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Why each bowl could be good ... or stink
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New Mexico BowlWyoming vs. Fresno State
Dec. 19th, Albuquerque NM, 2:30 pm ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: Ryan Mathews. Stanford's Toby Gerhart has rushed for more yards, but technically, the Fresno State back is the nation's leading rusher averaging over 151 yards per game. This is Wyoming's first bowl game since 2004 and is looking to make a big statement to close out Dave Christensen's first season at the helm.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: Wyoming isn't very good at playing football. The Cowboys have the nation's 112th ranked offense and its best win came against UNLV.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: This will be a showcase game for Mathews as he makes a big statement before going off to the NFL (maybe). Wyoming might not be good, but this is an extremely plucky team that will bring the fire and enthusiasm.
St. Petersburg BowlRutgers vs. UCF
Dec. 19th, St. Petersburg FL, 8 pm, ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: UCF is actually good. George O'Leary's Knights have a nasty run defense, an aggressive defensive front, and can get into the backfield. Rutgers is pushing for a nine-win season and its fourth bowl win in a row.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: It's doubtful that this will be a high-end, high-scoring game. UCF is 0-2 this year against BCS league teams, losing to Miami and Texas by a combined score of 62-10.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: Rutgers will win with QB Tom Savage overcoming a bad game against West Virginia to grow into a star of the early bowl season. The UCF pass defense stinks.
R&L Carriers New Orleans BowlSouthern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee
Dec. 20th, New Orleans LA, 8 pm ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: Dwight Dasher. You haven't seen the Middle Tennessee quarterback play, but he's a fantastic all-around talent who should give a struggling USM defense fits.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: Yeah, Middle Tennessee has a win over Maryland, but its second best win of the year came against ULM. However, if the Blue Raiders are pumped up, this could be shockingly one-sided one way or the other.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: This will be a sneaky-good bowl that will be worth the effort. Both teams have had good seasons with four of USM's five losses coming by a touchdown or less, while MTSU is playing for a ten-win season.
MAACO Las Vegas BowlBYU vs. Oregon State
Dec. 22nd, Las Vegas NV, 8 pm, ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: BYU loves to make a statement in games like this against Pac 10 teams. Oregon State was within an eyelash of playing in Pasadena and has been terrific under Mike Riley in bowl games, winning three straight.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: When BYU has been bad this year, it has been baaaaad. This was the only team in America that couldn't seem to figure out the Florida State defense. At home, the Cougars weren't even close against TCU. If QB Max Hall has a bad game, this could get ugly in a hurry.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: Oregon State needs to show up and win this or it'll only further the argument that the top-shelf of the Mountain West is every bit as good as the anyone in the Pac 10.
Poinsettia BowlUtah vs. California
Dec. 23rd, San Diego CA, 8 pm, ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: Utah lost three games this year, two of them were against teams in the BCS (Oregon and TCU ... on the road) and the third loss came at BYU in overtime. Cal has won four straight bowl games.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: Will Cal decide to play or will it be the team that got blasted by Washington to end the regular season? When the Bears have struggled, they've been miserable. Utah's offense isn't going to keep the crowd moving.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: It's a message board game between the Mountain Westers and the Pac 10. After what happened last year in the Sugar Bowl, Utah would spend the offseason puffing its chest out about how well it does against the BCS-league teams.
Sheraton Hawaii BowlSMU vs. Nevada
Dec. 24th, Honolulu HI, 8 pm, ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: Nevada is really, really, really fun to watch. The Pack offense will have 200 rushing yards before getting off the plane. If you care that it's the return of June Jones to Hawaii to coach a game, then you'll enjoy the storyline that'll be played up over and over again.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: Jones going back to Hawaii to coach a game isn't exactly like Favre going back to Lambeau in a Viking uniform. SMU's passing game isn't all that great, while the run defense is soft. Uh-oh.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: Nevada's running game is worth the watch. It'll tear off over 500 yards, but SMU's passing game will go nuts on a horrible Pack secondary.
Emerald BowlBoston College vs. USC
Dec. 26th, San Francisco CA, 8:30 pm, ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: It's USC in the Emerald Bowl. It could be great theater to see if the mighty Trojans really care about showing up or if the game is beneath them. This could be a huge win over the Pac 10 if the ACC pulls it off.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: It's USC in the Emerald Bowl. If it's bad USC, and if it doesn't feel like playing, this could be ugly. If it feels like playing and unleashes the hounds, this could be really ugly.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: If Boston College gains 100 yards, consider it a successful bowl game. This might be a 3-0 final if the USC offense sputters like it did at times at the end of the year.
Meineke Car Care BowlNorth Carolina vs. Pitt
Dec. 26th, Charlotte NC, 4 pm, ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: Pitt knows how to do drama. Six of its final nine games were decided by a touchdown or less. It's a battle of wits between two Jimmy Johnson disciples (Butch Davis and Dave Wannstedt) and Dallas Cowboy assistants.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: If North Carolina's defense doesn't have a good game, this won't be pretty. The North Carolina offense is as brutal as it gets; Pitt's attack needs to be held in check early.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: UNC beat UConn in its one game against the Big East this year. These two teams will be flying all over the place with lots of sacks, lots of big hits, and lots of intrigue. This will be one of the bowl season's better early matchups.
Little Caesars Pizza BowlMarshall vs. Ohio
Dec. 26th, Detroit MI, 5 pm, ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: Marshall gets to go back to its old MAC days and pretend its the champion. Ohio gets to go back to Ford Field and pretend it won the MAC title against CMU. This is Marshall's first bowl game since joining Conference USA and just the second postseason game since 2002.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: Ohio plays tough, but it's not all that great. The Herd comes into the game limping after losing three of its last four and four of its last six.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: You have to really, really love bowl games to be pumped up for this. However, while neither team plays much offense, it should be a close, competitive battle between two teams that'll try.
Music City BowlClemson vs. Kentucky
Dec. 27th, Nashville TN, 8 pm, ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: C.J. Spiller, C.J. Spiller, C.J. Spiller. While he won't get as much hype as the Clemson star ... Randall Cobb, Randall Cobb, Randall Cobb.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: It's the We Lost To South Carolina club. It's Clemson in a bowl game; the Tigers lost their last three, including the 2006 Music City Bowl, 28-20.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: Kentucky can't stop the run, so it's possible for Spiller to hit 200 yards coming out of the locker room. The Wildcats deserve to be playing on New Year's Day and will be well motivated to show why.
Independence BowlTexas A&M vs. Georgia
Dec. 28th, Shreveport LA, 5 pm ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: Defense is for dorks. This might not be the most well played game, but if it's not 55-51, ask for your money back.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: A&M beat Texas Tech, but its second best win of the year came against Iowa State. There are times when the Aggie offense sputters and dies (Oklahoma, Kansas State, Arkansas) and if the Georgia defense wants to test its manhood, it's uh-oh time.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: This is sheer bowl candy. It'll be a nice Big 12 vs. SEC game for the Our Conference Is Better debate, and with these two defenses, or a lack of defenses, it should be wildly entertaining.
Champs Sports BowlMiami vs. Wisconsin
Dec. 29th, Orlando FL, 8 pm, ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: This is a BCS caliber game. Miami is better than it played at times throughout the year, but with its athletes and speed, this could be a stepping-stone game for 2010. The same goes for a really good Badger team that will come in ticked off that it didn't get the New Year's Day nod.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: 42-13. It was the ugliest bowl game of the 2008-2009 season with the Badgers getting blown out by Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl. 2009 Miami is faster and better the 2008 Seminole team.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: This will be really interesting. Wisconsin will try to bring the power and its aggressive defense to come up with a big win for the Big Ten, but Miami is more talented. The ACC needs this.
EagleBank BowlUCLA* vs. Temple
Dec. 30th, Washington DC, 4:30 pm ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: Assuming Navy beats Army and UCLA is in, it's a decent step forward, albeit a small one, for Rick Neuheisel's club. It'll be Temple's first bowl game since the 1979 Garden State Bowl. Owl freshman RB Bernard Pierce, who's expected to be back after suffering a shoulder injury, is worth the price of admission.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: It's the MAC vs. the Pac 10. The MAC ... vs. ... the Pac 10. Temple might have played well this year, but if UCLA tries, this could be a big bowl of yeeeuuuch.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: No offense to UCLA, but an Army-Temple game might be more fun. If nothing else, the Owls are going to bring a maximum effort and if they win, it could be one of the big stories of the bowl year.
* If Army beats Navy, the Knights are in over UCLA.
Pacific Life Holiday BowlNebraska vs. Arizona
Dec. 30th, San Diego CA, 8 pm ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: If you love defense and find all those silly touchdowns and field goals that the kids are all talking about a tad boring, then here's your dream world. First one to score wins!
This Bowl Could Suck Because: If you like offense and would prefer to see one of these "touchdowns," at least from the offense, look elsewhere. Arizona actually has a nice, balanced attack, and Ndamukong Suh and the Husker defense could shut it down cold.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: This is a huge game for Arizona. This is only the program's second bowl game since 1998, when Desert Swarm finished 12-1 with a dominant Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska. Winning this game would take the Mike Stoops era to a whole other level.
Roady's Humanitarian BowlBowling Green vs. Idaho
Dec. 30th, Boise ID, 4:30 pm ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: Easily the nation's biggest surprise team (really, it is), Idaho was stunningly decent under Robb Akey, whose teams always fought hard but without any results. The effort will be there in the team's first bowl game since 1998, while Bowling Green will make it fun with QB Tyler Sheehan, WR Freddie Barnes, and the Falcons high-octane air show.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: Bowling Green closed out the year with four straight wins and have found ways to win. Idaho has lost four of its last five games, giving up 52 points to Utah State, 63 to Boise State, and 70 to Nevada.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: A bowl win would mean everything to a Vandal program that has been among the weakest over the last decade. Played close to home, this should be a wild, high-spirited game.
Texas BowlMissouri vs. Navy
Dec. 31st, Houston TX, ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: Navy's offense is always worth the price of admission, while the Mizzou passing combination of Blaine Gabbert to Danario Alexander is a must-see if you didn't catch the back half of the Tiger season.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: Navy tries hard, but it has lost its last three bowl games and doesn't have the firepower to keep up if Missouri gets rolling early. The Tigers are 12th in the nation against the run.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: Navy is always hit-or-miss. It can lose to Hawaii but beat Notre Dame. If the Tigers are focused and use the practice time well, they shouldn't have too much of a problem.
Armed Forces BowlAir Force vs. Houston
Dec. 31st, Fort Worth TX, Noon, ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: Sit back and enjoy. Houston is miserable against the run and should give up about 90 zillion yards, while Air Force, even with its good defense, will give up about 84 gajillion passing yards to Case Keenum and the fun Cougar attack.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: It's possible that one side runs away with it. Houston's high-powered passing game doesn't always lead to points, while Air Force doesn't have the passing attack to get back in the game if Keenum goes nuts early on.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: If these two don't combine for over 1,000 yards of offense in a wild shootout, be extremely disappointed. This might be the most fun bowl game to watch.
Brut Sun BowlStanford vs. Oklahoma
Dec. 31st, El Paso TX, Noon, CBS
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: It's Toby Gerhart vs. the Oklahoma run defense. Each program will be treating this as a stepping stone for 2010 with OU looking to show that this season was just a case of rebuilding, while Stanford wants to show that it might be the hot program in college football going into next year.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: Oklahoma is stunningly mediocre outside of its state borders. If the Sooner offense plays like it did against Texas Tech and Nebraska, then the Cardinal could come up with an easy blowout.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: Stanford has a chance to beat USC and Oklahoma in the same season. A Cardinal win would mean the first six-loss season for OU since 1998. It'll be interesting to see if OU shows up.
Insight BowlMinnesota vs. Iowa State
Dec. 31, Tempe AZ, 5:30 pm, NFL Network
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: It'll be an interesting regional battle that should be a yearly non-conference matchup. The two schools are only 200 miles apart and there will be some yacking going on between the fan bases. The two should play a close, tough game, but ...
This Bowl Could Suck Because: Neither team is all that great. Iowa State lost three of its last four games and is 102nd in the nation in scoring. Minnesota lost four of its last six games and is 113th in the nation in total offense.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: It's all gravy for Iowa State, who wasn't expected to be anywhere near a bowl game, while a loss for Minnesota would put head coach Tim Brewster firmly on the hot seat going into 2010.
Chick-fil-A BowlVirginia Tech vs. Tennessee
Dec. 31, Atlanta GA, 7:30 pm ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: The Peach, uh, Chick-fil-A is always lively, even if the games haven't been any good over the last few years. Lane Kiffin would milk a win for all it's worth this offseason as proof that the program is on the right track, while Virginia Tech will look to prove that it really does belong among the elite teams.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: If you like high-end passing games, this isn't for you. The SEC has won four in a row in the bowl game with six of the last eight games decided by more than a touchdown.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: Virginia Tech is ending its season where it started in Atlanta. It lost to Alabama in a strong first game, but Tennessee isn't 'Bama. However, watch out for the Vols to come into this game jacked up and ready to play at a high level.
Outback BowlNorthwestern vs. Auburn
Jan. 1, Tampa FL, 11 am, ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: If Auburn's offense is working, the should be plenty of yards and several big plays. Northwestern's defense is fine, but nothing special, and it should give up tons of points. So will the Tigers if NU QB Mike Kafka is on.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: It's Northwestern in a bowl game. The program hasn't won a bowl game since 1948, and while it played well last year in the Alamo against Missouri, the talent disparity usually shows through.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: The pressure is on Northwestern after the Outback blew off Wisconsin and its fan base for a Wildcat team that doesn't travel. The pressure might be even bigger for Gene Chizik and the Tigers. Losing to Northwestern wouldn't sit well this offseason ... it's still Northwestern.
Capital One BowlPenn State vs. LSU
Jan. 1, Orlando FL, 1 pm, ABC
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: This could be a BCS game and no one would blink, and it could be, arguably, better than a few of the BCS matchups. Penn State's defense is fully healthy and should be frothing at the mouth, while LSU has been terrific in bowl games winning five of its last six with the one loss coming to Iowa on a miracle play in the 2005 Capital One Bowl.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: If Penn State's defensive line plays up to its full capability, LSU might struggle to score. Penn State's offense did nothing against the two good teams it faced; Iowa and Ohio State.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: This will be a big part of all the offseason chest-thumping arguments between SEC and Big Ten fans. Penn State is more than fast enough to keep up with LSU, but if it loses this game, the Big Ten will take a huge hit status-wise. The league needs this win, and badly.
Gator BowlFlorida State vs. West Virginia
Jan. 1, Jacksonville FL, 1 pm CBS
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: It's Bobby Bowden's last game as head coach. Florida State can't play, but because of the circumstances it could look like the 1993 team. West Virginia has won four straight bowl games, but it's going to take a backseat to the storyline.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: Florida State doesn't have a defense. If West Virginia doesn't care about sentimentality, this could be an embarrassing swan song for the legendary head man.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: It'll be fascinating to see of the Seminoles can rise up and play at another level. For Big East pride, West Virginia can't lose to a bottom division team even with emotion playing a huge part in the equation.
Rose BowlOhio State vs. Oregon
Jan. 1, Pasadena, CA 5 pm ABC
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: USC isn't in it. This is the first time Ohio State has been in the Rose Bowl under Jim Tressel, but it'll have a big task to deal with against a hot Oregon ground game that gets LeGarrette Blount back in the mix to go along with LaMichael James and QB Jeremiah Masoli. For the Buckeyes, this could be the showcase breakout game for Terrelle Pryor to launch a big 2010.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: It's a bad matchup for an Ohio State team that hasn't shown the firepower this year to scare the Ducks. The last Big Ten win in Pasadena was Wisconsin's 17-9 victory over Stanford in the 2000 game.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: Ohio State has to win this game. It's not playing USC, it's not playing in a national championship, and it's not playing a 2008 Texas team that belonged in the national championship. It's just Oregon, and if OSU loses, it'll be a long, long offseason at a program with a fan base known for overreacting.
Sugar BowlFlorida vs. Cincinnati
Jan. 1, New Orleans, LA 8:30 pm Fox
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: It's Tim Tebow's final game, and there's no way, no how he and the Gators are going to come out flat after the dud of a SEC Championship performance. If Cincinnati wins this it'll end the season ranked No. 2 ... most likely. Of all the BCS games, including the championship, this is the one with the best chance of being a big statement moment. A Bearcat win would bring immeasurable respect for the Big East.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: Pitt's Dion Lewis ran for 194 yards and three touchdowns against the Bearcats. That Florida dive play that didn't work against Alabama should be rocking and rolling.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: The biggest drama should be around Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame coaching situation. Cincinnati might be efficient, effective, and aggressive, but this might not be pretty if Florida decides to try and make a statement. Urban Meyer went to Cincinnati; like he's not going to be fired up to make sure his team doesn't drop two in a row.
Liberty BowlEast Carolina vs. Arkansas
Jan. 2, Memphis TN 5:30 pm ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: Arkansas will look at game tapes of the Conference USA title game, with Case Keenum and Houston bombing away, and QB Ryan Mallett could be drooling. East Carolina finds ways to win and has just enough of a defense, and a timely enough offense, to give Conference USA its first win over the SEC in the bowl game since the two conferences started hooking up a few years ago.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: East Carolina is 110th in America in pass defense. Just assume Mallett will throw for 300 yards. Bad things usually happen when Conference USA teams have to face the SEC.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: East Carolina is No. 1 in C-USA and sixth in the nation in turnover margin. If it doesn't win the turnover battle by at least +2, the Hogs should win easily and will be the hot team going into 2010.
International BowlSouth Florida vs. Northern Illinois
Jan. 2, Toronto, Canada, Noon, ESPN2
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: If you like running games, this should be entertaining. NIU led the MAC in rushing averaging 202 yards per game on the ground, while USF and QB B.J. Daniels average 169 yards per game. NIU didn't always play like it, but it's good enough to make this the best International Bowl yet.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: If USF has its head on straight, which isn't a given, the defense can fly around and stop the NIU offense cold. USF comes into the game losing five of its last seven games while the Huskies lost their last two games.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: This has the potential to be a good game if NIU plays a bit over its head and if USF lets up a wee bit. The MAC is 0-3 in this game since it started, but this might be its best chance yet (even though Western Michigan pushed Cincinnati hard in the inaugural game in 2007).
Cotton BowlOklahoma State vs. Ole Miss
Jan. 2, Arlington TX, 2 pm Fox
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: If you had said at the beginning of the year that this was going to be a BCS game, few would blink. Each team failed to come close to living up to expectations, but they're still good enough to be considered among the top teams in their respective power conferences. If the two teams play up to their capabilities, this could be fantastic.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: Zzzzzzzzzz. Oklahoma State was all set to grab an at-large BCS bid and then .... a 27-0 loss to Oklahoma with just 109 yards of total offense. Ole Miss got pantsed by Mississippi State 41-27 the Egg Bowl.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: Call it the Underwhelming Bowl with the loser ending up being one of the year's biggest disappointments. Nebraska might be the Big 12's No. 2 team, but technically, Oklahoma State could claim that spot behind Texas and it can't lose after getting run over by Oregon in last year's Holiday Bowl. The SEC has won five of the last six.
Papajohns.com BowlConnecticut vs. South Carolina
Jan. 2, Birmingham AL 2 pm ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: No team showed more heart this year than Connecticut. With the death of Jasper Howard and with five losses by four points or fewer, the Huskies had every reason to go into the tank. Instead it beat Notre Dame in double overtime and won its last three games to get into a nice bowl. South Carolina is coming off a strong win over Clemson
This Bowl Could Suck Because: South Carolina lost four of five games before the win over the Tigers and wasn't looking good along the way. The Gamecock offense decided to take the second half of the season off, and if it's not on, UConn, with the effort it showed late in the year, could make this ugly.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: South Carolina needs to make amends for its miserable bowl showing last year in the lifeless 31-10 loss to Iowa in the Outback Bowl. Fun stat: in the last three years combined, the Gamecocks are 4-13 from Oct. 15th through the end of the season. But a win over a decent Husky team might help light a fire under the USC program under Steve Spurrier.
Alamo BowlMichigan State vs. Texas Tech
Jan. 2, San Antonio TX 8 pm ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: This has been one of the best bowl games on a yearly basis. The last four Alamo Bowls, and six of the last eight, have been decided by a touchdown or less. Texas Tech is hot having won three of its last four games including a 41-13 bombing of Oklahoma, but ....
This Bowl Could Suck Because: Michigan State is limping in with losses in three of its last five games, with the two wins coming against Western Michigan and Purdue. The Spartans are awful against decent passing teams.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: It's a battle of the two top passing attacks in the respective power conferences. Texas Tech is second in the nation behind Houston averaging 381 yards per game through the air, while Michigan State averaged 271 yards per outing. The Spartans will have to stand on their head to make this interesting after losing three straight bowl games. The 2001 Silicon Valley Bowl over Fresno State was the last bowl win.
Fiesta BowlBoise State vs. TCU
Jan. 4, Phoenix, AZ 8 pm Fox
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: It's Boise State and the nation's No. 1 scoring attack against TCU and the nation's No. 1 defense. The Poinsettia Bowl between the two teams last year (with TCU winning 17-16) was extremely entertaining, and these two should put on another big show. Yeah, it sucks that they don't get a chance to show what they can do against big-time BCS conference teams, but this still might turn out to be the best of the BCS bowls.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: It's TCU vs. Boise State. It'll be a fantastic game, but let's call it what it is: TCU vs. Boise State. It's Thursday night Versus, not Fiesta Bowl.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: Part of the fun of the BCS is seeing Utah face Alabama, Boise State playing Oklahoma, and Hawaii getting its shot at Georgia. Unlike last year when the Utes blew away the Tide, the sports world isn't going to stop spinning after this game, even if it lives up to its potential.
Orange BowlGeorgia Tech vs. Iowa
Jan. 5, Miami Gardens, FL, 8 pm Fox
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: It's a test case for the Paul Johnson option offense. With the time Iowa will get to prepare to stop it, this might be a chance for the style to either take root and grow or become a quirky side note. The two teams haven't always been great this year, but they've each played some thrillers.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: Iowa in its last four BCS-level bowls: 38-17 loss to USC in the 2003 Orange Bowl, 46-34 loss to Washington in the 1991 Rose Bowl, 45-28 loss to UCLA in the 1986 Rose Bowl, 28-0 loss to Washington in the 1982 Rose Bowl. LSU had time to prepare for Georgia Tech last year and won the Chick-fil-A Bowl 38-3. The Yellow Jackets have lost their four bowl games.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: The much-maligned ACC needs this win. Georgia Tech has the offensive stars and talent to take Iowa out of its offensive game, but the Hawkeyes have the defensive front to stuff the option before it starts. Expect a blowout one way or another.
GMAC BowlTroy vs. Central Michigan
Jan. 6, Mobile AL 7 pm ESPN
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: Two high-octane champions from non-BCS conferences should put on an amazing show. Levi Brown and Troy throw the ball as effectively as any non-BCS team outside of Houston, while Dan LeFevour will be close out his phenomenal career looking for his second bowl win. Expect lots of scoring, phenomenal quarterback play, and a game every bit as fun as any of the BCS matchups.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: This has been the worst of the bowl games by far over the last few seasons. In the last five bowls, the victors have won by a combined score of 282 to 75. Ball State didn't even show up last year in a 45-13 loss to Tulsa, while Bowling Green was a disaster in a 63-7 loss to the Golden Hurricane in the 2008 game.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: Troy's defense isn't like the Troy defenses of past years. Brown will bomb away for over 300 yards, but LeFevour should be spectacular in his final game. This should be the best GMAC Bowl since the classic 64-61 Marshall win over East Carolina in 2001.
BCS National ChampionshipAlabama vs. Texas
Jan. 7, Pasadena, CA, 8 pm ABC
This Bowl Could Be Great Because: It's two titanic superpowers playing on the biggest stage. C'mon, like Cincinnati vs. Alabama gets the juices flowing. This will either mark the completion of Alabama's rise back to glory, the kind the fan base has been waiting for ever since Gene Stallings retired, and had dreamed about ever since Nick Saban signed on, or it'll solidify Texas and its place in the college football world under Mack Brown. For anyone who thought the only way Brown won a title is because Vince Young carried the 2005 team, this is his chance to show otherwise.
This Bowl Could Suck Because: If Texas plays like it did against Texas A&M and Nebraska, and if Alabama plays like it did against Florida, then the NBA season gets on the national radar again by halftime. On the flip side, if 'Bama plays like it did against Auburn, and the Texas O plays like it did against A&M and the D plays like it did against the Huskers, then flip the script.
The Initial Knee-Jerk Reaction: Don't fall for the idea that this is an Alabama coronation. This might not be Texas-USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl, but it's not going to be Ohio State-Florida in the 2007 BCS Championship. It'll either be a close Texas win in a great game, or Bama comes in and provides a stomping.