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Big bowls highlight busy week
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Three weeks into bowl season, and there’s still plenty of football left to play.

The Orange, Sugar and Cotton bowls highlight this week’s slate in college football, while the BCS National Championship game is still a week away.

ACC champs No. 12 Virginia Tech (10-2) will meet No. 5 Stanford (11-1) at 8:30 tonight in the Orange Bowl, a game featuring a pair of dynamic quarterbacks. The Hokies are led by ACC Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor, while Stanford’s Andrew Luck is widely regarded as the best NFL quarterback prospect in this year’s draft-eligible class.

Arkansas (10-2) and Ohio State (11-1) will meet at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Sugar Bowl. It’s the first appearance in a BCS bowl game for the Razorbacks since the format’s inception in 1998. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are BCS veterans.

This will be their sixth consecutive year in a BCS bowl game; they won 26-17 against Oregon in last year’s Rose Bowl to snap a three-game BCS bowl losing streak.

LSU (10-2) will take on Texas A&M (9-3) in the Cotton Bowl at 8 p.m. Friday in the final marquee matchup of the week. The remainder of the slate includes the Bowl (Middle Tennessee State vs. Miami-Ohio, 8 p.m. Thursday); the BBVA Compass Bowl (Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky, noon Saturday); and the Fight Hunger Bowl (Nevada vs. Boston College, 9 p.m. Sunday).

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Subregion play heats up this week for many teams in Region 8-AAA, including a rematch for the West Hall and Gainesville boys.

In the opening round of the Lanierland Tournament before Christmas, Gainesville overcame a 26-point, second-half deficit to stun West Hall. Since then, the Spartans (10-3, No. 9 Class AAA) have become one of the area’s hottest teams, taking three straight wins. Most impressive during the streak was Thursday’s 73-67 win over second-ranked North Hall.

The Spartans round out the week with a short trip to Johnson on Friday and home date with Lanier on Saturday.

The East Hall boys return home this week after a grueling stretch of games last week in the prestigious Upward Classic in Spartanburg, S.C. The Vikings (No. 4 Class AA), who won the Lanierland championship before Christmas, will host Flowery Branch on Tuesday in their final tuneup before beginning Region 8-AA play next week.

HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING: Area duals will be held this weekend around the state, and region realignment could create some interesting matchups.

Flowery Branch, the three-time defending Hall County champions, will be competing in Region 8-AAAA for the first time this season. The Falcons can expect stiff competition, as Loganville won the Class AAAA state duals title last season.

In 8-AAA, Hall County schools and other area contenders including Lumpkin County and White County no longer have to contend with Gilmer, a traditional powerhouse and the defending Class AAA duals champion.

The 8-AAAA duals will be held at Clarke Central High; 8-AAA will be at Oconee County; 6-AA will be at Greater Atlanta Christian; 8-AA will be at Jefferson; and 2-A will be at Wesleyan.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Take heart, Georgia fans. Football season didn’t go so well, but your basketball team is 11-2 heading into SEC play.

The Bulldogs are in the midst of an eight-day break before taking the court Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum against No. 11 Kentucky.

Since suffering back-to-back losses to Notre Dame and No. 25 Temple in late November, the Bulldogs have reeled off eight straight wins. And while Georgia Tech was the only victim of the streak from a power conference, coach Mark Fox and the Bulldogs have to be feeling good about their unbeaten mark at home this season.

Junior forward Trey Thompkins has been especially strong lately. After missing the first three games of the season due to injury, Thompkins is averaging 17.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He has scored 20 or more in two of his last three games.

Georgia Tech opens its ACC schedule on Saturday at Boston College.

The Yellow Jackets (7-6) lost in double overtime to Charlotte 86-83 on Sunday in Atlanta.

Georgia Tech is led by Iman Shumpert, Glen Rice Jr. and Brian Oliver, who are all averaging more than 25 minutes and 10 points per game.

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