Ah, New Year's Day bowl games. The pinnacle of the bowl season. Young children everywhere dream of someday going to a big time college football program and playing in the Rose Bowl (yay!) or the
Citrus Capitol One Bowl (wait a minute) or the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl (hold on) or the... Heart of Dallas Bowl?
Ok, so New Year's Day doesn't quite mean what it used to, but that doesn't mean there aren't some good games with intriguing match-ups. And there's one tradition that will never go away: Big Ten teams losing to SEC teams on January 1st. What a way to ring in 2014.
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl
Nebraska (8-4) vs. Georgia (8-4) 12:00 ESPN2
If you're feeling some déjà vu, that's because this game is a rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl. Both teams are coming off of rather disappointing seasons and both will be without their four-year starting quarterback. This game doesn't really excite me. I suppose Bo Pelini could challenge Todd Grantham to bare-knuckle box at midfield, but there's only like a 40% chance of that happening.
Heart of Dallas Bowl
UNLV (7-5) vs. North Texas (8-4) 12:00 ESPNU
This game just screams "Noon on ESPNU." What's really weird about this game is that it's some kind of pseudo-Cotton Bowl but not nearly as good. It's like the Purdue of bowl season.
As for the game itself, I don't know what to say. Pick a team and root like hell for them.
Iowa (8-4) vs. LSU (9-3) 1:00 ESPN
This could be a sneaky-good game. The Hawkeyes are coming off of a surprising 8 win season, while the Tigers had a bit of a down year. From a talent standpoint LSU clearly outclasses Iowa, but the Hawkeyes will probably be much more motivated for this game. Iowa could pull off the upset if LSU comes out flat, resulting in a 20-year contract extension for Kirk Ferentz. Or LSU could win by 30. Who knows.
Capital One Bowl
Wisconsin (9-3) vs. South Carolina (10-2) 1:00 ABC
Get your remote ready because this should be a good game as well. I haven't watched either team play much this season, but I feel like South Carolina is the better team. This will be a classic power vs. spread match-up, so it should be fun to watch. It would be easy to pick a rooting interest if this was the Ol' Ball Coach vs. Bret Bielma, but I think Gary Anderson's face is much less punchable than Bielma's. So root for the old standby: CHAOS. I'm talking quadruple overtime with multiple turnovers, blocked field goals, and plenty of thrown visors.
Stanford (11-2) vs. Michigan State (12-1) 5:00 ESPN
Power running. Tight ends. Extra offensive linemen. Fullbacks. The way football was meant to be played.
This will definitely be the best game of the day. Questions abound for this game, though. What exactly did Max Bullough do to get himself suspended for this game? How much will Michigan State miss him? Was Connor Cook's performance against Ohio State a fluke or a sign that he's taking the next step? Can Stanford hold up against a team that can match its physicality? Will Stanford achieve the dream of lining up with eleven offensive linemen? And how exactly did Michigan State lose to Notre Dame? These teams are almost mirror images of each other so it's hard to tell who has the edge. Michigan State seems like the team of destiny, so I'm guessing they'll pull it off.
UCF (11-1) vs. Baylor (11-1) 8:30 ESPN
I really, really, really, really wish we had been treated to a Baylor vs. Alabama BCS game. Can you imagine how incredible that game would be? Instead we have UCF against Baylor (bleh) and Alabama taking on Oklahoma (double bleh).
Baylor is always fun to watch, and UCF has a pretty stout defense and Blake Bortles. I just don't see UCF being able to slow down Baylor enough and I don't think the Knights can keep pace on offense. It might be a pretty good game for a half, but I think Baylor uses their superior fundamentals to wear down UCF and pull away after halftime. At least George O'Leary can count this as three BCS game appearances on his resume, I guess.