In most seasons, the BCS bowl games offer the most exciting matchups, but that is certainly not the case this year.
While the two teams fighting for a national title are sure to provide an entertaining game, and the Fiesta Bowl features two talented squads, the other three BCS games will leave fans disappointed.
No. 21 Louisville will play No. 3 Florida in the Sugar Bowl as winners of the Big East, while unranked Wisconsin will play No. 6 Stanford in the Rose Bowl after winning the Big Ten. Being crowned champions of these lackluster conferences earned both the Cardinals and the Badgers automatic bids at the expense of significantly more talented teams.
To bump the disappointment up another level, MAC champion Northern Illinois finished No. 15. This earned them an automatic bid as well, and they will play No. 12 Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
Fortunately for college football fans, there are still bowls that feature top-level talent, even if some of them are not BCS games. Here are the most exciting matchups broken down and analyzed.
National Championship Game: No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Alabama
While the bewildering inclusion of Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl will spark significant debate about the failures of the BCS system, the two best teams in the country are playing for a national title this year.
Notre Dame played an impressively difficult schedule and did not lose a game, while Alabama came out on top of a brutally competitive SEC. No two programs are more deserving this season.
Both of these teams' strength is on defense, and simply stopping the opposing offense will not be enough in this game. These defense must make big plays and cause turnovers.
Points will be hard to come by in this game, and the team that can create turnovers and capitalize on them will win a national title.
Fiesta Bowl: No. 4 Oregon vs. No. 5 Kansas State
This matchup has the potential to become an instant classic as each team will be looking to outscore the other. With two of the most potent offenses in the country set to battle for a BCS bowl victory, there will be fireworks throughout this game.
Collin Klein will wear down the Oregon defense with hard-nose running and efficient passing. He will not give the Ducks opportunities to create turnovers and make big plays on defense.
But Chip Kelly’s high-powered running attack will create highlights, and the Wildcats will spend a significant amount of time staring at the back of Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas’ jerseys.
The coin toss may end up being the decisive factor in this game, as the team with the last possession will have an advantage in this shootout.
Cotton Bowl: No. 9 Texas A&M vs. No. 11 Oklahoma
With seemingly lopsided matchups in all of the other BCS bowls, college football fans will have to look elsewhere for quality contests.
The Cotton Bowl will offer a thrilling showdown between two quarterbacks with hot hands. Johnny Manziel has been electric this season and the freshman will be looking to cap off his dream season with another sensational performance.
Landry Jones will be looking to bring his career at Oklahoma to a close by winning his fourth bowl game in as many years. After hitting the 500-yard mark in two of his last three games, Jones has certainly proven that he ready to finish the season on a high note.
The quarterback duel will define the Cotton Bowl, and it will be massively entertaining to see which talented signal-caller can win the game for their team.
Chick-fil-A Bowl: No. 8 LSU vs. No. 14 Clemson
Oklahoma, Texas A&M and LSU join No. 7 Georgia as teams that justifiably feel slighted by the BCS system. The Bulldogs will take on No. 16 Nebraska in the Captial One bowl, and judging by the Cornhuskers' embarrassing loss to Wisconsin, this matchup will be just as lopsided as some of the BCS bowls.
But the selection committee for the Chick-fil-A Bowl did extremely well to pit the athletes on LSU’s defense against the athletes on Clemson’s offense. While the Tigers taking on the Tigers will cause some confusion, this will still be a fantastic matchup.
When Dabo Swinney’s team is on offense, there will be a remarkably amount of talent on the field. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd will attempt to lead the teams high-powered passing attack against an LSU defense packed with future NFL players.
Both teams will play to their strengths in this game and that will make for an exciting matchup.