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Posted on Wed, Jan 2, 2013 : 7 p.m.

Check out local connections and pick winners for the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the remaining bowls

By Pete Cunningham

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Thirty-two college football bowl games are in the books with six games remaining over the next five days.

Every one of the bowl games has a connection to the greater Ann Arbor area, starting with Wednesday night's Allstate Sugar Bowl, which Michigan won last year by defeating Virginia Tech 23-20 in overtime at the Superdome in New Orleans.

Check out the local connections to the New Year's Day bowl games and make predictions by filling out the form below.

Is there a connection we missed? Fill in the blank in the form and get a bonus point toward your picks total. Those with the best record will be recognized on at the conclusion of the bowl season.


Louisville defensive coordinator Vance Bedford coached defensive backs at Michigan from 1995-98 and again in 2007. file photo

What: Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Who: Louisville (10-2) vs. Florida (11-1).
Where: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans.
When/coverage: Wednesday, Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Louisville defensive coordinator Vance Bedford was on Michigan's defensive staff from 1995-98 along with Michigan head coach Brady Hoke. The Wolverines' secondary was a formidable one in his tenure. Michigan had the best pass defense in the nation in 1997, a year they won the national championship and defensive back Charles Woodson won the Heisman Trophy. He also coached Michigan's secondary during the 2007 season. Gators redshirt freshman defensive back Valdez Showers is from Madison Heights and was the Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year and Detroit News player of the year in 2010.

What: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Who: Oregon (11-1) vs. Kansas State (11-1).
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
When/coverage: Thursday, Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Oregon defensive back Dior Mathis is from Detroit and played at Cass Tech High School for former Michigan running back and track athlete, Thomas Wilcher. Oregon offensive lineman Jake Fisher is from Traverse City and was a one-time Michigan commit, but de-committed when Rich Rodriguez was fired.

What: AT&T Cotton Bowl.
Who: Texas A&M (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (10-2).
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas.
When/coverage: Friday, Jan. 4, 8 p.m., Fox
Local connection: Texas A&M freshman defensive back Devonta Burns was high school teammates with Michigan backup quarterback Russell Bellomy at Martin High School in Arlington, Texas. Oklahoma defensive back Danzel Williams was a teammate of Burns and Bellomy at Martin as well.

What: BBVA Compass Bowl
Who: Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Mississippi (6-6).
Where: Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala
When/coverage: Saturday, Jan. 5, 1 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Former Pioneer High School football coach Paul Test played on Pittsburgh's 1976 national championship winning team.

What: Bowl.
Who: Kent State (11-2) vs. Arkansas State (9-3)
Where: Ladd Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Ala.
When/coverage: Sunday, Jan. 6, 9 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Kent State defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach Jon Heacock cut his coaching teeth from 1988-90 at Michigan under Bo Schembechler. Heacock was a graduate assistant at where he worked with the Wolverines’ defensive backs and special teams in addition to assisting in many other capacities. During his two years, Michigan won two Big Ten titles and appeared in the Rose Bowl twice, winning in 1989.


Alabama junior wide receiver Kevin Norwood runs the ball past Michigan sophomore linebacker Desmond Morgan during Michigan's opening season loss to Alabama

Melanie Maxwell |

What: BCS Championship Game.
Who: Alabama (12-1) vs. Notre Dame (12-0).
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami.
When/coverage: Monday, Jan. 7, 8:30 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Notre Dame and Alabama both handed Michigan early season losses. Notre Dame beat Michigan, 13-6 in South Bend, and Alabama beat Michigan 41-14 in the Cowboys Classic to start the season. Notre Dame kicker/punter Kyle Brindza is from nearby Canton and played for Plymouth High School. He was high school teammates with Michigan's Brennen Beyer.

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


Pete Cunningham

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

A couple of local connections in the national championship game have been pointed out. Alabama redshirt freshman running back Dee Hart verbally committed to Michigan during the fall of 2010 ( Article:, his senior year of high school, but eventually chose Alabama. Also pointed out has been the fact that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly coached at Grand Valley State and Central Michigan before making his way to Notre Dame (by way of Cincinnati) and that Alabama coach Nick Saban coached at Michigan State before making his way to Alabama (by way of LSU and the Miami Dolphins). Those are a bit of a stretch of the term local, but I'll count it because I'm a nice guy. What I won't count as a "local connection," however, is one reader pointing out that he lives locally and "dislikes everything about Notre Dame," or a local reader's claim that he lives locally and has been offered a scholarship by both Notre Dame and Alabama...said reader claims to be six years old. I appreciate the humor, but no dice on the bonus points!

Lifetime AA ND Fan

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 11:24 p.m.

Well, I'm a reader who lives locally that likes everything about Notre Dame!

Lifetime AA ND Fan

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 9:03 a.m.

Notre Dame defensive line coach, Mike Elston, is a Michigan graduate.

Pete Cunningham

Thu, Jan 3, 2013 : 10:53 a.m.

Indeed he is, good catch. According to his bio, Elston graduated from Michigan in 1998. He played football for the Wolverines from 1994-96.