Although college football desperately needs a playoff, the bowl system still provides a unique series of games that I find pretty entertaining. Inter-conference games are much more interesting in college football as opposed to college basketball because you only get a few big time (non rivalry) games a season. The Bowl season solves this problem, forcing teams like Florida and Penn State to actually play a half respectable team outside of their respective conferences and states.
Obviously the biggest games are those of the BCS, but I think there are some great games going down in the “lesser bowls.” I’ll be ranking the top 5 most enticing non-BCS contests.
5) Pittsburgh/UNC, Meineke Car Care Bowl: Both teams are looking to rebound after huge disappointments to end the regular season. Pittsburgh found itself within a hair of winning the Big East’s automatic BCS bid, while North Carolina took yet an other one on the chin from Tom O’Brien as Butch Davis dropped to 0-3 against the Wolf Pack. Pitt Freshman Dion Lewis put up some extremely impressive numbers, but his number of carries (297) stands out the most. Does he have enough left in the tank to produce against one of the stoutest run defenses in the country? Carolina has really been a tale of two halves this season. With an 0-3 start to their ACC season, the Heels looked like they were stumbling their way to a disappointing season in which they started just inside the AP top 25. However, Carolina bounced back and won their next 4 conference games, including @ Virginia Tech and vs. Miami. Veteran QB T.J. Yates regressed from last season, although much of that could be blamed on the loss of now NFLers Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate. With a running game lacking a true horse, the Heels relied on their stout defense to come up with big stops and timely turnovers. It will have to do its best to bottle up Pitt’s dynamic offense (23 passing TD’s, 24 rushing TD’s) to give UNC a chance to win.
4) Virginia Tech/Tennessee, Chick-fil-A Bowl: Lane Kiffin doing anything is entertaining to me. Bottom line is he’s turning things around at Tennessee. The Vols took advantage of a weak SEC East this season going 4-0 vs. teams not named Florida. While much Kiffin’s talent is extremely young, Safety Eric Berry may be the best player in the country. I’m also interested to see what happens when Monte Kiffin gets a month to scheme for a single offense. On the other hand, the Hokies are probably disappointed to not be in a BCS game this year. VT running back Ryan Williams put up one of the best freshman seasons in recent memory with 20 total touchdowns and over 1500 rushing yards. Tyrod Taylor is as dynamic a player as you will see and has really come into his own this season. Throw in the possibility of Beamer Ball producing some highlight reel special teams plays, and this game a must see. Continue reading