BCS Bowl Previews

The 2013 BCS Bowl schedule is highlighted by a matchup which will determine college football's top team in 2012-13.
(1) Notre Dame BCS Championship (Jan. 7, Miami, FL) (2) Alabama
image Despite being the no. 1 ranked team in the nation, the Irish come into the game as decided underdogs. Coach Brian Kelly is used to taking on that role however, as his team has defied the odds all season, relying on the nation's number one ranked defence and Heisman Trophy runner-up Manti Te'o to shut down their opponents. Alabama's dominant run game will put them to the test, but thanks to massive, 300-plus defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix, Notre Dame may be well equipped to cap their improbable season with the school's first national title in 24 years.

As they had done in previous season's under head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide relied on a stingy defence and powerful running attack to reach their second consecutive BCS title game. Featuring talented, 1,000-yard backs Eddie Lacy and T.J Yeldon and a massive offensive line, Alabama racked up over 220 yards per game on the ground. Coming off a season high 350 yards rushing against a talented Georgia defence in the SEC Championship, they will again look to control the line of scrimmage and force the Irish to stop them – something that has rarely been done in Saban's tenure.
(4) Oregon Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 3, Glendale, AZ) (5) Kansas State
image Finishing the season averaging over 50 points per game, head coach Chip Kelly's offensive attack is as explosive as any in the nation. They are also one of college football's best teams, being just one OT loss away from playing in Miami. Oregon's Nov. 17 loss at Stanford was the only blemish for a team that scored more than 40 points in every game but that one. Quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for 30 touchdowns, but it's on the ground where the Ducks are most dangerous thanks to one of the most dynamic running backs in the country, Kenjon Barner. If they can get over the disappointment of their loss to the Cardinal and play up to the potential they showed the rest of the season, Kelly's squad will be tough to beat.

Led by their Heisman finalist, quarterback Collin Klein, the Wildcats come to Glendale in a similar position to their opponents, having only one blemish on their resume. But unlike the Ducks, Kansas State features a more balanced team, as their defence was ranked among the top-25 in the nation. If they are to pull the upset, it will likely be because Bill Snyder's defensive unit, led by safety Ty Zimmerman and Big 12 defensive player of the year Arthur Brown are able to at least slow down the high-powered Oregon attack.
(21) Louisville Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2, New Orleans, LA) (3) Florida
image It will be a reunion of sorts for Louisville head coach Charlie Strong when he faces a Florida team where he served as defensive coordinator from 2003-09, winning two national championships. After starting the season a perfect 9-0 and breaking into the BCS top-10, Strong's Cardinals stumbled down the stretch losing two games before squeaking out a win over Rutgers to gain an automatic berth. Things will not get any easier against Florida, but with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Strong has a talented sophomore that will put his former Gators' defence to the test.

Similar to no. 2 ranked Alabama, the Gators will arrive in New Orleans featuring a dominant defense to go along with a impressive running game. Having just an eight point loss to Georgia as the only blemish to their record, Florida laid to waste everything a tough SEC schedule put in front of them, which included wins over LSU, Texas A&M and South Carolina. Considering they held Heisman-winning QB Johnny Manziel to just 173 yards passing, they should be well-equipped to handle Bridgewater. And if the Gators are able to turn loose All-SEC running back Mike Gillisee, they should have little problem handling the Big East champs.
(15)Northern Illinois Orange Bowl (Jan. 1, Miami, FL) (12) Florida State
image The first MAC school to earn a BCS birth, the Huskies are far from a well-known commodity, but have quietly earned victories in 12 straight games after opening their season with a loss and have reeled off wins in 21 of their last 22 games overall. The program is certainly on the rise, but will face the Seminoles with a new head coach in former offensive coordinator Rod Carey, after their former leading man accepted the same position at North Carolina State. They will be heavy underdogs, but if do-it-all quarterback Jordan Lynch can continue his outstanding play, they are more than capable of pulling a Boise State-type BCS upset.

After a seven year BCS bowl absence, the Seminoles are back amongst the nation's best teams, primarily thanks to a defence that finished second in yards per game and sixth in points. Head coach Jimbo Fisher will have to keep his team on track despite losing the coordinator of that dominant 'd,' Mark Stoops, who left to coach Kentucky. He will rely on All-American defensive end Bioern Werner to slow down Lynch and a multi-faceted offensive attack, featuring two running backs both averaging over 6.5 yards per carry and who should be capable of taking advantage of a soft Huskies run defence.
Wisconsin Rose Bowl (Jan. 1, Pasadena, CA) (6) Stanford
image After a blowout win over Nebraska in the Big Ten title game, the Badgers were hit with the stunning news that head coach Bret Bielema was leaving the program to take the same position with Arkansas. The shocking decision may have provided a silver lining however, as his temporary replacement, current athletic director Barry Alvarez led Wisconsin to Rose Bowl victories in each of his three appearances. He will have his hands full with the Cardinal, but if the Badgers can find a way to get talented running back Montee Ball going against a tough Stanford defence, Alvarez may be able to rekindle his Pasadena magic.

Following the loss of Andrew Luck, it was thought the Cardinal may take a step back in 2012. But after a slow start, head coach David Shaw's squad reeled off seven straight victories, including back-to-back wins over a game UCLA team to close the season. Freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan has emerged late in the season to provide balance along with stud running back Stepfan Taylor. Playing one of the nation's toughest schedules, Stanford is battle-tested and if they are able to carry over their late-season momentum, are well-equipped to handle a bruising Badger-squad.

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