There are 35 bowl games this year that will run from December 15th until January 7th. The match-ups range from very interesting to no thank you. Let's take a look at the eleven games that interest me the most this bowl season:
#11 GoDaddy.com Bowl: Arkansas State (9-3) vs Kent State (11-2)
It took a while for Gus Malzahn to get the Red Wolves going but he's got them cooking right now as they have won seven straight. All three losses for Arkansas State came before October and all came against bowl bound teams (Oregon, Nebraska and WKU). Kent State is the MAC runner-up losing a heart-breaker in the MAC Championship to NIU in double overtime. Look for Dri Archer and the Golden Flashes to provide another great game in this one against Ryan Aplin and the Red Wolves.
#10 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Toledo vs Utah State (10-2)
Wait a minute...Utah State? Toledo? Yep. We are going #MACtion here. This Utah State team has only lost to Wisconsin and BYU and both were road games. Utah State has also scored at least 38 points in their last six games and have a defense that is eighth in the Nation in points allowed. The Rockets three losses have all come against bowl bound teams (Arizona, Ball State and NIU) and none of those losses were by double-digits so this one figures to be a close game.
#9 Alamo Bowl: Texas (8-4) vs Oregon State (9-3)
Texas has gone 1-3 against ranked teams this year and also took a loss to TCU. Texas fans are once again wondering if Mack Brown is the right guy to lead them into the future. A bowl game win here is important to Mack and his coaches as they've lost two straight games heading into this one. The Beavers were a pleasant surprise this season. They went 2-2 against ranked teams losing to Stanford and Oregon and dropping one on the road at Washington.
#8 Sugar Bowl: Louisville (10-2) vs Florida (11-1)
There is a lot of debate at whether Louisville should be in a bowl this big after losing back-to-back games to Syracuse and UConn but that's the way the system works and they are here. The most intriguing thing is Charlie Strong returning to his roots to take on the Gators. Louisville has a good, not great, defense and the Gators have struggled at times on offense. Can Charlie right the ship and stick it to the school that overlooked him as the replacement for Urban Meyer?
#7 Outback Bowl: Michigan (8-4) vs South Carolina (10-2)
Michigan is one of those teams that has beaten everybody on their schedule that they probably should have beaten but have lost to the four best teams they've played (Bama, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Ohio State). South Carolina fits in with those four teams as they are better than Nebraska. South Carolina has the ability to be an elite team but struggled on the road in back-to-back weeks in October. The most interesting thing about this meeting? What happens when Jadeveon Clowney and Denard Robinson square off?
#6 Rose Bowl: Stanford (11-2) vs Wisconsin (8-5)
If you would have told me this was the Rose Bowl a couple of weeks ago, I would have shuddered. That was before Wisconsin took Nebraska to the woodshed in the B1G Championship Game by putting a 70 spot on them. It was also before Stanford won seven straight games to close the season with the last four of them being against ranked teams. Another reason to like this game is that these teams have combined to play in six overtime games this season. Odds are this will be a close hard hitting game.
#5 Capital One: Georgia (11-2) vs Nebraska (10-3)
Georgia played it's hearts out in the SEC Championship Game and Nebraska got theirs ripped out of their chest by Wisconsin in the B1G Game. What state of mind will these two teams be in when they play in this game. Georgia proved it is among the elite teams in the Nation with their performance against Alabama. If that Georgia team shows up, this is a mis-match but the Huskers have beaten some pretty good teams this season (Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State) and have six wins over teams that will be playing in bowl games. This is one of those games that pits two teams with a good history of football that don't normally play each other.
#4 Chick-fil-A Bowl: Clemson (10-2) vs LSU (10-2)
It's always interesting when we get an ACC/SEC match-up that features two of the conferences best teams that rarely play each other. These two teams haven't played since 1996. LSU isn't the dominant team that they were last year but they are still very good as their two losses are to two of the top three teams in the country (Bama and Florida) and came by a total of twelve points. Clemson is fighting for respect after being embarrassed in their bowl game last year by West Virginia. Clemson is another team that has beaten everybody on their schedule except for the best teams they've faced (FSU and South Carolina). Clemson is 0-2 against ranked teams this season, can they change that in this battle of Top 15 teams?
#3 Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State (11-1) vs Oregon (11-1)
These were two of the top teams all year long and for a while it looked like they might meet in the National Championship Game. That might not have been the National Title game we all wanted to see but it's certainly a BCS bowl game we all want to see. Can Collin Klein ground out the Oregon defense and keep the high powered Ducks off the field? Can Oregon open up their brand of offensive fireworks and run the Wildcats out of the Fiesta Bowl?
#2 Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M (10-2) vs Oklahoma (10-2)
This game pits two teams that could easily be in BCS games. Texas A&M comes into this game as quite possibly the hottest team in the Nation. Led by Johnny Manziel, the Aggies have the third highest scoring team in the land and are winners of five straight including a win over Alabama. Oklahoma has also won five straight and their only losses are against upper echelon opponents (Kansas State and Notre Dame). Oh yeah, did I forget to mention the whole A&M/Oklahoma/Big 12 storyline? And the fact that this is being played in the Cotton Bowl? A lot is made about conference pride and whether or not it matters but in this game, it matters. Sometimes teams come into bowl games without motivation. The motivation is here for both teams. This is gonna be a slobberknocker.
#1 BCS National Championship Game: Alabama (12-1) vs Notre Dame (12-0)
Notre Dame is back! A popular saying is that college football is better when Notre Dame is good. Well, the Irish are in the title game and it's against an SEC team looking to secure the conference a seventh straight National Title. All of the storylines are here and this Alabama squad definitely looks beat able. A&M showed us that earlier this season and Georgia came within four yards of beating them last week. Make no mistake about it, this game will be decided in the trenches as the irresistible force (Bama's run game) meets the immovable object (the Irish run defense).
Get more great college football analysis over at College Football Zealots.