Thursday, December 18, 2008

The song doesn't lie

You know the ESPN version of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," where they've replaced the Christmas-related words with college football stuff? Well, whenever I hear the real version now, I can't help but mentally replace it with the ESPN one.

And the thing is, that chorus is probably true. All in all, this really is the best time of the year for college football. Regardless of your feelings on the BCS or your desires for a playoff or any of that, it's hard not to get excited about the bowl matchups every year.

Consider this: How many truly intriguing nonconference matchups do we get to see in college football each year? Three? Five? There just aren't very many, even if you want to to stretch the definition of "intriguing."

But in bowl season, there are no Florida-Coastal Carolina games. There are no Idaho-Wyoming games. Are there too many bowl games? Sure. But at least you can say that every team still playing is a quality team, and that means there are a hell of a lot more good matchups in bowl season than there are during nonconference play in the regular season.

And frankly, that's all we ask for as college football fans. We just want to see good teams play each other.

With that in mind, here are the three bowl matchups I'm looking forward to the most:
  1. BCS championship game: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida. This one's easy. The more I saw of these teams late in the season, the more I became convinced that they're the two best teams in the country this year. Oklahoma's offense was unreal over the final month, and while they'll miss DeMarco Murray (out with a hamstring injury) and defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger (back injury), this is still an awesome matchup.
  2. Poinsettia Bowl: No. 9 Boise State vs. No. 11 TCU. This game just doesn't seem to be getting enough attention, and I'm not sure why. You've got two teams ranked in the top 11 -- which is a lot more than the Orange Bowl can say -- and two of the top non-BCS conference powers of the last decade. And think about this: Boise State averages 39.4 points and 456.8 yards per game on offense. TCU allows 10.9 points and 215.1 yards per game on defense.
  3. Rose Bowl: No. 4 USC vs. No. 8 Penn State. This one's just dripping with tradition. Classic uniforms, song girls, JoePa on the sideline (or in the booth) ... and it's being played on the grandest stage in college football. And don't forget that you've got the Nittany Lions offense (40.2 points per game) going up against one of the best defenses the sport has ever seen (7.2 points per game allowed by the Trojans).

Fittingly, bowl games start on Saturday.

If you haven't done so already, check out ESPN's video review of the top 12 bowl games of all-time. There are some epic games on there that are worth reliving.

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