The BCS bowl game matchups are set, and I already know who is going to win.
I'd like to say I'm a genius, but it's all pretty clear. There actually are not a lot of compelling matchup angles in what are supposed to be the centerpiece games of the college football bowl season.
So check out the matchups and my predictions, and then go ahead and yell at me about where I'm wrong.
Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Northern Illinois
Northern Illinois is the darling of these BCS bowls. They are the first MAC team to ever play in a BCS bowl game, and earned this trip after a thrilling 44-37 overtime win over Kent State this past Saturday to finish the season with an impressive 12-1 record.
I fear this high-scoring Cinderella is in over its head, though. Northern Illinois hasn't played a defense this season anywhere near the quality it will face against Florida State.
The Seminoles are seventh in the nation in points allowed. They will key on stopping Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch, and they have the athletes to limit his rushing, which will make the Huskies one dimensional. Lynch had more than 1,300 more rushing yards than the next closest Husky.
Meanwhile, Florida State's offense has been producing all year, and it will have little trouble against a defense that just allowed 37 to Kent State.
Prediction: Florida State 37, Northern Illinois 24
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Stanford
Wisconsin rolls to the Rose Bowl having scored an impressive 70 points on Nebraska to win the Big Ten Championship Game, but that came after an entirely uninspiring 7-5 regular season in which the Badgers went 4-4 in a less than stellar Big Ten.
Meanwhile, Stanford is playing as well as any team in the country. The Cardinal haven't lost since getting hosed on a 4th-and-goal call in South Bend against Notre Dame on Oct. 13, and their last four wins have all come against ranked teams, which includes the ultra-impressive win in Eugene against Oregon.
The Cardinal are are a smart, disciplined and physical team. They will dominate this game from start to finish.
Prediction: Stanford 31, Wisconsin 17
Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Louisville
Louisville won its first nine games of the year, before dropping two in a row in lackluster fashion to Syracuse and Connecticut.
The Cardinals rebounded nicely to take the conference with a win against Rutgers, 20-17. However, this team does not do anything exceptionally well.
The Cardinals are 24th in passing yards, but Florida plays excellent pass defense, and the Gators have allowed just 5.4 yards per pass attempt and only five touchdown passes this season.
Florida will stymie the Cardinals offense and make life easy for its offense, which will pave the way to an easy, low-scoring win.
Prediction: Florida 20, Louisville 6
Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State vs. Oregon
Just a few weeks ago, this matchup appeared to be destined for the championship game. Then a couple of upset losses relegated it to the Fiesta Bowl.
It should be a fun game. Both of these teams can put up points in a hurry. Oregon is second in the nation in points scored and Kansas State is 10th.
However, I look at the 52 points Baylor hung on this Wildcats' defense and shudder at the thought of what this dynamic Ducks attack can do.
Oregon will use its speed, hit for big plays and wear the Wildcats out. The Ducks will run away with this one in the second half.
Prediction: Oregon 55, Kansas State 37
National Championship: Notre Dame vs. Alabama
As they say, defense wins championships. It also apparently gets teams to the championship game. Notre Dame is No. 1 in scoring defense and Alabama is No. 2.
With that said, this game will probably end up being 52-49 or some ridiculous high score no one could ever see coming.
However, let's assume that logic holds true here and defense rules the day. I actually give the nod to Notre Dame. While Alabama has played a far more difficult schedule, the Irish's defense looked good holding USC to 13 points in the Irish's last game, and holding Stanford to just 13 earlier in the season.
Manti Te'o has shown an uncanny knack for coming with big plays at big times, and he has really been the face of this college football season. I expect him to cement that status by coming up with the defining play of this game.
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