With Alabama, Stanford and Wisconsin punching tickets to two of the BCS bowl games, the January bowl scene is much clearer. In a year with so many quality teams, the bowl games should be especially interesting.
Here is a breakdown of the BCS bowl schedule and the projected matchups:
Rose Bowl presented by Vizio
When: Jan. 1, 2013
Where: Pasadena, Calif.
Projected Matchup: Stanford vs. Wisconsin
Almost every year there is at least one team that is technically out of contention for the national championship—yet no team in the country would want to face them in a bowl game.
Stanford is one of those teams this season. They are just plain nasty against the run, allowing just 87.7 yards per game on the ground. Sophomore quarterback Kevin Hogan has asserted himself as the man under center.
He's completed 72.9 percent of his passes and led the team to back-to-back wins over UCLA.
Wisconsin absolutely destroyed Nebraska because at some point over the past week the Cornhuskers forgot how to stop the run. That won't be an issue in the Rose Bowl for Stanford.
This boils down to perhaps the most uninteresting BCS matchup, as the Badgers earned a berth with an 8-5 record. The Cardinal's defense will assert itself early and will control the game on the ground.
The Cardinal will win this game.
Discover Orange Bowl
When: Jan. 1, 2013
Projected Matchup: Florida State vs. Louisville
The Seminoles have to be disappointed that they didn't have a better showing against the Florida Gators, but they have to put that behind them. Teddy Bridgewater makes the Cardinals a formidable opponent and the Noles must guard against underestimating them
That tendency is what got them into trouble earlier this season in their first loss against NC State.
Bridgewater capped off a stellar 2012 with a 263-yard, two-touchdown performance to top Rutgers. The 20-17 win earned them a berth in the Orange Bowl.
That said, they don't have much of a shot to beat a motivated Seminoles team in the state of Florida. The Noles are still one of the best run defenses in the country as long as they aren't lined up opposite the Gators.
Playing an inferior schedule, the Cardinals still allowed just under 24 points per game to the opposition. Wait until they get a load of the Noles.
Florida State will win this game easily.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
When: Jan. 2, 2013
Where: New Orleans
Projected Matchup: Florida vs. Oklahoma
Remember what I said about those teams that no one wants to play in a bowl game?
Well, the Oklahoma Sooners will likely have the misfortune of playing another of those teams. The Gators are an impressive group of athletes and possesses perhaps the most devastating run game in the country.
They ran for 244 yards against the Noles last week—while the Noles were considered the nation's top run defense—and 176 yards against another top-notch run defense in LSU.
They have the one loss to Georgia, and that is the reason they aren't getting set to play for a national championship. The Sooners have looked good in spots, but they have failed both major tests this season (Notre Dame and Kansas State); worst of all, they lost those games at home.
The Sooners will be obliterated by the Gators' run game and Landry Jones will be under pressure much of the game.
The Gators will prevail.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
When: Jan. 3, 2013
Where: Glendale, Ariz.
Projected Matchup: Kansas State vs. Oregon
You could call this the "What Almost Was Bowl" as both teams seemingly had a berth in the BCS title game wrapped up before they both fell in Week 12.
If we can get by all of that, this should be a very high-scoring and entertaining game.
Both offenses are extremely explosive. Oregon is averaging 50 points per game and Kansas State is putting up 40 per contest. However, in terms of balance, I'd give the edge to the Wildcats.
Oregon simply hasn't shown the ability to buckle down on defense. They have to outgun every team they play. The Wildcats are one of a few teams in the nation that can keep pace with them offensively, but also possesses the playmakers on defense to get key stops.
This will be a fun game, but the Wildcats will win a close one.
Discover BCS National Championship Game
When: Jan. 7, 2013
Projected Matchup: Alabama vs. Notre Dame
This is the final test of the Irish's mettle, and even though this isn't exactly the type of Tide juggernaut that won the BCS title last season, the defense is too big and athletic for the Irish to pound the ball against.
They will need a big performance from Everett Golson to win this game, and a measure of his success must come with his arm.
The only teams that have tested or beaten the Tide this season got great performances from their quarterbacks. Johnny Manziel was spectacular against the Tide on Nov. 10 and Zach Mettenberger was nearly as good in a narrow defeat the week before.
The Irish don't have a receiver that is a significant enough presence to put pressure on Bama's secondary like Ryan Swope did for the Aggies. Ultimately, the Tide will break the very strong but weary Irish defense.
The Irish won't be embarrassed, but Alabama will win the national championship.