The 2013 college football season is entering its final stretch. Week 11 is upon us and, with every passing game, the contenders are being separated from the pretenders.
Most importantly, the BCS bowl games are becoming easier to project. Putting aside what's right and wrong, however, there's one question that must be asked: What would be the juiciest potential matchups?
|BCS Bowl Projections: Juiciest Matchups|
|National Championship||Alabama||Florida State|
|Rose Bowl||Ohio State||Oregon|
|Fiesta Bowl||Baylor||Texas A&M|
|Games are projected based on potential story lines and season developments.|
National Championship: Alabama vs. Florida State
Let me clarify something: This isn't the game that I believe should happen. I can't make that judgement until every team has completed its season.
What this is, however, is the meeting that would buy into the current craze in college football: freshman quarterbacks.
There isn't a better storyline than freshman field general Jameis Winston leading the Florida State Seminoles to the national championship game. Much like how Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy in 2012-13, Winston could steal all headlines by leading FSU to the national championship game.
Fortunately, Winston isn't alone in his greatness, as Florida State ranks No. 3 in scoring offense and No. 4 in scoring defense.
As for the Alabama Crimson Tide, the fact that they're undefeated and the two-time defending national champions should silence all debates. Alabama is 8-0 with just one game decided by less than 25 points—a 49-42 road win over Texas A&M.
There's your reason as to why the Crimson Tide have been ranked No. 1 throughout the entirety of the season.
I'd prefer to see Alabama vs. Oregon due to the fact that the college football world has been waiting for that game for the better part of a half-decade. In terms of what would provide the juiciest storylines, however, the hypothetical Alabama vs. Florida State meeting would be best.
If there was ever a year in which college football needed the playoff system, it'd be 2013.
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Oregon
The Ohio State Buckeyes have won 21 consecutive games, which is the longest streak in all of college football. After going undefeated in 2012, Urban Meyer's crew is doing it again in 2013 with a 9-0 start.
Somehow, the Buckeyes aren't even in the conversation for the national championship game.
To make the Rose Bowl the best it could be, the Buckeyes should represent the Big Ten against the Oregon Ducks of the Pac-12. Not only would the game feature two of the best quarterbacks in the nation—Marcus Mariota and Braxton Miller—but it'd have a championship-like atmosphere.
Regardless of which two teams you believe should be playing for the national title, there's no way around how entertaining this game would be.
Oregon currently has the No. 2 scoring offense, No. 7 scoring defense, No. 2 rushing offense and No. 20 passing offense in the nation. Mariota has 20 passing touchdowns and nine running scores to no interceptions, and the defense has held all but one opponent to 24 points or less.
Ohio State is led by Miller, who has 17 total touchdowns to three interceptions in seven games. The Buckeyes also have the No. 8 rushing offense and a balanced defense that ranks No. 9 in the country.
Over the course of its past two games, the Buckeyes have outscored Purdue and Penn State by a count of 119-14. If you want explosive offense and physical defense, you want Ohio State vs. Oregon.
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Louisville
The Clemson Tigers appear to be the team destined to represent the ACC in the Orange Bowl if Florida State reaches the BCS National Championship Game. The only question in this scenario is, which team would the Tigers face?
I don't know about you, but I like elite quarterback play, and that's why Clemson vs. Louisville makes sense.
As a one-loss team in the AAC, there isn't much rhyme or reason behind the Cardinals moving up in the rankings without receiving some help. Fortunately, a majority of the teams ahead of Louisville are poised to play one another.
If we're talking juicy, it doesn't get much better than Tajh Boyd versus Teddy Bridgewater.
Bridgewater is the No. 1 quarterback in the 2014 NFL draft class, while Boyd has flashed franchise player potential but lacks consistency. A dud against Florida State hurt, but there isn't a better way to improve his draft stock than to go up against Bridgewater.
More importantly, there isn't a better option here for an entertaining game than pitting elite quarterbacks against one another.
Keep in mind, the Orange Bowl has hosted three consecutive games that were decided by at least 21 points. For the sake of its reputation, booking a meeting between two elite quarterbacks would not only generate interest, but it'd create the potential for a close meeting.
Louisville isn't the most ideal opponent, but if the Cardinals finish at 11-1, Boyd versus Bridgewater would be too juicy to pass over.
Sugar Bowl: Missouri vs. Stanford
The No. 2 team in the SEC is currently the Missouri Tigers, who are 8-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference. The No. 2 team in the Pac-12 is the Stanford Cardinal, who have jumped out to a 7-1 record with a 5-1 mark in the conference.
Both teams have physical defenses, both squads run the football well and both would provide viewers with the opportunity to see anything from a defensive slugfest to a balanced offensive war.
Missouri has battled health woes while reaching 8-1, but the Associated Press reports (via ESPN) that star quarterback James Franklin is ready to return from a three-game injury absence. With Franklin under center, Missouri is one of the most potent teams in the country.
Throw in a Top 25 defense, and Gary Pinkel's club is a force to be reckoned with.
Stanford suffered an early slip-up but has responded with consecutive wins over ranked opponents in the Oregon State Beavers and UCLA Bruins. The Cardinal don't have the best offense in the country, but Tyler Gaffney has 12 rushing touchdowns, and Ty Montgomery is a weapon at receiver in the return game.
Both teams can pound the rock and both squads can play high-octane offense when necessary. Most importantly, both Missouri and Stanford have wins over established commodities.
If nothing else, why wouldn't the bowl committee want to pit the top two conferences in college football against one another?
Fiesta Bowl: Baylor Bears vs. Texas A&M Aggies
Who wants to see some points put on the board?
As it presently stands, the Baylor Bears are the No. 2 seed in the Big 12. At 4-0, Baylor trails the 5-0 Texas Longhorns, but that's a matter of playing in less games, not performing at a worse level.
With rankings of No. 1 in passing offense and scoring offense, No. 6 in scoring defense and No. 7 in rushing offense, it's safe to say the 7-0 Bears can play.
On the opposite end of this potential meeting is Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies. Kevin Sumlin's group is 7-2 with the No. 6 passing offense and No. 4 scoring offense in the nation, which almost makes up for its horrendous defense.
In the end, this game would come down to the most entertaining question possible: Can Manziel put on one more memorable performance before he becomes draft eligible? Or will Baylor prove to be better than we're giving it credit for?
It's ignorant, and frankly frustrating, when evaluators pretend that Texas A&M is without talent other than Manziel. With the reigning Heisman Trophy award winner expected to enter the 2014 NFL draft, however, it'd be disappointing for him to never play in a BCS bowl game.
Which team could be better for Manziel to face than the nation's most explosive offense?