December 20, 2011

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College Football’s Bowl Games: Part IV

By: Anson Whaley

No matter what side of the aisle you’re on when it comes to the BCS, bowl games are one reason college football is such a great sport. The system matches two teams that may never play otherwise and with 35 games, chances are that your favorite team ended up in one.

Yesterday, we broke down games 19-26. (For yesterdays article, click here.) Here’s a quick look at the remaining 9. Gator Bowl (Ohio State vs. Florida): Here’s yet another Big Ten-SEC game featuring two programs that are used to competing in BCS bowls. Neither team has been particularly impressive and each is only 6-6. But Florida has yet to record an impressive victory as their best win probably came against a 7-5 Vanderbilt team. Give me Ohio State in this game.

Rose Bowl (Wisconsin vs. Oregon): The first of the BCS games is a good one, pairing two very similar teams. Both are 11-2 and feature two of the top rushers in college football in LaMichael James and Montee Ball. The offenses are ranked No. 3 (Oregon) and No. 4 (Wisconsin) in the nation, but Wisconsin has had a much stronger defense. Still, I like Oregon, who’s played a tougher schedule against top teams.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Stanford vs. Oklahoma State): The Fiesta Bowl features two more top five offenses. Instead of running backs, though, these teams are led by two premier quarterbacks – Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden. Oklahoma State could be playing in the national championship if not for a late-season slip up to unranked Iowa State in two overtimes. One thing I like about the Cowboys is how they’ve fared against other top quarterbacks. They forced Heisman winner Robert Griffin III into a bad two-interception game and did the same against Oklahoma’s Landry Jones. For that reason, I’ll take Oklahoma State who might be able to get Luck to make some mistakes.

AllState Sugar Bowl (Michigan vs. Virginia Tech): The Hokies could have had an undefeated season had they not faced Clemson who handed them both of their losses. I’m pretty high on Virginia Tech in this one and the difference could be running back David Wilson, who has more than 1,600 yards on the season. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is a huge talent, obviously, but he’s capable of some poor play as we’ve seen with his 14 interceptions on the season. The Hokies’ defense? No. 8 in the country. The Wolverines also have a top ten defense and even though they’ve scored more points this season, I’m taking Virginia Tech.

Going to their first BCS Bowl since 2007, Michigan fans would love a Sugar Bowl win to end a great season.

Discover Orange Bowl (West Virginia vs. Clemson): The Mountaineers have been a bit more lackluster than their record really indicates. They won nine games, but did so in a weak Big East and came out victorious in their final three games by a total of only seven points. Clemson struggled a bit after their 8-0 start, dropping three of their final five games, but I think they’re the better team. Look for the Tigers to win this one.

AT&T Cotton Bowl (Kansas State vs. Arkansas): The Razorbacks are the perfect example of what playing in a tough conference can mean. Their two losses were to LSU and Alabama – the two teams meeting in the National Championship. This is a strong Arkansas team led by quarterback Tyler Wilson who doesn’t make many mistakes as he’s had only six interceptions all season. The Razorbacks should win this one against the surprising Wildcats.

BBVA Compass Bowl (SMU vs. Pittsburgh): My alma mater, Pitt, has been extremely unimpressive this season. But they remain one of the best 6-6 teams out there, losing four games by only 13 points with some second-half collapses. The team has only been overmatched once this season, while SMU has suffered four blowout losses. The Panthers are also dealing with an unexpected coaching change but still have enough talent in this game to win. Bowl (Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois): The winner of the MAC vs. the winner of the Sun Belt? I got nothin’. Give me Northern Illinois.

AllState BCS Championship Game (Alabama vs. LSU): This is the game everyone’s waiting for … well, at least everyone in Alabama and Louisiana. You know what wins championships? Defense. This game features the FBS’ top two defenses and some pretty good offenses as well. Both teams have played killer schedules and the game against the two in the regular season was close. But I remain amazed at LSU’s dominance this year, destroying some pretty good Oregon, Arkansas, and Georgia teams along the way. There’s no way I can pick against them and that’s why I think they’ll win it all.

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