Although this coming weekend's conference championship games could potentially change the BCS picture significantly, college football fans everywhere are already anticipating potential BCS bowl matchups. If things go as expected, there should be some extremely entertaining games coming up over the next several weeks.
Nothing is set in stone, but fans are salivating at the prospects of what could come to be. With so much parity in college football this year, each and every BCS game should be exciting. Things have been thrown for a loop over the past couple weeks due to all of the upsets; however, that won't put a damper on the BCS picture.
Here is a closer look at three potential BCS matchups that will have fans buzzing if they ultimately come to fruition.
Florida State vs. Ohio State (BCS National Championship Game)
Prior to Saturday's games, most figured that Alabama vs. Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game was a virtual lock. Those people were looking past the Crimson Tide's Iron Bowl clash with Auburn, however, and that was a big mistake.
Now that Alabama has a loss on its record, Florida State and Ohio State each control their own destiny as the top two teams in the BCS standings, per ESPN College Football:
Had 'Bama, Florida State and Ohio State all gone undefeated, the Buckeyes would have been left out in the cold. With that in mind, Ohio State must take advantage of this opportunity by beating Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. If it can do that and Florida State vanquishes Duke in the ACC Championship Game as expected, then the national title game will be set.
The Seminoles have been dominant at an Alabama-esque level this season, with the No. 2 scoring offense, No. 1 scoring defense and all but one of their wins coming by 30 points or more. The Buckeyes have had some close calls in their own right, but the No. 3 scoring offense should be able to challenge Florida State.
This game will be all about the battle of the quarterbacks with Jameis Winston and Braxton Miller going head to head. It may not be the ideal national championship game that everyone was rooting for, but Florida State vs. Ohio State would be entertaining to say the least.
Michigan State vs. Stanford (Rose Bowl)
Just a couple weeks ago, it seemed the Rose Bowl was destined to pit Ohio State against Oregon in an offensive shootout. The Rose Bowl picture has undergone a 180-degree turn since then, however, to the point where it could feature the best defensive matchup of the season.
Stanford is in line to represent the Pac-12 if it can beat Arizona State in the Pac-12 Championship Game, while Michigan State should be the Big Ten representative, regardless of how the title game against Ohio State goes, according to ESPN Big Ten:
If not for a four-point loss to Notre Dame, the 11-1 Spartans would be in the national championship conversation, and the Big Ten Championship would essentially be a national championship game eliminator. That isn't the case, but Michigan State is still in an advantageous spot. The Spartans have struggled to get going offensively at times this season with sophomore Connor Cook at quarterback, but the nation's No. 4 defense has carried them.
Stanford's two losses have come by a combined nine points this season, and head coach David Shaw has to feel as though his team let a golden opportunity go by the wayside. Even so, a Rose Bowl win would allow Stanford fans to view the season as a success. The Cardinal boast the No. 13 defense in the country, and they have the offensive edge over Michigan State thanks to running back Tyler Gaffney and his 1,485 yards along with 17 rushing touchdowns.
This would be the type of ground-and-pound game that purists love, and it would be a close battle as well.
Clemson vs. Alabama (Orange Bowl)
Anything short of a national title this season has to be considered a disappointment as far as Alabama fans are concerned. Unless both Florida State and Ohio State lose in their conference title games, however, the Crimson Tide won't be playing for all the marbles this year.
With that said, Nick Saban's team has to refocus, because it is still going to take part in a BCS game. If a number of different BCS experts are correct, that game could be against Clemson in the Orange Bowl, according to Aaron Brenner of the Charleston Post and Courier:
On paper, this game looks like a fairly big mismatch. After all, the Tigers were blown out by Florida State, as well as the SEC's No. 4 team, South Carolina. Conversely, Alabama's one loss came on a desperation field-goal return for a touchdown against Auburn.
Alabama figures to be an ornery bunch, so it could be a long night for Clemson. But at the same time, the Tide may have a difficult time getting up for this game after having their sights set on a much bigger stage.
Dabo Swinney's Clemson squad will view this as a national title-level game that could be huge for the program. Also, it represents the last chance for quarterback Tajh Boyd, and possibly wide receiver Sammy Watkins, to impress NFL scouts in game action. If they are able to put up numbers against Alabama's elite defense, then it will work wonders for their draft stock.
On a normal day it could be argued that Alabama would crush Clemson, but this should be much closer than expected since the Tigers will be motivated to succeed.
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