Much like the holiday season it takes place during, it sometimes feels like bowl season can drag on forever. But, like the holiday season, it’s all worth it at the end.
As New Year’s Day comes, so too come college football’s marquee bowl matchups. And all five have reasons to tune in. So here’s just a few of the reasons you should watch this January’s BCS bowl games.
Defense wins championships. For the college football fans who are sick and tired of the onslaught of points and the explosion of offense over the past decade, the Rose Bowl might offer you a nice respite. While the Michigan State and Stanford offenses have plenty of talent, both teams lean on their defenses, and it paid off in the form of conference championships. The Spartans boasted the country’s No. 1 defense all season long, allowing just 12.7 points per game and 248.2 yards per game, and they’ll be taking on a hard-nosed Cardinal team that allowed just 18.6 points per game to lead the Pac-12.
Baylor barrage. On the flip side, there’s sure to be plenty of offense in the Fiesta Bowl, which features the country’s No. 1 offense in Baylor. The Bears are a scoring machine, and they ranked first in the nation by racking up 624.5 yards per game this season, more than 50 yards more than the No. 2 team, Oregon. Quarterback Bryce Petty (3,844 passing yards) and running back Lache Seastrunk (1,060 rushing yards) are the offensive stars to keep an eye on for Baylor. But if you’re a fan of scouting those NFL Draft prospects, tune in to watch Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, who could wind up as the top quarterbacking prospect in April. Bortles threw for 3,280 yards and 22 touchdowns this season.
R.T. That’s the abbreviation for “Roll Tide” since the new style in Tuscaloosa seems to be initials. Quarterback A.J. McCarron, running back T.J. Yeldon and linebacker C.J. Mosley lead the all-initial team for Alabama, a team looking to bounce back from that unbelievable loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Nick Saban and the Tide are used to playing in January, just not this early in January, so expect to see a team looking to prove that fluky field-goal return for a touchdown was a fluke indeed. If Bama stomps Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, as many expect, how many No. 1 votes could they get in the final AP poll?
Quadruple threat. What happens when two of the nation’s finest dual-threat quarterbacks go up against each other? Quadruple threat! The Orange Bowl should be a fun one, and that’s mainly thanks to the playmaking abilities of Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller. Boyd averaged 312.2 total offensive yards per game, which led the ACC. That’s right, he averaged more yards each week than Heisman winner Jameis Winston. Miller, meanwhile, was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight season and looked every bit the conference’s top QB despite missing three games due to injury. Throw in terrific weapons like Tigers receiver Sammy Watkins and Buckeyes running back Carlos Hyde, and you’ve got offensive fireworks in South Florida.
Dominant vs. miraculous. Florida State and Auburn have grabbed the majority of college football’s headlines this season, but they’ve done it in very different fashions. The Seminoles have walloped one opponent after another as they steamrolled through their ACC schedule. Only once has the Florida State defense allowed more than 14 points in a game, and only once has the offense scored fewer than 41. Meanwhile, the Tigers surprised everyone, winning an SEC championship just a year after going winless in conference play. And the biggest surprises of all were back-to-back, last-minute wins: first the tipped Hail Mary completion to beat Georgia, then the incredible field-goal return to top No. 1 Alabama. But while the wins have come in stunning fashion, Auburn has proved it can win big, too. Look no further than the 545 rushing yards in the SEC title game vs. Missouri. Florida State has the Heisman winner in Winston, one of just 11 players in college football to amass more than 4,000 total offensive yards this season. Auburn has the coach of the year in first-year head man Gus Malzahn. This year’s battle for the crystal football ought to be an entertaining one.