Photo Caption: Bobcats Coach Frank Solich holds up the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Trophy last year.
The Brigham Young Cougars will take on the San Diego State Aztecs tonight (Thursday) in the Poinsettia Bowl, which will mark this season's third bowl game. Although the playoff system that will be introduced in the upper ranks of college football in 2014 looks promising, fans can still currently enjoy 35 nationally televised bowl games to conclude the college season.
This national exposure is not only beneficial to smaller schools like Ohio University, but it also allows die-hard college football fans an opportunity to watch these teams play. Although I consider myself to be one of these die-hard fans, I must admit that I didn't devote much time to watching teams like San Diego State, Fresno State or San Jose State, which all finished with at least nine wins. With each of these teams located on the west coast, their games were either not televised in this area or played too late at night due to the time difference. With bowl season underway, fans like myself will get to see just how good these teams are, and the fact that San Jose State faces Mid-American Conference member Bowling Green is an added bonus for Bobcat fans who enjoy following fellow MAC teams.
Another aspect that makes bowl season so special is that some of the games taking place in the latter part of the time period feature some heavyweight teams in some potentially exciting matchups. Aside from this season's national championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama, there are plenty of other games between ranked opponents that are sure to keep fans glued to their TV screens. The top three games of this kind that I'll be keeping my eye on are (1) the Cotton Bowl between No. 9 Texas A&M and No. 11 Oklahoma; (2) the Fiesta Bowl between No. 4 Oregon and No. 5 Kansas State; and (3) the Chick-fil-A Bowl between No. 8 LSU and No. 14 Clemson.
With Texas A&M's move to the Southeastern Conference from the Big 12 prior to the season, many fans were disappointed that some of their annual rivalry games would be lost. Although a matchup with Texas would have been even more exciting due to the teams' historic rivalry, I cannot complain about A&M playing another heavyweight from the Big 12. Many college football analysts strongly believed that Oklahoma deserved Northern Illinois' spot in one of the big-time bowl games, but I am certainly looking forward to this game on Jan. 4 that will put A&M's Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel to the test.
The Fiesta Bowl features an interesting matchup between two teams that were in great position to play in the championship game just a few short weeks ago. When Texas A&M did the impossible and upset Alabama on Nov. 10, Kansas State took over the No. 1 ranking while Oregon moved up to No. 2. All each team had to do was win their final two games to end the season and they would be playing for a national championship. However, both teams stumbled the following week, and now here they are paired up in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3. Oregon plays an up-tempo offense that is always fun to watch, and it will be just as fun trying to watch the Kansas State defense trying to stop it.
Although not quite as intriguing as the previous two games, the Chick-fil-A Bowl provides another chance for an Atlantic Coast Conference team to show their might against an SEC team. During the final week of the regular season, an ACC team played an SEC team in four different games. The result? The ACC teams finished 0-4. This bowl game provides a relatively big stage for Clemson to avenge its conference's struggles against SEC member LSU. I see this game as being a game of opposites, as the high-powered Clemson offense will take on a vaunted LSU defense. Something has to give, and the edge typically goes to the team with the better defense. Although I expect LSU to win, I still think this will be an extremely entertaining game with Clemson playing with a chip on its shoulder. Watch for this game on Dec. 31.
Although Ohio Bobcat fans have their focus on the Independence Bowl on Dec. 28, bowl season provides a wealth of opportunities to see some quality football games. If nothing else, I recommend watching the games featuring MAC teams to see how well the conference fares after posting a 4-1 record last year. A record seven MAC teams made it into bowl games this year, and with every game being televised on national networks, it has never been easier to not only cheer on the 'Cats, but to root for their MAC brethren as well.