By JOHN P. WISE
One Great Season
BROOKLYN -- Everybody gets excited to watch bowl games this time of year, but let's be honest: Many of them are pretty weak.
Obviously, the deeper you get into bowl season, the better the matchups. And here are the five best matchups of the 2009-10 bowl season:
+ The BCS National Championship Game: Texas vs. Alabama -- This is a no-brainer because of what's at stake, but the matchups here also will be compelling. I'll enjoy watching Rolando McClain lead the Crimson Tide's dangerous defense as it tries to keep Colt McCoy and the high-powered Texas offense quiet. Defense has long been Alabama's calling card, but this year the Tide's offense hasn't been too shabby. The school's first-ever Heisman Trophy winner, newly minted Mark Ingram, will be the difference as the crystal ball will find its way back into the hands of Nick Saban.
+ AT&T Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Mississippi -- I didn't see much of the Rebels this season, so I'm looking forward to watching running back Dexter McCluster try to work his magic against a Cowboys defense that can be tough against the run. Both teams closed nice seasons with disappointing losses to in-state rivals, but in OSU's case, quarterback Zac Robinson battled a gimpy ankle in a 27-0 loss to Oklahoma. He's expected to be at 100 percent for this bowl game, and the Cowboys will need him to be. Oklahoma State escapes with a narrow victory.
+ Allstate Sugar Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Florida -- Lots to talk about here. Florida has been the sport's big story for a few years, but Cincinnati took that title away with its perfect season, its talented quarterbacks, its thrilling win in the snow at Pittsburgh and now its Notre Dame-bound coach. On the other side, I'm very curious to see if the Gators will lack fire because they're not playing for a national championship. Tim Tebow is playing his last game and a handful of Florida juniors are thinking about coming out early. Even with Brian Kelly, I think Cincinnati is overmatched here, and Urban Meyer should be able to get his players interested at least enough to beat a team without a leader.
+ Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Oregon -- This will be the best bowl game of the season. People might say that mobile quarterbacks give Ohio State trouble. You know what? Mobile quarterbacks give any defense all kinds of trouble. But by the time kickoff rolls around, Jim Tressel will have had 40 days to prepare for the very dangerous Jeremiah Masoli and his track-star buddies. I think there's more room for Tressel to figure out an effective defensive game plan than there is for Oregon coach Chip Kelly to trick out an already potent offense. The Buckeyes won't stop the Ducks, but they'll slow them down enough for quarterback Terrelle Pryor's increased use to be the difference. OSU and the Big Ten finally get one.
+ Champs Sports Bowl: Miami vs. Wisconsin -- Do you go with speed over power? Or do you pick the team that's more likely to control the line of scrimmage? This appears to be an evenly matched game and I look forward to watching the Badgers' bruising running back, John Clay, see if he can run through a Miami defense that finally reached its potential in the final month of the season. Canes' quarterback Jacory Harris might be the X factor. He can make mistakes, but can also put his team on his shoulders and will it to victory. Remember that season-opening win against Florida State? I think Harris finds a way to carry Miami and leave yet another Big Ten team disappointed around the holidays.