As always, the 2010-2011 bowl slate presents a slew of good pairings. The NCAA always seems to win when it comes to bowls, regardless of its dud BCS system. Teams from opposing conferences will again meet to do the bowl sponsors proud and turn the amateur football world into a frenzy.
This year, the BCS Championship Game features the Oregon Ducks and the Auburn Tigers. The top two teams in the land will square off in this year's title game...at least we think so. With undefeated TCU vying for a title shot too, the "strength of schedule" aspect played in again.
Not only are the BCS bowls going to be a joy to watch this season, pretty much every bowl will get their share of TV time from viewers. With interesting matchups across the board, fans will be treated to some great games this season.
Here are a handful of bowls to circle on your calendar.
There won't be a lot of aerial activity in this game. If you like tough, rugged, old-school football, then this is the game for you. Georgia Tech and Air Force are respectively the top two running teams in the nation, each averaging over 300 yards per game on the ground.
Air Force really finished the season strong with three consecutive wins to earn a bowl game. They've been competitive throughout the season, nearly beating a pair of Top 10 teams (Oklahoma and Utah) in the process. Their running game is carried by Asher Clark and QB Tim Jefferson, who had 15 rushing TDs this season.
Georgia Tech under Paul Johnson has been the best running team in the nation. Coming from Navy, this was his pedigree and it's worked with the multitude of backs that the Yellow Jackets have had as of late. Anthony Allen, Josh Nesbitt and several others have gotten their share of touches for the Jackets. They will need this to continue in their bowl game.
These two teams are mirror images of each other, literally. They are both power running teams that pass the ball very few times. Both teams attempted less than 200 passes this season. That's puzzling in an era where the pass has become so common and the running game has seemingly become a lost art.
Clearly, whichever team is able to run the football more effectively will come out on top. That was a hard guess wasn't it?
This has been a very disappointing year for Ricky Stanzi and Iowa. They were expected to achieve big things this season and it just didn't pan out. Iowa lost three straight to finish the season and was nearly lucky to just get into a bowl. They find themselves in a December bowl bout against the Missouri Tigers, a team who was snubbed from a good bowl game.
The Iowa Hawkeyes started off the season 5-1, then the wheels came off little by little as they stumbled into a 7-5 finish. Stanzi alone wasn't enough to fend off a tough Big Ten. This balanced offense really had a tough time with their one significant win coming against the Michigan St. Spartans. Adam Robinson was very effective for them on the ground and helped complement Stanzi and their attack.
The Hawkeye defense does not get nearly enough praise. Despite a par showing from the team as a whole, the defense was among the best in the nation.
Despite back-to-back losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech, Missouri held on for a great season, finishing at 10-2. Their defense carried them to this point. So to say that this will be a battle of the defenses is an understatement. This will be a major offensive struggle if these defenses have anything to do with it, which I'm sure they will.
The North Carolina Tar Heels were expected to do huge things this year in the ACC, but suspensions to stars early in the season derailed them. The Tennessee Volunteers started off 2-6 and finished with four straight victories to seal their bowl appearance.
North Carolina, led by senior T.J. Yates, was in prime position to become one of the best kept secrets in college football this season. They didn't deliver to the extent that they'd hoped and now find themselves playing in a December bowl. The Tar Heels are disappointed to be here quite frankly. They were supposed to be successful in something other than basketball in 2010. Though they were a success, it could've been so much more for them. Yates now looks to put his personal best season on display on national TV.
The Tennessee Vols are just content with making a bowl game this season. In Derek Dooley's first season as coach, the Vols probably exceeded expectations by breaking even. Tauren Poole and Tyler Bray were everything on offense or the Vols. Denarius Moore also pitched in with nearly 1,000 receiving yards for the Vols in 2010.
The Florida Gators and Penn State Nittany Lions do battle for a third time on New Year's Day. These two teams are heading in similar directions now as well as in the future. They're both relatively young teams in re-building mode.
The Gators' John Brantley is no Tim Tebow, then again who is? Brantley may not have been expected to be TT15, but he should've had a stronger season than this. The Gators were only a game away from playing in the SEC title game. Who knows how that game would've went had they gotten there? The Gators must use their complex offense as a tool for success on this day if they are to come away victorious.
Penn State's QB switch midseason helped, but they're also in re-building mode. Joe Paterno is approaching (what should be) the final years of his career. Paterno won his 400th game this season (all with Penn State). That remarkable tally is one for the ages and so is JoePa.
The nation's top two teams will decide the National Champion this season. The Oregon Ducks and Auburn Tigers are looking to show the country who the true No. 1 is. One of these two teams will go down as an undefeated champion; we'll let them decide on January 10th.
Auburn is looking to make their case with star QB Cam Newton leading the way. They've been a tormentor to the rest of the SEC all season long and basically dominated this strong conference from the get-go. Their defense is suspect, but if they outscore the opponent just once more, they'll be champions.
The Oregon Ducks, powered by LaMichael James might as well be the most complete team in the country. They have a strong offense and are an underrated defensive unit. Darron Thomas will need to have the best game of his career if the Ducks are to prevail.
Leave them all here please. Thanks for reading.