Counting Down the Bowl Games: From New Orleans to the Rose

This being the holiday season and all, we’re in a giving mood. Feel free to use this ranking of the bowls as a guide when you prepare your holiday shopping, dining and party plans.

Yes, there are 28 bowls, but here are the top 10.

10. Outback Bowl, Jan. 2, Florida (8-3) vs. Iowa (7-4): Ron Zook’s first Florida team, which had eight wins, played in the Outback Bowl. Uhhh, does that bode ill for Urban Meyer?

9. Orange Bowl, Jan. 3, FSU (8-4) vs. Penn State (10-1): This is the 29th bowl for Bobby Bowden and the 32nd for Joe Paterno.

And get a load of their bowl-winning percentages: 69 percent for Bowden, 66 percent for Paterno. Alas, if the Penn State defense comes to play, this one won’t be close.

8. Houston Bowl, Dec. 31, Iowa State (7-4) vs. TCU (10-1): TCU wanted to play a team from a power conference, so the Horned Frogs were allowed out of their Mountain West Conference tie-in to play a team from the Big 12. That means TCU has something to prove.

7. Cotton Bowl, Jan. 2, Alabama (9-2) vs. Texas Tech (9-2): A fascinating matchup of a great defense against a high-powered offense.

6. Capital One Bowl, Jan. 2, Auburn (9-2) vs. Wisconsin (9-3): Auburn may be the best team in the SEC. But the Badgers should be sky-high because this will be Barry Alvarez’s finale.

5. MPC Computers Bowl, Dec. 28, Boise State (9-3) vs. Boston College (8-3): You think BC is happy? The school joins the ACC, finishes second in its division _” and the reward is a trip to Boise? If BC shows up, this promises to be an intriguing matchup.

4. Sun Bowl, Dec. 30, Northwestern (7-4) vs. UCLA (9-2): We admit it: When it comes to bowl games, offense trumps defense. And this one should have a ton of offense.

3. Peach Bowl, Dec. 30, LSU (10-2) vs. Miami (9-2): This is a BCS-caliber matchup. Then again, it’s the Peach Bowl. If both teams are psyched, this could be a great game.

2. Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 2, Notre Dame (9-2) vs. Ohio State (9-2): This is the fifth matchup between two of the premier programs in the nation. (And if you don’t believe they’re two of the premier programs, just ask a fan of either school.)

This should be a good matchup of the Irish’s potent offense against the Buckeyes’ stout defense.

1. Rose Bowl, Jan. 4, Texas (12-0) vs. USC (12-0): On paper, a classic. Then again, that was supposed to be the case last season, too, when USC played an unbeaten Big 12 champ. The result? USC 55, Oklahoma 19.