In what brings a merciful end to my 2011 NCAA season, the BCS Bowls and National Championship Game provide five intriguing matchups spread out over a week's time. As always, the games are played at neutral sites so there are no official "home" teams.
Wisconsin (+4.5) over Oregon (Rose Bowl)
In a classic Big Ten-Pac 10 (oh wait, it's now "B1G-Pac 12") matchup, it's all about the ground game. Also as you'd expect, it's Wisconsin who wants to run through you and Oregon who wants to run around you. Despite the big-play ability of Oregon, I think the Badgers can control the game with the fresh legs of their massive offensive linemen. On the other side of the ball, Oregon's defense is not the better of the two and they tend to have trouble stopping opponents when the game stays close late.
Oklahoma State (-4) over Stanford (Fiesta Bowl)
In what may be the most entertaining, if not the best, of all the big bowl games this season, the Cowboys look to make 2011 the year of "what might have been." while Andrew Luck makes his final dress rehearsal before he becomes the most mentioned name in all of sports this April. Picking a side in this game was simple - Oklahoma State just never stops scoring (in games played outside of Iowa, that is) and taking anything less than a full touchdown against them is not a bet I'd like to be a part of.
Michigan (-3) over Virginia Tech (Sugar Bowl)
In the game of borderline at-large BCS bids, the Wolverines present an interesting threat to the Hokies. Virginia Tech's only two losses this year have come to Clemson and dual-threat QB Tajh Boyd. Now let's ask ourselves, who is Michigan's top offensive player, what does he bring to the table, and isn't he even better overall than Boyd? That's right, Denard Robinson figures to give Frank Beamer's defense fits. There is a lot to like about Michigan's new-look defense and in an odd twist, Virginia Tech is now down to a third kicker for this game.
West Virginia (+3) over Clemson (Orange Bowl)
The Mountaineers, who bear the honor of "Tallest Midget" coming out of the Big East, meet a Clemson team that is as Jekyll-and-Hyde as they are. The Tigers backed into the ACC title by virtue of having Virginia Tech's number. Truth be told, this game is going to be very ugly and will most likely be the least watchable of the bunch. In that case, give me the points because I still think Clemson peaked about 8 weeks ago.
LSU (+1) over Alabama (BCS National Championship Game)
In the rematch that no one wanted but everyone is secretly looking forward to, SEC haters cringe as a sixth straight national champion will emerge from the conference. To be objective, this truly is a matchup of the two best teams, although the argument can be made that since LSU already beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa this year, why should they have to beat them again for the championship? Whether this game plays out like the 9-6 field goal fest from November or a more conventional, higher-scoring game, I think LSU is better equipped to handle either situation. Their defense is too strong and their offense just a bit more multi-faceted than that of Alabama. Let's hope for a dandy in the Superdome to close out the season.
Last Week: 3-2-0