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Wednesday, December 14, 2011
3-point stance: Favorite early bowl games

By Ivan Maisel

My three favorite early bowls:

1. The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Sat., 5:30 p.m. ET): I liked what I saw of Utah State in the season-opening, last-minute loss to Auburn. The Aggies started out 2-5 and won their last five games by a total of 19 points. Quarterbacks Adam Kennedy and Chuckie Keeton (if healthy) combine with tailback Robert Turbin to create an effective attack. The Bobcats (9-4) must scrape themselves together after blowing a 20-0 lead over Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game. Some bowls are all about motivation.

2. The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia (Dec. 21, 8:00 p.m. ET): Ditto re motivation. No. 18 TCU (10-2) fell two BCS slots short of qualifying for an automatic bid and instead will play its final Mountain West Conference game in this early bowl against Louisiana Tech (8-4). Picked fourth in the WAC, the Bulldogs won outright by winning their last seven games. Both teams defend well, which is why they won their respective leagues. If the Horned Frogs aren’t ready to play, they will be embarrassed.

3. The Maaco Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 22, 8:00 p.m., ET): The game itself, which features No. 7 Boise State (11-1) against a mediocre Arizona State (6-6) team with a lame-duck coach in Dennis Erickson, shouldn’t be much of a contest. But you must watch anyway to see the final collegiate performance by the Broncos’ Kellen Moore, the winningest quarterback that college football has ever seen. Moore, 49-3 as a starter, will perform his farewell against a defense that was average at its best. He should put on a clinic.