Can Brian Kelly lead Notre Dame to BCS glory?
Bowl season is nearly upon us, and, as we still wait for the participants in the bowl games to be set in stone, it's now time for everyone to partake in their favorite past-time of making predictions.
It's not just figuring who will play in what bowl, though. It's also about predicting which teams will surprise during their bowl games.
These bowl games can be as wildly unpredictable as they are predictable. A contradiction that, at it's core, describes why everyone loves to follow everything as it plays out.
So, without further ado, these a few teams who, one way or the other, may shock and surprise during the upcoming bowl season.
Michigan will be the runner-up in the Big Ten conference, but they will only make it to the Capital One bowl because the two better teams (Ohio State and Penn State) were barred from participating.
Their likely SEC opponents would be Texas A&M, and most would consider that a poor match-up for the Wolverines. However, don't be surprised if it doesn't turn out that way.
There's no doubting Texas A&M's potent offense, but it is interesting to note that their best offensive yardage and point totals have come against unranked teams.
Michigan has fought their way into this bowl game, albeit with the help of Ohio State and Penn State's misfortunes, and they will prove that they are still relevant in college football.
Florida is yet another powerhouse SEC team that, if they didn't face such stiff competition in their conference, might be playing in the BCS Championship. It looks as though they will have to settle for the Sugar Bowl instead.
The Oklahoma Sooners will probably be the most likely opponent and that's what spells trouble for Florida. Florida's biggest strength is their defense so there is no reason to doubt that they will continue to play strong, but it's the offense that needs to come up for Florida.
Oklahoma is a strong offensive team, but they are good defensively as well. If Florida can't reward their great defense with offense, then they will lose to Oklahoma.
Oregon is a top team in the nation, but the sheer strength of the other teams means that they won't be challenging for the championship. It's not all bad, though, as the Ducks will probably take on Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Unfortunately, and I'm sticking my neck out here, Oregon might find themselves on the wrong side of an upset. It's an unpopular thing to say, but not out of the question.
Kansas State may have benefited from playing in a weaker conference, but Oregon has some misleading stats.They have one of the best offenses in the nation mainly because they have preyed on teams that weren't ranked. Their stats are significantly different against ranked opponents.
Oregon's average defense will not hold back Kansas State if their offense doesn't dominate.
The easy thing here would be to say that Notre Dame will get embarrassed by Alabama or Georgia in the BCS Championship game. Sure, they had an easy run to the National Championship Game competing with the Independents, but they never get credit for what they did do.
In addition to the other ranked teams they beat, they went to Oklahoma and handily defeated the Sooners. Granted, none of those teams are as strong as Georgia or Alabama, but the Irish still don't get the praise they deserve for those wins.
On the flip side, teams like Alabama and Georgia consistently receive praise when they have padded stats, some times much more than Notre Dame, against bad teams. That's not to take away from how good either team is, but, rather, to comment on a double standard.
At the end of the day, the stats won't matter much as anything can happen, but it definitely won't be the embarrassment most fans think is coming the Irish's way. And that will be a surprise.
stats from cfbstats.com unless noted