The college football regular season is over, and the focus has shifted to the 2013-14 BCS bowl schedule and the most underrated matchups on tap.
With Alabama relegated out of the BCS National Championship Game, the battle between top-five teams featuring Michigan State vs. Stanford and so much more, fans of the sport are ready for the elite action to begin.
Here is the schedule for the BCS bowl games and a preview of the three most underrated matchups.
|BCS Title Game||Jan. 6||Pasadena, Calif.||Florida State vs. Auburn|
|Orange||Jan. 3||Miami, Fla.||Clemson vs. Ohio State|
|Sugar||Jan. 2||New Orleans, La.||Alabama vs. Oklahoma|
|Fiesta||Jan. 1||Glendale, Ariz.||Baylor vs. UCF|
|Rose||Jan. 1||Pasadena, Calif.||Michigan State vs. Stanford|
Source: Jerry Palm of CBS Sports
Rose Bowl: No. 4 Michigan State (12-1, 8-0 Big Ten) vs. No. 5 Stanford (11-2, 7-2 Pac-12)
The most underrated bowl game of the entire season is the top-five battle between the Michigan State Spartans and the Stanford Cardinal. If you love old-school, hard-nosed football, this is a dream matchup.
The elite defensive units will be the focus of this game. Stanford comes into this meeting with the 10th best defense in the nation, and the program will face its toughest test of the year against the Spartans and their fourth ranked defense.
With both teams allowing just over 30 combined points per game, this on-field war at the Rose Bowl will be a defensive showcase that will have college football and NFL fans excited about the action.
Stanford and Michigan State are also evenly matched on offense. Both programs are ranked around 90th in the nation with just over 200 passing yards per game, but each has shown its ability to run the ball with much more consistency.
This matchup will be won and lost in the trenches, and that will result in one of the most exciting bowl games of the season. Fans should expect this game to resemble the AFC North battles between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens of the last decade.
Predicted Final Score: Michigan State 24, Stanford 23
Fiesta Bowl: No. 6 Baylor (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) vs. No. 15 UCF (11-1, 8-0)
Neither the Baylor Bears nor the UCF Knights were expected to be much of a threat for a national championship this season, but the two programs will meet in the Fiesta Bowl as one of the marquee games of the season.
I didn’t see that coming.
Baylor’s defense is ranked in the top 20 and has played well though most of the season, but the key to the Bears’ success is the nation’s top-ranked offensive unit. With an average of 53.3 points per game and two victories over ranked programs, the Bears have proven they have the firepower to be one of the most explosive teams in the nation.
As good as Baylor has been in 2013, the team will face its toughest test against the underrated abilities of the Knights. Most fans discount UCF’s credentials to earn a spot in this bowl game, but one loss all season (it came against South Carolina) and a win over the vaunted Louisville Cardinals make the Knights a legitimate threat.
UCF has won eight straight games heading into the Fiesta Bowl, and the team’s momentum will help them challenge Baylor like few other programs have this season.
Predicted Final Score: Baylor 45, UCF 34
Sugar Bowl: No. 3 Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC) vs. No. 11 Oklahoma (10-2, 7-2 Big 12)
The case could be made that the Alabama Crimson Tide are the most talented team in the nation, but a loss to Auburn has forced the program to accept its bid to the Sugar Bowl. Awaiting them in New Orleans is the Oklahoma Sooners.
Which is the most intriguing matchup?
While casual fans only know the Tide for the elite play of the defense, the run-first offense has also made a splash this season, averaging 38.8 points per game. As well as Alabama has played, though, the Sooners are on fire since the loss to Baylor earlier this season.
Three straight victories—including a huge win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys—have helped Oklahoma build chemistry on both sides of the ball. With an offense that is finding its stride and a defense that has played well against Big 12 competition, this matchup should be much more intriguing than most fans expect.
Instead of Alabama crushing Oklahoma, it will be a bitter battle.
Predicted Final Score: Alabama 30, Oklahoma 20