New Years Day used to be the biggest day in college football, as well as the last. But on Jan. 1, 2014, New Years Day is merely the kickoff to the final week of the BCS. This day used to have all of the most prestigious bowls in college football, yet only a few have been held over to today -- although the ‘Granddaddy Of Them All’ still tops the New Years lineup.
The Rose Bowl is only the first of two games in Pasadena this bowl season, as the Stanford Cardinal and Michigan State Spartans won’t play for a national championship. Nevertheless, it is the only other BCS game between two top 10 teams, as the Cardinals and Spartans both surged into the top five with their conference titles.
If it wasn’t for the Spartans, then the BCS title game would have put the Ohio State Buckeyes, not the Auburn Tigers, against the Florida State Seminoles. At the least, the Buckeyes would have still gone to Pasadena with the Rose Bowl as a consolation prize. Instead, the Spartans eliminated all controversy in the BCS by clinching their first Big Ten title in over 25 years.
The Cardinal used to have a long drought between Rose Bowl appearances as well, although this is now old hat for them. In fact, 2013 went exactly like 2012, in that Stanford was knocked out from national title contention with two upset losses, but still won the Pac-12 with victories over the Oregon Ducks and the Pac-12 South champions. However, last year’s Cardinal won the Rose Bowl over a six-loss Wisconsin Badgers team, whereas this year’s 12-1 Spartans are presumably tougher.
This is presumably the toughest BCS game on the docket this year, aside from the national title game. It certainly has higher expectations than the Fiesta Bowl, where the Central Florida Knights are the biggest underdogs of any bowl against the Baylor Bears.
But aside from the two BCS battles, there are four other games to kick off 2014 as well. The accompanying slideshow previews the entire New Years Day bowl slate, even if nothing on it will help decide a national champion.