There are 35 games, which means that 70 teams will participate; demand for good teams far exceeds supply. Thirteen teams with break-even records — 6 wins, 6 losses — got bowl bids, and one (UCLA) actually had a losing record. This will make for some ugly games, I’m afraid.
Florida and Ohio State faced each other in the 2007 BCS Championship game, but this year they both limp into the Gator Bowl with 6-6 records. The Meineke Car Care Bowl matches Northwestern (6-6), a school that hasn’t won a bowl game since 1949, against Texas A&M (6-6), which fired coach Mike Sherman at the end of the season.
Mississippi State (6-6) and Wake Forest (6-6) square off in the Music City Bowl. The Bulldogs are 73rd in the country in scoring; the Demon Deacons are 75th in total defense, so a resistible force struggles against a movable object.
Arizona State fired its coach, Dennis Erickson, and then accepted an invitation to get stomped in the MAACO Bowl. Its opponent, Boise State, would be playing in a BCS bowl if their kicker hadn’t pushed the potential game winning field goal wide right against TCU. The Broncos will take out their frustration on the Sun Devils, who are mainly known for amassing penalties.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl presents two schools that must be starved for attention — why else would they risk more public humiliation? As noted above, UCLA had a losing record (6-7) but petitioned the NCAA for permission to play in Kraft’s cheesy bowl. Illinois (6-6) does have one player who is quite good; the aptly named defensive end Whitney Mercilus led the nation in sacks. He will probably be merciless against the Bruins’ offensive line, which yielded 24 sacks. This game has already set one record that will never be broken: Both coaches (Ron Zook and Rick Neuheisel) have already been fired.
Now, here are a few thoughts about the games you’ll want to see:
• Fiesta Bowl Stanford (11-1) vs. Oklahoma State (11-1)
Both teams feature excellent QBs in Andrew Luck and Brandon Weeden. Both teams have shaky pass defenses. The Cowboys have a slight edge because of All-American wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
• Cotton Bowl Arkansas (10-2) vs. Kansas State (10-2)
Eight of Kansas State’s wins were by 7 points or less. They’ll have trouble staying close to high-scoring Arkansas.
• Rose Bowl Oregon (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (11-2)
The Ducks averaged 46.2 points per game, third best in the country. Wisconsin was fourth with 44.6 ppg. Wisconsin plays solid defense too, but they haven’t faced the kind of speed that Oregon possesses.
• Sugar Bowl Virginia Tech (11-2) vs. Michigan (10-2)
Both of Virginia Tech’s losses were to the same team — Clemson. The Hokies’ defense is solid, but they’ll have to be spectacular against Michigan QB Denard Robinson. He threw for over 2,000 yards and ran for over 1,000. This will be close, but the edge goes to Michigan.
• BCS National Championship Game LSU (13-0) vs. Alabama (11-1)
Louisiana State allowed only 10.5 points per game, second best in the country. You know who was best, right? Yes, Alabama — 8.8 points per game. I’m thinking the Crimson Tide won’t miss four field goals again as they did against LSU on November 5. Alabama wins the rematch.