USA Today recently ran a bowl schedule in small type on page D12 that included a line with each school's bowl record.

Guess which school has the best bowl record?

Well, aside from Connecticut, which has a perfect 1-0 record, it's the University of Utah, which has the best record of all the teams playing in bowl games this year.

The Utes' 9-3 mark computes to a .750 percentage, and the only school, aside from Connecticut, that matches that percentage is Memphis, which has a 3-1 record.

Although their percentages don't match the Utes', the schools that have been the most successful in bowl games are Penn State (25-12-1), USC (29-16) and Boston College (12-6), which is the only school with a longer bowl winning streak (seven) than Utah's six.

Surprisingly, several traditional college football powers having losing bowl records, including Ohio State (18-20), Michigan (18-20) and Florida (16-18).

The schools with the worst records?

That would be Texas Tech (9-20-1), Arkansas (11-21-3), New Mexico (2-7-1) and BYU at 8-16-1.

Of the 64 teams playing in bowl games, 27 have winning bowl records, 28 having losing marks and nine have .500 records.

When I covered the Utah State football program a decade ago, Bobby Petrino was the offensive coordinator for the Aggies. I can't forget the energetic John L. Smith, but I only have vague memories of the reserved, low-key Petrino.

Not only did Petrino coach at Utah State for three years (1995-97), the second-longest stint in his 24-year coaching career that includes 16 jobs at 11 different places, he also coached at Weber State in 1984 as a graduate assistant and in 1987-88 as the receivers coach.

Petrino received plenty of national attention last week when he left his job with the Atlanta Falcons for Arkansas without even telling his boss and leaving a short note for his players instead of telling them directly.

While it's not nice to wish bad luck upon others, after the way he went about it, telling his boss one day he was the coach and leaving the next day, Petrino deserves the same fate of mediocrity like another liar, Nick Saban, who only went 6-6 this year with a loss to Louisiana-Monroe after leaving the Miami Dolphins.

It looks like the Mountain West Conference has a pretty good chance to finish with the best record among all the nation's conferences in this year's bowl games.

You have to figure Utah, BYU and TCU should win their games against teams that each lost their head coaches over the past month. So should New Mexico, which plays Nevada on its home field, although the Lobos have that dismal bowl record.

The toughest task will be for Air Force, which will play a California team that was once ranked No. 2 in the country this year. However, the fact that the Bears come in with losses in six of their last seven games, means the Bears may not be that good after all.

Here are my bowl predictions for what they're worth.

Utah-Navy, Thursday: The Utes' defense has a tough task going against the nation's No. 1 rushing offense. However, the Utes always come up big defensively in bowl games (7.2 points allowed per game in last five), and Navy has one of the worst passing defenses in the country. Utah 37, Navy 22

BYU-UCLA, Saturday: You'd think it was BYU that won back in September the way everyone is looking at this game. But there's good reason to think the Cougars should roll against a Bruin team that lost its head coach and is using a former Cougar at quarterback. We'll go with the same score as before, only a different winner. BYU 27, UCLA 17

New Mexico-Nevada, Saturday: The Wolfpack almost beat Hawaii, but the Lobos ought to win to break their five-game bowl losing streak. New Mexico 23, Nevada 19.

TCU-Houston, Saturday: The Horned Frogs have looked pretty good down the stretch and should cruise against another team that is breaking in a brand-new coach. TCU 30, Houston 17.

Air Force-California, Dec. 31: The Bears have fallen a long way since being ranked No. 2, but still have talent. Cal 28, AFA 24.


E-mail: [email protected]