Without rules, BCS dream matchups
Throw out conference affiliations and the silly BCS selection rules.
Give me the 10 best teams in college football in 2010 and let them play in five BCS bowl games.
Sorry, Virginia Tech. I loved the way the Hokies finished the regular season, winning 10 games in a row, but a team that lost to FCS foe James Madison doesn't deserve to play in the Orange Bowl.
Neither does Connecticut, which gets kudos for winning the Big East, but has no business playing in the Fiesta Bowl. My BCS bowl games don't invite teams with 8-4 records to the dance.
In a perfect world, here's what the BCS bowl matchups would look like in 2010:
Tostitos BCS National Championship Game:
Oregon vs. Auburn
After all the concerns about undefeated Boise State being left out, or Auburn losing to Alabama in the Iron Bowl, I really believe the BCS is giving college football the best matchup of undefeated teams in the Jan. 10 BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz.
It's going to be one of the most anticipated championship games in years, with quarterback Cameron Newton leading Auburn's high-powered offense against Oregon's potent spread attack. Newton will probably win the Heisman Trophy in New York next week, and Ducks tailback LaMichael James might end up being the runner-up.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly and Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will have more than five weeks to tweak their game plans, and watching them try to outduel each other with a championship on the line will be must-see TV.
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs. Oklahoma
The game would certainly have the ingredients for a shootout inside the Louisiana Superdome.
The Razorbacks were red-hot at season's end, winning their last six games, including a 31-23 upset of then-No. 5 LSU on Nov. 27. Whether you love him or hate him -- and most college football fans would probably choose the latter -- Hogs coach Bobby Petrino is well on his way to turning Arkansas into a major player in the SEC.
Hogs quarterback Ryan Mallett put up Heisman-like numbers this season, completing 66.5 percent of his passes for 3,592 yards with 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Arkansas has one of the country's deepest receiver corps, even without injured star Greg Childs, and tailback Knile Davis' production (1,183 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns) gives the Hogs a very balanced attack.
The Sooners look a lot like the Razorbacks on offense. Oklahoma won its last four games, including a 23-20 victory over Nebraska in Saturday night's Big 12 championship game. Quarterback Landry Jones has put up better numbers than Mallett, throwing for 4,289 yards with 35 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Receiver Ryan Broyles has 118 catches for 1,452 yards with 13 touchdowns, and tailback DeMarco Murray ran for 1,121 yards with 14 scores.
Discover Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. Boise State
We could call it the Put-Up or Shut-Up Bowl presented by E. Gordon Gee.
Gee, the Ohio State University president, said last month that Boise State and TCU weren't worthy of a BCS bowl bid because they don't play a difficult schedule.
"I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it's like murderer's row every week for these schools," Gee told The Associated Press. "We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day. So I think until a university runs through that gantlet that there's some reason to believe that they not be the best teams to [be] in the big ballgame."
Gee, who previously worked as president at Vanderbilt University, later apologized for his remarks, which were moot after the Broncos were upset at Nevada 34-31 in overtime on Nov. 26.
Regardless, the Broncos and Buckeyes have been two of the most polarizing teams in recent college football history. The Buckeyes were criticized for losing badly in consecutive BCS National Championship Games against Florida and LSU. The Broncos have been the best team from a non-AQ conference over the past few seasons.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: TCU vs. Michigan State
It would pit two very good teams, whose fan bases don't believe they're getting the respect they deserve this season.
TCU finished the regular season with a 12-0 record for the second year in a row. The Horned Frogs were No. 3 in the final BCS standings, but won't get a chance to play for the national championship because Auburn and Oregon also finished unbeaten.
TCU finished in the top five nationally in scoring (43.3 points per game) and scoring defense (11.4 points) and allowed seven points or fewer in seven of its 12 games.
The Spartans shared the Big Ten championship with Wisconsin and Ohio State, but won't play in a BCS bowl game. BCS rules stipulate only two teams from one conference can be selected to play in BCS bowl games.
The Spartans defeated the Badgers 34-24 in East Lansing, Mich., on Oct. 2 and didn't play the Buckeyes this season. Michigan State's lone loss was a 37-6 rout at Iowa on Oct. 30.
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO: Stanford vs. Wisconsin
It would be the classic battle between Big Ten and Pac-10 teams, and would feature two of the most physical squads in the country.
The Badgers have won seven games in a row, scoring 30 points or more in each contest, including 83 against Indiana and 70 against Northwestern. Wisconsin's three-headed monster of tailbacks Montee Ball, John Clay and James White has been impossible to slow down; each has run for at least 800 yards with 13 touchdowns or more.
Quarterback Scott Tolzien has been very good, too, completing 74.3 percent of his passes for 2,300 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions.
The Cardinal have also won seven games in a row, with their only loss coming at Oregon, 52-31 on Oct. 2. Stanford's Andrew Luck might be the first quarterback taken in next year's NFL draft, after completing 70.2 percent of his passes for 3,051 yards with 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Mark Schlabach covers college sports for ESPN.com. He co-authored Bobby Bowden's memoir, "Called To Coach," which was published by Simon & Schuster. The book is available in stores and can be ordered here. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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