What are you most excited to see happen?
There are 70 teams taking part in 35 bowl games in college football's hectic postseason. Thus, there are enough plot lines to go around.
Your favorite player will obviously have to win his individual matchup, whether he is a member of Central Michigan and headed to Detroit for the Little Ceasar's Pizza Bowl, or Alabama and headed to the BCS National Championship.
That said, does the nation at large truly care about whether the Western Kentucky starting safety handles his assignments in front of a half-empty Ford Field crowd?
That, of course, is up for debate, and here is where to do it.
With a mess of bowl games approaching just as quickly as Christmas for those who haven't done their shopping yet, we here at Gamedayr have decided to take a look at ten of the most intriguing storylines that will -- or won't -- play out this holiday season. If your team or player or coach or bowl sponsor or whatever didn't make the list, feel free to get the debate going in the comments section below!
10. How bad will the Sun Bowl be, really?
One team, Georgia Tech, needed a waiver from the NCAA just to get in at 6-7 on the year.
The other, Southern Cal, began the season as the nation's No. 1-ranked team before crumbling to a 7-5 finish.
USC coach Lane Kiffin has not officially fired his defensive coordinator, but his own father, Monte, will be stepping down after the season.
People love watching shows like 'Keeping up with the Kardashians' for a reason. Is it good television? Is it anything that is ever going to win any sort of cultural awards or make someone a better person?
No, not at all, but neither has been watching either of these two teams in 2012. If you love checking out highly publicized train wrecks, a sub-.500 squad taking on a coach who is literally throwing his old man under the bus should prove must-see-TV.
But if you've got anything else to do, literally anything at all, please do not take time out of your day to watch this one.
9. Think about taking the 'over' in the Pinstripe Bowl
Syracuse and West Virginia meet in New York City for the Pinstripe Bowl on December 29.
Neither of these two squads play much defense, but their quarterbacks, Ryan Nassib of 'Cuse and Geno Smith of WVU probably won't mind.
Smith finished fourth in the nation with 4,004 passing yards on the season, and he will be going up against the nation's No. 93-ranked pass defense. The man was supposed to be a Heisman Trophy favorite, but at the very least he should be excited to air it out in the final game of his collegiate career.
On the other hand, he may not be so excited as just plain old ready. The Mountaineers' passing defense is ranked at a far worse No. 119-nationally. Mr. Nassib, another senior, finished 10th-nationally in the same category, tossing for 3,619 yards on the year.
Remember how all those SEC teams won games based on the strength of their running games and defense? Yeah, well, one of these former Big East rivals (WVU is now in the Big 12 and Syracuse is headed to the ACC) has to win this game, but the score is going to be a lot higher than 9-6.
8. Can Northwestern continue to carry the Big Ten mantle?
No, the Wildcats are not headed to the Rose Bowl (more on that momentarily), but Northwestern has been one of the pleasant surprises in what has been an extremely disappointing year for the Big Ten overall.
If quarterback/running back/wide receiver Kain Colter would like to generate a bit of Heisman buzz heading into his senior season, he and his teammates will have to prove they have what it takes to take down a very average SEC team.
Mississippi State opened the season on fire. The Bulldogs' 7-0 start was its best since 1999, but running back Ladarius Perkins and Co. feasted on just plain awful competition. The team's season mirrored that of Perkins' to the letter: Four 100-yard games in the team's first seven wins, followed by a 38-yard performance against Bama, a 42-yarder vs. LSU, a DNP, and a 45-yard stinker in an Egg Bowl loss to Ole Miss.
Not only was the Egg Bowl a loss, but so were the rest of the clunkers he and his teammates put together.
Whomever can run on the other should win this one. If Mississippi State wins after getting stomped by the cream of the SEC crop, folks in Chicago will be hearing the cat-calls all the way from Starkeville and the rest of the South.
7. What about the rest of the country against the big, bad, SEC?
Quarterback Tajh Boyd and his Clemson Tigers have lost two games all season. Against fellow ACC power Florida State and in its season finale against hated in-state rival and SEC dynamo South Carolina.
Boyd scored eight touchdowns himself against NC State, for example, but against the Gamecocks he only posted one passing touchdown, one rushing, and two interceptions. His Tigers face LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Teddy Bridgewater put together one of the 'manliest' performances in recent college football history in leading his Louisville squad to a Big East title in the Cardinals' season finale against Rutgers despite a broken hand and foot. However, that was Rutgers. His program will be taking on the Florida Gators and their elite defensive line in the BCS Sugar Bowl.
The same goes for Oklahoma's high octane offense against Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore and Michigan's scrambling quarterback duo of Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner against Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina.
Should we even mention Nebraska and their poor quarterback, Taylor Martinez? Still licking their wounds from the 70-31 beat down they suffered in the Big Ten Championship game against Wisconsin, Martinez will be forced to make plays against arguably the best linebacker corps in the nation in Jarvis Jones and the rest of the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia, of course, is still smarting from its devastating loss to Bama in the SEC Championship and should be excited to take out some frustrations on the limping Huskers.
It has been an SEC world all decade, seemingly, but bowl season provides an opportunity for several other schools and conferences to flex a bit of muscle of their own.
Or not, of course. Just like presents you're dying to open but have to wait and wait and wait for, that remains to be seen.
6. South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney is a one-man show
If you don't watch the Outback Bowl for any other reason than simply to watch whether or not Jadeveon Clowney can amp up the Heisman buzz in his sophomore season finale than you won't be disappointed.
Only Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson has won the Heisman Trophy as a primarily defensive player, but if the 2012 Trophy ceremony was any indication (and it was), the voting platform is changing rapidly.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o nearly pulled out the vote, which instead went to the first freshman in the history of the award.
Clowney has already vowed to take home all the defensive awards he can hold in his massive arms and hands next season, which he has also already promised to be his last.
His individual matchup with Michigan's Taylor Lewan is far and away the most competitive of the entire bowl slate. Lewan, a 6-foot-8, 309-pound junior, has started 26 consecutive games for the Wolverines and was the Big Ten’s offensive lineman of the year.
Neither of the two have seen anything like the other, but if Clowney can clown on him like he has offensive linemen all season long, it won't be merely the folks in Spurrier-land that are talking about this elite defensive player -- it'll be Heisman voters around the country as well.
5. Is this the last we see of Chip Kelly sportin' Nike gear for Oregon?
There are more coaching rumors here than an angry old man can shake a stick at.
Are there sanctions looming for the Oregon football program?
Is Mr. Kelly headed to the NFL because of the potential for disaster in Eugene, or just to take on a new challenge, or not at all?
The man who changed the way every team in college football prepares for games (in some form or another) is on nearly every coaching search short list in the nation, at both the collegiate and professional levels.
The Ducks' showed the nation what true speed and ability can do to opposing defenses. They showed that the spread offense can be used to succeed as a running team, not simply through the air and that is why most football experts believe he can succeed in the NFL.
Oregon's Fiesta Bowl game against Kansas State is going to be a treat either way. However, if you are a Ducks fan, take special care to enjoy every moment, because it could be your coach's last on the sidelines in Oregon's trademarked, ever-unique, Nike gear.
4. In Barry we trust?
The Wisconsin Badgers' team captains sure do.
Following the shocking departure of seven-year head man Bret Bielema to Arkansas, the football team's captains approached athletic director Barry Alvarez personally and implored him to lead Wisco in its Rose Bowl meeting against a great Stanford team.
Alvarez, after coaching Wisconsin into national prominence from 1990-2006, hand-picked Bielema after winning three Rose Bowl games himself and coaching Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne.
However, does he still have it in him?
Alvarez has not patrolled the sidelines since handing the program over to Bielema, and he will be splitting his time all month long in getting the team prepared to play as well as leading the search for Bielema's replacement.
It won't be easy, especially considering the fact that the Badgers are the first team to enter The Grandaddy of 'Em All with five losses, but he does have college football's all-time scoring leader in running back Montee Ball in his arsenal, so that won't hurt.
Again, it will not be easy, but a win would turn Alvarez into literally a living legend in Mad-town, where Sconnie Nation is already mad for their all-time winningest coach.
3. Can Jordan Lynch and NIU really take down Florida State?
The program's 2012 campaign has already been a season of firsts for the Huskies: NIU is the first MAC team to earn a BCS bowl berth. They are the first mid-major program to earn a date with the big boys despite having suffered a loss on the year.
Their junior star quarterback, Jordan Lynch, finished first in the nation with 1,771 rushing yards.
Why can't they become the first MAC team to win a BCS bowl game?
NIU is taking on a Florida State team that won the ACC title for the first time since 2005, but is flawed despite its stellar 11-2 record. Fifth-year senior quarterback EJ Manuel is an incredible player, but whereas Lynch has carried his program to the ranks of the elite, Manuel has played at his worst in his team's biggest games. The best example is, obviously, the 'Noles regular season finale against Florida. Manuel tossed three picks in front of the home crowd and one simply cannot do that.
Like South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, Lynch can generate some serious Heisman buzz with a win in the Orange Bowl.
Far more importantly, however, he and his teammates can make true college football history -- and there is nothing quite like having your name etched in the record books amongst the greatest to have ever played the game.
2. Here's Johnny!
The Cotton Bowl promises to be one of the best non-BCS bowl games on the docket.
More to the point, the game will be the 12th Man's and the nation's first chance to see Johnny Football take the field following his transformation into Johnny Heisman.
His Sooners counterpart, senior Landry Jones, was supposed to be where Manziel already finds himself as a mere freshman. However, the man who will have thrown for more than 4,000 yards in each of the previous three seasons also tallied double-digit interception totals in each of his four years as Oklahoma's starter.
He has never been able to get over the hump -- his team's only two losses have come against Kansas State and Notre Dame, both of whom are headed to BCS bowls.
On the flip side, after losing to Florida in Week 1 and LSU, Johnny Football led his team to one of the most memorable and competitive games of the season in beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Will the Sooners be able to contain the young legend, or will Johnny Manziel further cement his legacy in front of his home-state fans?
1. Can Notre Dame actually pull this off?
The SEC has won six consecutive BCS National Championship games. Nick Saban's Crimson Tide, of course, has won two of those six and are currently gearing up for his third in the program. A win would be Alabama's 15th in the school's illustrious history.
If any football program can go toe-to-toe with the Tide in terms of historical significance, it is the Fighting Irish. However, Notre Dame's football might was largely built before the year of 1990 -- before many players on both teams were even born.
Without much by way of offense, the Golden Domers have powered their way to a 12-0 record thanks to an NFL-ready defensive line and a middle linebacker you may have heard of, Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te'o.
If coach Brian Kelly can game plan his way to the same type of victory his squad has enjoyed all season, meaning stout defense, just enough offense, and more heart than any other team in the nation, the Irish will have a chance at their first title since 1988.
And, if Notre Dame can actually pull this off, it will also become the first non-SEC team in more than half a decade to win it all.
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