Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio
No. 5 Oregon vs. No. 10 Wisconsin, Mon. Jan. 2, 5 p.m. ET
The granddaddy of them all should be another great one. I actually think these are two of the nation’s very, very best teams. Remember my theory above about Georgia Tech? Same goes for Oregon. IF it weren’t for the first game of the season and the bowl games, Oregon would be pretty unstoppable these past few years. I truly believe that Oregon was a lot better than Ohio State in 2009, when the Buckeyes beat the Ducks in the Rose Bowl, and that Oregon was better than Auburn last year when the Tigers beat the Ducks in the BCS National Championship Game. But with time to prepare, Oregon can be stopped. Wisconsin on the other hand has one of the most balanced attacks in the nation with star running back Montee Ball and quarterback Russell Wilson. And remember—Wisconsin is a couple hail marys away from being in the title game. It should be a fun, high-scoring game.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 4 Stanford, Mon. Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET
I suppose this is the de facto third-place game. I also think it might be the single most entertaining bowl game this year. As a Stanford fan, I’m being candid in saying that I don’t like the match up for the Cardinal. I think Stanford, with it’s physical style of play, matches up far better with LSU or Alabama than a team with the speed and athleticism of Oklahoma State—remember when Oregon played Stanford. That said, both teams have electric offenses and Stanford’s defense is markedly better than Oklahoma State’s—so long as Andrew Luck and co. don’t turn the ball over. The Cowboys have feasted on turnovers this season, but with Luck at the helm playing his last collegiate game, I expect the Cardinal to hold onto the ball—so long as the wide receivers don’t decide to drop the ball into opponents hands (which happened on more than half of Luck’s interceptions this season, but Heisman voters apparently were too ignorant to figure that out). This very well could turn into a game of, whoever has the ball last, wins.
Pick: Stanford (duh)
Allstate Sugar Bowl
No. 13 Michigan vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech, Tues. Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. ET
If you want to make an argument about the BCS being an unfair system, this game is a pretty darn good example of why. Both participants were at-large selections, despite there being multiple higher-ranked teams. It is a glaring example of the fact that college football is not about the games and the teams, but is about the money. Virginia Tech got walloped in its last game, the ACC Championship Game, and hasn’t beaten anyone of consequence all season—but BCS it is! Michigan makes a bit more sense as an at-large choice because at least the Wolverines have been playing well of late. I expect Denard Robinson to give the Hokie defense fits.
Discover Orange Bowl
No. 23 West Virginia vs. No. 15 Clemson, Wed. Jan 4, 8:30 p.m. ET
So long as the ACC and Big East continue to get automatic bids to BCS games, the Orange Bowl will likely continue to be an underwhelming game every year. The ACC champ gets an automatic bid to the Orange Bowl and the ACC is 2-11 in BCS games (yet the brilliant BCS people thought it was smart to give us TWO ACC teams this year!). Despite the conference’s ineptitude, Clemson is the clear favorite here. West Virginia does not belong in a BCS game, and is only there because the idiotic system rewards the Big East for its low level of play. Earlier in the season Clemson looked like a title contender, before inevitably slipping up. Still, the Tigers, behind Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins have a prolific offense and I expect them to roll the Mountaineers.
AT&T Cotton Bowl
No. 6 Arkansas vs. No. 8 Kansas State, Fri. Jan 6, 8 p.m. ET
This is a matchup of two teams that flew under the radar most of the season but were among the nation’s best. It is fitting that two of the teams that most deserved BCS bids are playing each other in what is probably the best non-BCS matchup. Bill Snyder has pulled another miracle at K-State, making chicken salad out of the proverbial chicken… yeah, you get it. But the Wildcats don’t have the talent of many of their competitors, but still manage to find ways to win. Arkansas, on the other hand has two losses this season—to the two teams playing for the BCS National Championship Game. In other games the Razorbacks are 10-0.
BBVA Compass Bowl
SMU vs. Pittsburgh, Sat. Jan. 7, 1 p.m. ET
This is one of those “why do you exist” bowls. It is there to tease you in the lead up to the National Championship Game. Pittsburgh just lost it’s coach, Todd Graham, in a most unceremonious way last week, so it will be interesting if the team responds poorly or well to it. SMU has lost four of six coming into this make believe bowl game.
Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois, Sun. Jan. 8, 9 p.m. ET
This is another bowl game that probably shouldn’t exist. I’m sure the bowl founders envisioned GoDaddy.com when they thought up the idea of postseason bowl games. This game actually pits two really good teams that people don’t seem to know much about against one another. Arkansas State went 10-2 this season and undefeated in the Sun Belt Conference. Their coach just left the program, and Gus Malzahn is taking over, but not for the bowl game. Northern Illinois was the champion of the MAC, is riding an eight-game winning streak and averaged 38.3 points per game this season, good for 13th in the nation.
Pick: Arkansas State
Allstate BCS National Championship Game
No. 1 LSU vs. No. 2 Alabama, Mon. Jan. 9, 8:30 p.m. ET
This is for all the marbles. Unless Alabama wins, in which we don’t really know who the best team in the country is cause LSU and Alabama will be 1-1 against each other this season. I’m not a fan of the rematch, even if these are the two best teams in the country. Alabama had it’s shot at home, and if the regular season is supposed to be a playoff, well ‘Bama was eliminated. Both defenses are outstanding—but the difference is on offense, where LSU has better quarterback and wide receiver play, and special teams. LSU won in Tuscaloosa, I don’t see why they won’t win in New Orleans.