Being a traditionalist and for the purposes of overall space and interest considerations, this article will focus on short previews of what I feel will be the top matchups in the 2014 bowls.
It seems NCAA football definitely had the “tiger by the tail” this year with 3 of the 10 teams in these bowls carrying the feline nickname.
I will save the BCS Championship game between (1) Florida State and (2) Auburn for last.
Let’s take them in chronological order leading up to January 6th in Pasadena. With that we will begin with the “Granddaddy of them all” (not to be confused with the “Go Daddy”) Rose Bowl.
Stanford (11-2) vs. Michigan State (12-1), Jan.1st, 5pm ET, ESPN
This will be the first of 2 spectacular contests to be played in Pasadena, California’s Rose Bowl. This one actually carries the Rose title and will pit the Big 10 champion Michigan State Spartans against the Pac-12 title holder Stanford Cardinals.
The Spartans got here with an upset of Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship game. At the time, the Buckeyes were eyeing a different date in Pasadena to play for the national crown.
Stanford is good enough to beat anyone, at any time and this should be a classic showdown between jersey number 8, Cardinal QB Kevin Hogan and the high performance Spartan defense.
Alabama (11-1) vs. Oklahoma (10-2), Jan.2, 8:30pm ET, ESPN
I hope Nick Saban and the rest of the Crimson Tide had refundable airline tickets to Pasadena. The surprise SEC West Division runner-ups were all but anointed king of college football before they were slain by a slew of Tigers (Auburn).
The Oklahoma Sooners only chance to defeat Alabama and QB A.J. McCarron (jersey no. 10) is if the Tide is still in shock over the way the season ended.
Missouri (11-2) vs. Oklahoma State (10-2), Jan.3, 7:30 ET, FOX
The Missouri offense is capable of matching up with anyone in the Bowl Championship Series. Their defense however, especially against the run, not so much.
That fact does not bode well for the Tigers since Oklahoma State has a solid ground game. They ran for an average of 4.4 yards per carry and scored 33 rushing touchdowns during the season. Look for junior RB Desmond Roland (#26) who scored 12 TD’s in 2013 to have a big night.
Ohio State (11-1) vs. Clemson (10-2), Jan.3, 8:30 ET, ESPN
Ohio State thought they would be the beneficiary of Alabama’s fall from grace, but couldn’t get the job done in the Big 10 Championship game.
Now they are relegated to Miami (not a bad place to be relegated to) to face the Clemson Tigers. The Tigers finished 2nd in the ACC Coastal Division to Florida State, the nation’s number 1 team.
Clemson played its best game of 2012 in last year’s Chick-fil-A bowl against LSU. It will be up to QB Taj Boyd (no. 10) to see if he can get the job done in his last game for the school.
BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Florida State (13-0) vs. Auburn (11-1), Jan.6, 8:30ET, ESPN
I’m not taking anything away from Florida State here, but it seems they have yet to be tested after 13 consecutive wins this year. Perhaps they are just that much better than everyone else.
Needless to say, Auburn should be up for the challenge after the way their season ended.
The Tigers finished 1st in the country in rushing yards and the Seminoles will have to contain number 21, RB Tre Mason.
Florida State allowed the fewest points in the NCAA at 10.7 per game and had the second highest total of points scored at an amazing 53 per contest. Many of those points came from the arm of freshman QB Jameis Winston (jersey # 5) who threw for 3,820 yards and 38 TD’s.
These championship NCAA games will finish an outstanding season of college football.