Choosing the lineup of BCS games is anything but a perfect science. It’s more about ticket sales, shoulder rubs and favors for particular conferences and, of course, money. It’s always about money.
In the final year of this soon-to-be retired system, however, we have been handed a lineup of captivating matchups. It isn’t perfect—and the shoulder rubs are clearly in play yet again—but there is variety.
More importantly, there are quality teams playing against one another in a buffet of football intrigue.
The intrigue begins at the top with the BCS National Championship. While the maligned system has taken its lumps over the years, it has often delivered the appropriate teams in the final showcase. This is again the case as Auburn and Florida State will meet.
Over the next month, you will likely hear “Dominance vs. Destiny” roughly 42,000 times before the actual game. Perhaps it’s appropriate given the past four weeks, although this is about more than just a few outstanding plays that will be featured on repeat.
Florida State has seemingly destroyed everything in its path and has Jameis Winston, the best player in college football this season. Auburn has improved drastically throughout the year and has a running attack that is absolutely terrifying.
It's the best team versus the hottest team, and this game requires no further hype. It’s the correct matchup, and it has the potential to be magnificent with star power—with likely two of the top three finishers in the Heisman going toe-to-toe.
It's not just this game, the undercard delivers as well. And the excitement begins with the Orange Bowl.
Ohio State’s loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Football Championship Game is our gain in a strange way. The Buckeyes will take on Clemson, and the possibility for an obscene amount of points and endless touchdowns seems likely.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney wasted little time showing his appreciation for the team he's facing next.
Dabo Swinney says Ohio State is "quite possibly the best team in the country."— Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland) December 9, 2013
Braxton Miller, Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Carlos Hyde will all meet on the same field and the result could be scoreboard destruction. You’ve been warned.
On the completely opposite end of the spectrum—but on par in terms of excitement—is this year’s Rose Bowl matchup.
Michigan State and Stanford will meet up in a game that your grandfather would adore. You should as well. Both defenses have been exceptional in 2013, and the blueprints for both teams are pretty clear: Run, stop the run, win the line of scrimmage and hit people into oblivion.
That kind of hitting probably won't be found in the Fiesta Bowl, although this could prove to be the hidden gem of the BCS. Baylor’s magnificent season—led by a high-power offense and an underrated defense—will be matching up against Central Florida.
The Knights’ presence in this game will likely bring an assembly of sighs, although it shouldn’t. UCF didn’t exactly close out the season strong, but it finished with only one loss against South Carolina. UCF quarterback Blake Bortles is outstanding, and the matchup against Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is one of the better quarterback showdowns we will see this season. The matchup between running backs isn't too shabby, either.
There will be points. Lots of points.
The Sugar Bowl is where the BCS embraces its frustrating roots, although even this game is not without intrigue. Alabama will take on Oklahoma in a matchup that looks incredibly lopsided on paper. Although many—including myself—were hoping to see Alabama-Oregon under slightly different circumstances, this will do just fine. It’ll have to.
It will serve as AJ McCarron’s final collegiate game, and Nick Saban vs. Bob Stoops will be entertaining regardless of the circumstances. Following the announcement, Saban expressed his appreciation for the matchup.
Nick Saban on playing #Oklahoma: "It's a real honor"— Dylan Buckingham (@DylanBuckingham) December 9, 2013
Let’s not sugarcoat it, though.
This is BCS having its “remember me?” moment before the lights are turned off.
The entire platter, however, is encouraging. A combination of unique styles, big brands and quality teams make this a banner year for the BCS in its final year. It’s not perfect—and it rarely is—but given the circumstances and archaic guidelines it has to follow, it did quite well.
It's also the last line of defense between you and the offseason, and this cannot be stressed enough. The fact that the flawed system was able to offer up quality on its final run is most appreciated.
Now, feel free to unplug it on your way out.