Holiday Bowl could provide fans early New Year’s fun

Dec 25, 2001 1:50 AM

As we steamroll toward the New Year, the bettor’s attention invariably falls on college football and bowl games.

The GMAC Bowl between Marshall and East Carolina was a game for the ages and definitely the highlight in a week of clunkers. This week, we look at the Dec. 28-29 games, which feature some decent matchups like Washington against Texas in the Culligan Holiday Bowl and Kansas State taking on Syracuse in the Bowl.

Friday, Dec. 28

Texas A&M (—6½) vs. TCU (44): Old Southwestern Conference rivalries are renewed in Friday’s Bowl. This is the final major college football game held at Houston’s Astrodome and the first meeting between these two schools since the 1995 season.

The Aggies won that game, 38-6, and have gotten the better of the play against the Horned Frogs. These teams have met 91 times and Texas A&M has won the last 23 meetings to post a 55-29-7 lead in the series. The last time TCU beat the Aggies was a 13-10 win in 1972 at College Station.

The Aggies are not playing well coming into this game, having lost their last three games. TCU won their last two games to gain this bowl bid. The victories came against two of the toughest programs in Conference USA, Louisville and Southern Mississippi.

Georgia (—4½) vs. BC (51½): The Music City Bowl pits the Big East against the SEC. Boston College has lost two of its last three games, but those losses came to Miami (Fla.) and at Syracuse. The Eagles are 7-4 on the season, with their other two losses coming to Stanford and Virginia Tech. Overall, it’s been a surprising season for BC.

Led by quarterback Brian St. Pierre and running back William Green, Boston College has plenty of offensive firepower. Georgia finished the season strongly, winning its last three games after a slow start. The Bulldogs do a good job stopping the run, and will need to control the line of scrimmage if they are to control the Eagles.

Texas (—12½) vs. Washington (57½): Friday’s big game is the Culligan Holiday Bowl. Texas was just one win away from playing in the National Championship Game. Washington has covered the number in bowl games three of the last four years. Texas was among the hottest teams in the nation toward the end of the season, winning six straight heading into the Big 12 title game.

The Horns had problems keeping the ball and allowing the big play in the loss against Colorado. Chris Simms threw three interceptions in that game, and Major Applewhite will start at quarterback.

Washington has had an up and down year. The Huskies looked awful in their last game against Miami, but are still a quality team that have beaten good opponents like Michigan, Stanford and Washington State this season.

Saturday, Dec. 29

Toledo (—4) vs. Cincinnati (57½): For once, Marshall is not the MAC’s representative in the Motor City Bowl. Toledo came from way behind to beat Marshall in the league title game. Toledo is 9-2 on the season, led by running back Chester Taylor and should be able to move able to move the ball on the ground against a shaky Cincinnati defense. The big story this season for the Bearcats has been the emergence of freshman quarterback Gino Guidugli, who threw for more than 2,500 yards this season, with 16 touchdowns against just nine interceptions.

Texas Tech (—1½) vs. Iowa (61): Last season, the Sylvania Alamo Bowl was one of the bigger mismatches of the post-season, as Nebraska shredded Northwestern’s rush defense on the way to a 66-17 win. This year’s game features two much lower profile programs, as Texas Tech takes on Iowa. Of course, this is a big game for the Hawkeyes, who are in a bowl for the first time since 1997. The Hawkeyes defeated Texas Tech in the 1996 Alamo Bowl, 27-0. Iowa was 6-5 overall and 7-4 ATS, averaging 34 points per game. The Hawkeyes did have a —3 turnover ratio this season. Texas Tech has a strong passing game and can also put points on the board, so this could be a very high scoring contest.

Kansas State (—5½) vs. Syracuse (47): The Bowl is Saturday’s marquee matchup. Kansas State is making its ninth straight bowl appearance and has won its last two, and three of their last four. The Wildcats went just 6-5 this season, but played one of the tougher schedules in the nation, thanks to the strength of the Big 12. Syracuse returns to bowl play after a one-year hiatus. The Orangemen had a great season, going 9-3, and have a number of players to watch in this game, including defensive end Dwight Freeney and quarterback RJ Anderson.