By Kevin McGuire
The bowl season is officially underway and it is certain to pack plenty of action for college football fans before we officially move into the offseason and start counting down the days until the first kickoff of the 2014 season. Colorado State has already served up one of the more unbelievable endings we will be sure to see this bowl season, with a wild rally against Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl. If that was a preview of things to come this bowl season, hang on tight!
Each bowl game will carry a different storyline with its game, which helps to make each game unique. The Alamo Bowl between Texas and Oregon will be the final game of Texas head coach Mack Brown’s coaching career. Brown helped turn Texas football around since his arrival from North Carolina but the time for a change in Austin has come. Can the Longhorns pull through for one more win for Mack, or will Oregon’s offense be too much to handle in San Antonio?
New Year’s Eve will offer some quality entertainment as two All-American running backs go head-to-head in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl. Boston College’s 2,000-yard rusher Andre Williams and Arizona’s Ka’deem Carey is one of the best running back match-ups in the bowl season. Later that night, Duke’s magical season looks for an upset of Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Will this be the final game for Manziel before turning pro? It could be.
The first day of the new year will include a defensive match-up in the Rose Bowl between Big Ten champion Michigan State and Pac 12 champion Stanford. The game should be a nice contrast to some of the other games we will see this bowl season. Baylor and Central Florida may not be a true headliner of a game in the Fiesta Bowl, but it may be the most underrated bowl game this season. How Alabama finishes its season in the Sugar Bowl could be intriguing, after missing out on a shot at a SEC and a third straight BCS title, will the Crimson Tide sleep through preparation for Oklahoma in New Orleans, or will AJ McCarron’s college career end with another win?
Two of the best bowl games this season will be played after January 1. The Cotton Bowl between Oklahoma State and Missouri is an old Big 12 clash, of course, but it is also a match-up of conference championship runners-up. The Cowboys were upset by Oklahoma in the final game of the regular season, awarding the Big 12 to Baylor with a win over Texas. Missouri could not keep up with Auburn in the SEC Championship Game. The Cotton Bowl is not exactly a bad consolation prize though. It is essentially a BCS bowl game without the BCS fanfare. This one could be a back-and-forth game from start to finish.
One of the best BCS bowl match-ups may come in the Orange Bowl, with Ohio State taking on Clemson. The Buckeyes were a win away from playing for the BCS championship, but set their sights on rebounding for a BCS bowl win. They face a Clemson team looking to erase the painful memories of an abysmal performance in Miami just a few years ago. Clemson was destroyed by West Virginia the last time they were in the Orange Bowl. The quarterback match-up of Braxton Miller and Tajh Boyd is even and one of the best in the bowl season.
Of course, all games lead up to this season’s BCS Championship game between No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn. This match-up may not have quite the same national magnitude of last season’s colossal match-up between Alabama and Notre Dame, but a new BCS champion will be crowned. Auburn is tasked with the responsibility of extending the SEC’s national championship streak to eight straight titles, which would be their second in four years. Florida State is looking to climb back to the top of the college football mountain for the first time in over a decade. This BCS title bout will see Heisman Trophy quarterback Jameis Winston take center stage for the Seminoles and Heisman finalist Tre Mason fuel Auburn’s seemingly unstoppable running game. Florida State has been the most consistently dominant team in the country from the start of the year through the ACC Championship Game victory over Duke, but no team is on a hotter streak right now than Auburn. Will the Tigers have any miraculous plays left to rely on or will Florida State finally bring an end to the SEC’s championship streak?
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.