So here we go. The regular season is over and the bowl season is set to begin. There's no more room for whining, no more time to make the cases for your teams. Now it's all about the games, the way football should always be.
Here is my breakdown of each BCS Bowl game.
Orange Bowl—No. 12 Cincinnati vs. No. 19 Virginia Tech
The least publicized and hyped of all the BCS bowls, the Orange Bowl will make up for its lack of appeal with what should be a very exciting game. Have you seen the ACC and the Big East this year? They were clearly the two most dysfunctional conferences in the country. Any given week, not only something weird could happen, you could bank that it would happen.
What does that mean for this game? Anything could happen. I haven't seen much of either team, but I am sure I'm not alone, and that will make for the most intriguing of all BCS games.
The Bearcats haven't been this successful since, since...well, it's been a while. The Hokies, on the other hand have dominated the ACC since joining it.
It's a classic example of an up-and-coming program against the "traditional" power. I personally have to go with the underdog Bearcats, but because of this year, I am not all that confident.
Pick—Cincinnati by 7
Fiesta Bowl—No. 3 Texas vs. No. 10 Ohio State
From a possible Big 12 title game and a chance to play for the National Title game to the Fiesta Bowl. Yeah, it has been rough for the Longhorns lately. (And how bad would it be if Colt McCoy does not win the Heisman on Saturday? How mad would Texas be? Where would that rank in the "we're so disrespected we'll take it out on the next opponent" category? I would not like to be Ohio State if McCoy comes up short.)
Speaking of the Buckeyes, they are very fortunate to be playing a BCS game. Even though they were humbled by USC and could not come up big against Penn State here they are, playing for a BCS bowl for the fourth straight year and trying to shed the 'slow and choker' label that has hovered over them for the past couple of years.
Don't write the Buckeyes off because the Longhorn's offense is ridiculously good. The Buckeyes D is equally impressive; they held Penn State's offense to only 13 points and have averaged only 9.8 points against.
It will come down to whether or not OSU's offense can score enough points to win, and I have very serious doubts about it.
Pick—Texas by 10
Sugar Bowl—No. 6 Utah vs. No. 4 Alabama
An SEC power against the mid-major Cinderella, basically a home game for the Tide, the No. 1 team in the country for most of the season against a team that could not afford to lose.
All signs point to an Alabama win right? Right? Not so fast. These Utes are not just a great offense with no defense, they can clamp down and play close, defensive games as they did in a 13-10 win against TCU. They can stop the run and they force turnovers. Plus, they have a clutch QB in Brian Johnson.
Alabama, on the other side, went undefeated all of the year and No. 1 for the last two months, but all that went down the tubes with a loss to the Florida Gators and they will have to settle for the Sugar bowl.
It would be great to see a Mountain West team take down the second best team in the SEC, and I would pick the Utes if I wanted to make some 'Bama fans angry, but the fact of the matter is that I watched the Alabama—Florida game on Saturday and Alabama was as good a team as Florida. I cannot see Utah beating them, but then again, I could not see Boise State beating Oklahoma two years ago either.
Pick—Alabama by 14
Rose Bowl— No. 5 USC vs. No. 8 Penn State
USC playing in the Rose Bowl! Can you feel the excitement!? No? Good, me neither. Has any team dominated a single bowl game as much as USC has with the Rose Bowl? They have played in it four of the past five years, including three straight years, and in all but one of these meeting they have run over a Big Ten team (Michigan in ’03 and ’06 and Illinois last year).
Can Penn State buck the trend? Well, if they play as they did against Oho State and Iowa, forget about it. But if they play the way they have for every other game, then they will have a chance.
There’s been a lot of talk about Penn State’s Spread HD offense, and rightfully so, but this is the Trojans’ defense they will face, the best defense in the country, and remember that Penn State struggled against Ohio State, scoring only 13 points.
USC has depended too much on their defense. I have no doubt they can contain the Spread HD, but their offense has to come alive, and the weird part is they always get up for bowl games. They have scored 55, 38, 32, 49 points in the past four bowl games.
For as much as Joe Pa’s team has done this year, USC has the defensive playmakers to stop the Spread HD and their offense will score just enough points—as always.
Pick—USC by 10
BCS National Championship Game— No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida
For as much scrutiny as the BCS has faced, this year’s title game has given what fans wanted, the winner of the Big 12 against the winner of the SEC. Arguably the two best teams are facing off, and that is what the BCS was created to do.
Oklahoma comes in having scored over 60 points in their past five games (and 58 in the previous one), and have played out of their minds since their loss to Texas. Sam Bradford is in the short list for the Heisman and the Sooner’s defense is much better than some people (read: me) have given them credit for.
The Gators have an athletic defense that bears many similarities to their 2006 championship edition – quick, strong and opportunistic—and have a certain guy named Tebow. Percy Harvin is likely to be fully healthy in time for the game which will give the Gators more playmakers than they did against Alabama.
This game promises to be much, much better than the past two, and will have the star power and hype to match the 2006 Rose Bowl.
It will all come down to the defense, which can put pressure on the opposing QB, which one can force the more turnovers. The Gators have the edge in that department.
Pick—Gators by 3