December 12, 2009

Which non-BCS bowl is the most interesting?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in the sport.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Which non-BCS bowl are you most looking forward to this postseason?

I'm most interested in the Sun Bowl matchup between Stanford and Oklahoma. Although this has not been a vintage season for Oklahoma, the Sooners are strong on defense - especially against the run. That sets the stage for an intriguing matchup between the Sooners and Stanford RB Toby Gerhart, who leads the nation in rushing. He has rushed for at least 82 yards in every game. Can he get to 100 against the Sooners? That won't be easy, especially with Cardinal QB Andrew Luck not expected to play because of a broken finger.


I am intrigued by the Chick-fil-A Bowl between Tennessee and Virginia Tech. The game will pit perhaps the nation's top two defensive coordinators in the Volunteers' Monte Kiffin and the Hokies' Bud Foster. As a sidelight, the game also will feature two of the nation's top reclamation projects at quarterback in Tennessee's Jonathan Crompton and Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor. Which of these re-born quarterbacks will be able to crack the code of these standout defensive coordinators?


The non-BCS games have plenty of good matchups, but there's not one can't-miss game. Still, I want to watch the Champs Sports Bowl between Wisconsin and Miami. Sure, both teams were up and down this season, but both could take a big leap next season. Hurricanes QB Jacory Harris and Wisconsin RB John Clay should be on the preseason Heisman watch lists. The appeal is not just because of those two. The Badgers start only six seniors and have a budding star linebacker in Chris Borland. Miami has its share of young talent, too, but the Hurricanes will have to replace several senior offensive linemen and key defensive players in 2010. This bowl could be a springboard into next season for the winner.


I'm intrigued by the Capital One (LSU-Penn State), Sun (Oklahoma-Stanford), Holiday (Arizona-Nebraska) and the Las Vegas (BYU-Oregon State), among others. But my choice is the Gator Bowl, and that's because it's Bobby Bowden's last game. Bowden has had just one losing season at FSU - his first, 1976. His team is 6-6 this season, and on paper, this is not a good matchup for the Seminoles. FSU's defense has been pitiful, and WVU should be able to run it right at the 'Noles. Can FSU's offense have some success? There will be a ton of pressure on FSU players - especially from a lot of prominent ex-FSU players - to make sure Bowden's last game won't be a loss. I think it will make for great entertainment.


The hoopla surrounding Bobby Bowden's last game makes the Gator Bowl the most watchable non-BCS game, but in terms of actual matchups on the field, the Stanford-Oklahoma pairing in the Sun Bowl catches my eye. For one thing, it pits a team clearly happy to be there against a program that had much bigger goals in mind. Stanford will be making its first bowl appearance since 2001, while Oklahoma had to settle for a Sun Bowl bid after being ranked third in the nation at the start of the season. In these types of games, I'm always interested in seeing if the disappointed team comes into the game with the proper motivation. But the biggest reason to watch is to see how Stanford running back Toby Gerhart fares against Oklahoma's outstanding front seven on defense. Gerhart has rushed for 1,736 yards and an NCAA-leading 26 touchdowns, but he faces the seventh-ranked run defense in the nation. Stanford has played against four of the top 27 run defenses in the nation (No. 18 Arizona State, No. 22 Arizona, No. 25 Oregon State and No. 27 California), but the Sooners are on a different level. And it's worth noting that Stanford went 1-3 against those four teams, though Gerhart averaged 120 rushing yards in those four games.

- STEVE MEGARGEE is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
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