At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in the sport.
This week's question: Other than the national title game, which bowl are you most interested in?
Terry Bowden's answer:
All we've heard this season is that the Big 12 offenses wouldn't look so good if they had to play the SEC defenses, and the SEC defenses wouldn't look so good if they had to play the Big 12 offenses. Well, on Jan. 2 in the Cotton Bowl it is going to be time to put up or shut up. Texas Tech (11-1) will bring its fourth-ranked scoring offense, which is averaging 44.6 points per game, to Dallas to challenge a Mississippi (8-4) defense that is ranked 14th and giving up only 17.8 points per game. Texas Tech features the nation's second most prolific passer in Graham Harrell, who has thrown for 4,747 yards this season. Ole Miss is riding a five-game winning streak and is the only team this season to take down the No.1-ranked Florida Gators. This one ought to be a humdinger.
Olin Buchanan's answer:
The Cotton Bowl matchup of Ole Miss and Texas Tech is intriguing. The Rebels have an excellent defense, and Texas Tech's offense is obviously one of the best in the nation. There is a perception that Big 12 offenses were enhanced because the league's defenses were so suspect. This game could go a long way in proving or dismissing that theory. Ole Miss won at Florida and played a strong game against Alabama, so the Rebels have to be taken seriously. But whether their defense can contain Graham Harrell, Michael Crabtree and Texas Tech's passing game is a big question. On the other side, Texas Tech's defense could have problems with Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead, a Texas native who played better and better as the season progressed.
Tom Dienhart's answer:
The Poinsettia Bowl, which pits 12-0 Boise State against 10-2 TCU, is the best non-BCS bowl. Each team can make a case for being in a BCS game. Instead, Boise State and TCU face off in a fun battle that will be highlighted by an intriguing matchup between Boise State's dynamic offense and TCU's dominant defense. Watching Broncos coach Chris Petersen match wits with the Horned Frogs' Gary Patterson will be great theatre.
David Fox's answer:
I am most interested in the Rose Bowl. Since its loss to Oregon State, I've wanted to see how USC matches up against another top team. The Pac-10 simply didn't provide the Trojans much of a challenge this season. USC's defense can stack up statistically with the best defenses in recent memory. How does it match up with Penn State's Spread HD? As for Penn State, Ohio State (and Michigan in 2006) has let down the Big Ten in the BCS the past two seasons. Penn State will show me if this is an Ohio State problem or a Big Ten problem.
Mike Huguenin's answer:
I'm going to cheat and pick two. The Poinsettia is the primo pre-New Year's Day bowl, with Boise State trying to make the case that it's underrated this season. But TCU has the most physical defense Boise will have seen, and I'm intrigued by how the Broncos will react. As for Jan. 1, the Rose Bowl has a lot of intrigue. Penn State and USC are one-loss teams that can at least make a case that they belong in the national title game. Penn State is two points away from being in Miami. How will the Nittany Lions handle the speediest defense they've seen all season? Penn State's defense should be the sternest test this season for USC's offense.
Steve Megargee's answer:
I'm interested in the Sugar Bowl because I still have no idea how good Utah is. On the one hand, the Utes are one of only two unbeaten teams. Utah beat the same Oregon State team that knocked off USC. The Utes also blew out BYU, beat TCU and won at Michigan back when the Wolverines still had high hopes for their season. On the other hand, you can make a good argument that Utah wasn't even the best team in the Mountain West Conference this season. Utah needed to score a late touchdown to beat TCU at home. I'm not sure Utah wins that game on a neutral field. That's why Utah might have more at stake this bowl season than any team - other than Florida and Oklahoma. If Utah gets trounced by Alabama, skeptics will point out that they're this season's version of Hawaii. The comparison isn't fair because Utah has much more talent than Hawaii and played a much tougher schedule, but it won't stop people from drawing the parallels. But if Utah wins the game, the Utes can make their case for a top-three ranking in the final polls and can join the 1984 BYU national championship team, the 2004 Utah team and the 2006 Boise State squad in the debate over college football's best team from outside the major conferences.