As if you haven’t already enjoyed enough of the holiday season on your rear end, toasting friends and relatives with eggnog in hand, I’m about to encourage you to park yourself by the tube to bring in the New Year. It’s time to marvel at one of the sporting year’s grand traditions. College bowl games.

There are certain truths to the coming of each New Year–the glitz and glamor of the celebration with the accompanying regrets the next day, the glee of ripping out the old calendar and flinging it to oblivion, and, of course, those lofty resolutions and best intentions to follow through on them. Alongside them on the New Year’s mantle, the postseason lineup of collegiate football takes its rightful place.

The 2005-2006 edition of bowls is dominated by the doozy of a match-up in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4–BCS No. 1 USC vs. No. 2 Texas in a battle of the only remaining undefeated Division I-A teams–but this year’s slate is the deepest in recent memory.

While the Bowl Championship Series has its critics aplenty, one thing it has accomplished is spreading out the heavy-hitter games over a period of days. Now you, the viewer, have the opportunity to enjoy each game, rather than frantically flipping between channels on New Year’s Day in an exhausting, one-day blitz.

Eleven bowl games already under our belt, so the festivities are well underway, but there’s still plenty of time to jump on the bandwagon and roll into the New Year, college bowl-style.

With just a precious few minutes to hold your attention, I’ll regrettably gloss over some strong match-ups that are well worth your viewing in order to bring you a few of my sure-fire winners. And they’re not all BCS games either.

By the time you get off from work today, No. 5 Oregon and No. 23 Oklahoma will be kicking off the Holiday Bowl. If the Ducks and Sooners meet in a bowl that falls on Dec. 29, you know that the bowl lineup has to be stacked. While tradition-rich Oklahoma has the name, Oregon has the game. Look for the Ducks, the highest-ranked squad left out of a BCS game with only a loss to USC tarnishing its record, to make a statement.

The Peach Bowl, pitting No. 8 Miami against No. 12 LSU, has to be one of the strongest pre-New Year’s match-ups ever. Despite the teams’ successes in recent years, these two programs haven’t met since 1988, which gives Friday’s showdown a tantalizing dose of the unknown. With just four losses between them, the Hurricanes and Tigers will be looking to atone for late-season losses that dropped both teams from their top-five rankings.

Fast forward to Monday, a day which offers a full slate of gridiron action that will more than make up for Sunday’s playing-out-the-string finale to the NFL regular season. There are no flops in the bunch, but pressed to pick, I’ll take the Gator and Fiesta Bowls.

When No. 19 Louisville and No. 10 Virginia Tech take the field at the Gator Bowl, the classic battle of high-powered offense vs. hard-nosed defense will ensue. Though Bobby Petrino’s pedal-to-the-medal attack makes for good television, bank on the Hokies’ defense and big-game experience to prevail.

If not for the incredibly-hyped Rose Bowl, the Fiesta festivities would get their just due. It says here that the showdown between No. 4 Ohio State and No. 6 Notre Dame will be the best of the bunch. Yes, including the title game. Why? I can’t wait to see what Charlie Weis’ offense can do with more than a month’s worth of preparation under its belt. Whatever it is, you can be sure A.J. Hawk and the Buckeyes’ defense will be game for the challenge.

A six-game winning streak capped by a victory at Ann Arbor has Ohio State primed and hungry, but I’m taking the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame’s last-second loss to USC showed its potential. A victory over the Buckeyes will complete Weis’ incredible, one-year turnaround and vault Notre Dame to a new era of excellence.

And oh yeah. That Trojans-Longhorns game on Wednesday is supposed to pretty good, too. But you didn’t need me to tell you that. You’re already smelling the Roses, just like everyone else.

So sit back and relax. Let the action come to you. This New Year’s will be a bowl of fun.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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