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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Poinsettia picks NIU to face TCU

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Bobby Bowden and Florida State got a nice trip after a tough season - the Seminoles are headed to San Francisco for the first time, to take on UCLA in the Emerald Bowl.

"I know our players are looking forward to visiting a different part of the country," Bowden said Tuesday.

Bowl season gets off to a running start Dec. 19 when the nation's leading rusher - Northern Illinois' Garrett Wolfe - goes against one of the best run defenses in TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.

No. 21 California accepted an invitation to play in the Holiday Bowl for the second time in three seasons. The Golden Bears, 8-3 going into Saturday's rivalry game against Stanford, will play a Big 12 team, likely to be No. 22 Texas A&M;, on Dec. 28 in San Diego.

Oregon State (8-4), the only team to beat Southern California this season, agreed to play in the Sun Bowl. The Beavers will face either Missouri or the second-place team from the Big East on Dec. 29 in El Paso, Texas.

Dirk Koetter, fired Sunday by Arizona State, will coach his team against No. 24 Hawaii (10-2) in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24. Koetter was fired after the Sun Devils (7-5) beat Arizona.

Oregon (7-5) will play Brigham Young (10-2) in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 21.

Florida State, accustomed to spending the New Year's holiday in Miami and New Orleans, instead will make its first appearance in northern California. The Seminoles (6-6) play UCLA for the first time on Dec. 27 at AT&T; Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

Wolfe and Northern Illinois (7-5) accepted a bid to play TCU (9-2).

Wolfe, who ran for 1,900 yards and 19 touchdowns, goes up against a Horned Frogs' defense that ranks third nationally against the run (64.8 yards) and seventh in overall defense (259.2 yards).

"TCU is going to provide a great challenge for our team, but that's what you're looking for when you go to a bowl game," Northern Illinois coach Joe Novak said.

In addition to Northern Illinois, two other Mid-American Conference teams were picked for bowls, as well as three teams from Conference USA.

From the MAC:

¢ Western Michigan (8-4) will play in the inaugural International Bowl in Toronto on Jan. 6 - the first bowl game outside the United States since the 1937 Bacardi Bowl in Havana. The Broncos, making their first postseason appearance since 1988, will play an undetermined team from the Big East Conference.

¢ Central Michigan (8-4) will play in the Motor City Bowl on Dec. 26, becoming the first team from Michigan to play in the decade-old game set for Ford Field in Detroit. The Chippewas (8-4), who play Ohio for the MAC title Thursday night, will take on a team to be determined.

From C-USA:

¢ Tulsa (8-4) will play Utah (7-5) of the Mountain West Conference in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 23 in Forth Worth, Texas.

¢ Rice (7-5) will make its first bowl appearance since 1961 when the Owls play in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 22. The likely opponent is Troy, which needs a win over winless Florida International this weekend.

¢ East Carolina (7-5) accepted a bid to play in the first PapaJohns.com Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., on Dec. 23. The Pirates will play a team from the Big East Conference, likely Cincinnati or South Florida.

Southern Mississippi and Houston will play Friday for the C-USA championship - the winner goes to the Liberty Bowl and the loser heads to the GMAC Bowl. Also, San Jose State will play New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 23, and Nevada expected to be formally invited today to play in the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, Idaho.

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