Before the National Championship game on Jan 7th, there are tons of bowl games to look forward to as too much turkey and way, way too much Bud Light give you nothing but bowl games to watch on the TV. Alex Ferguson looks at the ones to pay attention to….Arizona State vs Texas (Holiday Bowl, San Diego, Dec 27)
Arizona State’s high-octane offense gave the Sun Devils victory against California, UCLA, Washington and against arch-rival Arizona, but Dennis Erickson’s men were still miserable against the better offenses of Oregon and Southern Cal. Texas themselves had a down year, with losses to Kansas State, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M – the latter for the second year in a row.
Look out for: Quarterbacks Rudy Carpenter (ASU) and Colt McCoy, who passed for over 6,000 yards and 44 touchdowns between them.
Penn State vs Texas A&M (Alamo Bowl, San Antonio, Dec 29)
On Joe Paterno’s 500th game as Penn State’s coach, the Nittany Lions frankly need a victory to gloss over a disappointing season for their fans. While the loss to then-#1 Ohio State wasn’t anything to be ashamed of at home, fans weren’t too happy with the way the Lions played on the road – particularly in losses to Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State – the last game after they had a 17 point lead.
Texas A&M weren’t wonderful this season either, culminating with the sacking of coach Dennis Franchione after a final day of the regular season win over hated rivals Texas. Gary Darnell will take over a woefully inconsistent Aggies team.
Look out for: Penn State’s potential first round pick Dan Connor, who won the award for best defensive player this year.
Clemson vs Auburn (Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Dec 31)
Both Clemson and Auburn’s running attacks are something to reckoned with. Clemson’s James Davis and CJ Spiller ran for over 1,500 yards, while Auburn’s Ben Tate and Brad Lester ran up over 1,200.
Both sets of Tigers can point to monster losses for the reason why they aren’t playing in a Jan 1 bowl. Clemson can blame missed kicks against Georgia Tech and a breathless Boston College comeback for their three loss season, while Auburn fans still curse LSU wide receiver Dominique Byrd for grabbing a last second touchdown that beat them in Baton Rouge. Oh, and Auburn players might want to blame themselves for mistakes that lost them games against Mississippi State and South Florida.
Look out for: the running attacks. If I hadn’t said it before.
Hawaii vs Georgia (Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, Jan 1)
Colt Brennan may have inspired the Warriors to a 12-0 and Western Athletic Conference (WAC) title, but Hawaii will have a much formidable opponent in 10-2 Georgia.
While Hawaii can point to victories over Louisiana Tech and a come-from-behind victory over Washington, Georgia looked brilliant in the latter half of the season, clocking blowout victories against National Champion Florida, hated rivals Auburn and Georgia Tech, and an overtime victory over Alabama in one of the games of the season.
While Brennan’s a lot of fun to watch a quarterback, Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno, who ran for 1,200 yards in his first year, is downright sensational. Bulldog QB Matt Stafford, who threw for over 2,300 this year, isn’t bad either.
Look out for: Brennan. If he’s good and manages to avoid injury, then he’ll be a first round pick in the NFL
Missouri vs Arkansas (Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Jan 1)
Missouri will be cursing the BCS system for the fact that it didn’t get into a BCS bowl this year, but really the Tigers should be cursing The University of Oklahoma, who they lost twice to…convincingly.
The Tigers couldn’t seem to deal with Oklahoma’s running back Allen Patrick in the Big 12 Championship game. And is it going to get any easier against Razorbacks’ running stars Darren McFadden and Felix Jones? Er…..no.
Having said that, Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel has proved himself as one of the NCAA’s best, throwing for over 4,000 yards and 33 touchdowns and getting himself into the Heisman Trophy Final five.
Look out for: Arkansas’ Darren McFadden. Everyone’s talked about the future NFLer all season long. Why stop now?
Michigan vs Florida (Capital One Bowl, Florida, Jan 1)
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy two weeks ago, pleasing voters with a wonderful season where he threw for 29 touchdowns and ran for 22 more. In other words, he was a bona fide scoring machine. He led the Gators to a memorable wins against Kentucky and Florida, and brought them close in an monster clash against LSU.
Michigan are hoping to turn over a new leaf in a year that they inexplicably lost to Appalachian State (as well as three others). Newly-arrived coach Rich Rodriguez, straight off the wagon from BCS-bound West Virginia, will be looking for the winning start.
Look out for: Florida’s Tim Tebow. Just one word: Wow.
Illinois vs USC (Rose Bowl, Los Angeles, Jan 1)
In front of a partisan, pro-Trojan crowd, Southern California is expected to win its second straight Rose Bowl by a mile. On paper, the Trojans have the tools for a 35 point victory with quarterback John David Booty, a group of talented running backs which includes Chauncey Washington, and a speedy defence.
Mind you, the Illini played against a partisan, pro-Buckeye crowd when they played at Ohio State. And they won there (as they did against Wisconsin and Penn State), controlling the ball for almost all of the fourth quarter.
This one’s going to be closer than most people think.
Look out for: Illinois’ speed. Quarterback Juice Williams and running back Rashad Mendenhall are something to watch.
West Virginia vs Oklahoma (Fiesta Bowl, Phoenix, Jan 2)
Last time Oklahoma were in a BCS game, they lost a classic to Boise State. In 2008, the Sooners will be bowling against a West Virginia team who’s just lost its coach, Rich Rodriguez, who’s off to colder climes at Michigan.
The Mountaineers will be eager to give their new coaching staff a winning start – and the quarterback – running back duo of Pat White and Steve Slaton could well be the ones to provide it.
However, both sides will be looking at this game as an example of what might have been. For Oklahoma, it was two disastrous losses at little-fancied Colorado and Texas Tech, while for West Virginia it was a horrible loss at South Florida and an even weaker performance – if that’s at all possible – against Pittsburgh.
Both sides will be hoping that this victory wipes away the “What Ifs” and adds the big smiles.
Look out for: Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. A future NFL star in the making.