BCS bowls give college football fans plenty to debate about and 2011's bowl schedule isn't any exception.
Tostitos BCS National Championship Game, January 10, 2011
Oregon Ducks (12-0) vs. Auburn Tigers (13-0)
Storyline: 2011's championship game is the least traditional matchup we've seen since the BCS started in 1998, but nobody is complaining about having two high-scoring, undefeated teams locking horns.
Oregon's only close finish was a 15-13 win over Cal, but their scores haven't been indicative of the adversity they've faced throughout games, especially first halfs.
Adversity has also been a theme for the Tigers this season. They've won four games by three points or less, but the toughest task for the team has been staying focused with the swilling rumors of Heisman front-runner Cam Newton's eligibility.
Stars: Cam Newton's 49 total TDs and 4,040 combined yards have been breathtaking to watch this season. He is arguably the most imposing QB in the open field ever, and his pocket presence and passing ability have him slated as a high first-round draft pick.
The Ducks offense is fueled LaMichael James, a complete back built in the mold of Jonathan Stewart and Maurice Jones-Drew. Over the past two seasons, the sophomore has racked up 3,228 rushing yards and 35 tds on the ground. He doesn't just beat up on the sisters of the poor either; his 257 yards and three tds against Stanford mark season highs in each category.
Prediction: Scoring first isn't going to matter much for these resilient teams. Oregon's speed shouldn't surprise Auburn coming out of the SEC, but the Ducks haven’t faced a dual-threat QB like Newton all season. Controlling the game through the QB position will give the Tigers the edge.
Auburn over Oregon, 45-37
Allstate Sugar Bowl, January 4, 2011
Arkansas Razorbacks (10-2) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)
Storyline: This will be billed as a battle of the big QBs, both in size and talent. Ryan Mallet, Arkansas' gunslinger, vs. the dual-threat from the Midwest powerhouse, Terrelle Pryor.
Ohio State has never defeated an SEC team in a bowl game, going 0-9 all-time. The Buckeyes come in the higher ranked team (6 vs. 8) but don't expect that to give them any psychological edge over the Arkansas team whose only loses come to Alabama and Auburn.
Stars: Pryor gets the headlines but the most impressive player on Ohio State's offense is Dan "Boom" Herron. Finishing the season with three 100-plus-yard rushing performances in the last four games, Herron's blend of speed and power keeps the chains moving for the Buckeyes.
Despite losing his star WR Greg Childs in the middle of the season, Mallett has continued to produce impressive stats. He has throwing 11 interceptions to seven last year, but improving his completion percentage from 55.8 percent to 66.5 percent has made all the difference for Arkansas in close games.
Prediction: Ohio State's woes against the SEC will continue as Mallett shows NFL scouts what he's made of.
Arkansas over Ohio State, 34-24
Discover Orange Bowl, January 3, 2011
Virginia Tech Hokies (11-2) vs. Stanford Cardinal (11-1)
Storyline: The Hokies' reputation has never bounced back from early the season loss to Boise State, followed by the hangover loss to James Madison. VT is riding an 11-game winning streak into Miami, and they aren't to be taken lightly.
Stanford is the least talked about one loss team in the nation due to a soft non-conference schedule and the fact that they don't get great national coverage.
Although college football fans may be looking past this game, it has all of the makings of a great one.
Stars: Andrew Luck has looked like college football's best quarterback prospect over the past two years, and losing star Toby Gerhart has no challenge for him this year. With a completion percentage of 70.2 and one interception in his last four games, he may be playing his best ball of the season.
If running backs Darren Evans, David Wilson and Ryan Williams are the three heads of Tech's rushing attack, then QB Tyrod Taylor is the body. All four Hokies have ran for at least five tds on the year, and Williams is the only one under 500 yards (473), having missed four games in the middle of the year.
Prediction: Stanford has a very good rush D, and Virginia Tech has a very good pass D that is second in the nation in interceptions (22). Beamerball is still going strong, but behind Jim Harbaugh, Luck and the Cardinal will be prepared.
Stanford over Virginia Tech, 31-28
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, January 1, 2011
Oklahoma Sooners (11-2) vs. Connecticut Huskies (8-4)
Storyline: Facing UConn is a drop-off from Oklahoma's last two opponents (Oklahoma State & Nebraska), but don't expect Bob Stoops to let his team come in too relaxed.
For the Huskies, making a BCS bowl in less than a decade since they became a full Big East football member is a major accomplishment. Traveling to the desert to play the game will be a major change of scenery.
Stars: Sophomore QB Landry Jones has amassed 4,289 passing yards this season with a very respectable 35 to 11 TD-to-INT ratio. Jones' backfield mate RB DeMarco Murray will be looking to leave Oklahoma in style with big gains on the ground and through the air against UConn on his way to the NFL.
The Huskies are led by junior RB Jordan Todman and his 1,574 rushing yards. Todman is a true workhorse, handling over 30 carries five times on the year.
Prediction: Oklahoma looks to make a statement heading into the 2011 season by pounding the lesser Big East opponent.
Oklahoma over Connecticut, 48-10
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO, January 1, 2011
Wisconsin Badgers (11-1) vs. TCU Horned Frogs (12-0)
Storylines: West Coast fans would have rather seen the traditional Pac-10 vs. Big Ten matchup that would have pitted Stanford against the Badgers, but it's tough to complain about watching two teams with one loss between them in a bowl.
Having faced Boise State the past two bowls, TCU wants to show they can and will take down the big boys as they head to the Big East.
Stars: The Badgers star hasn't been one player this season—it's their stellar offensive line. The hogs have paved the way for James White, John Clay and Montee Ball to run for over 2,900 yards and 44 tds with a 5.5 ypc average.
For TCU, the focus is on senior QB Andy Dalton, who might be the most experienced QB in the nation. Dalton hasn't won games with flashy numbers, but with 49 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and a completion percentage over 60 percent over the past two seasons, it's not hard to see why TCU hasn't lost a game during that period.
Prediction: Few teams play better as a team than TCU, but the Badgers might be one of them. Controlling the game on the ground will be key for the Badgers to win in this Big Ten-style slugfest.
Wisconsin over TCU, 24-20
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