Some people love the time with family, others love the time away from work, maybe the food is your cup of tea, and possibly you’re just in it for all the celebratory toasts and holiday cheer. Me? My favorite part of the holidays may very well be Bowl season. As we come to the end of the BCS era let’s celebrate the achievements of these student athletes and revel in the veritable smorgasbord of big time college football. Let’s start by looking at the prior day’s results.
The Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Michigan State
In the most traditional of all the games, “The Grandaddy of Them All” (this isn’t the article for you if you didn’t read that in Brent Musburger’s voice) we saw two of the most traditionally built teams left playing. In an era where a lot of teams feature zone-reads and spread based attacks the two teams pitted here couldn’t have been more old school. The Stanford Cardinal team was here just a year ago and also played in the inaugural Rose Bowl against Michigan while Michigan State hadn’t stomped these hallowed grounds in more than two decades. The Cardinal came into the game with the 23rd best rushing offense in the country averaging over 200 yards on the ground Michigan state boasted one of the top defenses in the country, something had to give… and give it did, with MSU holding Stanford to 300 total yards (half of which coming in the opening quarter) and in hallmark fashion stuffed the Stanford Fullback to solidify their win in as physical a game as you’re likely to see this BCS season.
Score: MSU 24, Stanford 20
Fiesta Bowl: University of Central Florida vs. Baylor
Whereas all of the other games feature traditional powerhouses, football factories, and household names, this matchup pitted UCF (translation: Not Florida, Florida State, or Miami) against Baylor (read: Not Texas, Texas Tech, or Texas A&M). Though right now these guys may not be household names but after what was a wildly entertaining game featuring two up and coming programs there may be a few stars born and a few draft boards shaken up. A shootout which saw nation’s top scoring offense outscored by a balanced attack featuring one of the cooler names in sports right now, UCF running back Storm Johnson. By the time these two teams finished and the dust had settled the scoreboard may as well have read “TILT” as these two teams traded scores in a battle between two upstarts. In the end though the stunning UCF Knights just made too many plays while managing to avoid the penalties that plagued the Bears with Blake Bortles tossing 3 touchdowns for 301 yards and his partner, the aforementioned Johnson rushing for another 3 touchdowns to go along with 124 yards rushing.
Score: UCF 52 Baylor 42
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With those games in the books the remaining games on the slate will have a tough act to follow but with some of the star power assembled, I wouldn’t think we should be disappointed.
Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Alabama
This is the polar opposite of the upstart vs team on the rise matchup of the Fiesta Bowl. This is College Football royalty versus one of the most dominant teams of the modern era. This game is going to be a NFL scout’s dream with lots of Sunday ready talent on both teams. Interesting to see is how the teams are able to put their focus on this game after Oklahoma has been on a season long QB carousel and Nick Saban’s short-lived “will he, won’t he” flirtation with Texas.
What I’d like to see happen:
A competitive game. While one would think that with such brand recognition this is destined to be a classic, I’m worried about which Bama team shows up. Will this be a team still shell shocked after being on the wrong end of one of the most iconic plays in college history? Will the players on the roster have tuned out a coach that they thought was leaving them? My guess is that we see the CRIMSON TIDE. The most unstoppable, probably could beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, supermodel-girlfriend-having team this side of the Mississippi. Aj McCarron adds to his ridiculous Win/loss record and goes out on top with another surgically efficient performance. This is a team that will show up pretty angry, and woe be unto Oklahoma when they do.
Ideal score: Alabama 35 Oklahoma 20
Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. Clemson
Much has been made about how the season ended up for both of these teams, Ohio State losing to Michigan State with a trip to the title game on the line, and Clemson unable to beat title hopeful Florida State and The Ol’ Ball Coach’s South Carolina team. While each team had higher aspirations at times during the season each program should be happy to be back on a national stage after Clemson went through a streak of being highly touted and talented only to disappoint and the Buckeyes only one year removed from a post season ban. These teams feature two of the premier dual threat Quarterbacks in the country in Braxton Miller and Tajh Boyd under center, each with a bevy of skill players flanking them.
What I’d like to see:
I’m a Buckeye so I make no bones about it, more than anything I would just love an Ohio State win. What I plan on seeing may be anything but as the high flying Sammy Watkins takes on what by all accounts is an average at best Ohio State secondary. This is not a good matchup for Ohio State and their best bet is to play to their strength, the best QB/RB rushing tandem in the country to try to chew up clock and keep the Tigers off the field. Two top ten offenses collide with two so-so defenses so of course, nothing has to give.
Ideal score: Ohio State 45 Clemson 42
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BCS Title Game: Auburn vs. Florida State
Auburn needed a miraculous finish against the Crimson Tide to make it to the title game after a squeaking through rugged SEC schedule, Florida State never had an opponent finish closer than 14 points away in the ACC. The Seminoles are the nation’s top scoring defense and the second highest scoring unit in the land. Auburn is the best rushing team in the country and a top ten offense in its own right. The major difference between these two teams? Conference superiority. No one will question that the SEC still remains the top conference in the country and that the ACC is still more about hoops than the grid iron. So why is anyone giving FSU a chance? Two words: Jameis Winston. The electrifying freshman phenom did everything but play defense and special teams for the Seminoles this year and made it look easy.
What I’d like to see:
S-E-C, S-E-C, call me a bitter Ohio State fan, hurting over back to back title game losses, say I’m rooting against sustained excellence, say what you will but I just have no desire to see the SEC continue its stranglehold on the crystal football. Is Auburn probably far and away the most athletic defense that Winston will face all season? Easily. Is this the biggest stage FSU has been on since the early Bowden Era? Absolutely? Can their mercurial freshman continue to simply not know any better and ravage a team that has already seen the best the SEC has to offer including the similarly mobile Johnny Football (you know a college football post had to include him)? I’m willing to bet so.
Ideal score: Florida State 28 Clemson 24
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