BCS Rankings: Ranking the 5 BCS Bowl Matchups
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The 2012 regular season is in the books and the final BCS Standings were released on Sunday night, which means all of the bowl committees have extended their invitations to the teams they deemed worthy of receiving one.
The Northern Illinois Huskies are this year's BCS buster, the unranked Wisconsin Badgers stole a Rose Bowl berth away from the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and the Alabama Crimson Tide and Notre Dame Fighting Irish should give us a defensive slugfest for the ages in the national title game.
Oh, and did I forget to mention that the Oregon Ducks and Kansas State Wildcats will have a chance to duke it out in the desert?
This year's BCS bowl lineup should provide plenty of entertainment for college football fans across the country, but where do all of these games stack up in relation to one another? Click ahead to find out!
5. Discover Orange Bowl
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Who: No. 12 Florida State Seminoles (11-2, 7-1 ACC) vs. No. 15 Northern Illinois Huskies (12-1, 8-0 MAC)
When: Tuesday, January 1, 2013, 8:30 p.m. (EST)
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida
This is a matchup no one wanted to see, unless you're a fan of the Florida State Seminoles or Northern Illinois Huskies, because the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl is going to look a lot like the 2008 Sugar Bowl.
In case you forgot what happened, the undefeated Hawaii Warriors were demolished by the Georgia Bulldogs 41-10 and didn't even make Mark Richt's squad break a sweat at the Superdome.
Not even the Orange Bowl committee members really want to have Northern Illinois crash its BCS party, but as a result of how pathetic the Big East Conference has been this season, and the fact that an unranked team won the Big Ten Conference, the Huskies were able to earn an at-large berth by finishing in the top 16 of the final BCS rankings.
Northern Illinois won 12 straight games to close out the 2012 season, including its second consecutive MAC championship game, and have one of the best offenses in the country led by junior dual-threat quarterback Jordan Lynch, who has accounted for 4,733 total yards and 43 touchdowns for the Huskies.
Meanwhile, the ACC champions boast the nation's No. 2-ranked total defense, along with the No. 7 scoring defense, and have more than enough talent along the defensive line to completely dominate the line of scrimmage against the Huskies.
The Seminoles should not have any problems scoring plenty of points in a hurry against the Northern Illinois defense, which has given up 23 or more points in seven games, including 40 points in a narrow victory over the lowly Army Black Knights in Week 3.
Florida State is playing in its ninth Orange Bowl and its first since the Seminoles were defeated by the Penn State Nittany Lions in 2006. The Seminoles are 3-5 in their previous Orange Bowl appearances.
Conversely, the Huskies are the first team from the MAC to earn an at-large berth and are going to be the first non-undefeated mid-major team to play in a BCS bowl game.
This is by far the worst of the five BCS bowl games we will have the opportunity to watch in January, and the ACC could not have asked for a better opportunity to redeem themselves from the embarrassing loss the Clemson Tigers suffered in last year's Orange Bowl.
Prediction: Florida State by 21
4. Allstate Sugar Bowl
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Who: No. 3 Florida Gators (11-1, 7-1 SEC) vs. No. 21 Louisville Cardinals (10-2, 5-2 Big East)
When: Wednesday, January 2, 2013, 8:30 p.m. (EST)
Where: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Much like the Discover Orange Bowl, the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl is set up to be one of the more lopsided bowl games we see this season.
The Florida Gators have one of the nation's most dominant defensive teams in college football this season, have beaten four nationally ranked opponents and should have no problem dispatching the Louisville Cardinals, who won the Big East Conference to earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl.
If you think the Syracuse Orange handed it to the Cardinals in a 45-26 upset at the Carrier Dome in Week 11, wait until you see the beating the Gators are going to dole out at the Superdome.
Louisville head coach Charlie Strong, who was the co-defensive coordinator for the Gators from 2002-09, has done a great job of restoring the Cardinals to the level that Bobby Petrino had them at before he skipped town to coach the Atlanta Falcons—but the nation is about to witness how much of a disparity there is between the talent level in the SEC and the Big East.
The Cardinals will be led by 3,000-yard passer Teddy Bridgewater and the talented running back tandem of Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry.
Florida will use its defense to flip the field on opponents in a hurry and should be more than up to the task of shutting down Bridgewater and Co.
The Gators have surrounded sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel with enough talent to allow him to simply manage the game, while senior running back Mike Gillislee breaks off the big plays for Florida's offense, which averages nearly 200 yards per game on the ground.
The Orange and Blue are playing in their first BCS bowl since the 2010 Sugar Bowl. Florida easily handled the Cincinnati Bearcats 51-24 in the lopsided affair.
Additionally, the Gators are 5-1 all-time in BCS games, and all of their victories in those contests were by double digits.
This year's Sugar Bowl will be Louisville's second appearance in a BCS game. The Cardinals defeated the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the 2007 Orange Bowl in their only previous berth.
Prediction: Florida by 10
3. Rose Bowl
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Who: No. 10 Stanford Cardinal (11-2, 8-1) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (8-5, 4-4 Big Ten)
When: Tuesday, January 1, 2013, 5 p.m. (EST)
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
There were not too many college football fans who expected to see the Wisconsin Badgers absolutely obliterate the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday to set up a showdown with the Pac-12 Conference champion Stanford Cardinal in the Rose Bowl, but nevertheless this will be one of the better BCS bowl games to watch.
Both teams are playing their best football at the right time, and neither has lost a game by more than seven points this season, so this one is going to come down to the wire regardless of what people think about the Badgers earning an automatic berth with an 8-5 record.
The two have also combined to play in six overtime games this year.
In its most recent contest, Wisconsin put Nebraska away by halftime and managed to rack up 539 rushing yards in its 70-31 rout at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Senior running back Montee Ball, who is the all-time touchdown leader in Football Bowl Subdivision history, freshman Melvin Gordon and junior James White will be a tough test for the Cardinal's rushing defense, which is ranked No. 3 in the country.
Despite only surrendering 87.69 yards per game on the ground, the UCLA Bruins rushed for 284 yards in their 27-24 loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 title game on Friday, which means the Badgers' talented trio should be able to move the chains consistently against the Cardinal on New Year's Day.
Thankfully, Stanford's offense should be up to the task of going blow for blow with the Badgers in Pasadena.
The Cardinal have been a much more explosive team since Kevin Hogan took over as the starting quarterback in place of a struggling Josh Nunes. Hogan has thrown for 964 yards and accounted for 10 total touchdowns in Stanford's last five games.
The Badgers are making their third straight Rose Bowl appearance, while the Cardinal are playing in the nation's oldest bowl game for the first time since they were defeated by Wisconsin, 17-9, in 2000.
Neither team has been particularly impressive in their previous Rose Bowl showings. Stanford has a 5-6-1 overall record, and Wisconsin is 3-5 all-time in "The Granddaddy of Them All."
Additionally, it remains to be seen if Badgers head coach Bret Bielema will coach in the Rose Bowl after accepting the head coaching vacancy at Arkansas Tuesday.
Prediction: Stanford by 7
2. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
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Who: No. 5 Kansas State Wildcats (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) vs. No. 4 Oregon Ducks (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12)
When: Thursday, January 3, 2013, 8:30 p.m. (EST)
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
At one point in the 2012 campaign, this game looked like it might be played in Miami with a national title at stake, but the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl will still provide a national stage for the speedy No. 4 Oregon Ducks to take on the hard-nosed No. 5 Kansas State Wildcats in what will be one of the most exciting and evenly matched bowl games this season.
The Ducks and Wildcats are essentially the same kind of team on paper. Both teams have top-10 scoring offenses, have forced over 30 turnovers and take care of the football better than anyone else in the country.
People might be able to say Oregon's offense, led by junior running back Kenjon Barner and freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota, is better than Kansas State's dynamic duo of Collin Klein and Johnathan Hubert, but the Wildcats have held off plenty of teams with high-powered offenses this year.
Kansas State held the Oklahoma Sooners to 19 points, former Heisman front-runner Geno Smith and the West Virginia Mountaineers only managed to score 14 points, and the Texas Tech Red Raiders could only put up 24 points against the Wildcats.
Klein and the Big 12 Conference champions will have their hands full, though, as the Ducks' only loss was a 17-14 overtime defeat at the hands of the Stanford Cardinal, who went on to win the Pac-12 title.
Plus, if the Baylor Bears could find a way to rack up 52 points and 342 rushing yards against the Wildcats, you know Chip Kelly and Oregon will be able to turn in a monster game on the offensive side of the ball.
Expect this one to be a high-scoring affair that goes back and forth until the very end, but Oregon will be too much for the Wildcats to handle in the desert.
Prediction: Oregon by 4
1. Discover BCS National Championship
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Who: No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1, 7-1 SEC) vs. No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-0)
When: Monday, January 7, 2013, 8:30 p.m. (EST)
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida
There is no way any one of the other four BCS bowl games could top the national championship this season.
Nobody in the country aside from South Bend, Indiana residents believed the No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish could run the table, and everyone thought the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide were the best team in college football up until Johnny Manziel stormed into Tuscaloosa and led the Texas A&M Aggies to an upset victory in Week 11.
Notre Dame started off as a team with an inconsistent offense and an elite defense headlined my senior linebacker Manti Te'o, but now the Fighting Irish have enough firepower with running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood to go along with a much improved redshirt freshman quarterback, Everett Golson, to play with anybody in the country.
The Crimson Tide are the defending national champions and attempting to win their third BCS title in the last four years.
Alabama will look to establish the run with 1,000-yard backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon early in the game in order to set up the play-action passing game for veteran quarterback AJ McCarron.
The Fighting Irish are 0-3 in their previous BCS bowl game appearances, while the Crimson Tide are 2-2 in their four previous berths.
Points will be at a premium in this game as the Fighting Irish attempt to win their first national championship since 1988, and both offenses are going to take a backseat to the speed and brute force these defenses will playing with in the Discover BCS National Championship Game.
This one is going to be a defensive slugfest that comes down to the final possession of the game, and the Crimson Tide will get one more clutch fourth-quarter drive from McCarron and Co. to take home yet another crystal football to put on display.
Prediction: Alabama by 3