College Football Handicapping: Ranking the BCS Bowls
by Trevor Whenham - 12/7/2011
This isn’t rocket science. In fact, the title should really explain it — this is the order I would rank the five BCS games this year in terms of overall quality and excitement - both from a betting perspective and as a fan. (all college football odds are from 5Dimes):
No. 1 - Fiesta Bowl - Oklahoma State (-3) vs. Stanford
Before we talk about this game and how good it could be I can’t help but mention that this game shouldn’t be happening. I fall firmly into the camp that believes that an Oklahoma State - LSU pairing in the Championship Game would be infinitely superior to what we have now.
Whining aside, this should be great.
Both of these teams are very strong offensively, both have defenses that are soft enough to let the other team pile up some points, and both have coaches who aren’t afraid to take a risk.
The most compelling part of the game, though, is that both programs will be using the game to say goodbye to the best quarterback they have had in a long, long time. Both teams will want their star to go out on top, so the intensity should be even higher than you might expect for a good BCS pairing.
The intense media attention on Andrew Luck will add even more intrigue to this game. He really needs to redeem himself in a big game after the Oregon debacle.
No. 2 - Rose Bowl - Oregon (-6.5) vs. Wisconsin
I’m a Big Ten guy so I always have a soft spot for the Rose Bowl. This game should be a particularly good Rose Bowl, too.
Both teams are extremely talented and impressive, but have both shown that they can be vulnerable and that makes it all the more interesting.
Both have wildly talented quarterbacks who can change the game by themselves if they have to. Both have running games that are incredibly dangerous.
In most years this would also be a total clash of styles and philosophies, but the addition on Russell Wilson to the Badgers has changed that this year.
Watching Wisconsin do some decidedly non-Wisconsin things has been very fun all year, and this should be no exception.
No. 3 - BCS National Championship - LSU (pick) vs. Alabama
I’d put this game even lower in the rankings if I could justify it, but given how impressive LSU has been — and how solid Alabama is on defense — I just can’t.
The matchup itself is a good one — though I hope the game is a lot more interesting than the first one.
I’m not even opposed to a rematch in principle if the two teams are clearly the best ones. I just don’t think you can make the clear and undeniable argument that Alabama is dramatically better than everyone else. In fact, I think it’s all but impossible to say they deserve this spot more than Oklahoma State given Alabama’s weak schedule and the circumstances surrounding the Cowboys’ loss.
I don’t think there has been a stronger argument for a plus-one Championship Game than this matchup.
No. 4 - Sugar Bowl - Michigan (-2.5) vs. Virginia Tech
I bleed Maize and Blue, so in my mind this is the best bowl game of the year. I won’t try to convince everyone else of that, though.
It’s a reasonably compelling matchup given that they are two iconic national programs that have never met. It would be a lot more interesting to see Michigan play TCU, Boise State, or Kansas State, though, and you can’t help but wonder what kind of shenanigans were involved in landing Virginia Tech in this game.
For Michigan fans like myself the most interesting aspect of this game is as a measuring stick to see how far the team really has advanced in the first year of the Hoke era.
No. 5 - Orange Bowl - Clemson (-3.5) vs. West Virginia
I like Clemson and respect the way they played this year and the teams they beat. They could have been the most impressive team in the world, though, and this would still be the worst BCS game.
That is entirely the fault of the truly pathetic Big East. They are a joke of the BCS, and given their ridiculously desperate recent expansion that isn’t likely to change. Pathetic.
After two days of great football action it seems likely that I will skip this game to recharge for the final push of games.
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