The most exciting time of football season has finally arrived as the Bowl Championship Series selections were announced this weekend. The BCS bowl games are the most prestigious games played in Division I-A football, attracting not only the best football teams in the nation, but also the best athletes.
No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Florida
Ohio State has been expected to reach the National Championship game the entire season. With its unstoppable offense and defense, the team has an all-around program this year. With a perfect record of 12-0, Ohio State defeated ranked teams such as Texas, Penn State and Michigan. Its performance this season has impressed football fans around the nation. Buckeye quarterback Troy Smith has led his team to victories that will most likely earn him the Heisman Trophy. Athletes such as Ted Ginn, who is one of the leading wide receivers in college football, finished with eight catches and 104 yards against Michigan. On defense, a source of fear for the Gators, Jim Laurinaitis had an interception versus Texas and has had game-saving blocks throughout the season.
The Florida Gators have proven themselves one of the best teams in the country this year. After much controversy over the BCS’s decision concerning which team would end up in the National Championship, the Gators were given the bid to the title game. Florida had one of the toughest schedules in football this season but finished with a record of 12-1, only losing to Auburn. After defeating six ranked opponents this season including Tennessee, LSU, Alabama and Georgia, the Gators will provide tough competition for Ohio State. Junior safety Reggie Nelson and junior cornerback Ryan Smith have a nation-leading 14 combined interceptions for the year and six combined picks against top 25 opponents. Senior quarterback Chris Leak has been a strong leader on the offense all season and became Florida’s all-time leader in passing yards with 11,000 yards and 87 collegiate touchdown passes.
No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 8 USC
After being voted out of the Bowl Championship Series title game, Michigan heads to the Rose Bowl to face USC. A close game in Big Ten Conference play against Ohio State ended with Michigan’s only loss of the season. With a final score of 42-39, Ohio State barely claimed the Big Ten title. Michigan will be looking to take out their anger on USC after missing out on a bid to the National Championship. USC will need to look out for the strong Wolverine offense that has dominated the Big Ten all season. Junior quarterback Chad Henne completed 21 of 35 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns against Ohio State. Michigan’s offense also includes junior wide receiver Adrian Arrington, who completed five receptions for a career-best 90 yards.
USC’s loss to UCLA took the Trojans out of the No. 2 spot and out of the National Championship title game. In order to beat an already rowdy Michigan, USC is going to have to completely turn around from the way it played against UCLA. Quarterback John David Booty had huge shoes to fill this season after taking the place of two Heisman winners, but he has shown throughout the season that he is able to make the plays. Against Notre Dame, Booty completed 17 of 28 passes and had two interceptions. In order to beat the Wolverines, Booty is going to need his offensive teammates Chauncey Washington, C.J. Gable and Dwayne Jarrett to contribute.
No. 4 LSU vs. No. 11 Notre Dame
Part of the toughest conference in football this season, the Tigers head to the Sugar Bowl after defeating two higher-ranked teams this season, Arkansas and Tennessee. Facing the strong Fighting Irish, the Tigers have many standouts on their side, including wide receiver Craig Davis who has recorded 2,057 career receiving yards. Quarterback JaMarcus Russell has 471 completions and 6,287 passing yards in his career. Dwayne Bowe and Early Doucet are three receivers who have recorded 50 or more catches this season for the first time in school history.
The Fighting Irish head to the Sugar Bowl after completing this year’s season with a record of 10-2, including an embarrassing showing against USC which caused the team to drop to No. 10 in the polls. Quarterback Brady Quinn, another Heisman contender, has set many records at Notre Dame in his career with 914 completions in 1,567 attempts for 11,614 yards and 93 touchdowns. LSU needs to be ready for the Fighting Irish’s offensive drives, especially with receivers like Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight. The Tigers also need to watch out for junior running back Darius Walker.
No. 7 Oklahoma vs. No. 9 Boise State
Winning the Big 12 Championship against Nebraska this past weekend, Oklahoma will be sent to the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., come January. Paul Thompson successfully filled the shoes that were placed before him, after Rhett Bomar was dismissed from the team. Thompson continues to amaze crowds with not only his passing, but also his running skills as quarterback.
The only other undefeated team left in football is unexpectedly Boise State. After winning the WAC title for the fifth consecutive time with a record of 12-0, the Broncos are BCS bound. Defeating Nevada in the championship game, the Broncos have a number of athletes to watch out for in Fiesta Bowl. Jared Zabransky passed for 299 yards after completing 20 of 27 passes, including a 45-yard touchdown, and Ian Johnson ran for 147 yards.
No. 5 Louisville vs. No. 15 Wake Forest
Attending its first major bowl in 16 years Louisville has surprised many after pulling out the Big East Championship. The Cardinals secured a spot in the Orange Bowl after West Virginia defeated the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. A major standout on the Louisville team is quarterback Brian Brohm, who threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns against UConn in the Big East finale. Wake Forest also needs to be aware of standout receivers such as Harry Douglas and Anthony Allen who have significantly contributed to the Cardinals this year.
Nobody would have predicted Wake Forest to be BCS-bound at the beginning of the season. Attending its first major bowl game in school history, the Wake Forest team will be pumped. Ranked in the top four in the Atlantic Coast Conference all season, the Demon Deacons pulled out their first ACC Championship in 36 years. A team that has great continuity will prove tough competition for the Cardinals.