1. Texas v. Texas Tech. For some strange reason, Texas Tech was voted #1 at least temporarily in the ESPN fan poll. Obviously, someone in Lubbock jobbed the system, but no worries. Texas and Texas Tech in a shootout that leaves Texas standing...
2. Pitt v. Notre Dame. I expected more out of Pitt this year; I expected less out of Notre Dame. This should be a good game, unless the good Pitt team shows up. Either way, I pick Pitt to win, let's say by 10.
3. It's not even worth looking at Alabama v. Arkansas State -- of the Sun Belt conference. That's as ridiculous as Penn State playing Coastal Carolina...ugh.
4. #8 Florida v. #6 Georgia. Florida will lay a hurting on the Dawgs, although I expect a tougher game from Georgia than they gave Alabama.
5. Florida State v. Georgia Tech. Sure, I know, it's the ACC, but this game could be a pretty good one. Earlier in the season I'd have given it to G-Tech, but fortunes have been reversed...I think Florida State by 14.
That's it. I can't even find five games that are that interesting. I mean, I'll be interested in the Wisconsin v. Michigan State game because I want to gauge PSU's upcoming opponents, but with Wisconsin clearly down this year, it doesn't feel the same.
The most important matchup, as far as the BCS is concerned, is Texas v. Texas Tech. A Texas loss would throw the whole equation up in the air, because Alabama will lose either to LSU or later to Florida in the SEC title game. Then you'd be up against it with so many 1-loss teams lurking about. However, that's not going to happen, and Texas Tech will fade from the Top 10. Likewise, the loser of the Florida v Georgia game will find all hopes for BCS glory shattered. In other years, the Nebraska v. Oklahoma game would be compelling, but Nebraska is very much down this year, and Oklahoma's at home.
I'm obviously a Big 10 apologist, but I'm willing to admit the conference looks bad this year. Michigan's haplessness is especially hurting, since they're a high profile program, and flameouts by Wisconsin and Illinois haven't helped, either. However, I think USC has shown that you don't need a stellar conference to build a powerful team, and there's only so far that "conference strength" can take you. Going back through Penn State's last eleven bowl games, I think their performance holds up well against the supposedly uber-powerful SEC and Big 12:
- 2007 Alamo Texas A&M W 24-17
- 2006 Outback Tennessee W 20-10
- 2005 Orange Florida State W 26-23
- 2002 Capital One Auburn L 9-13
- 1999 Alamo Texas A&M W 24-0
- 1998 Outback Kentucky W 26-14
- 1997 Citrus Florida L 6-21
- 1996 Fiesta Texas W 38-15
- 1995 Outback Auburn W 43-14
- 1994 Rose Oregon W 38-20
- 1993 Citrus Tennessee W 31-13
That's a 4-2 record against the SEC and a 3-0 record against the Big 12...granted I wouldn't think too much of Alamo Bowl wins, but aside from the 1996 thrashing of Texas in the Fiesta, that's all I have to go on for the last eleven. If you're interested, though, overall PSU is 2-0 v. Texas and 1-2 v. Alabama in bowl games.