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Underdogs get little love in college football

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It seems the only folks happy about No. 16 Northern Illinois playing in the Orange Bowl against No. 13 Florida State are the Huskies and their fans.

When Louisiana Tech got left out of the postseason all together, much criticism was directed at an athletic director who had the nerve to want more than scraps for his program and little at a bowl system that saves room for .500 teams - or worse - but not for the 9-3 Bulldogs.

College football definitely does not embrace the underdog.

Worse, the bowl system gives few opportunities for David to even get a chance to slay Goliath. And when it does, it seems forced. So instead of the Huskies being celebrated, they are scorned by many for doing nothing more than having a really good season and taking advantage of a flawed system.

Hey, I'm sure NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch and his teammates would have liked to have seen Oklahoma play Florida, too.

As for Louisiana Tech, athletic director Bruce Van De Velde has taken quite a bit of heat for not jumping on an invite to the Independence Bowl to play Louisiana-Monroe. Instead, he calculated that the high-scoring Bulldogs could grab a slightly more appealing bowl trip than the hour drive from Ruston to Shreveport. He calculated wrong.

Seems the more troubling part of the Bulldogs' plight is a system in which Iowa State and Purdue, at 6-6, get the bids that could have gone to Louisiana Tech. Or that the NCAA felt compelled to let Georgia Tech, at 6-7, in the postseason.

Louisiana Tech, which averages 52 points a game and played toe-to-toe with Texas A&M, against Southern California in the Sun Bowl sounds a whole lot better than Georgia Tech vs. USC.

But that's not the way it works in college football, where the underdog might as well take a walk.

SATURDAY

New Mexico Bowl

Nevada (plus 9 1/2) vs. Arizona

Good offenses, bad defenses. The bowl season kicks off with a wild one ... ARIZONA 55-38.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Toledo (plus 10 1/2) vs. Utah State

MAC vs. WAC. Score one for WACtion ... UTAH STATE 28-17.

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THURSDAY

Poinsettia Bowl

San Diego State (plus 2 1/2) vs. BYU

Cougars have won four of last five bowl appearances ... BYU 20-14.

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FRIDAY

Beef `O' Brady's Bowl

Ball State (plus 7) vs. UCF

Player to watch: Knights KR Quincy McDuffie, has three TD returns .... BALL STATE 24-23.

---

SATURDAY, DEC. 22

New Orleans Bowl

East Carolina (plus 5 1/2) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

Ragin' Cajuns won first bowl game here last year ... LA.-LAFAYETTE 38-31.

UPSET SPECIAL

MAACO Bowl

Boise State (minus 5 1/2) vs. Washington

Broncos have won three straight bowls ... WASHINGTON 23-21.

---

MONDAY, DEC. 24

Hawaii Bowl

SMU (plus 12) vs. Fresno State

Last time June Jones returned to Hawaii (2008), Mustangs won ... FRESNO STATE 42-14.

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WEDNESDAY, DEC. 26

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

Central Michigan (plus 5 1/2) vs. Western Kentucky

First bowl for Hilltoppers ... WESTERN KENTUCKY 28-17.

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THURSDAY, DEC. 27

Military Bowl

Bowling Green (plus 7) vs. San Jose State

Round 2 in MAC vs. WAC ... BOWLING GREEN 27-21.

Belk Bowl

Duke (plus 7 1/2) vs. Cincinnati

Another Bearcats bowl game without the coach who got them there ... CINCINNATI 34-21.

Holiday Bowl

Baylor (plus 1) vs. UCLA

Old-school Holiday Bowl. Expect plenty of points ... UCLA 50-45.

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FRIDAY, DEC. 28

Independence Bowl

Louisiana-Monroe (minus 7) vs. Ohio

Pair of September darlings face-off in December ... LA.-MONROE 37-24.

Russell Athletic Bowl

Virginia Tech (minus 2 1/2) vs. Rutgers

Hokies 0-2 against Big East this season ... RUTGERS 20-16.

BEST BET

Meineke Car Care Bowl

Minnesota (plus 12 1/2) vs. Texas Tech

Gophers won two Big Ten games. And one was against Illinois ... TEXAS TECH 48-10.

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SATURDAY, DEC. 29

Armed Forces Bowl(equals)

Rice (plus 1) vs. Air Force

Both teams like to run. Neither can stop the run ... AIR FORCE 38-35.

Fight Hunger Bowl(equals)

Arizona State (minus 14) vs. Navy

Navy is rarely fun to play in a bowl ... ARIZONA STATE 35-24

Pinstripe Bowl

Syracuse (plus 4) vs. West Virginia

NFL prospects playing quarterback for both teams ... WEST VIRGINIA 48-42.

Alamo Bowl

Texas (plus 2) vs. Oregon State

Longhorns try to avoid going into offseason on three-game skid ... TEXAS 28-24

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

Michigan State (plus 2 1/2) vs. TCU

In a year full of excruciating losses for Spartans, another ... TCU 17-16

---

MONDAY, DEC. 31

Music City Bowl

Vanderbilt (minus 6 1/2) vs. N.C. State

Player to watch: Commodores WR Jordan Matthews .... N.C. STATE 28-24.

Sun Bowl

Georgia Tech (plus 10) vs. Southern California

Not exactly the way most figured Matt Barkley would end his career ... USC 45-21.

Liberty Bowl

Iowa State (plus 3) vs. Tulsa

Golden Hurricane, known for offense, bring pretty good D ... TULSA 23-17.

Chick-fil-A Bowl

LSU (minus 3) vs. Clemson

SEC Tigers ACC Tigers ... LSU 31-21.

---

TUESDAY, JAN. 1

Heart of Dallas Bowl

Purdue (plus 18 1/2) vs. Oklahoma State

Cowboys are better than 7-5 record ... OKLAHOMA STATE 45-24.

Gator Bowl

Mississippi State (minus 2) vs. Northwestern

Wildcats last and only bowl win: 1949 Rose Bowl ... NORTHWESTERN 38-37.

Capital One Bowl

Georgia (minus 8) vs. Nebraska

Only two bowl teams have worse turnover margin than Nebraska's ... GEORGIA 28-21.

Outback Bowl

South Carolina (minus 4) vs. Michigan

Players to watch: Gamecocks DE Jadeveon Clowney vs. Wolverines OT Taylor Lewan ... SOUTH CAROLINA 24-13.

Rose Bowl

Stanford (minus 6 1/2) vs. Wisconsin

Power vs. power ... STANFORD 24-18.

Orange Bowl

Northern Illinois (plus 15) vs. Florida State

Can Huskies pull a Boise State? ... FLORIDA STATE 35-14.

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 2

Sugar Bowl

Florida (minus 13 1/2) vs. Louisville

Gators D will be toughest test by far for Cardinals QB Teddy Bridgewater ... FLORIDA 31-14.

---

THURSDAY, JAN. 3

Fiesta Bowl

Kansas State (plus 9 1/2) vs. Oregon

Would make for a nice semifinal ... KANSAS STATE 35-31.

---

FRIDAY, JAN. 4

Cotton Bowl

Texas A&M (minus 3) vs. Oklahoma

Heisman winner have won last three bowl games ... OKLAHOMA 38-37

--

SATURDAY, JAN. 5(equals)

BBVA Compass Bowl

Pittsburgh (plus 1 1/2) vs. Mississippi

Three trips in a row to Birmingham, Ala., for Panthers ... MISSISSIPPI 31-24.

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SUNDAY, JAN. 6

GoDaddy.com Bowl

Kent State (plus 4) vs. Arkansas State

Player to watch: Golden Flashes RB Dri Archer ... ARKANSAS STATE 35-30.

---

MONDAY, JAN. 7

BCS National Championship

Notre Dame (plus 7 1/2) vs. Alabama

Roll Repeat! ... ALABAMA 21-10.

---

Championship weekend record: 7-3 (straight); 4-5 (vs. points)

Season record: 218-51 (straight); 126-116 (vs. points)

Best bets: 5-9.

Upset specials: 8-6.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap

Tagged: Georgia Tech, Florida State, Virginia, Illinois, Michigan, Arizona, USC, Louisiana Tech, Northern Illinois, Kent State, Florida, Mississippi, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Kansas, Texas

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