Published December 5, 2012 - 2:45pm
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Here are the six most interesting bowl matchups in college football, and five of them belong to the SEC.
1. BCS National Championship: #1 Notre Dame vs. #2 Alabama
The BCS system is designed to get the top two teams in the country together for a war, and that’s just what it has done for another year in a row. It may just barely get the top two teams together, but outside of 2004, when has the BCS not done its job correctly? The entire system as a whole is garbage, but it does serve its purpose of getting #1 and #2 together. With that being said, this will be power vs. power, and running game vs. running game. Notre Dame is built like an SEC team, and they will use the underdog role to their advantage leading up to January 7th. The SEC, of course, has won six national championships in a row, and the entire country – outside of the South – wants to see this come to an end.
2. Fiesta Bowl: #4 Oregon vs. #5 Kansas State
Flashy offense vs. gritty defense – haven’t we seen this before? Think Stanford-Oregon for 2012, as the Cardinal shut down the Ducks’ sexy offense with a strong front seven and an impressive defensive showing that even got the SEC’s attention. The country’s #3 rushing offense against the #16 rushing defense will make for a great matchup, and there’s star power, too, with KSU QB Collin Klein and Oregon RBs De’Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner. Klein has combined for 3,390 yards and 37 touchdowns and is a Heisman finalist. The best Big 12 team against the best Pac-12 team – outside of the national championship, this game is must-watch TV.
3. Cotton Bowl: #9 Texas A&M vs. #11 Oklahoma
Johnny Cotton Bowl sold out Oklahoma’s ticket allotment within hours of them going on sale. They’re not there to see Landry Jones or Tony Jefferson – OU and the Big 12 want to see what could have been if Texas A&M stayed in the Big 12. This could turn into a track meet, as both offenses love to keep their foot on the gas pedal. For the second year in a row, the Cotton bowl is a de facto BCS bowl. Old Big 12 rivals do work once more in JerryWorld.
4. Chick-fil-A Bowl: #8 LSU vs. #14 Clemson
10-2 LSU may have fallen down the ladder and deserved a better bowl game, but interestingly enough, this matchup makes for an unreal game. The biggest matchup that jumps off the page is Clemson’s high-octane offense against LSU’s NFL-filled defense. You may be asking yourself how Clemson’s offensive line can block LSU’s defensive line and end combo of Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery. Yeah, they won’t. So, South Carolina’s Tigers are going to have to figure out a way to offset LSU’s pressure throughout the game. Clemson has allowed 26 total sacks, 2.17 per game, while LSU averages 2.5 per game. Clemson couldn’t block Jadeveon Clowney. How will they block two bookends?
5. Outback Bowl: #10 South Carolina vs. #18 Michigan
Who doesn’t want to see Jadeveon Clowney chasing around mobile quarterbacks? Michigan will play a combination of Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson at quarterback. Clowney, of course, leads the SEC with 13 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss. Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison’s 11th ranked defense in the country will be fun to watch against Steve Spurrier’s offense. However, it could turn into the battle of the backups, as Devin Garder and Dylan Thompson could start due to injuries to Robinson and Connor Shaw.
6. Sugar Bowl: #3 Florida vs. #21 Louisville
A couple of different storylines entering this game is that Charlie Strong used to coach Florida and recruited several players on Florida’s current roster, and that many are wondering how Florida’s offense will look against a Big East team with the layoff. The Gators’ defense has been nasty all year, but the offense has played to the level of their competition – see Florida State, LSU, Jacksonville State and Louisiana-Lafayette. What Louisville does well – throw the ball with Teddy Bridgewater – is Florida’s strengths, too. You can make a case for Florida’s defense to be the best unit in the entire country, only lacking a dominant pass rusher. Florida is ranked 15th in passing defense, but they’ve been a ball-hawking secondary with 19 interceptions.
Photo Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports