Tre Mason ran Auburn all the way to the BCS Championship Game.
The announcement of the full bowl schedule always kicks off weeks of speculation and a holiday season full of must-win college football games. However, not all bowl games were created equal. Please place me in a cryogenic state and unfreeze me on January 1, 2014 for the thrilling final incarnation of this BCS bowl series.
Therefore, we will not concern ourselves with the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, or the S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl or even the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. No, these bold predictions are confined solely to the cream of the crop—the five BCS bowls that will put the current system to bed and conjure zero nostalgia once it's gone.
BCS Championship Game: Florida State vs. Auburn (Jan. 6)
While it wasn't the Iron Bowl rematch that some Auburn fans were hoping for, they will be delighted to watch their Tigers compete for a national title after Michigan State's huge win over Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.
There has been much consternation over Florida State's strength of schedule, or lack thereof. While they have whipped all comers and remain the last undefeated team from a major conference, the fact that they played Duke in the conference championship is very telling about the ACC.
Auburn running back Tre Mason exploded for 304 yards and four touchdowns against a very tough defense in Missouri, and the Seminoles haven't faced a talent of his caliber. Alabama still seems like the best team in the country, and Auburn beat Bama, so it shouldn't be all that surprising when the Tigers upset FSU to win the national championship.
Bold prediction: Auburn 38, Florida State 31
Clemson vs. Ohio State Orange Bowl (Jan. 3)
This is a very intriguing matchup since Clemson had been in the national championship conversation earlier in the season before plummeting in the polls after losing to Florida State 51-14 back on Oct. 19. The Tigers' only other loss came to a stout South Carolina squad on Nov. 30.
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd is finishing up a great season, having completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 3,473 yards and 29 touchdowns to just nine INTs. However, after falling to No. 10 South Carolina, it's hard to fathom how the Tigers can knock off No. 7 Ohio State.
The Buckeyes will be playing angry after falling short of the Big Ten crown, and they will take out their frustrations on the boys in orange. Look for Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde to combine for no fewer than 300 rushing yards.
Bold prediction: Ohio State 41, Clemson 27
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Oklahoma (Jan. 2)
Alabama will likely enter this game favored by somewhere in the neighborhood of two touchdowns and will actually cover that spread.
The Crimson Tide lose very rarely, but their shocking loss to Auburn came at the worst possible time. It dropped them out of the SEC championship and sunk their shot at a national title, which would have required the Blue Devils to beat Florida State.
While the Sooners have a strong run game, ranked 18th in the nation, they just won't be able to keep pace with Bama. Oklahoma's passing game ranks 99th with just 186.7 yards per game, and the 31.8 points-per-game average came against much weaker defenses than Alabama's.
The Sooners scored only 12 points in the loss to Baylor, a school not known for defense, and they are unlikely to score more 10 points in the Sugar Bowl as the Tide will roll.
Bold prediction: Alabama 31, Oklahoma 17
Fiesta Bowl: Baylor vs. UCF (Jan. 1)
Baylor figures to win big in this one thanks to its irrepressible offense. The Bears score 53.3 points per game, the highest average in the nation, and their average of 359.3 passing yards is fifth best.
UCF could try watching footage of Oklahoma State's 49-17 victory over Baylor back on Nov. 23, but there is not much reason to think the Knights can score enough to keep pace with Baylor, even if they put forth a competent defensive effort.
After all, UCF managed just 17 points in the narrow victory over SMU on Dec. 7 and barely nipped South Florida the week before that by a 23-20 score. The Fiesta Bowl will feel more like a siesta.
Bold prediction: Baylor 38, UCF 13
Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Stanford (Jan. 1)
Who will win the national title?
This clash seems likely to be the best of all the BCS bowl games. Both teams are very similar, with strong defenses and good ground games to control the clock and wear down the opposing defense.
The Spartans are allowing a puny 12.7 points per game; only three opponents eclipsed 20 points and none reached 30. The Cardinal only allow 18.6 points per game, but they posted two losses to unranked teams during the season, falling to Utah and USC. Michigan State's only loss was to No. 22 Notre Dame back in September.
Offense is not MSU's bread and butter, but quarterback Connor Cook certainly took it to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. He tossed three TDs for a season-high 304 yards against the No. 2 team in the country. Not to be outdone, junior running back Jeremy Langford posted his eighth consecutive game with more than 100 yards.
Stanford's offense is fit to be tied unless RB Tyler Gaffney and WR Ty Montgomery can get something going against the Spartans. Montgomery will be in for a long day against a defense that held Ohio State to 101 passing yards, and Michigan State will get just enough offense in this defensive boxing match.
Bold prediction: Michigan State 24, Stanford 17