NCAA Bowl Season... Are You Ready?
Let's face it, the majority of college football bowl games are really nothing more than a reward in the form of one last exhibition game, for the teams that were selected, and a chance for the fans and alumni of the school to go watch their teams while vacationing in a new locale. But otherwise, they're mostly rather meaningless.
However, when you start getting down to the bowl games with the real "heavy hitters," outside of the college football playoffs, the games are still meaningless, but offer fascinating match-ups between some of the best teams in the nation.
Either way, we outlined the top five most potentially interesting bowl games for the 2017 College Football Bowl Season:
5. PlayStation Fiesta Bowl -- Washington vs. Penn State: Washington ended a somewhat disappointing season by keeping in-state rival Washington State out of the Pac-12 title. But after blowing a halftime lead against Pac-12 rival Stanford University, the Huskies were eliminated from winning the Pac-12 title themselves, and thereby forgoing any chance at returning to the college football playoffs. The Huskies will face a Penn State team who looked to be in the driver's seat for making it to the Big 10 Championship game, only to lose a heartbreaker against eventual Big 10 champion Ohio State University. This matchup also features two of the better running backs in the nation; Myles Gaskin of Washington, and Saquon Barkley of Penn State.
4. Capital One Orange Bowl – Wisconsin vs. Miami: Most head coaches would be quite proud of the fact that they took their program to a conference championship game in just their second year. But head coach Mark Richt had a chance to put his University of Miami Hurricanes in college football's "final four," only to be routed by eventual champion Clemson University. However, the turnaround job that Richt has commended in Coral Gables has Miami alumni getting a feeling of Déjà vu from glory years past. They'll play a University of Wisconsin team that flew under the radar for most of the 2017 college football season, only for the rest of the nation to realize by late November that the Badgers were undefeated and heading to the Big 10 Championship game. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor will be a player to keep an eye on; he was ran for 1,847 yards this year, which was the most by a freshman since Adrian Peterson in 2004.
3. Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic – USC vs. Ohio State: Back in the old days of college football bowls, this matchup would have been taking place in Pasadena, and to borrow from the great Keith Jackson, this one would have been a dandy. Of course, that's little consolation to fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes, who felt that they should have been selected for the college football playoffs, having won the Big 10 Championship. Top to bottom, this Ohio State team is one of the five most talented teams in the nation and have the ability to beat any team in the country on any given day. But while the Buckeyes most boast the most talent, the USC Trojans could very well boast the fact that they have the best quarterback in the country, Sam Darnold. A big-time performance in this game and against a lot of players on the Buckeyes defense who could be playing on Sunday's in the future, could help tilt Darnold's decision for whether to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft.
2. College Football Playoff at the Rose Bowl Game – Georgia vs. Oklahoma: If you like seeing matchups between two electric offenses, then this year's Rose Bowl will definitely be your cup of tea. The University of Oklahoma is led by the newest Heisman Trophy winner quarterback Baker Mayfield, who was #1 in the FBS in Total QBR (93.1), completion percentage (71%), and yards per attempt (11.8). He just showed that knack for making something out of nothing all season long, and remained the on-field and emotional leader for a Sooners team that's had its best finish in years. Meanwhile, the University of Georgia is also coming of its best finish to the regular season in years, thanks to another roster chock-full of talent, including a trio of electric running backs, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and D'Andre Swift. Can they do enough to keep Mayfield and the Sooners offense off the field?
1. College Football Playoff at the Allstate Sugar Bowl – Alabama vs. Clemson: The last two matchups between the University of Alabama and Clemson University have been so great that a rubber match like this one almost seemed inevitable. Of course, the circumstances in this game are a bit different than in past years. For a majority of the season, people thought Alabama was the unquestioned best team in the nation. But this year's Crimson Tide team has been hit harder by the injury bug more than any of Saban's other years in Tuscaloosa, especially on defense. That means the pressure is on Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts to put the team on his back. And he's charged with doing so against a Clemson University team that finished the year as the #1 team in the nation, and remains the defending college football champions. The Tigers have the best defensive line in the nation, which will allow them to put pressure on Hurts, while keeping enough guys in coverage to ensure Hurts won't beat them with his legs. Point being: this might be the first time in years that Alabama won't enter a game as the most talented team on the field.