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Today's bowls

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Cotton Bowl

Alabama (9-2) vs. Texas Tech (9-2)

WHERE -- Dallas

TIME -- 11 a.m.

TV -- Chs. 45, 5

KEY STAT -- Alabama is No. 2 in to tal defense (248.4 ypg). Texas Tech is No. 1 in pass offense (403.6 ypg).

ABOUT ALABAMA -- Since WR Ty rone Prothro was lost for the season late in an Oct. 1 rout of Florida, the Crimson Tide has been winning with defense. QB Brodie Croyle may be the best pure passer in the SEC, but he has suffered without Prothro. The defense is one of the best in the na tion. LB DeMeco Ryans is a consensus All-America selection, and a veteran secondary has shut down almost ev ery opposing passer.

ABOUT TEXAS TECH -- Senior QB Cody Hodges hasn't been nearly as prolific as some of his predecessors (30 TDs), but he still has done a nice job running a pass-happy attack. TB Taurean Henderson is a superb re ceiver (62 catches) and an underrat ed runner (78.2 ypg, 17 rushing TDs).

THE BUZZ -- If Alabama runs effec tively, it can win. If TB Kenneth Dar by is held under 100, Tech is going to win. The Red Raiders aren't the de fensive pushovers they used to be (they rank 28th in total defense).

THE LINE -- Texas Tech by 3.

THE PICK -- Texas Tech, 23-20.

Outback Bowl

Florida (8-3) vs. Iowa (7-4)

WHERE -- Tampa, Fla.

TIME -- 11 a.m.

TV -- ESPN

KEY STATS -- Florida is No. 7 in total defense (289.8 ypg). Iowa is No. 22 in total offense (434.5 ypg).

ABOUT FLORIDA -- The Gators haven't done much offensively against teams with legitimate de fenses; Iowa has been good against the run, poor against the pass. Junior QB Chris Leak is not a good fit for the spread-option offense, so the Gators basically have junked that set and gone with a conventional two-back, one-tight end offense. For the most part, the defense has played well this season.

ABOUT IOWA -- QB Drew Tate will hurt the Gators with his mobility. TB Albert Young (10th in the nation at 118.2 ypg) has given the Hawkeyes a legitimate feature back. A young de fensive line plays in front of one of the best linebacker duos in the na tion, Abdul Hodge and Chad Green way.

THE BUZZ -- These teams met in the 2004 Outback Bowl, with Iowa rolling to an easy 37-17 victory.

THE LINE -- Pick 'em.

THE PICK -- Iowa 24-21.

Gator Bowl

Louisville (9-2) vs. Virginia Tech (10-2)

WHERE -- Jacksonville, Fla.

TIME -- 12:30 p.m.

TV -- Chs. 11, 4

KEY STAT -- Louisville is No. 7 in to tal offense (494.7 ypg, with 66 TDs). Virginia Tech is No. 1 in total defense (239.7 ypg).

ABOUT LOUISVILLE -- QB Brian Brohm (288.3 ypg, 19 TDs, five intercep tions, 68.8 completion percentage) and RB Michael Bush (116.6 ypg, 23 rushing TDs) headline an offense that generally puts up a lot of points. Elvis Dumervil was the national defensive player of the year in some circles. Still, this de fense is really nothing special.

ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH -- QB Mar cus Vick is an exciting athlete, but he's still learning the nuances of the position, and he can be flustered into some egregious mistakes. TBs Mike Imoh and Cedric Humes should have success running right up the gut against the Cardinals. A stout front four leads the defense.

THE BUZZ -- Louisville gave up a ton of points - 91 - in its two losses. If Du mervil and his mates can get to Vick early, this should be very interesting.

THE LINE -- Virginia Tech by 8 1/2 .

THE PICK -- Virginia Tech 30-21.

Capital One Bowl

Auburn (9-2) vs. Wisconsin (9-3)

WHERE -- Orlando, Fla.

TIME -- 1:30 p.m.

TV -- Chs. 2, 7

KEY STAT -- Auburn is No. 20 in rush offense (202.7 ypg) and No. 9 in total defense (294.1 ypg). Wisconsin is No. 102 in total defense (432.5 ypg).

ABOUT AUBURN -- TB Kenny Irons went from fourth-string to the SEC's leading rusher (109.6 ypg) - and he didn't start until Game 7. QB Bran don Cox was horrible in the opening loss to Georgia Tech, but he regained his confidence against some patsies and looked good late in the season. Defensively, it's all about stopping TB Brian Calhoun.

ABOUT WISCONSIN -- Calhoun, a transfer from Colorado, had a bril liant first season with his home-state school (118.6 ypg and 21 rushing TDs, with another 52 catches for 563 yards and three TDs). He is the main rea son the Badgers set a school scoring record. Five teams ran for at least 200 yards on the Badgers.

THE BUZZ -- Auburn has more tal ent and more speed. But the Badgers should have emotion on their side because of coach Barry Alvarez, who never received all the credit he was due for making Wisconsin football relevant again.

THE LINE -- Auburn by 10 1/2 .

THE PICK -- Auburn 33-24.

Fiesta Bowl

Notre Dame (9-2) vs. Ohio State (9-2)

WHERE -- Tempe, Ariz.

TIME -- 5 p.m.

TV -- Chs. 2, 7

KEY STAT -- Notre Dame is No. 4 in pass offense (334.3 ypg). Ohio State is No. 4 in total defense (275.3 ypg).

ABOUT NOTRE DAME -- Coach Char lie Weis worked wonders with the Irish's offense, and QB Brady Quinn (330.2 ypg, 32 TDs, seven interceptions) was the biggest beneficiary. Quinn has become one of the nation's top passers. The defense is nothing special.

ABOUT OHIO STATE -- QB Troy Smith has become more efficient as the season has progressed, and he has WRs Santonio Holmes and Ted Ginn Jr., who have combined for 91 receptions for 1,489 yards and 13 TDs. Ohio State has the best group of linebackers in the nation, headed by A.J. Hawk (whose sister, coincidental ly, dates Quinn).

THE BUZZ -- The Buckeyes' two losses came to Texas and Penn State, teams with mobile quarterbacks. Quinn isn't mobile. But he's also the best pure passer the Buckeyes have seen this season.

THE LINE -- Ohio State by 4 1/2

THE PICK -- Ohio State, 27-24

Sugar Bowl

Georgia (10-2) vs. West Virginia (10-1)

WHERE -- Atlanta

TIME -- 8:30 p.m.

TV -- Chs. 2, 7

KEY STAT -- Georgia is No. 11 in total defense (297.8 ypg). West Virginia is No. 5 in rush offense (262.5 ypg) but No. 118 in pass offense (116.2 ypg).

ABOUT GEORGIA -- QB D.J. Shock ley has been a steady hand all sea son. There's a nice group of tailbacks (the Bulldogs run for 157.0 ypg), headed by Thomas Brown, and they run behind a big, experienced line.

ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA -- Redshirt freshman QB Pat White and fresh man TB Steve Slaton emerged from nowhere to become vital compo nents in the Mountaineers' attack. But make no mistake: If WVU can't run, it is not going to win this game.

THE BUZZ -- This is Georgia's third consecutive game in Atlanta, follow ing victories at Georgia Tech and in the SEC title game.

THE LINE -- Georgia by 7.

THE PICK -- Georgia 27-17.

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