2011 Bowl Schedule: Ranking the 10 Most Potentially Exciting Matchups
The rematch is on.
LSU and Alabama will square off again in a rematch of the "Game of the Century" on Nov. 5. Except this time, it's for the BCS National Championship.
These two have earned the right to dually represent the SEC, truly the best conference in college football if the title game selection is to be honored.
But these aren't the only two meeting up in a huge and exciting showdown. From the mix of size and speed to be showcased in the Rose Bowl Game between Wisconsin and Oregon, to the chance at redemption for Oklahoma State, facing off against the future No. 1 overall NFL draft pick, there's plenty of excitement to be had this bowl season.
Here now, in order, are the 10 most exciting matchups of the 2011 bowl season.
Time to get psyched.
No. 10: Capital One Bowl, Nebraska vs. South Carolina
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier yells at a referee.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Featured in the Capital One Bowl is a Nebraska offense headed by double-threat QB Taylor Martinez, who has thrown for 1,973 yards and 12 TDs and rushed for 837 yards and nine TDs. Except for two blowouts at Michigan and at Wisconsin, their defense has played well, thanks in no small part to former defensive coordinator and current head coach Bo Pelini.
Vying to stop the Cornhusker attack is a South Carolina defense ranked 18th in the FBS in points allowed. The 10-2 Gamecocks look to continue to salvage their season after star RB Marcus Lattimore underwent knee surgery earlier in the year.
This one features two hot-headed coaches, so literally anything is possible.
No. 9: Valero Alamo Bowl, Baylor vs. Washington
Baylor QB Robert Griffin III takes the field against Baylor. The Bears won, 48-24.
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images
As of right now, there may be no better Heisman candidate than Baylor QB Robert Griffin III, who has amassed 3,998 yards—and will presumably pass 4,000—and 36 TD passes next to six INTs, not to mention his 161 carries for 644 yards and nine rushing TDs. This dynamo, more than probably any other player in the FBS, is indispensable to the Bears' success, who finished their regular season with a 9-3 record and a spot in the Alamo Bowl.
Looking to stop the man they call "RG3" is a Washington team with a better 7-5 record than you think. Their QB, sophomore Keith Price, is literally coming "Straight Outta Compton" to the tune of 29 TD passes against 11 INTs. After an embarrassing loss to Oregon State, the Huskies finished their regular season strong with a 38-21 victory over rival Washington State, setting the stage for an exciting shootout in San Antonio.
No. 8: Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl, Ohio State vs. Florida
Urban Meyer is introduced as Ohio State's next coach. And flexes his guns.
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Did you say Urban Meyer?
Yes, yes I did.
Well, why would you say that?
Because his name will be mentioned every 8.2 seconds at the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl.
Yes, didn't you hear?
Hear that Urban Meyer, formerly the head coach at Florida, accepted the head coaching position at Ohio State?
And also that Ohio State and Florida are playing each other in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl?
I didn't know that.
Yes. It's real.
Wow. I might have to tune in to the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl.
Yes, yes you might.
No. 7: AT&T Cotton Bowl, Kansas State vs. Arkansas
Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson evades an LSU defender. The Hogs would lose, 41-14.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
This bowl showcases two quarterbacks with opposing styles, as rusher/thrower Collin Klein of the Kansas State will face off against pocket passer Tyler Wilson and the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Klein's numbers are staggering. In addition to a 10-2 record this season, Klein has thrown for 1,745 yards and 12 TD passes, while he's also their leading rusher with 293 carries for 1,099 yards and 26 TD runs.
He's a "quarterback," then.
Meanwhile for the Hogs, Tyler Wilson's main accomplishments include defeating every opponent this year not in the national title game. He was named a finalist for the Manning Award for best QB in the nation, after throwing for over 3,400 yards and 22 TD passes.
This game will feature a unique combination of styles, and with Pat Summerall calling the game from the booth in Jerry Jones Land—sorry, Cowboys Stadium—the FOX viewing audience will be treated to a great matchup here.
No. 6: Discover Orange Bowl, Clemson vs. West Virginia
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd throws a pass against Virginia Tech. The Tigers won the ACC title, 38-10.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
He eats opposing defenses.
31 touchdown passes on 3,578 yards passing.
On the other side of the ball, Mountaineer Geno Smith.
Who also eats opposing defenses.
25 touchdown passes on 3,978 yards passing—the yards good for eighth in the FBS.
Say goodbye to your hopes of a defensive struggle in this one.
No. 5: Outback Bowl, Michigan State vs. Georgia
Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins in the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin. The Spartans lost, 42-39.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Michigan State did all they could to secure the Big 10 Championship against Wisconsin, but a roughing the kicker penalty late in the game dashed their hopes for a Rose Bowl berth.
Instead, the Spartans will travel to Tampa Bay for the Outback Bowl, bringing the ninth-best defense into Raymond James Stadium, a place known for its past defensive struggles as the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Add QB Kirk Cousins (3,016 yards passing and 24 TDs) to the mix and you've got a well-rounded 10-win Spartan squad.
Facing Michigan State is a team looking to get their own painful loss off their shoulders. Georgia was annihilated in the SEC Championship Game against LSU after letting two clear touchdown receptions go, thanks to drops. The 41-14 loss stung harder than any point in an otherwise great season. Head coach Mark Richt is off the hot seat he was placed on early, and the Bulldogs have something to show the Big 10 about how the SEC operates.
Here's looking at you, Tampa.
No. 4: Allstate Sugar Bowl, Michigan vs. Virginia Tech
Michigan QB Denard Robinson celebrates after defeating Ohio State 40-34.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Big Blue vs. Beamer Ball.
Lots of B's here.
The most exciting city in the world will host the Sugar Bowl, as Michigan and Virginia Tech descend on New Orleans to begin 2012. Michigan QB Denard Robinson has struggled through repeated injury trouble, but when healthy, represents the most dynamic player to wear a Michigan uniform since Heisman trophy winner Charles Woodson.
Facing the Wolverines will be a Virginia Tech team that is actually undefeated this season, as long as they're not facing Clemson. The Hokies boast the eighth-best FBS team in points allowed, have a dynamic running game and, most importantly, have a coach unafraid of taking risks in big game situations.
Indeed, when they mention Beamer Ball, they're talking about superb defense and special teams excellence. That excellence will be tested against Big Blue in the Big Easy.
No. 3: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Oklahoma State vs. Stanford
Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Arguably the two best quarterbacks in the country are featured here, as Brandon Weeden leads his Oklahoma State Cowboys into Glendale, Arizona to face Andrew Luck and his Stanford Cardinal in the Fiesta Bowl.
Both Weeden and Luck have shown audiences across the country that they are the real deal, as the NFL salivates for a particularly QB-heavy draft this coming year. Weeden has thrown for 34 TD passes for the second straight year, while his 4,328 passing yards are good for second in the FBS, to go along with the second-best scoring offense in the country.
In the face of the Cowboys is Andrew Luck. The 11-1 Cardinal are led by the 35 TD passes of Luck, one of the better defenses in the nation and a tenacious desire to prove their critics wrong, as they were bypassed for the Rose Bowl after losing to Oregon.
Roses, fiestas, I think it's all good.
No. 2: Rose Bowl Game, Wisconsin vs. Oregon
Inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game MVP LaMichael James.
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
The prototypical BCS game. Mix of styles, personalities and mentalities.
Where Pac-12 Champions Oregon runs a hurry-up offense to a disturbingly-successful degree (and are prone to going for two), Wisconsin relies on its NFL-sized offensive line to exhaust opposing defenses with strength and willpower.
While Oregon touts Heisman hopeful and possibly the best running back in the nation in LaMichael James. With the fifth-best rushing offense and third-best scoring offense in the FBS, the Ducks are looking to score, and score often. Just call them Wilt Chamberlain (or is that too soon?).
Standing in their way of Rose Bowl glory are the hard-hitting Badgers of Wisconsin, led by the lethal two-headed monster of QB Russell Wilson and RB Montee Ball, each with over 30 TD (passing and rushing, respectively) on the season. The pair will look to take advantage of an at-times weak Oregon secondary, but doing so won't be a challenge for the Badger offense.
Only one game is getting my blood pumping more than this one...
No. 1: BCS National Championship Game, LSU vs. Alabama
Alabama head coach Nick Saban and LSU head coach Les Miles.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
The rematch is on.
Tigers of LSU. Crimson Tide of Alabama. A rematch of the "Game of the Century" from the place where both LSU coach Les Miles and Alabama coach Nick Saban won national titles for LSU.
Have a nice day.