Peach Bowl eyes Gators

Updated: November 30, 2004, 7:46 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Peach Bowl wants Florida (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) to play in the Dec. 31 game -- and hopes Ron Zook will hang around to coach the Gators for a few more weeks.

Bowl president Gary Stokan said Tuesday that the selection committee voted for Florida over Alabama as its choice from the Southeastern Conference, assuming the Gators are available. The caveat: An Auburn loss in the Southeastern Conference championship game could force the Peach Bowl to go in a different direction, though that scenario is highly unlikely.

Even so, the Peach Bowl is not expected to formally announce Florida as one of its teams until after Saturday's SEC title game between the Tigers and Tennessee.

Florida (7-4) is expected to play the loser of Saturday's Miami-Virginia Tech game. The winner will get the Atlantic Coast Conference's automatic bid to the Bowl Championship Series.

Florida and Miami are bitter rivals that no longer play during the regular season.

Zook, who was fired last month but closed the season with three straight victories, hasn't said whether he will coach in the bowl, though Stokan is hoping for a decision by Wednesday.

The Peach Bowl committee chose the Gators over Alabama based on several factors: a stronger finish, a national ranking, one more win than the Crimson Tide and an exciting offense. Alabama (6-5) is expected to play in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn.

The Gator Bowl has the second pick among ACC schools and planned to invite Florida State on Tuesday. The Seminoles will meet West Virginia.

Boston College was invited Tuesday to the Continental Tire Bowl, three days after its bid to play in a Bowl Championship Series game ended with a lopsided loss to Syracuse.

Instead, the Eagles (8-3) will face future ACC rival North Carolina (6-5) on Dec. 30 in Charlotte, N.C., a school spokesman said.

All BC had to do to get a berth in either the Fiesta or Sugar Bowl was win at home against a Syracuse team that was 5-5 and needed a victory just to be bowl eligible. But the Eagles lost 43-17 and slipped from 17th in the national rankings out of the Top 25.

The loss also ended BC's chance for its first outright championship in the seven-team Big East, which was depleted when Miami and Virginia Tech left for the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Eagles will join the two in the ACC next year.

It is the sixth consecutive year that BC has gone to a bowl game. The Eagles have won the last four.

BC's best hope after losing to Syracuse would have been the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville on Jan. 1. But Big East co-champion West Virginia was chosen Monday to play there.

Boise State (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) accepted a bid Tuesday to play Louisville (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31, in a matchup of the nation's top two offenses.

"This could be the most exciting matchup in the country. This really is what we call a dream matchup,'' said Steve Ehrhart, executive director of the Liberty Bowl.

Louisville (9-1) leads the nation in total and scoring offense behind quarterback Stefan LeFors, while Boise State (11-0) is second in both categories.

The game is sponsored by AutoZone.

Connecticut is headed to the Motor City Bowl, the Huskies' first postseason game as a Division I-A team.

The Huskies (7-4) will play the winner of Thursday night's Mid-American Conference title game between Toledo (8-3) and Miami of Ohio (8-3).

UConn's appearance in the Motor City Bowl was cemented after fellow Big East member Boston College (8-3) accepted a bid to the Continental Tire Bowl on Dec. 30.

The bowl marked another milestone since coach Randy Edsall was hired six years ago to oversee the program's upgrade from Division I-AA. The former Georgia Tech defensive coordinator recruited players without a Division I-A stadium or facilities -- the state had approved a $90 million stadium in East Hartford but its completion was still five years away.

After a bumpy transition, UConn became a full-fledged Division I-A team in 2002, going 6-6 and then 9-3 in 2003. The Huskies' independent status helped keep them out of a bowl last season.

The Huskies became a Big East member this season, one year ahead of schedule because the defections of Miami and Virginia Tech to the Atlantic Coast Conference. UConn finished 3-3 in Big East play.

Wyoming accepted an invitation to the Las Vegas Bowl on Tuesday, which will mark the Cowboys' first appearance in a postseason game since the Copper Bowl in 1993. The bid culminates an amazing turnaround for a Wyoming team that won only five games during a three-year stretch from 2000 to 2002.

The game, with a payout of $750,000, will be played Dec. 23.

Wyoming's Pac-10 opponent won't be known until Sunday, when the final Bowl Championship Series standings are released.

The Cowboys finished in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Mountain West Conference with Air Force and Colorado State. Each had a 3-4 record in the league. But Wyoming, at 6-5 overall, was one of only three MWC teams that were bowl-eligible, along with champion Utah and runner-up New Mexico.

Since the Mountain West has tie-ins with three bowl games -- Las Vegas, Emerald and Liberty -- the Cowboys were assured an invitation. The only questions were which bowl and which opponent.

The last postseason appearance for UW came Dec. 28, 1993, when the Cowboys lost to Kansas State 52-17 in the Copper Bowl in Tucson, Ariz. UW is 4-6 in bowls but hasn't won since a 28-20 victory over Florida State in the Sun Bowl at El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 24, 1966.

Georgia Tech finally will play in a bowl that's not too far from home.

After being sent out West for three straight years, the Yellow Jackets (6-5) formally accepted an invitation to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday.

The announcement had been expected since the weekend, when Virginia said it would not play in a bowl on Dec. 13-21 because of exams.

The Champs Sports Bowl, formerly known as the Tangerine, will be held Dec. 21. The Yellow Jackets will meet a still-to-be determined team from the Big 12.

Georgia Tech played the last three years in the Seattle Bowl, the Silicon Valley Bowl in San Jose, Calif., and the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho.

This year, the Yellow Jackets got a couple of major breaks despite losing their last two games to Virginia and Georgia.

First, Clemson withdrew from bowl consideration as punishment for an ugly brawl in its final regular-season game against South Carolina. Then, Virginia's class schedule prevented an appearance in the Orlando game, which had fourth pick among Atlantic Coast Conference teams.

Virginia (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today; No. 18 AP) accepted an invitation to the MPC Computers Bowl to be played Dec. 27 in Boise, Idaho.

The Cavaliers' opponent has not been determined, but Gary Beck, executive director of the MPC Computers Bowl, said an offer has been made to Fresno State.

"We are tying up the loose ends right now. That is the team we want," Beck told the Daily Progress of Charlottesville on Tuesday afternoon. "We have extended a proposal to them and we are hoping that they would accept it."

Beck said his bowl is excited about the potential contest.

The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.

New Mexico accepted a bid to the Emerald Bowl, where the Lobos will try to win a bowl game for the first time in 43 years.

New Mexico, which finished second in the Mountain West Conference behind Utah, will play Navy in the bowl game at San Francisco's SBC Park on Dec. 30.

New Mexico (7-4) is headed to a third straight bowl game for the first time in school history. Navy (8-2) finishes up the regular season Saturday against Army. A win over Army would give Navy nine wins for the first time since the Roger Staubach-led team of 1963 went 9-1.

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