Well, it’s finally here – the last days of the BCS.
Go ahead, weep. It’s OK. The BCS has been a good sparring pal, keeping us on our toes while we debated the merits of one team getting a bid over another. Heck, even in its final year it gave us a little controversy with an interesting decision that put Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl ahead of Oregon.
Still, we'll miss our dear friend, the BCS, as we usher in a new era of a college football playoff.
When the dust clears on the 2013-14 season, either Florida State or Auburn will be crowned champion. But before we get to that, there are 34 other bowls that deserve our attention – some less than others.
The bowl season wasn’t exactly kind this year, There are a couple good matchups, but there are also a lot of duds and a few games that are just absolutely unwatchable.
We here at Dr. Saturday break them all down for you, 1 to 35:
1. VIZIO BCS National Championship (Jan. 6, Pasadena, Calif.) - Florida State (12-0) vs. Auburn (11-1): The game for it all is our best for good reason. We've got the likely Heisman Trophy winner in Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston against an Auburn offense that's quickly won over the country. Don't you think Auburn coach Gus Malzahn will have something fun drawn up in the month before the game? Oh, and each team's defense is pretty good too.
2. Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO (Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif.) - Stanford (11-2) vs. Michigan State (12-1): These are two of the best defenses in the country, so we're expecting that it'll be a 45-35 passing explosion between Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook and Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan. No, it won't. We'll get a lot of Stanford RB Tyler Gaffney and Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford between the tackles.
3. Discover Orange Bowl (Jan. 3, Miami, Fla.) - Clemson (10-2) vs. Ohio State (12-1): Who's going to be the best quarterback on the field, Clemson's Tajh Boyd or Ohio State's Braxton Miller? The answer to that question will likely give us the winner of the game as well.
4. Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2, New Orleans) - Oklahoma (10-2) vs. Alabama (11-1): The Sugar Bowl gets a head start on its new SEC-Big 12 arrangement a year early. Oklahoma is here by virtue of beating Oklahoma State on Saturday, and we all know why Alabama is here and not in the BCS National Championship.
5. Capital One Bowl (Jan. 1, Orlando, Fla.) - Wisconsin (9-3) vs. South Carolina (10-2): Will Wisconsin's ground attack go directly at Jadeveon Clowney, or will Gary Andersen's team go away from the defensive end in his final game? And no, don't expect a repeat of Clowney's hit from the Outback Bowl against Michigan last year. It was too good to be repeated.
6. AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 3, Arlington, Texas) - Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. Missouri (11-2): For the second straight year, this game features a matchup of former rivals in the Big 12. Based off Missouri's performance in the SEC Championship Game, this game could have the best chance of being the highest-scoring bowl.
7. Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30, San Antonio, Texas) - Texas (8-4) vs. Oregon (10-2): The Texas defense has improved drastically with new DC Greg Robinson since being gashed under Manny Diaz at BYU. But don't you think that some Texas defenders are having flashbacks? And is this really Mack Brown's last game or are we going to do this all over again next year?
8. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1, Glendale, Ariz.) - Central Florida (11-1) vs. Baylor (11-1): The only team even close to Baylor's offense that Central Florida played was Louisville and the Knights gave up 35. But they scored 38 in the win. Baylor's defense is better and its offense is too, but this isn't going to be a blowout.
9. Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 21, Las Vegas) - Fresno State (11-1) vs. USC (8-4): Had Fresno State not lost to San Jose State, the Bulldogs could be in the Fiesta Bowl. Instead, they're playing for a USC team that'll be coached by a third different man this season after Ed Orgeron's resignation following the hire of Steve Sarkisian for 2014.
10. Fight Hunger Bowl (Dec. 27, San Francisco) - BYU (8-4) vs. Washington (8-4): Here's a four hour football game waiting to happen. BYU is second in the country in plays per game with 88. Washington is 11th with 82. Look for lots of snaps and lots of points.
11. Outback Bowl (Jan. 1, Tampa, Fla.) - Iowa (8-4) vs. LSU (9-3): If you think the Fight Hunger Bowl sounds incredibly entertaining, this is its opposite. LSU will likely keep it close to the vest with Anthony Jennings at quarterback in place of the injured Zach Mettenberger. Close to the vest is Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz's football life philosophy.
12. Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (Dec. 30, Nashville, Tenn.) - Ole Miss (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5): Ole Miss has three weeks to prepare for Georgia Tech's triple option. That shouldn't be too difficult given that the team uses a lot of zone read concepts.
13. Russell Athletic (Dec. 28, Orlando, Fla.) Miami (9-3) vs. Louisville (11-1): Let’s go ahead and look at this as Louisville’s inaugural ACC game. The Cardinals head to the ACC after this season so this will be a good early test. It might also be the final game for quarterback teddy Bridgewater.
14. Sheraton Hawaii (Dec. 24, Honolulu) Boise State (8-4) vs. Oregon State (6-6): This is a bit of a regional matchup, but these teams haven’t met since 2010. These offenses both have the ability to score a bunch of points, so that could make this one of the more offensively entertaining games of the bowl season.
15. Hyundai Sun (Dec. 31, El Paso, Texas) Virginia Tech (8-4) vs. UCLA (9-3): It’s not often you get to see the Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year in one games and even rarer that it’s the same person. But UCLA’s running back/linebacker Myles Jack is a treat to watch and should give the Hokies fits.
16. National University Holiday (Dec. 30, San Diego, Calif.) Arizona State (10-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5): If this game had been played early in the season it would have been near the top of these bowl rankings. Sadly, this is a Texas Tech team that lost its last five and is limping into the bowl season. Arizona State was beaten badly in the Pac-12 title game, but it’s still one of the best teams in the country.
17. TaxSlayer.com Gator (Jan. 1, Jacksonville, Fla.) Nebraska (8-4) vs. Georgia (8-4): These two teams played an epic Capital One Bowl a year ago, but don’t expect a repeat of the drama from that 45-31 Georgia win. The Bulldogs aren’t the same team without quarterback Aaron Murray and Nebraska has been winning games by the skin of its teeth all year.
18. Chick-fil-A (Dec. 31, Atlanta) Duke (10-3) vs. Texas A&M (8-4): This will probably be the last game for Johnny Football and it should be a good one. Duke has had a fantastic season, but they haven’t played an SEC-type schedule. Manziel should be able to leave college football on a very high note.
19. BBVA Compass (Jan. 4, Birmingham, Ala.) Vanderbilt (8-4) vs. Houston (8-4): There was a point where Houston was challenging for the BCS automatic bid from the AAC, but that fell by the wayside when the Cougars lost three of their final four games. Conversely, Vanderbilt is looking for its second consecutive 9-win season, which would be yet another school record.
20. AdvoCare V100 (Dec. 31, Shreveport, La.) Arizona (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5): This is going to be an epic running back matchup with Boston College’s Andre Williams and Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey. These two players have combined for 3,818 yards and 34 touchdowns this season. If you love a good running game, this bowl is for you.
21. Belk (Dec. 28, Cahrlotte, N.C.) Cincinnati (9-3) vs. North Carolina (6-6): Cincinnati actually has pretty good luck against teams from North Carolina in this bowl. The Bearcats beat Duke 48-34 last year and quarterback Brendon Kay, who has been the starter the bulk of this year, was named the MVP for that game. Could they make it two in a row over the Tar Heel State?
22. Texas (Dec. 27, Houston) Syracuse (6-6) vs. Minnesota (8-4): There probably hasn’t been a better story than Minnesota’s this season. Coach Jerry Kill left the sidelines to concentrate on managing his epilepsy and the Gophers rallied around him – and interim coach Tracy Claeys – to win eight games for the first time since 2003.
23. S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia (Dec. 26, San Diego, Calif.) Utah State (8-5) vs. Northern Illinois (12-1): Both of these teams had a chance to play for the respective conference titles and failed, but the loss hurt Northern Illinois just a bit more since it also cost the Huskies a potential BCS bowl game. Playing another team from outside the automatic qualifying conferences is a tough consolation prize.
24. Buffalo Wild Wings (Dec. 28, Tempe, Ariz.) Michigan (7-5) vs. Kansas State (7-5): If the Michigan team that showed up against Ohio State in the final game of the regular season comes to play against Kansas State, this has the potential to be one of the better games of the bowl season. At the very least, we should see some good offense.
25. Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (Dec. 26, Detroit, Mich.) - Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (10-3): Bowling Green is riding high after knocking off formerly unbeaten Northern Illinois by 20 points in the MAC title game. Pitt is much more accustomed to losing in the BBVA Compass Bowl, so maybe the lush scenery of Detroit and Ford Field will bring out the best in the Panthers, but the Falcons will be a tough challenge.
26. AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31, Memphis, Tenn.) - Rice (10-3) vs. Mississippi State (6-6): Rice used an impressive ground attack to knock off Marshall and win its first ever Conference USA title. Mississippi State had an up and down year, but triumphed over Ole Miss in the season-ending Egg Bowl to earn its sixth win and bowl eligibility.
27. Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman (Dec. 27, Annapolis, Md.) - Marshall (9-4) vs. Maryland (7-5): Led by quarterback Rakeem Cato and receiver Tommy Shuler, Marshall averaged 43 points per game en route to a 9-win season before losing to Rice in the C-USA championship game. Maryland suffered a rash of injuries to key players, but still managed to win seven games, including an overtime win over Virginia Tech.
28. Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 21, Albuquerque, N.M.) - Washington State (6-6) vs. Colorado State (7-6): It took just two seasons for Mike Leach to bring Washington State to its first bowl game since 2003. The Cougars feature the nation’s fourth best passing attack that features 4,000-yard passer Connor Halliday. With 1,572 yards and 28 touchdowns on the ground, Colorado State’s Kapri Bibbs is one of the most underrated players in the country.
29. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Dec. 21, Boise, Idaho) - Buffalo (8-4) vs. San Diego State (7-5): Buffalo won six of its first seven games before falling to eventual MAC champion Bowling Green with a chance to go to the MAC championship game on the line. This is Buffalo’s second bowl game in program history. San Diego State played four overtimes games this year, winning three, and nine of its 12 games were decided by 10 points or less.
30. New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 28, Bronx, N.Y.) - Rutgers (6-6) vs. Notre Dame (8-4): Rutgers, who just fired three of its assistant coaches, needed to win its season finale over South Florida just to gain bowl eligibility. Notre Dame has impressive wins over Michigan State and Arizona State on its resume, but the Fighting Irish also lost to Pitt and barely beat Navy.
31. Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1, Dallas, Texas) - UNLV (7-5) vs. North Texas (8-4): North Texas posted several wins over Ball State, Middle Tennessee, Rice – all bowl teams – en route to an 8-4 record and its first bowl appearance since 2004. UNLV will play in its fourth ever bowl game and first since playing in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2000.
32. Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 30, Fort Worth, Texas) - Middle Tennessee (8-4) vs. Navy (7-4): Middle Tennessee won its last five games to each eight wins, while eight different Blue Raiders registered rushing touchdowns. Navy used it’s explosive rushing attack to post wins over BCS opponents Indiana and Pitt, while losing by only four to Notre Dame in South Bend.
33. Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl (Dec. 23, St. Petersburg, Fla.) - East Carolina (9-3) vs. Ohio (7-5): East Carolina reeled off victories over in-state rivals North Carolina and NC State this year, but ended its year with a disappointing 59-28 loss to Marshall with the Conference USA East division on the line. Ohio was blown out by several of the top teams in the MAC, but early season wins over Marshall and North Texas helped them limp toward bowl eligibility.
34. GoDaddy Bowl (Jan. 5, Mobile, Ala.) - Arkansas State (7-5) vs. Ball State (10-2): BSU averaged 40.1 points per game and stormed through the MAC before falling to Jordan Lynch and Northern Illinois on Nov. 13. The Keith Wenning to Willie Snead connection hooked up 97 times for 1,429 yards and 14 touchdowns. Arkansas State won four of its last five games to reach seven wins and be co-champs in the Sun Belt.
35. R+L Carriers New Orleans (Dec. 21, New Orleans) - Tulane (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4): The Tulane program was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina, so it’s a nice accomplishment for the Green Wave to reach its first bowl game since 2002. They’ll face off with in-state opponent Louisiana-Layafette, whose season began and ended with back-to-back losses and an eight game win streak in between.
Sam Cooper contributed to this post
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