You think it’s too early for bowl predictions? You might be right, but the heck with it; I will do it anyway.
Week 3 of the 2011 college football season is in the books, and a couple of teams have separated themselves from the rest by playing outstanding football or simply winning.
The following is an early bowl match-up prediction of the five BCS Bowls that will take place in early January 2012.
The “Granddaddy” of all bowl games, the Rose Bowl, will take place on Jan. 2, 2012, at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif.
The Rose Bowl hosts the matchup between the Pac-12 champion and the Big Ten champion if none of them has a berth in the national championship game.
I don’t expect any of these two conferences to send a team to New Orleans for the BCS championship game, which means they will play in the Rose Bowl.
Oregon: After three games, the No.10 Oregon Ducks seem to be back on track to defend their conference title from last season despite losing their season opener against LSU.
Over the last two games, the Ducks outscored their opponents 125-27, displaying their tremendous speed on offense. Quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James will be the keys to Oregon’s success.
The Ducks will go to their third-straight BCS Bowl game, looking for their first Rose Bowl victory since 1917.
Wisconsin: Through the first three weeks of the 2011 season, the Big Ten conference appears to be considerably weaker than the year before.
Ohio State and Michigan State will not be in the hunt for the conference title again, and Michigan still seems to be one or two years away.
This leaves the No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers as the sole favorite for the Big Ten crown. Wisconsin finished in first in a three-way tie for the conference title in 2010. Due to being ranked the highest out of the three schools, the Badgers earned the Big Ten’s spot in the Rose Bowl, where they lost 21-19 to TCU.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has already thrown for eight touchdowns and only one interception in the team’s first three games. Wisconsin is going for its second straight Rose Bowl appearance and its first victory since 2000.
This season's Fiesta Bowl will also be played on Jan. 2, 2012 and will host the Big-12 conference champion, if not competing for the national championship, and an at-large bid.
Write this down: The Big-12 champion will play for the national championship.
Texas: However, I still have a Big-12 team in the Fiesta Bowl. The No.19 Texas Longhorns will bounce back from their atrocious 2010 season in which they finished below .500 for the fist time since 1997.
The Longhorns impressed many critics, including myself, with their style of play in the first three games.
Mack Brown’s team will wrestle with Oklahoma for the Big-12 crown, so highlight Oct. 8 in your calendar and watch the Red River Rivalry from Cowboys Stadium.
Stanford: Texas’ opponent in the Fiesta bowl will be the No.5 Stanford Cardinal with stand-out quarterback, Andrew Luck.
Stanford is the second best team in the Pac-12 and will get an invitation to Glendale, Ariz. Andrew Luck led his Cardinal team to three impressive wins to start the season.
He completed 67.1-percent of his passes for a total of eight touchdowns and only one interception. Stanford outscored their opponents 137-28, including an important 37-10 over Arizona on Saturday.
The team of new head coach David Shaw will make its third-straight Bowl appearance.
The 2012 Sugar Bowl will be played on Jan. 3, 2012, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.
It hosts the matchup between the SEC champion, unless selected to play in the national championship, and an at-large team from any other conference.
LSU: The No. 2 LSU Tigers have a team that can compete for the national championship. The only reason they are not going to is that there’s a better team in the SEC West.
Les Miles’ squad ended Oregon’s national championship ambitions with a crushing 40-27 victory in their season opener. The Tigers defensive line held the Ducks’ Heisman candidate LaMichael James to only 54 rushing yards.
Even more impressive is the performance of former backup quarterback, Jarrett Lee, who many people thought would be a liability.
Instead, he proved in the first three games that he is a reliable passer who can lead his team down the field. It would mark LSU’s return to a BCS bowl game for the first time since they won the national championship game in 2008.
Boise State: What can you say about No.4 Boise State? The team is year after year in the hunt for a spot in the national championship game.Their problem is the problem (or fascination?) of college football; they play in a non-BCS conference.
The Boise State Broncos are part of the Mountain West Conference, and therefore, struggle to earn recognition and respect.
Yes, their conference schedule is weak, but that’s not Boise’s fault, and they try to bump up their schedule by playing ranked non-conference opponents. See their season-opening win against then No.19 Georgia.
Broncos head coach Chris Peterson has done a tremendous job since his arrival at Boise State, posting a stunning 63-5 record since 2006.
Oh yeah, and the Broncos have, with Kellen Moore, one of the best quarterbacks in all of college football.
The 2012 Orange Bowl will be played on Jan. 4, 2012, at the Miami Gardens, Fla.
The Orange Bowl hosts the matchup between the ACC champion, if not playing in the national championship game (I guess you guys get the drill), and an at-large bid.
Florida State: The Florida State Seminoles will head to their first BCS bowl game in half a decade. Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher has assembled a talented team down in Tallahassee, Fla.
Florida State have had top-10 recruiting classes in both 2010 and 2011, according to ESPN, ranking them No.6 in 2010 and No.1 in 2011.
They are the clear favorite to win the ACC conference title, which would result in the Seminoles' first BCS bowl appearance since 2006, when they lost to Penn State 26-23 in the Orange Bowl.
West Virginia: A basketball powerhouse, but a football laughing-stock—that’s the Big East conference.
The worst automatic qualifying conference in the BCS will send their top team to the 2012 Orange Bowl.
The favorite and arguably best team in the Big East, the No.16 West Virginia Mountaineers, will defend its conference title and represent the Big East at the 2012 Orange Bowl.
I personally think that the Mountaineers do not deserve to play in a BCS bowl based on the team’s quality and the number of non-automatic qualifying teams that are better than West Virginia.
However, that's just how it works.
This season's BCS National Championship Game will be played on Jan. 9, 2012, at the Louisana Superdome in New Orleans.
The national championship game features the matchup between the No.1 and No. 2 ranked teams of the BCS standings at the end of the college football regular season.
Oklahoma: The No.1 Oklahoma Sooners have all the pieces to win the school’s eighth national championship and the second under head coach Bob Stoops.
Sooners quarterback Landry Jones is a Heisman hopeful, coming off a spectacular 2010 season in which he threw for more than 4,000 yards and 38 touchdowns.
Jones will lead his Sooners to another Big 12 conference title and their first national championship game appearance since 2000.
Oklahoma has, with Jones, the playmaker on the offensive side of the ball and a defense that can stop the run as well as the pass.
Alabama: The second team in the national championship game will be the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide. The perpetual title contender from Tuscaloosa has yet another ensemble of outstanding players that blossom under head coach Nick Saban.
Alabama running back Trent Richardson is one of the best at his position in all of college football.
He has rushed for 315 yards and eight touchdowns in the team’s three victories to start the 2011 season.
Sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron has shown that he can perform if needed, completing 64-percent of his passes.
Alabama’s defense has played lights out, allowing only six points per game through three games, including a 41-0 shut out against North Texas last Saturday.
The Crimson Tide are the early favorite of winning it all in 2011.