College Football Corner: Going Bowling

The season kicks off with five games this weekend.
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You'll have to wait until Jan. 8 for the FedEx (FDX) - Get Report BCS National Championship Game national title game between No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Oklahoma, but the appetizers start this Saturday, as the college football bowl season kicks off.

There are 34 bowl games that stretch out past New Year's followed by several All-Star games. Here's a preview of the initial games:

Wake Forest (7-5) (-3) vs. Navy (8-4), Eagle Bank Bowl, Washington, D.C., Saturday, 11 a.m. EST, ESPN

: This is a rematch of an upset victory by Navy in September. Wake Forest gave the game away when it committed six turnovers -- including Riley Skinner's four interceptions -- the last to seal Navy's win. Navy also outran Wake 292-43. Since that game, Navy closed out its regular season with two shutout wins while Wake struggled through ACC play. If Skinner fails to protect the ball and Navy runs close to its 298 yards average - led by Shaun White and his 8.7 yards per rush average -- this could look like the September game.

Corner's choice: Navy 27, Wake Forest 17

Colorado State (6-6) (+3) vs. Fresno State (7-5), New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque, N.M., Saturday, 2:30 p.m. EST, ESPN

: The early story line on this game was whether Fresno coach Pat Hill would be around for the game. Soon after Fresno's 61-10 loss to Boise State, Hill interviewed for the Washington job but lost out to Southern California offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. First year Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild led the Rams to their first six-win season and bowl game since 2005. Despite an impressive schedule that included Cal, TCU, Utah and BYU, Colorado State lost all those games. The Bulldogs' senior quarterback Tom Bradstater will close out his college career against a CSU defense that recorded a Football Bowl Subdivision low of nine sacks.

Corner's choice: Fresno State 31, Colorado State 14

Memphis (6-6) (+13.5) vs. South Florida (7-5) -- St. Petersburg Bowl, St. Petersburg, Fla., 4:30 p.m. EST, ESPN2

: South Florida emerged as a college football sensation two years ago but couldn't live up to expectations this year, falling to 7-5. Despite the disappointment, the Bulls don't have to travel far for this matchup in the inaugural St. Petersburg Bowl. The Bulls will be led by junior quarterback and team leading rusher Matt Grothe, who took them through an exciting win over Kansas and a rout over N.C. State, but could not get through their conference schedule. Memphis will be led by 1,000-plus-yard rusher Curtis Steele and quarterback Arkelon Hall who passed for more than 2,100 yards and 11 TD passes. These two teams played four times between 2001-04, each winning two games, with Memphis winning the last matchup. In this case, home field advantage may be too much to overcome.

Corner's choice: Corner's choice: South Florida 37, Memphis 17

BYU (10-2) (+3) vs. Arizona (7-5), Las Vegas Bowl, Las Vegas, Saturday, 8 p.m. EST, ESPN

: After a strong start that had BYU thinking lofty in December -- and perhaps January due to back-to-back shutouts wins and a Top 10 ranking -- losses to TCU and then later to eventual Mountain West Champion Utah sent the Cougars to their fourth-straight Las Vegas Bowl. BYU junior quarterback Max Hall led the team with 3,629 yards passing and 34 TD passes -- seven of them against UCLA in a 59-0 thrashing. Arizona is making its first bowl appearance in a decade and has a defense ranked in the top 20. After outscoring their first two opponents 111-16, the Wildcats were surprised in a road game against New Mexico 36-28, the second straight year the Lobos beat them. Arizona senior quarterback Willie Tuitama threw for 2,763 yards and 21 TD passes this season and running back Nic Grigsby ran for 12 TDs to lead the 'Cats. BYU is 2-0 vs. Pac-10 teams this year and last played Arizona in its 2007 opener, winning 20-7.

Corner's choice: BYU 35, Arizona 22

Southern Mississippi (6-6) (+4) vs. Troy (8-4): New Orleans Bowl, Sunday, 8:15 p.m. EST, ESPN

: Troy has made it a habit the last few years of taking on "the big boys" before going into conference play. This year, the team made life uncomfortable for Ohio State, got blown out against Oklahoma State but nearly got an upset against defending champion LSU - a game in which the Tigers were down 31-3 before they scored the final 37 points to win. Despite the losses, the Trojans still had enough to win their first outright Sun Belt title after sharing the title the previous two years. Southern Miss had to win its final four games of the season to be bowl-eligible. One of those wins, 21-3, against East Carolina in November, helped set up its bowl bid. Troy's quarterback Levin Brown stepped up after the opening day quarterback, Jamie Hampton, was lost due to a leg injury against Florida Atlantic in October. Since then, Brown has thrown for 14 TDs against only three interceptions. Southern Miss' offense is led by junior running back Damion Fletcher, who rushed for 1,235 yards this season, and freshman receiver DeAndre Brown, who caught 12 of quarterback Austin Davis' 21 TD passes. This is Southern Miss' third New Orleans Bowl appearance in the last four years and the last two contests were wins over Sun Belt opponents. Southern Miss generates slightly over 30 points on offense but gives up almost 24 points on defense. Meanwhile, Troy averages 33.3 points on offense while allowing 20.6 on defense.

Corner's choice: Troy 28, Southern Miss 16

No. 9 Boise State (12-0) (+2.5) vs. No. 11 TCU (10-2): San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego, Calif., Tuesday, 8:15 p.m. EST, ESPN

: In an intriguing matchup of BCS-busting outsiders, undefeated Boise State -- which averages 39.4 points per game, 12th best in the nation -- takes on one of the stingiest defenses. Led by All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes, TCU boasts the No. 1 rushing defense, the second best scoring and overall defense and the third most sacks. To put in perspective: Oklahoma broke the record for most points in a season at 702. Against TCU, Oklahoma tied its lowest scoring output of the season in a 35-10 win. The task of trying to break that vaunted TCU rushing defense will fal to senior running back Ian Johnson -- the hero of the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma. Although his offensive output is down from his junior year, Johnson broke out to rush for 128 yards in the Broncos' 61-10 season-ending victory over Fresno. Meanwhile, the Horned Frogs' offense is no slouch at No. 20 in the nation while Boise State's scoring defense ranks third. The last time these two teams met was the 2003 inaugural Fort Worth Bowl won by Boise State, 34-31.

Corner's choice: Boise State 27, TCU 21.

Notre Dame (6-6) (-1) vs. Hawaii (7-6): Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Honolulu, Wednesday, 8:15 p.m. EST, ESPN

: A year after losing Coach June Jones to Southern Methodist, and senior quarterback Colt Brennan to the NFL, the Rainbow Warriors find themselves still hosting a bowl game, despite a 1-3 record against Top 25 teams. For the Irish, how much of a vacation this turns out to be depends on the team's ability to break a nine-game bowl losing streak spanning 15 years. Notre Dame Coach Charlie Weis survived the recent carousel of coaching changes, and this is his opportunity to temporarily muzzle his critics. Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen completed 59.4% of his passes this season for 2,771 yards without having much support in the running game. Notre Dame comes off two tough losses to close the season -- blowing a fourth-quarter lead to hapless Syracuse and then a blowout loss at USC. Hawaii is 3-1 in the Hawaii Bowl, and the home game gives the team a slight edge.

Corner's choice: Hawaii 27, Notre Dame 23

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Corner kicks:

Oklahoma's

Sam Bradford won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday but actually got fewer first-place votes than last year's winner,

Florida's

Tim Tebow. Well, there's that little on-the-field matter Jan. 9 where they can show what's what. ...

Penn State's

Joe Paterno

got a new hip and a newthree-year contract extension. ... The head-scratching continues at

Iowa State

. Days after Coach Gene Chizik left for the head job at Auburn despite a two-year, 5-19 record, early rumors have suggested ousted Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer and former Auburn coach Terry Bowden have both expressed interest in coming to Ames. Dan McCarney's 12-year run at Iowa State (1995-2006) that took the school to five bowls in one six-season stretch looks pretty stable right about now.