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Initial Thoughts on the Bowls: All the Way to the National Championship

 

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

After January 1st, it seems as though the bowls come to a slow conclusion over the next week. During this time, the rest of the BCS and the national championship game take center stage. There is a couple of bowls in between the start of the new year and the end of the college football season. One of those is the Cotton Bowl, a game that has seen a rejuvenation in importance in recent years. And that is something that makes this fan smile.

Sugar Bowl: Florida Gators Vs. Louisville Cardinals
I know Teddy Bridgewater had a good season in helping the Cardinals to a share of the Big East title, but I just can’t see how they can pull off the upset here. I really can’t. Compared to any defense the Cardinals had to face this year, the physicality and effectiveness of the Gators defense is suffocating. The Gators are healthy and finished their season strong with their win over the Florida St. Seminoles. It just appears to all be too much for Louisville to handle. If they can get a few 50+ yard touchdowns, they may be able to stay in the game, but this seems more like the setting for an SEC slaughter than for a major upset.

Fiesta Bowl: Kansas St. Wildcats Vs. Oregon Ducks
If this game isn’t the highest scoring bowl game or if the Ducks can’t put up the most points of any team in the bowls, I’m hoping it will be the beginning of the end of this fad where people only focus on one part of a football game: offense. This is a game tailor-made to be a showcase for Chip Kelly‘s high-speed offense with the Ducks and Collin Klein rushing & throwing the ball for the Wildcats. Both score big, both play decent defense, but nothing too special on that end. Look for the biggest over/under for a major bowl ever and rightfully so.

Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M Aggies Vs. Oklahoma Sooners
Expect this game to be a passing one. Both teams do have rushing weapons, but this is all about Johnny Football versus Landry Jones. This bowl game was initially started as a showcase of the quarterback position and has an incredibly rich tradition of doing just that. The 2013 installment is guaranteed to be another showcase of the quarterback position with the Heisman Trophy winner (first in a Cotton Bowl since Ricky Williams in the 1999 installment) against a man who always had the potential to win it.

Compass Bowl: Pittsburgh Panthers Vs. Ole Miss Rebels
Both of these teams got a big boost at the end of their respective seasons with upset wins that got them to the bowls. The Rebels also had the near-win against the LSU Tigers, a game they played good in until late. Hopefully all of this will mean both teams will come out firing with both barrels. If that happens, this game could be legitimately good. If not, it’s anyone’s guess as to how fun or exciting the game will be, because both do have the tendency to play really bad as well.

GoDaddy.com Bowl: Kent St. Golden Flashes Vs. Arkansas St. Red Wolves
A deceptive game. The names don’t ring out that loudly, but the teams are very good. The Golden Flashes was a win away from being where the Northern Illinois Huskies were. The Huskies beat them for the MAC title and ended up getting enough of a boost in the rankings. This should make the Golden Flashes all the more motivated to prove to the college football world that they are just as good as their 11-2 record might indicate. The Red Wolves should also motivated, but for a slightly different reason. For them, this will be about making a statement in a bowl game against a quality opponent after ending a fairly unnoticed season with several nice wins and a seven-game winning streak. I’m really looking forward to this one, and general fans of college football should too.

BCS National Championship Game: #1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Vs. #2 Alabama Crimson Tide
The game that everyone wanted to see: college football history buffs, fans of both teams, and anyone who wants to see the Fighting Irish get the best possible test in the national title game. If nothing else, this game helped the BCS avoid criticism in terms of who is playing for the national title, for this year anyway. This appears to be an unpopular opinion, but I believe the Fighting Irish defense won’t have the endurance to keep up with the Crimson Tide in the second half. This will be due to their offense not having the same efficiency as the Crimson Tide running game and A.J. McCarron behind center. Looks like a repeat for the Tide and third title in four years is forthcoming. The Fighting Irish will give it a go, but I’m anticipating a repeat of last year’s title game, with more scoring.

Phil Clark is a writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Or check out his blog.