Bowl season is never without controversy. Everyone expected Notre Dame and Alabama to face off in the BCS National Championship. But Northern Illinois in a BCS bowl game—that must be a joke.
A few matchups are going to be incredibly hyped as they approach. The national championship game is obvious, but it's not the only one rabid college football fans will be drooling over.
But don't get too excited. Disappointment will set in when a handful of games don't look as good on the field as they did on paper. Despite the hype, these games will fall flat.
Let's take a look.
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Stanford
Wisconsin beat Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship, but this is still the team that dropped three of its final four games. Stanford, on the other hand, closed the year with two wins over UCLA, a win over Oregon State and a shocking victory over Oregon.
This game isn't going to be as close as people hope. Wisconsin's one-dimensional offense will be shut down by a vicious, blue-collar Stanford defense, leaving the Badgers with nowhere to turn.
The Cardinal have been very good this season. Even their losses to Notre Dame and Washington were nail-biters. Wisconsin has been OK, but mostly inconsistent.
Most of the time, Montee Ball gives the Badgers an advantage on the ground, but not this time around. Stepfan Taylor has nearly 1,500 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, and he has a better passing attack to support him.
The Rose Bowl has a ton of tradition that goes with it, so it's always going to be anticipated, but these two blue-collar teams don't match up well. The Cardinal are battle-tested and ready to pound the Badgers here.
Cotton Bowl: No. 9 Texas A&M vs. No. 11 Oklahoma
Oklahoma closed the season on a five-game win streak, but the Sooners haven't seen anyone like Johnny Manziel this season.
However, Manziel has seen plenty of teams that are, at least, as good as the Sooners.
Heading into Cowboys Stadium would be difficult for most teams, but do you think Manziel cares after walking into Tuscaloosa and upending the Crimson Tide? I really doubt it.
Oklahoma is used to going bowling, but it's also used to coming up short. Landry Jones is a talented signal-caller, but he's not a trusted big-game performer. He has a few years on Manziel in terms of experience, but Johnny Football has more moxie.
This game should be high-scoring, but Oklahoma will fade in the second half. The Aggies defense is extremely underrated, and everyone will know Damontre Moore's name by the time this one is over.
Maybe I'm overhyping Manziel, but how couldn't you at this point? He's the most exciting player in college football, and he will earn a win here.
Orange Bowl: No. 15 Northern Illinois vs. No. 12 Florida State
This game is being hyped—even if it's for all the wrong reasons. Everyone wants to see if the Huskies have the chops to compete with the big boys.
Despite winning the MAC Championship over Kent State, Northern Illinois isn't getting a whole lot of respect in BCS circles, and that's understandable.
When you realize how many quality teams are on the outside looking in right now, it's tough to picture the Huskies facing Florida State here. I know I'd rather see Georgia, Oklahoma or any other top-ranked SEC school, but that's just me.
Don't expect this one to be close. Yes, we've seen teams like Boise State and Utah walk into BCS bowls and shock the world, but that's not going to happen this time around.
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't watch. Any time that Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch is on the field, it's must-see television, but Lynch will struggle more than usual here. He has 4,000-plus total yards and 43 total touchdowns this year, but he hasn't seen a defense like this yet.
The only thing that ever gets in Florida State's way is itself. Northern Illinois' only hope is to steal momentum early. Otherwise, it'll be swallowed up.
I expect the latter to happen and the team's detractors to be vindicated with a blowout loss.
Note: All times are ET and p.m. unless noted otherwise. All games (except for the Sun Bowl and Cotton Bowl) can be streamed live at WatchESPN.
|Bowl||Team 1||Team 2||Stadium: Location||Date: Time||TV|
|New Mexico||Nevada||Arizona||University Stadium: Albuquerque, NM||12/15: 1:00||ESPN|
|Famous Idaho Potato||Toledo||Utah State||Bronco Stadium: Boise, ID||12/15: 4:30||ESPN|
|Poinsettia||BYU||San Diego State||Qualcomm Stadium: San Diego, CA||12/20: 8:00||ESPN|
|Beef 'O' Brady's||Ball State ||UCF||Tropicana Field: St. Petersburg, FL||12/21: 7:30||ESPN|
|New Orleans||East Carolina||Louisiana-Lafayette||Superdome: New Orleans, LA||12/22: Noon||ESPN|
|Las Vegas||Boise State||Washington||Sam Boyd Stadium: Las Vegas, NV||12/22: 3:30||ESPN|
|Hawaii||SMU||Fresno State||Aloha Stadium: Honolulu, HI||12/24: 8:00||ESPN|
|Little Caesars||Central Michigan ||Western Kentucky ||Ford Field: Detroit, MI||12/26: 7:30||ESPN|
|Military||Bowling Green ||San Jose State||RFK Stadium: Washington, DC||12/27: 3:00||ESPN|
|Belk||Duke||Cincinnati ||Bank of America Stadium: Charlotte, NC||12/27: 6:30||ESPN|
|Holiday||Baylor||UCLA||Qualcomm Stadium: San Diego, CA||12/27: 9:45||ESPN|
|Independence||Louisiana-Monroe||Ohio||Independence Stadium: Shreveport, LA||12/28: 2:00||ESPN|
|Russell Athletic||Virginia Tech||Rutgers ||Florida Citrus Bowl: Orlando, FL||12/28: 5:30||ESPN|
|Meineke Car Care||Minnesota ||Texas Tech ||Reliant Stadium: Houston, TX||12/28: 9:00||ESPN|
|Armed Forces||Rice||Air Force||Amon G. Carter Stadium: Fort Worth, TX||12/29: 11:45 a.m.||ESPN|
|Pinstripe||Syracuse ||West Virginia ||Yankee Stadium: Bronx, NY||12/29: 3:15||ESPN|
|Kraft||Navy||Arizona State||AT&T Park: San Francisco, CA||12/29: 4:00||ESPN2|
|Alamo||Texas ||Oregon State||Alamodome: San Antonio, TX||12/29: 6:45||ESPN|
|Buffalo Wild Wings||TCU ||Michigan State ||Sun Devil Stadium: Tempe, AZ||12/29: 10:15||ESPN|
|Music City||N.C. State ||Vanderbilt||LP Field: Nashville, TN||12/31: Noon||ESPN|
|Sun||Georgia Tech||USC||Sun Bowl: El Paso, TX||12/31: 2:00||CBS|
|Liberty||Tulsa||Iowa State||Liberty Bowl: Memphis, TN||12/31: 3:30||ESPN|
|Chick-fil-A||Clemson||LSU||Georgia Dome: Atlanta, GA||12/31: 7:30||ESPN|
|Gator||Northwestern ||Mississippi State||Everbank Field: Jacksonville, FL||1/1: Noon||ESPN2|
|Heart of Dallas||Purdue ||Oklahoma State ||Cotton Bowl: Dallas, TX||1/1: Noon||ESPNU|
|Outback||Michigan ||South Carolina||Raymond James Stadium: Tampa, FL||1/1: 1:00||ESPN|
|Nebraska ||Georgia||Florida Citrus Bowl: Orlando, FL||1/1: 1:00||ABC|
|Rose||Stanford||Wisconsin||Rose Bowl: Pasadena, CA||1/1: 5:00||ESPN|
|Orange||Northern Illinois ||Florida State||Sun Life Stadium: Miami, FL||1/1: 8:30||ESPN|
|Sugar||Florida||Louisville||Superdome: New Orleans, LA||1/2: 8:30||ESPN|
|Fiesta||Oregon||Kansas State||U. of Phoenix Stadium: Glendale, AZ||1/3: 8:30||ESPN|
|Cotton||Oklahoma ||Texas A&M||Cowboys Stadium: Arlington, TX||1/4: 8:00||FOX|
|Compass||Pittsburgh ||Ole Miss||Legion Field: Birmingham, AL||1/5: 1:00||ESPN|
|GoDaddy.com||Kent State ||Arkansas State||Ladd-Peebles Stadium: Mobile, AL||1/6: 9:00||ESPN|
|National Championship||Notre Dame ||Alabama ||Sun Life Stadium: Miami, FL||1/7: 8:30||ESPN|