USC highlights non-BCS bowl teams

Southern California will face Boston College in the Emerald Bowl.

The bowl announced Sunday that the Trojans (8-4) will play the Eagles (8-4) on Dec. 26 at AT&T Park in San Francisco. This marks the first time USC has played in the bowl.

The Trojans had played in a BCS game the past seven years and had hopes to make it back there again this season. But they dropped three of their last five games, including Saturday's 21-17 loss to Arizona. USC fell out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in eight years after the loss to Wildcats.

"We're disappointed with the way we played the last half of this season, so the Emerald Bowl gives us a chance to finish the year on a positive note," coach Pete Carroll said. "We'll work hard to send our seniors out in the fashion they deserve. And it'll give our younger players some extra practice time that will pay off in the future."

Boston College is making its 11th straight bowl appearance. The Eagles are the first team to play in the Emerald Bowl twice, beating Colorado State 35-21 in 2003. Boston College is 8-1 in bowl games this decade.

"We could not be happier with this matchup," bowl director Gary Cavalli said. "In USC, we have one of the great brands in college football and a program that is almost always in the national championship hunt. In Boston College, we have one of the nation's premier academic institutions and an overachieving team that overcame a lot of adversity this season."

Penn State, LSU to Capital One Bowl

Penn State will meet LSU in the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl that features the top non-BCS team from the Big Ten and Southeastern conferences.

The Nittany Lions and Tigers both began the season with dreams of landing in a BCS bowl. Penn State even took faint hopes of jumping Iowa for an at-large bid to a BCS bowl into this weekend before the announcement was made Sunday night.

Consider this a consolation.

Joe Paterno will lead his Nittany Lions (10-2) against an LSU (9-3) team full of speed and quickness, the type of SEC matchup that Big Ten teams have struggled with in recent years. The 82-year-old coach with the most wins in major college football history (393) has a 23-11-1 record in bowl games that will surely be tested.

Miami, Wisconsin to Champs Sports Bowl

Miami will face Wisconsin in the Dec. 29 Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando with a chance for its first 10-win season since 2003.

The Hurricanes (9-3) are hoping to use the game to propel themselves into next year and perhaps get a higher preseason ranking. Miami has improved in each of the three years under coach Randy Shannon, and next season's expectations will be even higher.

The Canes can get a head start with a win over the Badgers.

Wisconsin (9-3) will be playing in its second straight Champs Sports Bowl. And the Badgers will be looking for a better result after getting walloped 42-13 by Florida State a year ago.

Wisconsin will be Miami's first Big Ten opponent since the Hurricanes lost to Ohio State in the 2002 BCS national title game.

Mississippi, Oklahoma State to Cotton Bowl

Mississippi will make a return trip to the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2, this time lining up against Oklahoma State.

Bowl officials announced the pairing in a news release.

The Rebels (8-4) beat Texas Tech 47-34 last season, capping a return to prominence under coach Houston Nutt. It's the first time Ole Miss has been to consecutive bowls since a streak of appearances from 1997 to 2000.

This will be the fourth straight bowl appearance for the Cowboys (9-3), who lost to Oregon 42-31 in last year's Holiday Bowl.

The game will be a rematch of the 2004 Cotton Bowl. Eli Manning led the Rebels to a 31-28 win, passing for three touchdowns in his final college game.

While both teams are familiar with the bowl, it will have a very different look this year. The game will move from Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas to the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Pittsburgh, North Carolina to Meineke Bowl

A day after a heartbreaking loss cost it a BCS bid, Pittsburgh has accepted an invitation to play North Carolina in the Meineke Bowl.

The Tar Heels received their invitation hours after the Panthers got theirs. They will face each other at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Dec. 26.

Pitt (9-3) finished second in the Big East after losing at home to Cincinnati on Saturday in a game decided by a missed extra point. The Panthers played in the Meineke Bowl in 2003, losing to Virginia 23-16.

The Meineke Bowl selected Pitt ahead of Rutgers.

The Tar Heels (8-4) were selected after a series of moves with bowls above them that included Florida State being selected by the Gator Bowl. It's UNC's second straight trip to the bowl in Charlotte.

Stanford, Oklahoma to Sun Bowl

Stanford will be making its first bowl appearance in eight years at the Sun Bowl against Oklahoma.

The Cardinal (8-4) accepted the bid to the bowl game in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 31. It will be Stanford's third trip to the Sun Bowl. It defeated LSU in 1977 and Michigan State in 1996.

The 38-0 win over the Spartans marks the last time the Cardinal won a bowl game. They haven't played in one since losing the Seattle Bowl to Georgia Tech in 2001.

Led by Heisman Trophy contender Toby Gerhart, the Cardinal finished in a three-way tie for second place in the Pac-10.

This will be the fifth meeting between Stanford and Oklahoma (7-5). The Sooners won three of the first four.

UConn, South Carolina to PapaJohns.com Bowl

Connecticut, which finished a season marred by tragedy with three consecutive wins, will play South Carolina in the PapaJohns.com Bowl on Jan. 2 in Birmingham, Ala.

After losing three straight games in the wake of the Oct. 18 stabbing death of cornerback Jasper Howard, UConn (7-5) finished the season by beating Notre Dame, Syracuse and South Florida, and assured itself of a winning record.

Saturday's 29-27 win over the Bulls came when Dave Teggart hit a field goal on the game's final play.

South Carolina (7-5) has been bowl eligible in all five of coach Steve Spurrier's seasons. The Gamecocks defeated rival Clemson 34-17 last week in their final regular-season game.

It will be the first meeting between the two schools.

Virginia Tech, Tennessee to Chick-fil-A Bowl

The Chick-fil-A Bowl will host No. 12 Virginia Tech from the Atlantic Coast Conference and Tennessee from the Southeastern Conference.

Bowl officials say the Hokies (9-3) and Volunteers (7-5) will meet Dec. 31 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The two teams last met in the 1994 Gator Bowl, which the Vols won 45-23.

Virginia Tech played in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in 2006, losing to Georgia, and is making its fourth appearance in the bowl. It will be Tennessee's fifth appearance, and the Vols most recently lost to Clemson in 2004.

Tennessee is 25-22 in bowl games and ranks third in the nation in appearances. Virginia Tech is 8-14 in bowl games.

The Vols return to the postseason in Lane Kiffin's first season as coach and after an unusual absence last season.

Arizona, Nebraska to Holiday Bowl

Arizona will face 20th-rated Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30 in San Diego.

It's a rematch of the 1998 Holiday Bowl, in which the Wildcats rallied to defeat the Cornhuskers 23-20.

The Wildcats drew the bid one day after they wrapped up an 8-4 season with a 21-17 victory at USC -- a triumph that gave Arizona a share of second place in the Pac-10 with a 6-3 record.

Nebraska (9-4) lost a 13-12 heartbreaker to Texas in the Big 12 championship game on Saturday night. The Cornhuskers won the conference's North Division with a 6-2 mark.

Arizona coach Mike Stoops said his team is thrilled to receive the bid. The Wildcats, who lost in overtime to eventual Pac-10 champion Oregon at home on Nov. 21, came back to defeat Arizona State and USC on the road.

Auburn, Northwestern to Outback Bowl

Northwestern and Auburn will meet for the first time, playing in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., on New Year's Day.

Both teams finished the regular season with statement games.

Northwestern (8-4) upset Wisconsin 33-31, prompting the fans to storm the field. Auburn (7-5) led Alabama until the final two minutes before losing 26-21.

Northwestern is seeking its first postseason win since the 1949 Rose Bowl.

Auburn will finish Gene Chizik's first season as head coach in a New Year's Day game after ending last season with a losing record and sitting out the postseason.

The Tigers haven't played in the Outback Bowl since a 43-14 loss to Penn State in 1996, the first year under the game's current name.

Iowa State, Minnesota to Insight Bowl

Iowa State is headed to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., to play Minnesota.

It's the Cyclones' first postseason trip since 2005.

Both teams finished the season 6-6. This will be Minnesota's third Insight Bowl appearance in the last four years. The Gophers lost last season to Kansas and in 2006 to Texas Tech.

Iowa State played in the 2000 Insight Bowl, beating Pittsburgh 37-29.

Cyclones first-year coach Paul Rhoads turned around a team that finished 2-10 in 2008 and was winless in eight Big 12 games. Iowa State's last bowl appearance was a 27-24 loss to TCU in the 2005 Houston Bowl, now the Texas Bowl.

Arkansas, East Carolina to Liberty Bowl

Arkansas will be the Southeastern Conference team playing two-time Conference USA champ East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl on Jan. 2.

Bowl officials on Sunday confirmed that Arkansas was in. The Razorbacks (7-5) lost to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl in January 2008.

East Carolina wrapped up a second straight visit to Memphis by upsetting Houston 38-32 in the C-USA championship on Saturday. The Pirates (9-4) are the first C-USA team to win consecutive league titles since the conference split into divisional play in 2005.

Georgia, Texas A&M to Independence Bowl

After a disappointing season, Georgia is going to the Independence Bowl to face Texas A&M.

The Bulldogs (7-5) head into the Dec. 28 game in Shreveport, La., with their most losses in Mark Richt's nine seasons as coach and having fired three defensive assistants. But they are coming off an upset of Atlantic Coast Conference champion Georgia Tech.

Georgia will be making its second trip to the Independence Bowl, the last coming in 1991. The Bulldogs haven't faced Texas A&M since a 42-0 victory in 1980 on the way to the national championship.

The Aggies (6-6) received an invitation despite finishing fifth in the Big 12 South.

Air Force, Houston to Armed Forces Bowl

Air Force and Houston will meet again in the Armed Forces Bowl.

For the second year in a row, Houston (10-3) and Air Force (7-5) will finish their seasons against each other in the bowl game played on the TCU campus.

The Cougars, the Conference USA runner-up after losing to East Carolina on Saturday, beat Air Force 34-28 last year for their first bowl victory since 1980.

Air Force is the Mountain West representative in the Armed Forces Bowl for the third straight season. The Falcons lost 42-36 to California in the 2007 game, which was then their first bowl appearance since 2002.

Rutgers, UCF to St. Petersburg Bowl

Rutgers has accepted a bid to play in the St. Petersburg Bowl against Central Florida, the Scarlet Knights' fifth consecutive bowl appearance.

The game will be played on the night of Dec. 19 at Tropicana Field.

Rutgers finished 8-4, losing its last game to West Virginia on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights will be facing Central Florida (8-4) for the first time.

Rutgers will be making its fifth straight bowl appearance after not playing in a bowl game from 1979 to 2005.

The Scarlet Knights are one of nine BCS teams to win a bowl game in each of the past three seasons.

UCF has played in a bowl twice, the last time in the 2007 Liberty Bowl.

Kentucky, Clemson to Music City Bowl

Clemson has fallen all the way from a possible BCS-bowl berth to a trip to the Music City Bowl to play Kentucky.

Clemson (8-5) missed out on the Atlantic Coast Conference championship with a 39-34 loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday. The Tigers will get a rematch of the 2006 Music City Bowl won by Kentucky 28-20.

This will be the third trip to this bowl in four seasons for Kentucky (7-5), and coach Rich Brooks already is selling his Wildcats on embracing the challenge to keep their postseason winning streak alive at four.

The Music City Bowl will be played Dec. 27 at Nashville's LP Field, home to the NFL's Tennessee Titans.

Southern Miss, Middle Tennessee to New Orleans Bowl

Southern Miss is headed back to the New Orleans Bowl for the second straight season and will face one of the nation's hottest teams, Middle Tennessee.

Coach Rick Stockstill's Blue Raiders (9-3) reached nine wins for the first time since moving to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1999 and enter the postseason on a six-game winning streak, also a team high in that span.

The New Orleans Bowl's Sun Belt Conference slot typically goes to the champion, but Troy headed to the GMAC Bowl in Mobile instead, opening the opportunity for Middle Tennessee. It will be the Blue Raiders' second bowl appearance in Stockstill's four seasons.

Larry Fedora's Golden Eagles (7-5) beat Troy 30-27 in an exciting 2008 installment that was decided late. They will be playing in their 12th bowl in 13 years.

Central Michigan, Troy to GMAC Bowl

Central Michigan and Troy will meet in the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 6, the eve of the national championship game.

It will be the only non-BCS game to match two conference champions.

Troy (9-3) collected its fourth straight Sun Belt title, while Central Michigan (11-2) won the Mid-American Conference for the third time in four years with a victory over Ohio.

The Chippewas are ranked for the first time in 35 seasons as a Division I, or FBS, team.

This is the first GMAC Bowl appearance for both teams.

MAC representatives are 5-3 in the game but have lost three straight.

Temple to EagleBank Bowl

Temple will play either Army or UCLA in the EagleBank Bowl on Dec. 29 at RFK Stadium in the nation's capital.

Bowl officials said Sunday that Temple's opponent is contingent on the outcome of the Army-Navy game to be played Saturday in Philadelphia. If Army beats Navy, the Cadets will play in their first bowl game since 1996. If Army loses, Temple will play UCLA (6-6).

Temple received an at-large invitation to its first bowl game in 30 years. The Owls went 9-3 and 7-1 in the Mid-American Conference.

Idaho, Bowling Green to Humanitarian Bowl

Idaho is heading back to a bowl game for the first time in more than a decade and will play Bowling Green in the Humanitarian Bowl.

The Vandals (7-5) announced they'll stay in their home state to face the Eagles on Dec. 30 in Boise, Idaho.

Idaho's last bowl appearance was also in the Humanitarian Bowl -- in 1998 when the Vandals beat Southern Mississippi 42-35.

Bowling Green, from the Mid-American Conference, fills a spot originally held for the Mountain West. But the MWC failed to get a sixth bowl-eligible team, and couldn't fill a spot in Boise with TCU headed to the BCS -- and a date in the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State.

It's the first bowl appearance for Bowling Green (7-5) since the 2007 GMAC Bowl, where it lost 63-7 to Tulsa.

Oregon State, BYU to Las Vegas Bowl

BYU is headed for the Las Vegas Bowl for the fifth straight year, this time to face Oregon State.

The Cougars will be playing the Falcons on Dec. 22 in the first meeting of two ranked teams in the bowl game's history.

BYU (10-2) has gone 2-2 against Pac-10 opponents in the last four Las Vegas Bowls.

The Beavers (8-4) were one win away from playing in the Rose Bowl, but lost to Oregon in the Civil War game last Thursday.

This will be the first postseason meeting between the Cougars and Beavers, who have played eight times in the regular season. Oregon State has a 5-3 lead in the series.

California, Utah in Poinsettia Bowl

California and Utah will meet in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

The Utes (9-3) from the Mountain West Conference have won eight straight bowl appearances, including last season's Sugar Bowl against Alabama.

Cal (8-4) could have earned a trip to the Holiday Bowl by beating Washington but the Bears were routed in their season finale 42-10.

They still get a trip to sunny San Diego -- and hope to welcome back star tailback Jahvid Best following his frightening concussion last month.

This is the seventh straight year that coach Jeff Tedford has guided Cal to a bowl appearance, the longest streak in school history.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.