December 11, 2010

Which bowls are 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 college football.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Other than the BCS national championship game, which three bowls interest you the most?

That's easy. First, I find the Rose Bowl matchup of TCU and Wisconsin intriguing for the obvious reason that it matches the Big Ten tri-champion Badgers against non-AQ TCU. Wisconsin has a powerful offense and TCU is known for playing great defense. If TCU wins, and thus finishes unbeaten, who's to say the Horned Frogs couldn't have won the national championship if given an honest chance? The Sugar Bowl matchup between Arkansas and Ohio State is compelling for a couple of reasons. No. 1, Razorbacks QB Ryan Mallett started his career at Michigan and gets another chance to beat Ohio State, but will be facing the fourth-rated pass defense in the nation. Second, Ohio State has a long losing streak against SEC teams and Buckeyes fans have had to endure years of taunts from SEC fans. A victory in the Sugar Bowl would put an end to both. Finally, the Cotton Bowl clash of LSU-Texas A&M is a great matchup. LSU plays sound defense and A&M's offense has been surging since Ryan Tannehill took over as the starting quarterback at midseason. Also, the Aggies and Tigers once played on an annual basis, but the series ended in 1995 after the Aggies started dominating. Pitting two successful teams with a history of playing each other always makes for a good bowl matchup.


I am eager to watch the Las Vegas Bowl between Utah and Boise State. The Utes were a top-10 program for much of the season before slipping up late against TCU and Notre Dame, while the Broncos looked to be on course to possibly play for the national title until a late-season loss at Nevada. The Sugar Bowl looks intriguing based on the matchup between the rugged Ohio State defense and Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett. No foe threw for more than 232 yards on the Buckeyes, who have the No. 4 pass defense (156.3 ypg) in the country. The Hogs have thrown for at least 251 in each game and have a passing attack assault that ranks No. 3 in the country (338.4 ypg). Something has to give. The Orange Bowl features the best quarterback matchup of any game outside of the BCS title contest with Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor facing off against Stanford's Andrew Luck. Taylor may be the most underrated quarterback in the nation, ranking 13th in efficiency. Luck is No. 7 in efficiency and is considered by most to be a lock to be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft if he opts to come out.


The Rose Bowl is a sort of David-Goliath matchup, and that makes it the best outside of the title game. There's Wisconsin from the big, bad Big Ten going against TCU from the Mountain West Conference. Neither team does anything fancy; both just line up and beat up on the opposition. The added intrigue in this one comes from the Badgers' rushing attack going against a Horned Frogs defense that leads the nation. The Sugar Bowl pits Ohio State against an SEC team, which - if nothing else - is great theatre. Arkansas' passing attack is one of the nation's best, but no one has thrown for more than 232 on the Buckeyes. And the Orange Bowl is a good one, with Stanford going against a white-hot Virginia Tech team. There's also the interesting quarterback matchup between the Cardinal's Andrew Luck and the Hokies' Tyrod Taylor.


The Rose Bowl matchup between Wisconsin's offense and TCU's defense definitely will be worth watching. Wisconsin has averaged 67.0 points over its past three games, while TCU leads the nation in total defense and scoring defense. The Stanford-Virginia Tech Orange Bowl also should be fun. Virginia Tech has won 11 in a row. Are the Hokies a legit top-10 team, or did they simply feast on a mediocre ACC? And I want to see how Andrew Luck fares against Virginia Tech's ball-hawking secondary. The LSU-Texas A&M Cotton Bowl is a prime-time Jan. 8 game that should have the feel of a BCS matchup. LSU and Texas A&M seem like natural rivals that ought to be playing each other every season. At least we'll have this opportunity to see them square off.


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