December 14, 2012 in Sports

BCS championship best of bowl bunch

But there are several other good matchups
John Rowe The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)

As we count the days until the Jan. 7 BCS Championship Game between Notre Dame and Alabama, there are other bowl games to consider. But here’s a warning: Proceed with caution. Not all of the 35 bowl games are alike.

Here’s a condensed preview of the best and worst games, which start Saturday:

Must-see games

Notre Dame-Alabama: Doesn’t get any better than this. America’s team against the latest dynasty in college football. Key matchup to watch: Notre Dame’s stout run defense against an Alabama offensive line that’s bigger than some NFL units. Although this ’Bama team isn’t as good as last year’s, it’s a solid favorite to repeat as national champs.

Oklahoma-Texas A&M: Let’s see how Johnny Heisman does in his first game since claiming college football’s biggest prize. Manziel and friends should score plenty of Cotton Bowl points against a very ordinary Oklahoma defense, but can A&M contain the Sooners and Landry Jones, a pretty fair quarterback in his own right?

Oregon-Kansas State: Wasn’t that long ago that this was a potential BCS title matchup. Then Oregon lost to Stanford and Kansas State to Baylor on the same night. The Fiesta Bowl gladly accepted an Oregon team that seemingly scores a point a minute and a gritty Kansas State team featuring quarterback Collin Klein, who was third in the Heisman voting.

LSU-Clemson: New Year’s Eve in Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Bowl is a bit of a comedown for LSU, which is used to playing in the BCS title game. Have to wonder if the Tigers’ heads will be into this game. Clemson scored a lot of points against ACC defenses, but there is no defense like LSU’s in the ACC.

Worth a look

Virginia Tech-Rutgers: Another game – the Russell Athletic Bowl – – in which there are questions about both teams’ emotional state. Virginia Tech is 6-6 – far short of its usual high standards – and Rutgers, in losing its last two games, blew its chance to play in its first BCS bowl.

Baylor-UCLA: Think the Bruins are glad they’ve seen the last of Stanford for this year? They lost two games in a row to the Rose Bowl-bound Cardinal. Baylor came alive late with wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma State, and both teams are capable of putting up big numbers. The Holiday Bowl will be a treat for those of you who love high-scoring offenses.

Syracuse-West Virginia: The Pinstripe Bowl’s 73 over/under number might be a little low. Both the Orange and Mountaineers have record-breaking quarterbacks and defenses that leave a lot to be desired. Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith, whose Heisman hopes were dashed by his defense, wants to go out on a big note.

Georgia-Nebraska: The Capital One Bowl on New Year’s Day matches a Georgia offense that was one pass completion away from playing in the national championship game against a Nebraska defense that was four bad quarters away from playing in the Rose Bowl. If the Bulldogs come to play, they could roll up a big score.

Don’t even bother

Almost all of the other games, but particularly these: Central Florida-Ball State in the Beef ’O’ Brady’s Bowl; Louisiana-Lafayette vs. East Carolina in the New Orleans Bowl; Western Kentucky-Central Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl; San Jose State-Bowling Green in the Military Bowl; Louisiana-Monroe vs. Ohio in the Independence; Oklahoma State-Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl; Florida State-Northern Illinois in the Orange; and Mississippi-Pittsburgh in the Compass Bowl.

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