by Matt Severance - 8/26/2009
With college football kicking off a week from Thursday, I thought I would save the best college preview for last: predicting who will play in the BCS bowl games. By best I definitely don't mean best written (that's up to you), just that it's obviously every team's goal to reach one of these five games. BCS games generate an incredible amount free national publicity for the competing schools in addition to that windfall of $14 million-plus -- although most of it goes to the conference, unless you are Notre Dame.
Feel free to write into Doc's at email@example.com if you agree or disagree, but here goes my BCS predictions:
Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif., 4:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Prediction: Oregon vs. Penn State
The "Grandaddy of Them All" pits the Pac-10 champ against the Big Ten champ assuming a team from neither conference lands in the BCS National Championship Game. Oh, sure, every other site out there will go chalk and say Southern Cal against Ohio State, the favorites in the Pac-10 and Big Ten, respectively. But remember two things about that: 1) The Rose Bowl is not going to want a rematch of that Sept. 12 game in Columbus between the Trojans and Buckeyes; and 2) Ohio State has to rebuild on defense and visits Penn State this year. For that latter reason, I like the Nittany Lions.
As for the Ducks, they are loaded on offense with QB Jeremiah Masoli and RB LeGarrette Blount. They get Pac-10 contenders California, USC and Oregon State in Eugene.
By the way, Oregon and Penn State met in this game on Jan. 1, 1995 so it's nice symmetry 15 years later. The Ducks haven't been back since, while PSU hadn't been back since then before last year.
Prediction: LSU vs. Texas Christian
Jan. 1, New Orleans, 8 p.m. ET (Fox)
The Sugar Bowl gets the SEC champion if that team isn't in the National Championship Game. Yet since the SEC is so deep and always gets two teams picked for BCS bowls, a team from that conference has played in this game every year since Jan. 2, 2001. Four SEC teams have played for national titles in that span. This year, the Sugar has the third pick among the at-large teams behind the Fiesta and Orange. That could stick the Sugar with a non-BCS conference team for the third year in a row, which I think is the case.
The Sugar would be thrilled, obviously, to have LSU for the fourth time this decade - the Tigers won the previous three games. I look for Texas Christian to have the edge as the BCS buster over Boise State, Utah and BYU. The Frogs always have one of the nation's best defenses, but they also found an offense last year under QB Andy Dalton. TCU could run the table if it can win a late September game at Clemson and Oct. 24 at BYU. The Frogs get Utah in Fort Worth.
Prediction: Oklahoma vs. Ohio State
Jan. 4, Glendale, Ariz., 8 p.m. (Fox)
This would be a glamour matchup for sure, but also a game between two programs that have struggled in bowls of late. The Sooners have lost four BCS bowl games in a row, with three of those coming in BCS national championships. The Buckeyes have lost three straight BCS bowls, with two of those coming in national title tilts.
Frankly, both teams could just as easily win their conferences and head elsewhere. And I'm guessing that this bowl wouldn't want Oklahoma for the third time in four years and the Buckeyes for the second straight. But with the Orange having first pick of an at-large team, that will leave the Fiesta out of luck in getting Notre Dame.
Prediction: Georgia Tech vs. Notre Dame
Jan. 5, Miami, 8 p.m. (Fox)
Yep, I see the Irish returning to a BCS bowl for the first time since getting pounded in the January 2007 Sugar Bowl by LSU. Wouldn't it be ironic that it be against Georgia Tech? After all, the Irish program seemed to begin its slide after the whole George O'Leary fiasco when he was hired by Notre Dame from Georgia Tech. That led to Tyrone Willingham, which led to Charlie Weis.
The Orange gets the ACC champion if that team isn't in the title game and also has the first pick of the at-large teams. I guarantee you that will be Notre Dame if the Irish are eligible. I would have said Virginia Tech ahead of the Jackets as the ACC champ, but I believe the loss of star Hokies RB Darren Evans gives Georgia Tech the advantage head-to-head. Plus Virginia Tech has to visit Atlanta. North Carolina also has to visit.
BCS title game
Prediction: Florida vs. Texas
Jan. 7, Pasadena, Calif., 8 p.m. (ABC)
I honestly don't believe the Gators run the table during SEC play, because they haven't since the 1996 national champs did. But one loss won't drop the Gators very far down the polls, and beating a good LSU team in the SEC title game will get Florida back in the national title game.
As for Texas, its non-conference schedule is a joke compared to Oklahoma's. And the Longhorns have won three of four against the Sooners. Yeah, that game at Oklahoma State is a worry, but Texas has owned the Cowboys under Mack Brown. It would be déjà vu to have a UT quarterback lead an upset of a favored defending champion at the Rose Bowl in his final game. That's exactly what Vince Young (who left after his junior year) did to USC four years ago.
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