MPC Computers Bowl
Fresno State (8-3) vs. No. 18 Virginia (8-3)
Where: Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho.
Time, TV: 2 p.m., ESPN.
Key stats: Fresno State is 15th in the nation in rushing offense (228.0 ypg), and it rushed for at least 263 yards six times. Virginia is 12th in the nation in rushing offense (241.3 ypg), and it rushed for at least 286 yards five times.
About Fresno State: The Bulldogs enter on a five-game winning streak during which they've averaged 56 points per game. The tailback tandem of Bryson Sumlin (91.8 ypg) and Wendell Mathis (86.9 ypg) needs to produce because QB Paul Pinegar is inconsistent. The Bulldogs have struggled to stop the run, and that bodes ill for them today. The pass defense is better, paced by SS James Sanders.
About Virginia: The Cavaliers laid eggs in their three "big" games (against Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech), and their mind-set - will they care about playing Fresno? - will play a big role. Tailbacks Alvin Pearman (89.5 ypg) and Wali Lundy (72.8 ypg) are the leaders, but like Fresno State, the Cavs will struggle if the running game is stifled. TE Heath Miller may be the nation's best at his position. Linebackers Ahmad Brooks and Kai Parham lead a defense that is much better than the Bulldogs'.
The buzz: The more-talented Cavs will win if they come to play. If you tune in, prepare yourself for the hideous blue turf at Bronco Stadium.
The line: Virginia by 5.
The pick: Virginia, 30-20.
Motor City Bowl
Connecticut (7-4) vs. Toledo (9-3)
Where: Ford Field, Detroit.
Time, TV: 5:30 p.m., ESPN.
Key stats: UConn is 17th nationally in total offense (432.6 ypg). Toledo is seventh nationally in total offense (474.1 ypg) but 92nd in total defense (419.2 ypg).
About UConn: QB Dan Orlovsky (283.2 ypg) has a good arm and does a nice job running the Huskies' pro-style attack. TB Cornell Brockington (104.2 ypg) is a nice complement to the passing attack. The defense fell apart down the stretch, allowing at least 30 points in five of the last six regular-season games.
About Toledo: The Rockets are explosive offensively but not so defensively. QB Bruce Gradkowski (289.6 ypg, 27 TDs, .708 completion percentage) makes the offense go. Leading rusher Scooter McDougle is out, putting more pressure on Gradkowski to produce. Lance Moore (85 catches, 14 TDs) is the top receiver. The Rockets' defense has allowed at least 500 total yards five times.
The buzz: Gradkowski is a top-notch quarterback who doesn't get the publicity he deserves. He and Orlovsky should hook up in a nice duel.
The line: Toledo by 3 1/2 .
The pick: Toledo, 40-37.
- Orlando Sentinel