The BCS bowls officially begin on Jan. 1, but with so much intrigue and excitement heading into the biggest college football games of the season, it's hard not to look ahead at each of the games.
Whether it's the defensive battle set to take place between Michigan State and Stanford in the Rose Bowl or the offensive gymnastics that Ohio State and Clemson will surely put on during the Orange Bowl, there are games for every football fan.
Below is everything fans of college football need to know heading into the BCS bowl season.
|BCS Bowl Schedule|
|Rose Bowl||Michigan St. vs. Stanford||Jan. 1||5 p.m.||ESPN|
|Fiesta Bowl||Baylor vs. UCF||Jan. 1||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sugar Bowl||Alabama vs. Oklahoma||Jan. 2||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Orange Bowl||Clemson vs. Ohio St.||Jan. 3||TBD||ESPN|
|BCS National Championship||Florida St. vs. Auburn||Jan. 6||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Stanford
The defensive struggle between two of the best groups in the country will come down to which offense can get going against the other opposing fronts.
For Michigan State, there will be changes in its defensive scheme to counter the offensive attack Stanford presents in its max-protect package, the Spartans' linebackers coach Mike Tressel told Mike Griffith of MLive.com:
When they go with their two-receiver and one-receiver sets, you can expect they can do what they need to protect, and they are gonna take shots at big plays. It does challenge us schematically, but that being said, if you blitz six guys or you blitz seven guys, even if they max protect, there's going to be a handful of one on ones, and we constantly talk to our guys about it.
Stanford has the offensive weapons with Tyler Gaffney and Ty Montgomery to get the job done, but the erratic play of Kevin Hogan could cost the Cardinal a chance to win their second-straight Rose Bowl.
With Michigan State presenting a more complete offense that includes Connor Cook and Jeremy Langford, the Spartans will pull out a win in their first-ever BCS bowl.
Prediction: Spartans 24, Cardinal 17
Fiesta Bowl: Baylor vs. Central Florida
Bryce Petty didn't get the respect he probably deserved in the Heisman race. Blake Bortles is now being projected as a top-10 pick in the 2014 NFL draft if he decides to forgo his senior season. Needless to say, this game will likely come down to the two quarterbacks.
Unfortunately, fans of the Knights weren't exactly excited about attending the first BCS bowl game in the school's history, as Tyler Duffy of the Big Lead points out (but they still did better than Ohio State):
With two quarterbacks and offensive weapons at the receiver positions, the deciding factor for this one could end up being which team can support their offense with a healthy running game.
That's where Lache Seastrunk comes in. The junior running back has rushed for over 1,000 yards for the second-straight season and has 11 touchdowns for the No. 1 scoring offense in the country.
Central Florida has had a great season and a huge win over Louisville, but the Knights will be outmatched against the Bears offense.
Prediction: Bears 56, Knights 38
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Oklahoma
On one side stands Alabama, who certainly didn't expect to play in the Sugar Bowl this season after going undefeated until the final game of the season. On the other is Oklahoma, who after two losses this season should feel lucky to be in a BCS bowl game in the first place.
The Sooners have a defense that has proven it can play well over the season but has faltered in big-game situations. Against Texas and Baylor in their two losses, Oklahoma gave up over 36 points in both and lost by a combined 45 points. But after holding Oklahoma State to just 24 points, the Sooners are confident in their defense.
Unfortunately, Oklahoma will be facing one pissed off bunch when it meets Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. The Crimson Tide narrowly missed out on playing for the SEC Championship and possibly the national title with a loss to Auburn to close out the regular season.
But with an offense that ranks 17th in the country in scoring and a defense that ranks second in scoring, the Tide are still one of the most balanced teams in college football.
With weapons like AJ McCarron, T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper, just to name a few, the Tide will roll over the Sooners to win yet another BCS bowl before the BCS is no more.
Prediction: Crimson Tide 45, Sooners 24
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Ohio State
What a year it has been for the ACC. After being the laughing stock of college football, the conference now has two teams in BCS bowls and one competing for the national title. As for the Big Ten, their hopes were dashed for a national championship contender but could still end up with two wins in BCS bowls.
This game for Clemson means much more than just getting redemption after not making the national championship game this year. It also means rebounding from the last time they played in a BCS bowl against West Virginia. Tigers fans might want to close their eyes for this:
Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins appear to be a good matchup against an Ohio State defense that gave up 34 or more points in three out of its last four games, but the Buckeyes' offense will be the difference in this one.
Ohio State offers up two running threats with Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde—both have rushed for over 1,000 yards—and the No. 3 rushing offense in the country, which will pose the biggest problem for Clemson's offense in terms of time of possession.
The Buckeyes might not put up the same numbers that West Virginia was able to against Clemson, but they will get some redemption after falling to Michigan State for a chance to play in the national title game.
Prediction: Buckeyes 42, Tigers 35
BCS National Championship: Florida State vs. Auburn
Florida State has the No. 2 scoring offense in the country and the No. 1 scoring defense. Auburn features the No. 1 rushing offense and the 12th-best scoring offense. In the final year, the BCS finally got it right with the national championship.
The Seminoles offense has scored less than 40 points in a game just once this season thanks to the talents of Heisman winner Jameis Winston and three receivers who have amassed over 900 yards receiving.
Then there's the defense, which has held seven opponents to single-digit points scored. When asked about facing Auburn's offense, defensive end Mario Edwards told Powell Latimer of Rivals.com that the Tigers are "overhyped" and the Seminoles have already figured out their offense:
Everybody had tendencies whether they pick it up or not or notice it or not. I'm not going to say exactly what their tendencies are but we've picked them up.
As for the opponent that confident Seminoles defense will be facing, Nick Marshall and Heisman finalist Tre Mason might have something to say about that. The two players finished with a combined 45 touchdowns on the season with Mason averaging 5.7 YPC and Marshall finishing with 6.6 YPC.
While some players for FSU talked about how the Auburn offense was nothing special, Seminoles defensive back Lamarcus Joyner told Brandon Marcello of AL.com that he's impressed with Mason:
I'm sitting next to this Manimal: half man, half animal. This guy carrying the ball  times, hopefully there's a little wear and tear on him. They're a great football team. They do a pretty good job, the coaches and they have a lot of great talent over there.
With two great offenses squaring off to find out who is the best team in the country in the final year of the BCS, it will be Florida State who ultimately lifts the crystal ball. The Seminoles offense will be too much for the Tigers to handle in a game that could end up being a blowout, but hopefully won't.
Prediction: Seminoles 56, Tigers 45
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