The BCS Championship is getting plenty of hype thanks to No. 2 Auburn’s miraculous run to get to Pasadena, Calif., for the title bout with No. 1 and unbeaten Florida State.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The BCS National Championship isn’t scheduled until Jan. 6, 2014 and we still have the other BCS Bowl games to watch with some great match ups. Here is a look at the 4 BCS Bowl games (and the National Championship) and a breakdown of each game.
ROSE BOWL – Michigan State vs. Stanford
PASADENA, CA, Jan. 1, 5 P.M. EST
The Granddaddy of Them All, this year’s Rose Bowl is shaping up to be the most intriguing game of the BCS series. Being that this year is the 100th year anniversary of the Rose Bowl, you know that the game will mean something special to both teams. No. 4 Michigan State is making its first Rose Bowl appearance in 25 years, while No. 5 Stanford is making its second straight appearance. This will be the sixth time Stanford and Michigan State square off, but none of the games have been bigger than this.
With a huge upset of then undefeated Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship, Michigan State is looking to ride the momentum of the win against the Buckeyes. The Spartan defense ranks first in the country, allowing an average of 248.2 yards per game, along with limiting teams to 80.8 yards in the run game. The emergence of Jeremy Langford in the Spartan backfield is going to prove to be a difficult force to account for. On the season, Langford’s 1,338 yards on 269 carries with 17 touchdowns have helped carry Michigan State in becoming a national power.
The Stanford Cardinal are no slouch on defense either. Led by a group of Seniors ranked number one in the Pac-12 on defense, expect this defense to be stingy on allowing yards as well. Also, the Michigan State defense will have their hands full against running back Tyler Gaffney. With a powerful running style and stout offensive line, Gaffney has racked up 1,618 yards on 306 carries this season with 20 touchdowns on the ground. But don’t be surprised if the Cardinal mixes things up with the passing game. With the speed of star receiver Ty Montgomery and big arm of quarterback Kevin Hogan, the Stanford has the ability to catch defenses off guard in the play-action and spread the field. Hogan’s ability to escape the pocket under pressure and beat you with his feet will be another aspect the Spartans will have to account for.
With two teams that are almost mirror images of each other, expect this game to be low scoring and won in the trenches. If you like defensive battles and smash-mouth football, you won’t want to miss this one!
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL – Baylor vs. UCF
GLENDALE, AZ, Jan. 1, 8:30 P.M. EST
No Robert Griffin, no problem. Baylor is back in the national spotlight without the 2011 Heisman winner, playing in its first BCS bowl game. The Bears lead the nation in scoring under QB Bryce Petty, which is very reminiscent of the 2011 squad that went on the beat Washington in the Alamo Bowl. With a lopsided loss to Oklahoma State on November 23rd, Baylor has rebounded nicely and expects to take care of business against UCF who are making their first BCS bowl appearance.
The first step for UCF is trying to find out how to slow down the Baylor offense, a team that has scored 53.3 points and is averaging 624.4 yard per game. With Bryce Petty putting up 3,844 yards with 30 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions, Petty ranks second in the country in passing efficiency (179.18). The Knights will have their hands full trying to contain him.
UCF quarterback Blake Bortles has somewhat flown under the radar this season but has caught the attention of many NFL scouts, tabbing him as a potential top 10 pick. With a passing efficiency of 163.3, Bortles has racked up 3,280 yards through the air with 22 touchdowns and 7 interceptions this year. Even with these numbers, Bortles will have trouble keeping pace in this offensive air battle if his offensive line can’t protect him better. Giving up 22 sacks on the season (14 in the final 4 games), the Knights will have to sure up that offensive line in order to give Bortles the chance to throw.
Don’t blink, this game will be an aerial attack with lots of yards and scoring.
ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL – Alabama vs. Oklahoma
NEW ORLEANS, LA, Jan. 2, 8:30 P.M. EST
Another New Orleans treat, head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide just want to get back to football again after dealing with the Saban-to-Texas rumors earlier this month. The matchup showcases not only two of the best teams in the country, but two of the best coaches as well, with Bob Stoops and Oklahoma riding high after an upset of Oklahoma State to punch their ticket to New Orleans. Oklahoma however, is looking to snap a five-game losing streak in BCS bowl games and wants to put those big-game struggles to rest for at least another year.
Look for the Crimson Tide to come out swinging after giving up a last minute 107 yard touchdown against the Auburn Tigers that knocked them out of the National Championship discussion. With a chip on their shoulders, Alabama will prove why they have won 3 of the last 4 National Championships. In his last collegiate game, expect Heisman Trophy runner-up, A.J. McCarron, to challenge Sooner defensive backs with a stout group of receivers, 4 who have caught 29 passes or more. If the Sooners are going to have any chance against the Crimson Tide, they will have to find a way to stop running back T.J. Yeldon and their deep corps of running backs. Their top 3 backs have combined for over 2,000 yards on the ground and 23 touchdowns.
Though there is still uncertainty at the quarterback position for Oklahoma, Blake Bell proves to be the biggest threat to Alabama as he has proven to be a big running threat averaging 7.1 yards on 62 carries. Against two prominent dual-threat quarterbacks, the Crimson Tide gave up 296 rushing yards to Nick Marshall of Auburn and allowed Johnny Manziel to throw for 464 yards and run for 96 more.
An intriguing match-up but expect this game to be a one-sided affair favoring the Crimson Tide of Alabama.
DISCOVER ORANGE BOWL – Ohio State vs. Clemson
MIAMI, FL, Jan. 3, 8:30 P.M. EST
While Florida was nowhere near the postseason this season, a former Gator in Ohio State Urban Meyer is back in the Sunshine State as the Buckeyes settle for the Orange Bowl with Clemson. The Buckeyes were hoping for the BCS title game before falling in their championship game. That leaves Ohio State playing for a lesser prize after nearly running the table over two straight seasons, but don’t expect Meyer’s team to be unprepared in this one. Meyer’s teams are nearly unbeatable in the postseason, thanks to that unflappable preparation, and with Braxton Miller under center, this one is still a must watch. Combining for over 12,000 yards of offense and over 130 touchdowns, expect this to be an all-out offensive battle.
Tajh Boyd’s 3,473 yards on the season with 29 passing touchdowns has more than made up for Clemson’s vulnerable defense. With 2 great receivers at his disposal, combining for over 2,000 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns, the Buckeyes are going to have their hands full in the secondary. If the passing game isn’t enough, Clemson has a solid running back in Roderick McDowell who has rushed 956 yards and 5 touchdowns as well as two more scores receiving.
Clemson isn’t the only team that can pile up numbers. On the season, Ohio State has averaged 46.3 points and 518.5 yards per game. Most of these video game type numbers have been attributed to the ground game with Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde, averaging more than 300 yards per game. With a Clemson team that gives up more than 160 yards per game, expect the Buckeyes to load up the ground game.
You won’t want to miss this one, it has the potential of being an offensive thriller.
VIZIO BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP – Florida State vs. Auburn
PASADENA, CA, Jan. 6, 8:30 P.M. EST
The big one is back in Pasadena again, with Auburn hoping to keep its magical carpet ride alive against unbeaten and No. 1 Florida State. What do the Tigers have in store for this year’s title game, its second since 2010 when they knocked off Oregon for their first national crown? If Auburn can make the spectacular plays on defense this time around, and slow down Heisman QB Jameis Winston, they’ll have a shot at giving the SEC Conference its eighth straight national crown. But if not, Winston and the Seminoles will be celebrating their first national title since 1999.
Being a team of destiny, the Auburn Tigers have shown time and time again this season that they have the resilience to battle in football games. The more than 500 yards and 40 points per game have made up for Auburn’s dismal defense that has given up over 400 yards per game. Quarterback Nick Marshall has been fantastic as of late, posting a 163.5 passer rating in the last four games as well as racking up over 800 yards on the ground in the last 5. Going up against a Florida State team that only gives up 152 yards per game through the air and 93 yards per game on the ground, the Auburn Tigers will have a tough time generating offense against one of the nation’s best defenses.
And then there is Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. The freshman has put up absurd numbers this season, passing for 3,820 yards with 38 touchdowns. The Seminoles have won almost every game by at least 27 points and have scored an average of 53 points per game. One lapse on defense and Winston will make you pay. With Florida State’s high octane offense, you can expect Winston to light up the scoreboard on college football’s biggest stage.
Can Auburn continue their magical ride of a season or will Florida State prove to the country why they are ranked number one? Only time will tell….