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More bowl games than I know what to do with

On the first day of Christmas, the bowl season brought to me, a sorry Poinsettia Bowl for me to see.

On the second day of Christmas, the bowl season brought to me, two terrible games and a sorry Poinsettia Bowl for me to see.

Since this song could go on for 30 more verses, I will stop on the second day of Christmas.

With a record-setting 32 bowl games this season, you won't have to look far to catch a game, starting Tuesday night with the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego where No. 25 TCU will take on Northern Illinois.

While that game may not excite you, there are several games before New Year's Day that should be fun to watch, including the Emerald, Independence, Holiday, Music City, Alamo and Chick-Fil-A bowls.

Although those games should be fun to watch, the three main games that people will be watching in this area is the BSC Championship game, the Cotton Bowl and the Independence Bowl.

Alabama squeaked into the bowl picture with a 6-6 record and takes on Oklahoma State in the newly renamed PetroSun Independence Bowl while No. 10 Auburn travels to Dallas to take on the Big-12 runner-up, the No. 22 Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Here are my predictions for this year's bowl games:

Independence Bowl

Alabama vs. Oklahoma State

For the second time in the Tide's last four bowl trips, Alabama will be making the long haul to Shreveport this year after closing out the season with three consecutive losses to Auburn, LSU and (gulp) Mississippi State.

The good news, however, is Mike Shula is gone and defensive coordinator Joe Kines is filling in as interim head coach. And, unlike Shula, Kines actually had some experience as a head coach before coming to Tuscaloosa.

During the 1992 season, Kines was promoted to head coach while serving as an assistant at Arkansas when Jack Crowe was fired following a season-opening loss to The Citadel.

In his first game as a head coach, Kines led the Razorbacks to their first SEC win as Arkansas rolled over the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Although he was not retained after the season, Kines went on to lead the Razorbacks to a 3-6-1 record, including wins over Tennessee, rival LSU and a tie at Auburn.

Perhaps the most memorable performance of Kines' coaching career was during halftime of the Auburn game when the coach led the Razorbacks onto the field during former Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson's jersey retirement speech.

The gesture drew a huge booing from the home crowd, but the Hogs went on to tie the Tigers on that ghoulish Halloween night.

Unlike that Arkansas team, though, the Tide has plenty of talent and the Cowboys from Oklahoma do not.

Kines is the type of coach that gets 100 percent from his players and now that Shula is not there to hold back offensive coordinator Dave Rader, the Tide faithful should get to see just what their players can do.

Although no one outside of the two participating states may be watching the game, considering it is at 3:30 p.m., on a Thursday afternoon, Tide fans should be in for a treat.

One has to ask, though, if the Tide blows the game open early, will Kines get his shot to lead the Tide permanently?Š

Alabama 26, Oklahoma State 14

Cotton Bowl

No. 10 Auburn vs. No. 22 Nebraska

For the first time since 1982, the Tigers and Cornhuskers will square off, but this time it is going to be in the AT&T Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

While both teams should have much to play for, Auburn has many reasons to be ready for the New Year's Day game, including:

- The Tigers were embarrassed at home during that '82 game and could have been playing for a national championship had it not been for the loss.

- Auburn was shut out of the '83 national championship game at the hands of the voters as they were jumped, paving the way for a Miami-Nebraska Orange Bowl shootout. Although the Tigers were named national champions by The New York Times following the Sugar Bowl win over Michigan, the Associated Press still showed the Tigers no love.

- Last season, the Tigers were embarrassed in the Capital One Bowl at the hands of Wisconsin and have vowed to close out this season on a high note.

Nebraska finished as the Big-12 runner-up and fell just short of Oklahoma in the Big-12 Championship game, so the Cornhuskers should be ready to capitalize the year with the first 10-win season in years.

The Tigers are more talented and game-tested than the Cornhuskers, but the 10:30 a.m. kickoff will prove to be the difference in the game.

No Tommy Tuberville coached team ever shows up before 1 p.m., so look for this one to be a dreary day in DallasŠ

Nebraska 27, Auburn 24.

BCS Championship

No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Florida

What would the BCS be without a lot of BS?

This year's championship game, the first official BCS Championship game, takes place in Tempe, although the game will rotate to each BCS bowl location.

Fans in Gainesville were delighted when the Gators overcame the Arkansas Razorbacks in the SEC Championship and then the Michigan Wolverines in the polls to take a place in the title game.

The Buckeyes, however, have been on top for the entire season and played their way into the national title game with a win over previously undefeated Michigan in the final game of the regular season.

Since the Buckeyes have been off, quarterback Troy Smith has won the Heisman, making him the second Buckeye to win the award in just the last 15 years.

If this year's game is anywhere close to last year's game, it should be a classic.

Urban Meyer could establish himself as a mainstay in Florida with a win, but Jim Tressell has already established himself in Columbus and he has no plans of changing thatŠ

Ohio State 30, Florida 20.

In the other bowls:

Poinsettia Bowl

TCU 38, Northern Illinois 28

Las Vegas Bowl

Oregon 30, BYU 28

New Orleans Bowl

Troy 26, Rice 20

PapaJohns.com Bowl

South Florida 21, East Carolina 20

New Mexico Bowl

San Jose State 33, New Mexico 30

Armed Forces Bowl

Tulsa 25, Utah 14

Hawaii Bowl

Hawaii 35, Arizona State 24

Motor City Bowl

Central Michigan 20, Middle Tennessee State 17

Emerald Bowl

UCLA 28, Florida State 20

Holiday Bowl

Texas A&M 22, California 21

Texas Bowl

Rutgers 30, Kansas State 28

Music City Bowl

Clemson 40, Kentucky 30

Sun Bowl

Oregon State 28, Missouri 27

Liberty Bowl

South Carolina 35, Houston 23

Insight.com Bowl

Texas Tech 45, Minnesota 28

Champs Sports Bowl

Purdue 17, Maryland 14

Meineke Car Care Bowl

Boston College 23, Navy 20

Alamo Bowl

Texas 22, Iowa 18

Chick-Fil-A Bowl

Georgia 23, Virginia Tech 16

MPC Computers Bowl

Miami 21, Nevada 10

International Bowl

Cincinnati 30, Western Michigan 14

GMAC Bowl

Southern Miss 17, Ohio 16

Outback Bowl

Penn State 24, Tennessee 23

Capital One Bowl

Arkansas 33, Wisconsin 21

Gator Bowl

West Virginia 40, Georgia Tech 28

Rose Bowl

USC 30, Michigan 27

Fiesta Bowl

Oklahoma 26, Boise State 25

Orange Bowl

Louisville 42, Wake Forest 14

Sugar Bowl

LSU 28, Notre Dame 17

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor. He can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 122, by fax at 382-7104 or by e-mail at austin.phillips@greenvilleadvcate.com