This is going to be a list of the most intriguing games in this year’s bowl season. I will be discarding them because (in theory) those are the most five intriguing match-ups to begin with. The only criteria I’ll be looking at is if I think it will be a close game, if it has any history behind it and if there are any story lines to go along with it. Alright, well we might as well just jump into it.
5. Capital One Bowl: LSU vs Penn St.
I think this will be a good game for a few reasons. Both are good teams but I think Penn State has actually played better so far this year. On the other hand the SEC has been known to dominate the Big Ten, and that’s especially true with LSU after they best Ohio State in the National Championship game a couple of years ago. Daryll Clark should have a big game for the Nittany Lions and the Tigers will need Brandon LaFell to step it up for them. Penn State is ranked 11th and LSU is 13th, but the Tigers are built on speed and quickness which is exactly what has been giving the Big Ten so much trouble with SEC teams in recent years. So look for this to be a close one.
4. Holiday Bowl: Nebraska vs Arizona
This is interesting. You have one team (Nebraska) with a ton of history: this is their 46th bowl game, they have five National Championships and dozens of conference championships but trying to find their way back to that previous glory. Then you have Arizona: Only 14 bowl appearances, only six bowl victories, and no out-right non-tied championships of any sort since 1941 and last year was in their first bowl game since 1998. That’s the catch though. In 1998 Arizona played in? The Holiday Bowl. And who did they play against? Nebraska. And who won that game? Arizona. These two schools have only ever played twice. Did Nebraska win either of those games? No. Nebraska is ranked higher (20th) than Arizona (22nd) but Nebraska is good for only one reason: Suh. Arizona is coming off a huge win over the usual Pac 10 powerhouse USC, while Nebraska is coming off a disappointing loss against Texas. Nebraska should win but Arizona is hot and has history on it’s side.
3. Las Vegas Bowl: BYU vs Oregon St.
These two schools have met eight time in history, with Oregon State winning five of them, but they haven’t played since 1986. So if you’re my age, they haven’t played in your lifetime. Oregon State has been the Pac 10 co-champions twice (1964 and 2000) while Brigham Young has 24 conference championships and one national championship to their name. For the last four years BYU has played in the Las Vegas Bowl, going 2-2. Oregon State has won their last five bowl games. But the history is not what makes this game interesting. It’s the offense that will make this a great matchup. Look for both teams to put up over 30 points in this one. BYU has stud quarterback Max Hall while Oregon State has a few studs of their own: The brothers: James (WR) and Jacquizz (RB) Rodgers. This one should be fun to watch. BYU is ranked 14th and Oregon State 18th, which makes this the first time in Las Vegas Bowl history that both participating teams are ranked. Oregon State should be fired up after losing to in-state rival, Oregon in the final game of the season, which determined who would be going to the Rose Bowl.
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Utah vs California
California leads the all-time series, 4-2, against Utah but the Utes won their last meeting in 2003. Utah has also won their last eight bowl games, including last year’s Sugar Bowl upset over Alabama. California has only won their last four bowl games but boasts running back Jahvid Best, who will look to run all over the Utah defense. But Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn and running back Eddie Wide will do their best to counter Best with an offensive attack of their own. Best will hopefully be returning from a scary injury that occurred in November, if he’s not back for this game then it could be fairly one-sided. He is expected back however so it’s #2 on my list. If you were to make me predict the score for this game I’d say 28 to 27. Now, if you asked me which team was going to score 28 and which team was going to score 27… I would simply shrug.
1. Cotton Bowl: Ole Miss vs Oklahoma State
The SEC/Big 12 showdown. These two teams have met once and only once and it was in the -gasp- Cotton Bowl in 2004. Ole Miss came out on top with a 31 to 28 victory in Eli Manning’s senior year. This is only the Rebels second bowl appearance since then (they also won the Cotton Bowl last year over Texas Tech) while Oklahoma State in their fifth bowl game since then. This will be the match-up that the SEC and Big 12 always have: and high-powered Big 12 offense facing a bone-crushing SEC defense. Ole Miss has six SEC Championships and one National Championship and Oklahoma State has eight Missouri Valley Championships and one Big Eight Championship but neither school has one any sort of championship in over 30 years. Look for Ole Miss to pound the rock with Dexter McCluster and get heavy pressure on defense with scary-good-pass-rushing-machine Greg Hardy. McCluster will be looking to become the first player in SEC history to get 1,000 yards rushing, and 500 yards receiving in the same season. Oklahoma State will look to respond to McCluster by throwing the ball with Zac Robinson, and will try to slow Hardy with crazy-good offensive tackle Russel Okung. Both Hardy and Okung are projected first round picks in the 2010 NFL draft so that matchup alone makes this game worth watching. Oklahoma State is ranked 19th while Ole Miss is unranked, but don’t let that deceive you. Both of these teams were preseason top 10 and both teams should be fired up for this game after both losing to rivals in their final games of the season. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this one decided in overtime. But the deciding factor in this game could be that Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy IS A MAN! AND HE’S FORTY!
If you have a different opinion on what bowl games will be good matchups, well YOU CAN’T DO THAT!
I’m kidding of course. Feel free to comment on anything and everything you like.