Who: Auburn (7-5) vs. Northwestern (8-4)
When: 11 a.m., ESPN
At a glance: Auburn lost five of its last seven games - and for that it gets a New Year’s Day bowl. Northwestern earned its way by winning four of its last five, posting victories over Wisconsin and Iowa. Auburn’s attack will be led by running back Ben Tate, a workhorse who picked up 1,254 rushing yards on 243 carries. Quarterback Chris Todd had a good ratio of 23 touchdown passes to 7 interceptions. But Northwestern, led by quarterback Mike Kafka (2,898 passing yards), is still the hot team.
The pick: Northwestern 17, Auburn 9
Who: LSU (9-3) vs. Penn State (10-2)
Where: Orlando, Fla.
When: 1 p.m., Channel 5
At a glance: Both teams had visions of playing in a BCS bowl, especially Penn State, but the Lions’ two losses were to Ohio State and Iowa at home - no excuses. LSU had its chances, losing to Florida and Alabama in the fourth quarter. Look for a low-scoring game, since neither offense has generated much on a consistent basis. If there is an edge, it goes to Penn State at quarterback, as Daryll Clark threw for 2,787 yards and 23 TDs.
The pick: Penn State 13, LSU 9
Who: Florida State (6-6) vs. West Virginia (9-3)
Where: Jacksonville, Fla.
When: 1 p.m., Channel 4
At a glance: It’s the final Bobby Bowden bowl, which is why this is such a hot ticket. There will be as many camera shots of Bowden as there will be of the game, which could be a yawner. FSU needs to win to avoid Bowden’s first losing season since 1976, when he arrived at Florida State - from West Virginia. The show on the field should be FSU quarterback Christian Ponder (2,717 yards passing) vs. West Virginia running back Noel Devine (5.8 yards per carry, 12 TDs).
The pick: FSU 35, West Virginia 31
Who: Ohio State (10-2) vs. Oregon (10-2)
Where: Pasadena, Calif.
When: 4:30 p.m., Channel 5
At a glance: Oregon is making its first Rose Bowl appearance since 1994. The Ducks can score on anybody, with quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and running backs LaMichael James and LeGarrette Blount providing the firepower. Ohio State, tossed aside early in the season after a loss to Southern Cal, has once again fought its way back into the national spotlight as quarterback Terrelle Pryor put his imprint on the team. The feeling here is that Oregon is too quick and too explosive for the Buckeyes, although it will be interesting for a while.
The pick: Oregon 34, Ohio State 21
Who: Cincinnati (12-0) vs. Florida (12-1)
Where: New Orleans
When: 8:30 p.m., Channel 25
At a glance: Both teams had aspirations for the BCS title game, but this isn’t a bad consolation prize. Florida’s All-Everything quarterback Tim Tebow will try to end his collegiate career with a bang. The Cincinnati coaching staff is in turmoil, with Brian Kelly long gone to Notre Dame. Luckily for the Bearcats, Tony Pike is still at quarterback, but it won’t be enough against the Gators and Tebow.
The pick: Florida 38, Cincinnati 27