Unique bowl matchups this season!

Posted: December 6, 2011 in Big 12 conference, College Football

By Chris Bates

     This year’s bowl season provides quite a storyline.  Teams  around the country were invited to different bowls than what they expected.  This year’s BCS race was closer than recent years, especially the race between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Oklahoma State.  Only .824 percentage points separated the two schools.  Voters were asked why they stuck with Alabama at No.2 over Oklahoma State and many of them said because Alabama’s loss was not as significant as Oklahoma State’s loss.  The Crimson Tide lost to No. 1 LSU in overtime, which is not a bad loss.  Oklahoma State on the other hand lost to a 6 win and unranked Iowa State team, a much more significant loss. 

Some strange bowl matchups

Poinsettia Bowl- TCU vs. Louisiana Tech.  The Horned Frogs had hopes of a BCS bowl after recording 10 wins for the 2nd consecutive season.  Instead, they get rewarded with the Poinsettia Bowl and although TCU didn’t get an invite to a BCS bowl, head coach Gary Patterson said his team is not disappointed and will play whatever game they are awarded.  This matchup, in my opinion, will not be close at all.  The Bulldogs did finish the regular season 8-4 and won their first WAC title since 2001.  Louisiana Tech enters the game on a seven game winning streak, their longest since 1973-74.  They have been impressive this season in beating SEC school Ole Miss on the road and shutting out Nevada 44-0.  Louisiana Tech’s defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 10 of their 12 games this season.  Their defense is the strength of this team.  A conference best 20 interceptions were recorded and the Bulldogs ranked 11th nationally in turnover margin.

         On the TCU side, their defense is not as stout as in years past but they have improved in every game this season.  The Horned Frogs also come in on a seven game winning streak, including a thrilling 36-35 victory at Boise State.  They were questions early on in the season if TCU could overcome the loss of quarterback Andy Dalton after losses to Baylor and SMU.  Quarterback Casey Pachall has silenced those critics throwing 24 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. 

Final Score Prediction TCU 35 LA Tech 17.

Allstate Sugar Bowl-Michigan vs. Virginia Tech.  This is a matchup of two teams that did not win their conference, yet they get bids in a BCS bowl.  Michigan coach Brady Hoke is a candidate for Coach of the Year as he has brought Michigan back, but I do not agree with these 2 schools being chosen for this game.  There are better candidates for this BCS game, in my opinion, such as TCU and  Kansas State.  Both the Frogs and Wildcats have more wins than these 2 schools and deserve their chance in a BCS bowl. 

      Boise State is another team that should be in this game as they are one missed field goal away from an undefeated season and a possible berth in the BCS National Championship game.  Instead, they lose by 1 point to TCU and get rewarded with the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas.  The Broncos have proven over the years that they can win the big game against big schools on a neutral field, why not give them that chance this year?  With this being said, fans have to watch the games that were chosen and the advantage in this game goes to Michigan.  I don’t think the Hokies have enough on defense to stop Denard Robinson and company. 

       Michigan’s defense is much improved but Virginia Tech’s run game is the key to this matchup.  Led by star running back David Wilson (1,627 yards and 9 touchdowns), the Hokies have a legitimate chance to win.  Watch out for the special teams play of Va Tech as Frank Beamer’s teams always seem to come up with the big punt block or punt return for touchdown.  Bud Foster is the Special Teams Coordinator, he usually has something up his sleeve in games like this.

Final score prediction however, Mich 31 VT 24.

Capital One Bowl- South Carolina vs. Nebraska.

       Nebraska’s first year in the Big Ten did not go as they had planned.  Expectations before the season was the Big Ten Championship and a BCS bowl, that obviously did not happen.  This is a tough matchup for the Huskers as South Carolina comes in with a stout defense ranked No.4 in the nation.  Down the stretch, the Gamecocks have had to rely on their defense as their star sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore was lost for the season with a torn ACL. 

        The key to this game will be how does South Carolina’s excellent defensive line led by Jadeveon Clowney stop the powerful rushing attack that Nebraska presents.  Quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead lead the nation’s 14th ranked rushing offense.  Nebraska loves to run the option with Martinez and Burkhead, the defensive line of South Carolina must stay at home and not over commit or it will be a long day in trying to stop the dangerous offensive backfield of Nebraska.

     This game will be closer than people think, going down to the wire.  In the end, I think South Carolina pulls it out.  The series between these two conferences is dead-locked.  In the past 18 bowl games between the conferences, the series is tied 9-9.  This should be another great game.

Final Score Prediction: SCAR: 20 NEB:17.

Tositos Fiesta Bowl- Oklahoma State vs. Stanford.

     This is not the matchup Cowboy fans were hoping for after their dominant 44-10 schlacking of Oklahoma.  But OSU nonetheless still has had a great season.  OSU is led by the dangerous duo of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon.  This is a matchup of 2 top 20 offenses in the nation.  The Cowboys come into this game with the nation’s 4th best offense, the Cardinal boosts the nation’s 14th best offense.  Quarterback Andrew Luck is a Heisman Trophy candidate and many scouts feel he will be the No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL Draft.   Both offenses have the ability to make the big play to beat you, 2 0r 3 play drives should not be uncommon. 

      The key to this game is whichever offense wins the time of possession battle wins this game, in my opinion.   The long sustained drives that wear out defenses are always key, but especially in this game.  With both offenses abilities to make the big play, it puts more pressure on the opposing defenses to enforce their will.  OSU’s defense has been brilliant down the stretch.  Cornerback Brodrick Brown leads the Cowboys with 5 interceptions on the season.

     Andrew Luck’s ability to find the open receiver and not make mistakes I think will be the difference in the game.  If OSU’s defense can put pressure on Luck or rattle him, that will bid well for their chances to win the game.  This will be a classic BCS bowl game with OSU continuing their hot streak and coming out with the victory.

Final Score Prediction:  OSU: 34 STAN: 30.

     Now to the game that everyone has been talking about, the BCS National Championship between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama.

      There is a lot of controversy surrounding this game as people around the country have their different takes on who should be No. 2, Alabama or Oklahoma State.  I have heard people asking how can a team that didn’t win its conference be rewarded with the Championship game?  My answer to that is because of the schedules that both teams played.  Alabama had a better strength of schedule than OSU and they played harder games in the SEC than the Cowboys did in the Big 12.  At the end of the day, the voters decision to keep Bama at No. 2 and not jump OSU to that spot is because of the greater impact of the losses both teams had.  If OSU hadn’t lost to an unranked Iowa State team, there would be no debate.  Many people feel that the voters got it right, these are the two best teams in the nation playing for the national title. 

     LSU comes in with the nation’s best defense, led by Heisman Trophy candidate at cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.   Alabama has the nation’s No. 2 defense.  A rematch of the 9-6 overtime victory by LSU is the right matchup, in my opinion.  This game will not be the defensive struggle that the last game was.  Each team will score at least 1 touchdown and each defense will make big plays down the stretch.  Keep an eye on LSU’s punt return game led by Mathieu.  Mathieu has returned punts for touchdowns in each of the last 2 games against Arkansas and Georgia.  Alabama must stick to their lanes and not over commit when covering the punts. 

     This game will live up to the hype and fans won’t be disappointed in this matchup being chosen as it will be decided in the final minutes just like last game.  Although LSU won in Tuscaloosa in the previous matchup, I think the Crimson Tide re-pays the favor to the Tigers and stops LSU’s undefeated season.

Final Score Prediction:  ALA: 16 LSU:13.  The Crimson Tide win the National Championship for the 2nd time in 4 years in LSU’s home state of Louisiana in New Orleans.

For a complete listings on bowl games, click here.

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