Big day in the bowl season

Jan. 1, 2004 at 9:19 AM

PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 1 (UPI) -- The busiest day of the college football bowl season unfolds Thursday with five games.

The biggest takes place at Pasadena, Calif., where top-ranked Southern California looks for a share of the national championship against No. 4 Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

The Trojans, arguably the beat team in the country, were denied a spot in the BCS national title contest at the Sugar Bowl because of strength of schedule.

"I think we're going to have the national championship game right where we are," said Tournament of Roses President Mike Riffey.

Another marquee matchup takes place at Miami, where No. 8 Florida State battles ninth-ranked Miami in the Orange Bowl. The rivals also face each other in next season's opener as members of the ACC.

Elsewhere, it's No. 24 Maryland against No. 23 West Virginia at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.; 13th-ranked Georgia and No. 11 Purdue at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando; and 12th-ranked Iowa facing No. 17 Florida at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.

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