As you, an avid college football fan, are probably aware, today is the start of the 2011-12 bowl season. As a Boston College fan, you also know that this is the first time in over a decade where you won’t be seeing your Eagles in it, and God only knows when you’ll see them playing in a bowl game that is of actual consequence.
Let’s act under the assumption that you are, in fact, still planning on watching some college football over the season and into the new year. (I personally will be watching much more NFL, as my team is in the playoff mix, but that’s me.) You may be wondering what some of the best games are for you to watch, and there are a few in particular which stand out.
Auburn vs. Virginia
This is probably the only of the ACC bowls I will bother to watch because this one intrigues me. Auburn is a decent team and the defending national champion (though not as good anymore and lacking some of the key guys who got them there), while Virginia is a team that, by all accounts, is on the rise. They’ve beaten the #25 team in the nation before; this one would be lucky to be as wild a ride.
Still, this is a good test for the Cavaliers to see where they are in their growth under Mike London. The fact that they’ve had to sit on a 38-point loss for about a month, though, is not so fun. (For what it’s worth, Auburn got stuffed in the Iron Bowl, which I’d have to imagine is a painful experience for Tigers fans.)
Georgia vs. Michigan State
This is another matchup of teams that appear to be pretty evenly matched, and not just for the fact that they’re 16th and 17th in the polls, respectively. Both the Bulldogs and Spartans are near the top of the country in defense, with Georgia ranked 17th in FBS and Michigan State 9th. Their offenses are also very similar in terms of production, with Georgia averaging about 32 points per game and Michigan State averaging 31.
I expect this to be a close game between two good teams who were runners-up in their conferences.
Oregon vs. Wisconsin
Do you like offense? Well, here’s one you should watch.
Oregon is 3rd in the nation with 46.2 points per game, and Wisconsin is 4th with 44.6. Oregon’s defense hasn’t statistically been as good as Wisconsin’s, which is 6th in the nation, but that’s not why this game has appeal.
Here, you have two coaches in Kelly and Bielema who can and would run up the score without giving it a second thought, but neither team will be too good that they pull away from the other in my estimation.
Both teams will probably hit 30, and one may cross 40. Expect a lot of touchdowns and at least one two-point conversion attempt by Oregon.
Oklahoma State vs. Stanford
Hey, look, more offense! Oklahoma State is the second-most prolific offense in the country, averaging 49.3 points per game. Stanford is 5th with 43.6. Both of these teams have exceptional offenses, though the Cardinal defense has been a little better than that of the Pokes.
Between Brandon Weeden and Andrew Luck, you have a total of 69 touchdown passes this season. Both teams have other exciting playmakers, like Justin Blackmon of OSU and Coby Fleener of Stanford.
This one, like Wisconsin-Oregon, figures to be high on entertainment value, and probably your last chance to see Andrew Luck before he stands on a stage with Roger Goodell holding a Colts jersey.
Arkansas vs. Kansas State
Make no mistake, these are two very, very good teams. Both the Hogs and Cats are 10-2, having had great regular seasons to finish in the Top 10 heading into bowl season.
Arkansas’ only two losses were to the two teams in the national title game, while Kansas State’s Bill Snyder has proven once again that there ARE geriatric coaches who can win football games after all.
This might not be the offensive explosion that the Rose or Fiesta Bowls will probably be, but here you again have two teams that would appear to be evenly-matched and have mostly played solid football all season.
Both of these teams were good enough to be in BCS bowls, but they weren’t going to give the SEC three bids and as for K-State, it would appear their snub was ticket-related. This year, the Cotton Bowl might as well be a BCS bowl.
Oh, and Gus Johnson is doing this game, which means it’s practically guaranteed to be a nail-biter.