Happy New Year! After a solid slate of games yesterday we move into what is arguably the single most exciting day of college football today, with the day's action culminating in two BCS bowl games including the ever popular "Grand Daddy of them All." Here's my biggest questions going into today's action.
Outback Bowl (11 AM ET, ESPN) Can Iowa Diversify Offensively? South Carolina may have been on of the streakiest teams in the nation this season, but with the 11th ranked total defense they've been solid up front, especially against the run. Yet Iowa's rushing offense has been good as well, riding the physical running style of Shonn Green to the tune of twelve straight games with over 100 yards on the ground. To me, the question is whether or not Iowa's otherwise mediocre offense can get started, taking advantage of seemingly forgotten play-makers to exploit Spurrier's stout defense.
Capital One Bowl (1 PM ET, ABC) Which running back will have the better showing? Don't get me wrong - Javon Ringer is a fantastic athlete - but he has not gotten the NFL draft acclaim that Knowshon Moreno has been a beneficiary of. Ringer may be regarded as more of a "blue collar" back, but this should be an interesting matchup between two running backs who were both amongst the best in the country. With each defense keyed in on the run game, both Moreno and Ringer have an excellent chance to show their skills to the country.
Gator Bowl (1 PM ET, CBS) Can Clemson Stay Hot? The Tigers won four out of their last five to get to this point, rallying behind new head coach Dabo Swinneyto at least save part of their once promising season. Yet having not played a game in over a month it remains to be seen if Clemson - and Swinny for that matter - will be ready to go against a Nebraska team which also finished the year strong. With the ACC laying a collective egg in the bowl season this year it may be up to Swinney an company to save the ACC's reputation.
Rose Bowl (4:30 PM ET, ABC) Will Penn State mix it up? A heavy underdog, I'm particularly interested to see what Joe Paterno and his staff have cooking for a USC defense which has been regarded as being as impregnable as the Titanic. It'll be tough to move the ball laterally against the speed and tenacity of USC, but I think if Penn State can mix their play calling up enough with some zone running looks (similar to the Oregon State model) than the Nittany Lions could get the last laugh.
Orange Bowl (8:30 PM ET, FOX) How will Cincinnati React to the "Big Time" Virginia Tech is no stranger to BCS games under Frank Beamer, but neither Cincinnati the program nor Brian Kelly the coach has ever been tasked with playing in such a marquee matchup. Some teams (like the 2006 Boise State Broncos) relish the opportunityand tend to play with nothing to lose in these situations, while others (like the 2006 Wake Forest Demon Deacons) tend to stall under the national spotlight. My question is whether or not Cincinnati takes on the former or the latter.