Who Will Start The New Year Right With a BCS Win?

Justin CocchiolaCorrespondent IJanuary 1, 2009

The BCS is always criticized, but always looked forward to.  This may be because we've had to sit through the Emerald Bowl and the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl.  The games weren't bad, but don't have much appeal.  Here are my projections for the 2009 BCS Bowl season.

Rose Bowl

USC 38, Penn State 20

The last time USC played a Big Ten team ranked in the top 10 they won by 32.  However, Penn State beat Oregon State by 31, and Oregon State beat USC.  Both were fairly early in the year, and have absolutely no meaning for this game.

Mark Sanchez won't have a great day, but will do enough for his team to win.  Sanchez has so many weapons on offense, so it's tough not to succeed.  Joe McKnight should be the main focus for the Penn State defense, as he has started coming on very strong for the Trojans.

Darryll Clark will need to play a near perfect game for the Nittany Lions to win, and will need help from Derrick Williams on special teams and Evan Royster in the running game.  The running game will be vital for Clark's success, but the Trojans should come out on top comfortably in this one.

Orange Bowl

Virginia Tech 23, Cincinnati 19

The Hokies are playing for more than just themselves in this one.  The ACC is having another disappointing showing in bowl games, and the ACC is 1-8 in nine BCS Bowl appearances.  If the Hokies want to quite the critics, just for a little bit, they will need to win this game.

Will they?  I think so.  Cincinnati is a good football team, but they're not used to seeing this type of defense on a regular basis.  Virginia Tech's defense can often bully opponents, but at the same time give up a big play or two.  Macho Harris on Marshwan Gilyard will be the most important matchup for each team.  If Harris can lock down Gilyard Cincinnati's biggest threat will be taken away.

Tyrod Taylor will also need to play well for the Hokies to win.  I think the Cincinnati defense will take away his ability to run, and Taylor will be forced to make plays with his arm.  Darren Evans will have to be established for the Hokies to have success through the air.  This game will be better than people think, and could be decided on the last possession.

Sugar Bowl

Alabama 45, Utah 24

This will likely be a repeat of Georgia-Hawaii last year.  Alabama is way to good to lose to Utah.  Utah does deserve a BCS Bowl, but they will likely be embarrassed.  The best two teams they've played this season were TCU and BYU.  Brian Johnson is a solid quarterback, and has thrown for 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions.  However, he hasn't seen an SEC caliber defense.

Glen Coffee will be the key to Alabama's success on offense, who has over 1,300 rushing yards this season.  His ability to run should open up the passing game for Alabama.  One of the biggest concerns for Utah is who will defend Julio Jones. 

John Parker Wilson has thrown for only 1,655 yards and six touchdowns this season, and Jones has 847 of those yards with four touchdowns.  I expect Jones to have a huge game against this Utah secondary.

Fiesta Bowl

Texas 41, Ohio State 21

Texas is probably disappointed with how there season finished.  The season literally slipped through their arms, after a near interception led to a last second touchdown for Texas Tech.  Texas will put this behind them, and I don't expect them to be focused on what could've been.

Colt McCoy is a beast, and will shred the Ohio State secondary.  Malcom Jenkins is a projected top 10 pick, along with James Lauranitis, but I expect more of the same from this Ohio State team.  They consistently fail to show up in big games. 

Jenkins will only be able to cover one of Texas' top two receivers.  Jordan Shipely and Quann Cosby will be tough matches for the secondary, and with the play making ability of Colt McCoy Texas should dominate the Buckeyes.  I expect Terrell Pryor to have an okay game, but Ohio State will have to rely too much on Chris Wells and will falter in a BCS bowl for the third straight year.

BCS National Championship

Florida 45, Oklahoma 31

This game will be close for much of the game, but defense will prevail for the Gators in this one.  Florida is the best team in the country, and I know they're tired of hearing about how good this Oklahoma offense is.  One team in the Big 12 ranks in the top 50 in pass defense, and that's Texas who ranks 50th.

It's not easy to score 60 plus points in five straight games, but Oklahoma wasn't doing it against great defenses each week.  Sam Bradford will have to play a flawless game for the Sooners to win, but pressure in the backfield will affect his play significantly.  Bradford is used to a clear pocket with all day to throw to open receivers.  This won't be the case on January 8th.

In Florida's first few games of the season they didn't look like a top 10 team.  Then a loss to Mississippi at home woke them up.  Tim Tebow put the Gators on his back, leading them to an SEC Championship over undefeated Alabama without Percy Harvin on the field.

Florida has too many weapons offensively, and more importantly defensively, and will pull away at the end of the game.