‘Twas the weekend before Christmas and car flags everywhere began to take flight. Thirty-five college bowl games, oh what a sight!
In our preseason “most anticipated games” series, most of the games on the agenda provided great excitement. So as we pat ourselves on the back, we move on to examine the post-season.
Scheme, pro-prospects and tradition rich match-ups litter the bowl schedule. Let’s clean-up some of the mess and countdown the top 5 bowl game match-ups this season. Two house-keeping notes, if you will: the BCS Championship game will not be on the list due to it’s obvious placement at number one. Also, remember these are games we see as the best match-ups that will result in the best games. These games are not necessarily the ones with the highest ranked teams.
Fight Hunger Bowl — San Francisco, CA
Washington Huskies vs. BYU Cougars
Friday, Dec. 27, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
We mentioned professional prospects, and this game has two big ones that will square off. The Cougars’ Kyle Van Noy will have the opportunity to help his draft stock against the Huskies’ Bishop Sankey. Both teams rank in the top fourteen in the nation in rushing which should translate to some points. If the same BYU scheme shows up in California that showed up against Texas, Taysom Hill could have a field day. Look for a lot of big plays on the ground and a barn-burner in San Francisco.
Valero Alamo Bowl — San Antonio, TX
Oregon Ducks vs. Texas Longhorns
Monday, Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
Remember Mack Brown! Oregon is the better team, but Texas will come to play for their coach. All eyes will be on Mack Brown’s last game at the helm for the Longhorns and I believe his players will play with maximum effort and emotion which could be enough to keep Oregon on its toes. The high-powered offense of Oregon should be the story, but Jackson Jeffcoat and the speedy Texas defense should be able to at least limit the offense. This one will be lower scoring than you think. If there are football gods, Texas has to win, right?
Cotton Bowl — Arlington, TX
Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Missouri Tigers
Friday, Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX
If you like points, don’t miss this one. The Cowboys and Tigers’ offense ranks fifteenth and sixteenth in the nation in points scored, respectively. Mike Gundy’s defense will be the key here. It allowed just twenty points a game in the offense-happy Big 12, but this Missouri attack is a different animal. The Tigers visit their old conference in a post-season tilt for the ages where the over/under should be in the nineties.
Orange Bowl — Miami, FL
Clemson Tigers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Friday, Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
In their last two games, the Ohio State Buckeyes have surrender over 1,000 yards of total offense. The Clemson offense is a lot better than any Ohio State has played all year, and the Ohio State offense is right behind Florida State on the list that Clemson has played against this year. Both defenses were tested, and when tested gave up big numbers. With Braxton Miller and Tajh Boyd both very good runners, one defense will need to figure out how to stop a running quarterback to get an edge. Whoever has the ball last should win this shootout.
The Rose Bowl — Pasadena, CA
Stanford Cardinal vs. Michigan State Spartans
Wednesday, Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN
To round out your bowl season, Stanford and Michigan State should be the equivalent of a heavyweight title fight. If you like old-school, battle in the trenches football, this is the game for you. The Spartans boast the 4th ranked defense in the nation, where as Stanford brings the 10th ranked unit from Palo Alto. You’ll never see more I-formations in a bowl game ever again. This is your grandfather’s Rose Bowl.
Capital One Bowl — Orlando, FL
South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Wednesday, Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET, ABC
Russell Athletic Bowl — Orlando, FL
Miami Hurricanes vs. Louisville Cardinals
Saturday, Dec. 28, 6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
Poinsettia Bowl — San Diego, CA
Utah State Aggies vs. NIU Huskies
Thursday, Dec. 26, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN