It all comes down to this. After 16 weeks, the matchups are set, and we now know who will be going bowling, who will be staying home for the holidays, and which two teams will be vying for the coveted title of National Champion. The final weekend of the regular season was not lacking in drama. Florida State, led by Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, rolled past a determined Duke squad to win the ACC and claim a spot in the national championship game, but who the Seminoles would play took a awhile to figure out.
Undefeated and #2 Ohio State simply needed to defeat Michigan State in order to play for a title, but alas, the Buckeyes were unable to do so. Which didn’t serve well for college football betting fans out there. Ohio State rallied from a 17-0 first half deficit to take a 24-17 lead in the third quarter, but the Buckeyes couldn’t hold it. Behind a stellar performance from quarterback Connor Cook (24-of-40 for 304 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT), the Spartans scored 17 unanswered points and won 34-24. The victory gave Ohio State its first loss and not only knocked the Buckeyes out of the national title picture but kept them from going to the Rose Bowl as well. Michigan State will be playing in its first Rose Bowl since 1988.
Auburn continues to lead a charmed life as Ohio State’s loss means that the Tigers will be playing for their second national title in four years after prevailing over Missouri in a wild 59-42 shootout to win the SEC championship. The game featured eight lead changes and was 45-42 going into the fourth quarter before Auburn sealed it with two touchdowns in the final period. Missouri quarterback James Franklin threw for 303 yards and 3 touchdowns in a losing effort, but it was not enough to overcome a Herculean performance by Auburn running back Tre Mason.
The junior carried the ball a staggering 46 times for a SEC championship game-record 304 yards and scored 4 touchdowns. Mason had 195 yards at the half as Auburn set an SEC record by piling up 545 yards rushing on the day.
There were plenty of other surprises throughout Championship Saturday, as well.
An Oklahoma State win over archrival Oklahoma would have given the Cowboys the Big 12 title and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl, but the heavily-favored Cowboys were upset by the Sooners 33-24 and denied a BCS slot. The league title went to Baylor that evening after the Bears rolled Texas 30-10. This will be Baylor’s first BCS appearance and the school’s first league title since 1980.
Northern Illinois also saw its BCS hopes dashed after getting throttled by Bowling Green 47-27 in the MAC championship game on Friday night. The Huskies’ defense had no answer for Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson, who went 21-of-27 for 393 yards and 5 touchdowns with no interceptions. Heisman finalist Jordan Lynch had 126 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns for NIU, but he was less effective through the air and threw two costly interceptions.
Stanford avoided the upset bug and steamrolled Arizona State 38-14 to claim the Pac-12 title and a Rose Bowl berth for the second-consecutive year. The Cardinal played in the first Rose Bowl and will now get to play in the 100th edition of the game. Running back Tyler Gaffney was outstanding, rushing for 133 yards and 3 touchdowns while Stanford’s stout defense limited the Sun Devils’ potent offense to just 311 total yards while sacking quarterback Tyler Kelly five times.
The best story of the weekend, though, came from Conference USA. The Rice Owls, long a doormat in college football, stunned Marshall 41-24 to improve to 10-3 on the season and claim their first conference title since 1957, a span of 56-years. The Owls didn’t win the national title, but you wouldn’t know that from watching them celebrate in the locker room after the game.
Complete Bowl Schedule
First, let’s start with the BCS bowls:
Wednesday, January 1, 2014:
Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio – Stanford (11-2) vs. Michigan State (12-1)
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – Baylor (11-1) vs. Central Florida (11-1)
Thursday, January 2, 2014:
Allstate Sugar Bowl – Oklahoma (10-2) vs. Alabama (11-1)
Friday, January 3, 2014:
Discover Orange Bowl – Clemson (10-2) vs. Ohio State (12-1)
January 6, 2014:
Vizio BCS National Championship Game – Florida State (13-0) vs. Auburn (12-1)
Now here’s the rest of the schedule:
Saturday, December 21, 2013:
Gildan New Mexico Bowl – Colorado State (7-6) vs. Washington State (6-6)
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl – Fresno State (11-1) vs. USC (9-4)
R+L New Orleans Bowl – Tulane (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – Buffalo (8-4) vs. San Diego State (7-5)
Monday, December 23, 2013:
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg – East Carolina (9-3) vs. Ohio (7-5)
Tuesday, December 24, 2013:
Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl – Boise State (8-4) vs. Oregon State (6-6)
Thursday, December 25, 2013:
Little Caesar’s Bowl – Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (10-3)
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl – Utah State (8-5) vs. Northern Illinois (12-1)
Friday, December 26, 2013:
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman – Marshall (9-4) vs. Maryland (7-5)
Texas Bowl – Syracuse (6-6) vs. Minnesota (8-4)
Fight Hunger Bowl – BYU (8-4) vs. Washington (8-4)
Saturday, December 28, 2013:
New Era Pinstripe Bowl – Notre Dame (8-4) vs. Rutgers (6-6)
Belk Bowl – Cincinnati (9-3) vs. North Carolina (6-6)
Russell Athletic Bowl – Miami (9-3) vs. Louisville (11-1)
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl – Michigan (7-5) vs. Kansas State (7-5)
Monday, December 30, 2013:
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl – Middle Tennessee (8-4) vs. Navy (7-4)
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl – Ole Miss (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)
Valero Alamo Bowl – Oregon (10-2) vs. Texas (8-4)
National University Holiday Bowl – Arizona State (10-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
Tuesday, December 31, 2013:
AdvoCare V100 Bowl – Arizona (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5)
Hyundai Sun Bowl – Virginia Tech (8-4) vs. UCLA (9-3)
AutoZone Liberty Bowl – Rice (10-3) vs. Mississippi State (6-6)
Chick-Fil-A Bowl – Duke (10-3) vs. Texas A&M (8-4)
Wednesday, January 1, 2014:
Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl – Nebraska (8-4) vs. Georgia (8-4)
Heart of Dallas Bowl Presented by Plainscapital Bank – UNLV (7-5) vs. North Texas (8-4)
Outback Bowl – Iowa (8-4) vs. LSU (9-3)
Capital One Bowl – Wisconsin (9-3) vs. South Carolina (10-2)
Friday, January 3, 2014:
AT&T Cotton Bowl – Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. Missouri (11-2)
Saturday, January 4, 2014:
BBVA Compass Bowl – Vanderbilt (8-4) vs. Houston (8-4)
Sunday, January 5, 2014:
GoDaddy Bowl – Arkansas State (7-5) vs. Ball State (10-2)
Looking Ahead to The First Bowl Week
The Gildan New Mexico Bowl kicks things off at 2 pm Eastern on Saturday, and this is one you don’t want to miss. Not only is it the first bowl game of the season, it also has developed a reputation for hosting wild and crazy games. Last year, Arizona scored two touchdowns in the final 46 seconds to pull off an improbable 49-48 victory over Nevada.
This year’s edition features two teams who have surprisingly never played each other before. Both Washington State and Colorado State are ending lengthy bowl droughts and will be excited to be playing in a bowl. Both teams have potent offenses and suspect defenses. With Mike Leach at the helm, Washington State throws the ball all over the yard and will be facing a suspect Colorado State secondary with a penchant for giving up big plays. Quarterback Connor Halliday is fourth in the country in passing yards and has thrown 28 touchdown passes.
Colorado State counters with a more balanced approach, as the Rams are the only team in the nation with a 3,000 yard passer and a 1,500 yard rusher. Sophomore running back Kapri Bibbs leads the nation with 28 rushing touchdowns and keys a CSU offense that set numerous school records and topped 50 points in four games. Expect a lot of big plays and plenty of scoring.
Another Saturday game worth taking a gander at is the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl between two top-25 teams in Fresno State and USC. The Bulldogs were in the hunt for a BCS game until a late season loss scuttled those hopes while USC remarkably has a chance at 10 wins despite having their third different coach this season. It’s a classic matchup of contrasting styles as Fresno State features a high-powered offense behind star quarterback Derek Carr (4,866 yards and 48 touchdowns) and receiver Davonte Adams (1,645 yards and 23 touchdowns) whereas USC’s strength is a staunch defense that was number one in the Pac-12–and 16th overall–against the pass.
For those of you who enjoy pain and massive collisions, tune into the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Saturday night. Buffalo’s Khalil Mack is one of the top players in the country and a sure-fire top-ten NFL pick, but he’ll be tested by bruising running back Adam Muema of San Diego State. There might be some aftershocks when those two collide.
As for mid-week fare, the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl looks promising. Northern Illinois boasts a prolific offense guided by Heisman finalist Jordan Lynch. The senior quarterback broke his own record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,881 and also threw for 2,676. He accounted for 46 total touchdowns and is on the verge of becoming the first player in NCAA history with 2,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing in the same season.
He won’t find much room to work with against a tough Utah State defense. The Aggies rank in the top ten nationally in both scoring defense and rushing defense and held Fresno State’s powerful offense to just 24 points in the Mountain West championship game.