New Year's Day not what it used to be

Updated: December 24, 2008, 3:29 PM ET
Associated Press

As many bowl games will be played on New Year's Eve as on New Year's Day. Three bowls are scheduled for Jan. 2 and the Fiesta Bowl will be played Jan. 5.

The days when the college football season usually ended on Jan. 1 with a flurry of about eight mostly, must-see games are long gone.

Whether this is good, bad or simply different is a personal choice, but the BCS and the overcrowded bowl lineup have made it so.

It has also taken much of the luster from what was once a major achievement in college football: playing on New Year's Day.

The BCS is mostly to blame for this. The Bowl Championship Series, wanting to give each major bowl it's own exclusive TV spot, pushed the Sugar, Fiesta and Orange off Jan. 1 -- depending on the year -- and extended the college football season.

Still, Jan. 1 remained a line of demarcation. The games played on or after Jan. 1 were big. Those played before, not so much.

New Year's Day is still sacred. The five games to be played Jan. 1 all qualify as tradition-rich, quality bowls. But among the other games played in the first few days of 2009 are the GMAC Bowl and the International Bowl, both third-tier games.

Playing after the calendar turns over is no longer only for the college football elite -- no offense, East Carolina, Connecticut and Ball State.

At least the last game is the most important: No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Oklahoma on Jan. 8 in Miami for the BCS national title.

The picks:

Wednesday, Dec. 31

Armed Forces Bowl

Houston (minus 3½) vs. Air Force

Freaks of nature: High-flying Cougars vs. ground-bound Falcons ... AIR FORCE 37-31.

Sun Bowl

Oregon State (minus 2½) vs. Pittsburgh

Panthers' first bowl since 2005 Fiesta ... OREGON STATE 27-23.

Music City Bowl

Vanderbilt (plus 3½) vs. Boston College

Eagles have won eight straight bowls ... BOSTON COLLEGE 24-10.

Insight Bowl

Kansas (minus 9½) vs. Minnesota

Gophers stumble into Arizona with four straight losses ... KANSAS 40-27.

Chick-fil-A Bowl

LSU (plus 4) vs. Georgia Tech

How motivated will Tigers be to decipher Tech's option? ... GEORGIA TECH 42-28.

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Thursday, Jan. 1

Outback Bowl

Iowa (minus 3½) vs. South Carolina

With two good D's, one Shonn Greene makes difference ... IOWA 20-14.

Capital One Bowl

Georgia (minus 7½) vs. Michigan State

Nice season for Spartans, but they've been buried by top opponents ... GEORGIA 35-14.

Gator Bowl

Nebraska (plus 2½) vs. Clemson

Only meeting was '82 Orange Bowl; Tigers won game, only national title ... NEBRASKA 34-24.

Rose Bowl

Southern California (minus 9½) vs. Penn State

Trojans have outscored Big Ten teams 147-66 in four BCS victories ... USC 27-14.

Orange Bowl

Cincinnati (minus 2½) vs. Virginia Tech

ACC is 1-9 in BCS games; Big East has won three in a row ... VIRGINIA TECH 24-21.

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Friday, Jan. 2

Cotton Bowl

Texas Tech (minus 4½) vs. Mississippi

Rising Rebels can hang with Red Raiders for a while ... TEXAS TECH 42-30.

Liberty Bowl

Kentucky (plus 3) vs. East Carolina

Pirates were September sensations, slumped, but finished C-USA champs ... KENTUCKY 17-14.

Sugar Bowl

Utah (plus 10) vs. Alabama

Tide too big, too tough, too close to home for BCS Busters ... ALABAMA 31-14.

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Saturday, Jan. 3

International Bowl

Connecticut (minus 4½) vs. Buffalo

Huskies' Donald Brown leads nation in rushing ... UCONN 24-17.

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Monday, Jan. 5

Fiesta Bowl

Texas (minus 8½) vs. Ohio State

Two teams trying to prove a point ... TEXAS 36-21.

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Tuesday, Jan. 6

GMAC Bowl

Tulsa (plus 2½) vs. Ball State

Mobile-based bowl is typically high-scoring affair ... TULSA 50-48.

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Thursday, Jan. 8

BCS National Championship

Florida (minus 3) vs. Oklahoma

Winning coach becomes first with two BCS titles ... FLORIDA 45-35.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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