: Florida faces Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference title game next Saturday, so coach Steve Spurrier is trying to play down the biggest game in Gators' history. "Do we need to fold up our tents and say the season's over if we lose?" Spurrier said. "It's an important game. No one said it wasn't. It's just that we've got another one afterward. We've got to realize, whatever happens Saturday, it's not all over after this one."


Bowl glance

The bowl picture won't be complete until Dec. 2, when Florida meets Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference championship, and Texas goes to Texas A&M; in the final Southwest Conference game, but many bids already have been awarded, and some others listed below are likely. Only the Las Vegas and Cotton matchups are definite. References to the Big 12 include the Big Eight plus Texas, Texas A&M;, Texas Tech and Baylor.

Bowl, Date, Matchup

Las Vegas, Dec. 14, Nevada (Big West 1) vs. Toledo (Mid-American 1)

Aloha, Dec. 25, UCLA (Pac-10 4) vs. Kansas State (Big 12 5)

Copper, Dec. 27, Colo. St., Utah or San Diego St. (WAC 2) vs. Baylor or Texas Tech (Big 12 6)


Alamo, Dec. 28, Texas-Texas A&M; loser (Big 12 4) vs. Michigan (Big Ten 4)

Liberty, Dec. 29, East Carolina (Liberty alliance) vs. at-large

Sun, Dec. 29, Washington (Pac-10 3) vs. Michigan State (Big Ten 5)

Independence, Dec. 29, LSU (SEC 5) vs. at-large

Holiday, Dec. 29, Kansas St. (Big 12 3) vs. BYU, Colorado St., San Diego St. or Utah (WAC 1)

Carquest, Dec. 30, Maryland or UNC (ACC 4) vs. Miami, Syracuse or Va. Tech (Big East 3)


Peach, Dec. 30, Virginia (ACC 3) vs. Arkansas or Auburn (SEC 4)

Sugar, Dec. 31, Fourth (Fla.-Fla. St. loser or N. Dame) and sixth (Texas, Texas A&M; or Virginia Tech) picks of Alliance

Outback, Jan. 1, Arkansas or Auburn (SEC 3) vs. Penn State (Big Ten 3)

Florida Citrus, Jan. 1, Northwestern or Ohio State (Big Ten 2) vs. Tennessee (SEC 2)

Gator, Jan. 1, Clemson (ACC 2) vs. Miami, Syracuse or Va. Tech

(Big East 2)


Cotton, Jan. 1, Colorado (Big 12 2) vs. Oregon (Pac-10 2)

Rose, Jan. 1, Northwestern or Ohio State (Big Ten 1) vs. USC (Pac-10 1)

Orange, Jan. 1, Third (Miami or Florida State) and fifth (Notre Dame, Va. Tech) picks of Alliance

Fiesta, Jan. 2, First (Nebraska) and second (Florida-Florida State winner) picks of Alliance