What are the holidays without some college football?
An up and down college football season is coming to an end with the annual bowl games. The Oklahoma Sooners and Florida Gators are set to square off for the national title. We here at SCO hope that our coverage of the BCS bowl games and the FedEx National Championship Game will help hardcore college football fans and newcomers as well.
Orange Bowl: Cincinnati (11-2) vs. Virginia Tech (9-4), Jan. 1 at 8 p.m. (FOX)
Anshul's Pick: Cincinnati
Virginia Tech had a pretty disappointing season, but it was good enough to get them into a BCS bowl game. One of their big problems has been finding a consistent passing game as they struggled to find a suitable quarterback. Both Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon have seen their fair share of snaps this year, but neither has produced the kind of numbers VT coach Frank Beamer had hoped for, combining for only five touchdown passes. Cincy has had success in their passing game this season with Tony Pike throwing for over 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns. If VT wants to win, they're going to have to resort to traditional Beamer football and win with special teams, but I don't see it happening.
Greg's Pick: Cincinnati
Virginia Tech is looking for post-season success after a narrow loss to Kansas in the Orange Bowl last year, but I don't see them getting it against Cincinnati. The Hokies' main flaw is at quarterback, where Glennon and Taylor have thrown a combined 11 interceptions on the year. VT will need freshman running back Darren Evans to move the chains, but the red-shirt freshman will likely have trouble against a Bearcat defense that allowed just 104 rushing yards per game. As long as senior quarterback Tony Pike gets the offense off the ground for Cincinnati - whose running game ranks low even within the Big East - the Bearcats will secure the win.
Rose Bowl: Penn State (11-1) vs. USC (11-1), Jan. 1 at 4:30 p.m. (ABC)
Anshul's Pick: USC
Both these teams are dead across the board in all major offensive categories this season, including total yards, passing yards, rushing yards and points per game. USC is led by junior quarterback Mark Sanchez, who has thrown 30 touchdowns this season, and the rushing combo of Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight. Penn State has found success running the football with sophomore Evan Royster and has relied on their defense to help win games. Unfortunately for them, USC's defense has been even better as of recent.
Greg's Pick: Penn State
USC and Penn State were one game away from the national championship; the Trojans lost it early in a 27-21 loss to Oregon State in September, while the Nittany Lions saw their chance at number one slip away in the last second of a 24-23 defeat at the hands of Iowa. While few coaches know how to win games like USC's Steve Carroll, Joe Paterno - the winningest coach in college football history - may be just the man. Ultimately, however, this is a match-up between a superior defense, in USC, and a great offense, in the Penn State. Nittany Lion senior quarterback Daryll Clark will need another performance like he had in his regular season closer against Michigan State (341 passing yards, four touchdowns) with help from sophomore running back Evan Royster (1,202 yards on the season) to break down USC, who ranks number one in the nation in total defense.
Sugar Bowl: Utah (12-0) vs. Alabama (11-1), Jan. 2 at 8 p.m. (FOX)
Anshul's Pick: Alabama
Alabama was planning on playing the Sooners in the national title game until Florida knocked them off in the SEC Championship game. Still, the Crimson Tide have looked strong all season long with senior John Parker Wilson at the helm. While Wilson's numbers are down this season, his team has been playing great football. Utah comes in at an undefeated 12-0 and has showcased an explosive offense all season long. Utah's defense has been strong, but Alabama running back Glen Coffee has been astounding this season and will put a lot of pressure on the Utes to contain him. Remember what happened last year when an SEC team (Georgia) played an undefeated non-BCS team (Hawaii)? Georgia put down a hurting on Hawaii.
Greg's Pick: Alabama
Year after year, smaller conferences (like the Mountain West Conference) produce undefeated teams that, for the most part, have yet to prove themselves. Utah will be meeting a determined Alabama, who stuttered just once all season in losing the SEC championship (and a bid at the national championship) to Florida. While the case can be made that the Utes have beaten some quality teams, they are simply not ready for top-caliber teams like the Crimson Tide. In the end, an inconsistent Utah offense will not be able to find the end zone enough times against a defense that held seven opponents to ten points or less.
Fiesta Bowl: Texas (11-1) vs. Ohio State (10-2), Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. (FOX)
Anshul's Pick: Texas
Texas is still angry at the system for being snubbed from the BCS title game, and they have a right to be. Texas is 11-1 on the season, their only loss coming to Texas Tech in a last second touchdown. Colt McCoy had a tremendous season in which he completed a nation-high 77.6 percent of his passes, good enough to make him one of the finalists for the Heisman Trophy. Ohio State hasn't been bad this season as Chris Wells has carried the team with over 1000 rushing yards and a 5.7 average per carry. But Wells alone won't be able to make up for Texas' explosive offense.
Greg's Pick: Texas
On paper, Texas edges Ohio State by a single game. But it was the Longhorns who came through more impressively and defeated more respectable opponents all season, including Oklahoma, Missouri and Oklahoma State in an unforgiving November. Ohio State choked offensively against the only two quality teams they played, USC and Penn State, mustering just three and six points respectively. The Buckeyes, who have been dependent on their ground game all year while freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor gained some experience, will continue their offensive troubles as they attempt to run against Texas' second nationally-ranked rushing defense.
BCS National Championship: Oklahoma (12-1) vs. Florida (12-1), Jan. 8 at 8 p.m. (FOX)
Anshul's Pick: Oklahoma
Florida has steadily remained near the top of the BCS rankings, but nobody ever really considered them as contenders for the national title, as they never actually got to the very top of the standings. But a big win over Alabama in the SEC championship game put them in contention for the national title with Oklahoma. The Sooners have Heisman winner Sam Bradford at the helm, who has thrown for nearly 4,500 yards and 48 touchdowns this season. The Sooners also have two 1,000-yard rushers in Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray, but an injury to Murray may slow him down. The Gators have the offensive firepower to compete in last year's sophomore sensation Tim Tebow, a threat both running the ball and throwing it. The junior Tebow has shown that even without star running back Percy Harvin, he can lead his team to victory. But I believe the offense of the Sooners will prove too much for the Gators to handle.
Greg's Pick: Florida
Florida has been lurking just below the national championship scope all season long, using their win over Alabama in the SEC championship to propel them from number four into the big game. Oklahoma's explosive offensive, headed by Heisman trophy-winner and sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford (4,464 yards, 48 touchdowns), will be tough for the Gators to stop, but Florida has their own Heisman trophy-winner in the versatile junior quarterback Tim Tebow (2,515 yards and 28 touchdowns passing, 564 yards and 12 touchdowns rushing). With roughly even offenses, Florida gains the advantage with a defense that actually ranks in the top ten in the nation, compared to the Sooners' pass defense that bottoms out at number 99. Gators make it their second championship in three years.
Greg Kohn. Greg Kohn is a native Marylander. He's lived in one house his whole life, played soccer since before he could talk, and loves to chant "09" when it's really quiet. He hates being called Gregory, and he wishes he were more organized. He was a … More »
Anshul Sood. Anshul is a very laid-back person, a real take-it-easy kind of guy. He often burns time listening to music, playing music, watching some sports game, or playing some sport. Recently, he has entered into the world of running, though he is not very good. However, … More »