Bowl Schedule 2013: Predicting Outcome of Season's Final Bowl Games
And then there were five.
In the blink of an eye, 30 of the 35 bowl games on tap in college football this season have come and gone, leaving us with two BCS Bowls and three others yet to be decided.
Biggest among them, of course, is the final game of the year, the BCS National Championship Game between No. 1 Notre Dame (11-0) and No. 2 Alabama (11-1) on Monday night.
But there's plenty of action to watch between now and then, starting Thursday night with the Fiesta Bowl between No. 4 Oregon (11-1) and No. 5 Kansas State (11-1).
Let's take a look at how the remaining bowl games on tap are going to play out.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Thursday, January 3, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
No. 4 Oregon Ducks (11-1) vs. No. 5 Kansas State Wildcats (11-1)
Two months ago, it sure looked like these two teams were destined to meet in the BCS National Championship Game, but alas, neither one was able to maintain its lofty place in the BCS standings.
While Kansas State QB and Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein has more big-game experience than Oregon's freshman QB, Marcus Mariota, does, the Ducks offense is going to prove to be far too explosive for the Wildcats to contain.
Oregon boasts the second-highest scoring average of any team in the nation, dropping nearly 51 points per game on the opposition.
The Ducks' explosive running attack also ranks second in the nation, picking up more than 323 yards per game on the ground while averaging nearly four rushing touchdowns per game.
The Wildcats defense, led by LB Arthur Brown is solid, but it can't withstand the explosiveness and quick-strike ability of the Ducks offense.
Oregon 45, Kansas State 28
AT&T Cotton Bowl: Friday, January 4, 8:00 p.m. ET, FOX
No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies (10-2) vs. No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners (10-2)
Former Big 12 rivals meet in what could be the highest-scoring bowl game of the season, as both offenses rank in the top 10 nationally for points scored.
Both Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel are excellent quarterbacks who will put points on the board for their respective clubs as neither defense puts much fear in the hearts of its opponents.
Jones and WR Kenny Stills will have success against an Aggies defense that ranks 83rd in the nation against the pass, but it's Johnny Football's ability to improvise that will be the determining factor in this one.
Both of Oklahoma's losses on the season came against teams with dual-threat QBs: Kansas State, with the aforementioned Collin Klein, and Notre Dame, with Everett Golson.
Oklahoma will have gone 0-and-3 against dual-threat QBs by the time the Cotton Bowl comes to an end.
Texas A&M 38, Oklahoma 31
BBVA Compass Bowl: Saturday, January 5, 1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Ole Miss (6-6)
With an explosive backfield of Ray Graham and Rushel Shell, Pittsburgh is going to try to establish the running game early to make things easier for QB Tino Sunseri when he looks to throw the ball.
While the duo will find some success, Ole Miss has an athletic, physical defensive line—one that ranked 29th in the nation against the run, and one that will keep the two contained for much of the game.
Forcing Sunseri to win the game with his arm will be a problem, as Pittsburgh lacks the weapons on the outside to exploit a Mississippi pass defense that ranks 89th nationally.
That inability to move the ball effectively on the ground, coupled with Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace's weapons to throw to and his ability to take off running, will prove to be too much for Pittsburgh's defense.
Ole Miss 28, Pittsburgh 17
GoDaddy.com Bowl: Sunday, January 6, 9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
No. 25 Kent State (11-2) vs. Arkansas State (9-3)
Both teams enter the GoDaddy.com Bowl with their head coaches headed elsewhere.
Kent State's Darrell Hazell, who accepted the job at Purdue, will lead his Golden Flashes for the last time while Arkansas State's Guz Malzahn, who is headed to Auburn, will not be in attendance. Defensive coordinator John Thompson will lead the Red Wolves in this one.
Both teams depend on dynamic running games on offense, while both have defenses that are solid against the run.
Kent State's running game, led by a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Tri Archer and Trayion Durham, is a bit more prolific than Arkansas State's, as is the Golden Flashes' rush defense.
In an evenly-matched contest, that slight advantage will be all Kent State needs to send Arkansas State home with its second consecutive loss in this bowl game.
Kent State 31, Arkansas State 24
BCS National Championship Game: Monday, January 7, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0) vs. No. 2 Alabama (11-1)
The most anticipated game of the season is also the final game of the season.
Both teams rely on their ground games to put points on the board while both defenses rank in the top four nationally against the run.
When these storied programs meet, the game will be determined by which defense bends just enough for the opposition to cross the goal line.
For the first time in more than 20 years, Irish eyes will be smiling as the Fighting Irish take home their first National Championship since 1988.
Notre Dame 21, Alabama 18
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