After an amazing six-game feast of college football concludes on New Year's Day, there are still six more bowl games left on the schedule. And like a gourmet chef who crafts a glorious seven-course meal, the football gods have saved the best for last.
Starting with the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 and ending with the final BCS Championship Game on Jan. 6, football fans will be treated to three BCS bowl games and three non-BCS games.
Here's a quick peek at the schedule for all six games, followed by a closer look at the three BCS bowl games:
|Sugar Bowl||Oklahoma (No. 11) vs. Alabama (No. 3)||Jan. 2||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Cotton Bowl||Oklahoma State (No. 13) vs. Missouri (No. 8)||Jan. 3||7:30 p.m.||Fox|
|Orange Bowl||Clemson (No. 12) vs. Ohio State (No. 7)||Jan. 3||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Compass Bowl||Vanderbilt vs. Houston||Jan. 4||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|GoDaddy Bowl||Arkansas State vs. Ball State||Jan. 5||9 p.m.||ESPN|
|BCS National Championship||Florida State (No. 1) vs. Auburn (No. 2)||Jan. 6||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma (11) vs. Alabama (3)
The last time Alabama went to the Sugar Bowl as the SEC representative, the Crimson Tide were shocked by Utah, which won 31-17.
After the brutal loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl to close out the regular season, this team will need to guard against a similar fate on Jan. 2 against the dangerous Oklahoma Sooners.
The SEC is widely viewed as the strongest conference in the nation, but 'Bama head coach Nick Saban recently downplayed any notion that Oklahoma would be a pushover, as noted by Marq Burnett of the Ledger-Enquirer:
If you look at Oklahoma, they've made their living this year really being able to run the ball effectively... That's pretty good rushing football. If you look at a conference that's supposed to be a spread, spread you out, throw it all over the place, kind of loose play kind of conference, I think they have the ability to do that because they have really good skill guys and their quarterbacks are capable.
Oklahoma will surely give Alabama its full attention in this upcoming BCS bowl game, and nobody should be surprised if the Sooners come away with a big win.
It'll take a tremendous effort by Oklahoma's defense to slow down Alabama's balanced offensive attack, however. And on the other side—whether it be Blake Bell or Trevor Knight behind center for the Sooners—Alabama's defense is a tough nut to crack.
Orange Bowl: Clemson (12) vs. Ohio State (No. 7)
After contending for the national championship for most of the year, Ohio State could finish the season with two straight losses if Clemson can execute its offense at the Orange Bowl.
The Buckeyes will be without their sacks (8) and tackles for loss (14.5) leader. Defensive end Noah Spence was suspended by the program for this upcoming bowl game and two more games in 2014 for violating Big Ten rules, as reported by Jeremy Fowler of CBS Sports:
Additionally, cornerback Bradley Roby could miss the game with a knee injury, as Eric Seger of TheLantern.com noted on Dec. 30.
Ohio State's defense was going to be hard-pressed to stop Clemson's explosive offensive attack (40.2 points per game) even with Spence and Roby. Without the two top defenders, the Buckeyes could be doomed.
Kyle Rowland, who is an OSU beat writer for ElevenWarriors.com, recently gave his prediction for the game, via Aaron Brenner of The Post and Courier, taking into account this recent news:
Based on the way things are trending – Ohio State missing key defensive players – Clemson could win big. I was siding with the Buckeyes until this week, but I’m starting to think something like 42-31 Clemson.
Count this author among those who are of the same opinion.
BCS National Championship Game: Florida State (1) vs. Auburn (2)
The 2013-14 college football season comes to its conclusion on Jan. 6, when Florida State and Auburn hit the gridiron at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Both teams feature explosive offensive attacks that finished the season as top-10 scoring teams (FSU No. 2; Auburn No. 10).
Gus Mahlzahn's triple-option offense, led by speedy quarterback Nick Marshall and jackhammer running back Tre Mason, was unstoppable down the home stretch. The Tigers took down Georgia, Alabama and Missouri in their final three games, outscoring the SEC powerhouses by a combined total of 136-108.
Clearly, Auburn's offense is capable of putting up points with the best of them.
But nobody—and I mean nobody—has been able to slow down Jameis Winston and the Seminoles this season. FSU was second in the nation in scoring, averaging 53 points per game, and it featured the top-ranked scoring defense, which allowed just 10.7 points per game.
As good as Auburn has been leading up to this pivotal contest, it's hard to imagine Florida State will lose. If anything, the Seminoles will roll over Auburn, just like they've did to every other team in 2013.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78