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Posted on Sat, Dec 15, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Check out local connections and pick winners for every college football bowl game

By Pete Cunningham


Will former Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez be able to lead his Arizona Wildcats to victory in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl?

Associated Press

The college football bowl season officially begins on Saturday. That means almost every day until the BCS National Championship game on Jan. 7, college will be on T.V.

Though the "best" bowl games don't really get going until New Year's Day, there is still plenty to watch for in the 23 bowls that will precede 2013, starting with former-Michigan coach Rich-Rodriguez leads Arizona against Nevada in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl (1 p.m., ESPN).

Think Rodriguez and his staff can win in their first go-around out in the dessert? Pick a winner for that game and all of the other 23 pre-New Year's Day bowls by filling out the College Football Pick 'Em competition form below. Winners of he competition will be announced on New Year's Day when a new pick 'em competition will begin which will include all the bowl games on and after New Year's Day.

Before making your picks, check out story lines of local significance from each one of the 23 pre-New Year's Day bowl games. And don't worry if you fill out the form a little bit after kickoff of the first game. If you can point out a local connection to one of the bowls that we missed, you can get a bonus point toward your total.

Don't care about the local connections and just want to pick winners? Simply scroll to the bottom and have at it.

Let the games begin!

Local connections to Pre-New Year's Day college football bowl games.

What: Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Who: Nevada (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5).
Where: University Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.
When/coverage: Saturday, Dec. 15, 1 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez has Arizona at 7-5 and into a bowl game in his first year at the helm, something that took him three years to accomplish in Ann Arbor. For Rodriguez's sake, let's hope the game goes better than his last go around, a 52-14 Michigan loss to Mississippi State.

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Toledo took care of EMU earlier this year.

What: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Who: Toledo (9-3) vs. Utah State (10-2).
Where: Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho.
When/coverage: Saturday, Dec. 15, 4:30 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Michigan transfer Vladimir Emilien is a junior safety for Toledo, and Dexter native Corey Smith (who played for Detroit Catholic Central in high school) is a sophomore punter for the Rockets. Toledo freshman offensive lineman Storm Norton played for Saline High School coach Joe Palka at Toledo Whitmer.
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Michigan coach Brady Hoke, right, used to be the coach of San Diego State.

What: San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
Who: San Diego State (9-3) vs. BYU (7-5).
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego.
When/coverage: Thursday, Dec. 20, 8 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Michigan coach Brady Hoke was the head coach of San Diego State for two years prior to coming to Michigan. The Aztec's roster is littered with Hoke's former players, recruits and staff members.

What: Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl.
Who: Ball State (9-3) vs. Central Florida (9-4).
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla..
When/coverage: Friday, Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Ball State is Hoke's alma matter and he was the head coach there from 2003-08, prior to taking the San Diego State job.

What: R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
Who: East Carolina (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4).
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans.
When/coverage: Saturday, Dec. 22, noon, ESPN.
Local connection: Louisiana-Lafayette running backs coach was on staff at Mississippi State when the Bulldogs beat Michigan 52-14 in the 2011 Gator Bowl. Louisiana-Lafayette assistant coach Jay Johnson was quarterbacks coach at Central Michigan in 2010.

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Before coming to Ann Arbor, Chris Brown, right, played football alongside Chandler Koch at Flower Mound High School in Texas.

What: MAACO Las Vegas Bowl.
Who: Boise State (10-2) vs. Washington (7-5).
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas.
When/coverage: Saturday, Dec. 22, 3:30 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Boise State tight end Chandler Koch is a native of Flower Mound, Texas and went to Flower Mound High School at the same time as former Michigan hockey player/Pioneer High School grad Chris Brown. Before leaving Flower Mound for Ann Arbor to train with the U.S. National Team Development program, Brown played football and was a teammate of Koch's. Washington pass game coordinator Jimmie Dougherty worked on former Pioneer and Michigan quarterback and current San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh's staff at the University of San Diego for three seasons.

What: Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.
Who: SMU (6-6) vs. Fresno State (9-3).
Where: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu.
When/coverage: Monday, Dec. 24, 8 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: SMU freshman running back Prescott Line is from Oxford, Mich. and was the Associated Press Division I-2 football player of the year in 2011. Runner up to Line in the player of the year voting was former Pioneer standout/Michigan freshman running back, Drake Johnson. Line was also a two-time MHSAA Division 1 wrestling state champion at 215 lbs.

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Former Michigan and Saline High School quarterback Nick Sheridan, right, now coaches at Western Kentucky.

What: Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl.
Who: Western Kentucky (7-5) vs. Central Michigan (6-6).
Where: Ford Field, Detroit.
When/coverage: Wednesday, Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Incase you forgot, Ford Field is where the Lions play, and just a hop-skip-and a jump (or a quick train ride) away (Editor's note: A night on the town in Detroit complete with dinner, casino and this bowl game is an awesome holiday activity with the family if you're sick of sitting around the tree eating cookies.) Former Michigan and Saline quarterback Nick Sheridan is the quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator for WKU. Chelsea High School senior Michael Steinhauer and Lincoln High School senior Tyree Waller are both verbally committed to Central Michigan for next year.

What: Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman.
Who: San Jose State (10-2) vs. Bowling Green State (8-4).
Where: RFK Stadium, Washington D.C.
When/coverage: Thursday, Dec. 27, 7:30 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Bowling Green redshirt freshman offensive lineman Christian Piazza is an Ann Arbor native and Huron High School grad. He played one season at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia before enrolling at BGSU. Bowling Green defensive end Ronnie Goble is from nearby Plymouth, Mich. whose father, Ron Goble, played baseball at Eastern Michigan and whose mother, Lisa Goble played volleyball at Eastern.

What: Belk Bowl.
Who: Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Duke (6-6).
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
When/coverage: Thursday, Dec. 27, 6:30 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Cincinnati redshirt sophomore defensive back Adrian Witty originally committed to Michigan out of high school but never made it to campus because of academic eligibility issues. Witty was high school teammates with Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson at Deerfield Beach High School in Florida where they were two-time 4x100-meter relay state champions. (Editor's note: Not really a "local" connection, but Cincinnati senior offensive lineman Sean Hooey is from Litchfield, Mich., and while I worked at the Homer Index, him signing his National Letter of Intent was the first "signing day" story story I ever wrote. Big ups to Sean.)

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Daryl Stonum now plays for Baylor

What: Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.
Who: Baylor (7-5) vs. UCLA (9-4).
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego.
When/coverage: Thursday, Dec. 27, 6:30 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Former Michigan wide receiver Darryl Stonum, who was kicked off of the Michigan team after a series of legal run-ins, is using his final year of eligibility at Baylor. Stonum graduated from Michigan and was therefore able to take advantage of the NCAA's one-year one-time transfer exception for football and play immediately.

What: AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl.
Who: Ohio (8-4) vs. University of Louisiana-Monroe (8-4).
Where: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, La.
When/coverage: Friday, Dec. 28, 2 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Ohio sophomore defensive tackle Antwan Crutcher played at Glenville High School in Ohio under Ted Ginn Sr. and was teammates with Michigan sophomore defensive end Frank Clark and freshman defensive tackle Willie Henry.

What: Russell Athletic Bowl.
Who: Virginia Tech (6-6) vs. Rutgers (9-3).
Where: Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.
When/coverage: Friday, December 28, 5:30 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Rutgers will soon be the 14th member of the Big Ten. Virginia Tech is the team Michigan beat in last year's Sugar Bowl.

What: Meinke Car Care of Texas Bowl.
Who: Minnesota (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (7-5).
Where: Reliant Stadium, Houston.
When/coverage: Friday, December 28, 9 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Chelsea High School senior Berkley Edwards recently committed to Minnesota.

What: Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.
Who: Rice (6-6) vs. Air Force (6-6).
Where: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth.
When/coverage: Saturday, Dec. 29, 4 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Former Michigan running back and prized recruit Sam McGuffie is a senior running back/slot receiver for Rice. Air Force sophomore tight end Nate Dreslinski played for nearby Clinton High School and grew up in a family of long-time Michigan football season ticket holders.


Former Pioneer wide receiver Kyle Foster, above, now plays for Syracuse.

Alan Warren | Special to

What: New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
Who: West Virginia (7-5) vs. Syracuse (7-5).
Where: Bronx, N.Y.
When/coverage: Saturday, Dec. 29, 3:15 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Former Michigan running back and Eastern Michigan assistant coach Tyrone Wheatley is the running backs coach for Syracuse. Pioneer High School graduate Kyle Foster is a sophomore wide receiver for the Orange, though he has been out all season due to injury.

What: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
Who: Navy (7-4) vs. Arizona State (7-5).
Where: AT&T Park, San Francisco.
When/coverage: Saturday, Dec. 29, 4 p.m., ESPN2.
Local connection: Navy freshman linebacker Tyler Goble is from nearby Plymouth, Mich. and his father, Ron Goble, played baseball at Eastern Michigan and his mother, Lisa Goble played volleyball at Eastern. Tyler's brother, Ronnie, plays for Bowling Green. Arizona State senior cornerback Deveron Carr was a teammate of Michigan's Craig Roh at Chaparral High School in Glendale, Ariz., which is apparently where the college football fountain of youth is. Roh and Carr will have a combined 84 starts after the bowl, Roh with a Michigan record 51 straight and Carr with 33.

What: Valero Alamo Bowl.
Who: Texas (8-4) vs. Oregon State (9-3).
Where: Alamodome, San Antonio.
When/coverage: Saturday, Dec. 29, 6:45 p.m. ESPN.
Local connection: Oregon State senior cornerback Ryan Hadford and Eastern Michigan senior linebacker Sean Kurtz were teammates at Santa Ana Community College in Santa Ana, Calif.


Michigan State running back Nick Hill, center, during his prep days at Chelsea High School.

What: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Who: TCU (7-5) vs. Michigan State (6-6).
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
When/coverage: Saturday, Dec. 29, 10:15 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Former Chelsea running back Nick Hill is a backup running back/return man for the Spartans. Spartans tight end Dion Sims' brother, Demetrius Sims, is a baseball standout for Huron and played on the football and basketball teams as well. MSU's freshman long-snapper Taybor Pepper is a Saline grad and nearly came to Michigan.

What: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.
Who: North Carolina State (7-5) vs. Vanderbilt (8-4).
Where: LP Field, Nashville, Tenn.
When/coverage: Monday, Dec. 31, noon, ESPN.
Local connection: North Carolina State redshirt junior cornerback Jarvis Byrd was high school teammates with Michigan running back Vincent Smith, Brandin Hawthorne and Richard Ash at Pahokee High School in Florida.

What: Hyundai Sun Bowl.
Who: USC (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (6-7).
Where: Sunbowl, El Paso, Texas.
When/coverage: Monday, Dec. 31, 2 p.m., CBS.
Local connection: USC sophomore offensive lineman Aundrey Walker and Michigan sophomore defensive end Frank Clark and freshman defensive tackle Willie Henry were all teammates at Glenville High School in Cleveland.

What: Autozone Liberty Bowl.
Who: Iowa State (6-6) vs. Tulsa (10-3).
Where: Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn.
When/coverage: Monday, Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: Freshman Tulsa wide receiver Blake Blackwell played alongside Michigan freshman cornerback Terry Richardson, sophomore defensive back Delonte Hollowell and freshman linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone at Detroit Cass Tech.


Les Miles spent his formative years in Ann Arbor.

Associated Press

What: Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Who: LSU (10-2) vs. Clemson (10-2).
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta.
When/coverage: Monday, Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m., ESPN.
Local connection: LSU coach Les Miles played under Bo Schembechler at Michigan and was twice an assistant coach in Ann Arbor for the 1980 and 1981 seasons and once from 1987-1994. Miles was rumored to have taken the head coaching job at Michigan before Rich Rodriguez was hired, and was allegedly on the short list of candidates before Brady Hoke was hired.

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


Pete Cunningham

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

The article previously stated that Michigan freshman running back Drake Johnson was a Pioneer High School graduate. Though Johnson played for Pioneer's football team, he is actually a proud Community High School graduate. The correction has been made.

Deepali Dhanotia

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 7:01 a.m.

Nice post….I like the way you are mentioning most of the things about winner of college football picks. Thanks

Pete Cunningham

Sat, Dec 15, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

A local connections people have pointed out and cashed in their bonus points on. Clemson, playing in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, has wide receiver Sammy Watkins who, according to the recruiting sites that track such things, was very close to committing to Michigan but was held up by the Rodriguez firing. Kind of weak, but I'll count it. Fact checking another one. Stay tuned...

Pete Cunningham

Sat, Dec 15, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

I am trying to figure out a way that you can see your picks after you make them so people can print them and track as the games go along. I haven't figured it out out yet, but here's a short term solution: make your picks, but before clicking "submit" print the page, or take a screen shot picture of your picks. You can also email me at and I'll send you your picks. Rich Rodriguez and Arizona are in an entertaining New Mexico Bowl as we speak.

Terry Star21

Sat, Dec 15, 2012 : 8:20 p.m.

Hello Pete......typical RR ballgame, 31-28 @ 'half '- over 700 yds. offense !!!!