Merry Christmas, Yule, Saturnalia or other winter holiday of your choosing/upbringing/place of birth. With just a scant few days until the 2013 season is in the books, let us not look behind, rather look forward --for there are some very tasty games to ring in 2014.
AT&T Cotton Bowl - Missouri vs. Oklahoma State (January 3, 2014)
The SEC runner-up, they of a balanced offense and allegedly solid DL, was last seen getting their bell rung by SEC Champion, Auburn. Meanwhile, a bad loss to a moribund Sooners team was not exactly ending on a high note for the passing-impairing Cowboys. With Gundy likely to be a hot off-season commodity, and with the struggles Okie Lite has had throwing the ball, Pinkel and Mizzou should win this one in the neighborhood of 7-10 points.
BBVA Compass Bowl - Houston vs. Vanderbilt (January 4, 2014)
Being in the AAC has done bad things for solid mid-majors like the defensively-improved, still aerial-friendly, Houston Cougars. Vandy, in finally overcoming the backyard bowl, gets here on the back of a balanced offense which turns opportunistic turnovers into short fields and points. Despite this likely be Franklin last appearance, I just don't see enough points coming, or the secondary holding up, in a very good game against this surprisingly stout Cougar team.
GoDaddy Bowl - Arkansas State vs. Ball State (January 5, 2014)
Ball State, despite a 10-win campaign, didn't even sniff the MAC title, which is a shame given the way the Cardinals' offense can light up suspect defenses. Arkansas State, now on their fifth coach in three seasons, just cannot possibly be into this game, despite being probably the better team on paper. The rudderless Red Wolves go coach shopping, as the Ball State Cardinals hoist the trophy in Mobile.
BCS BOWL: Vizio Rose Bowl - Stanford vs. Michigan State (January 1, 2014)
(Ed. Note: This is probably one of my three or four favorite matchups) Michigan State, maligned all season for alleged offensive woes, and held afloat by a stout defense, finally got the outright Big Ten title and Rose Bowl eluding them for decades...by passing the ball in the biggest game of the season. Stanford, meanwhile, won't surprise anyone when they line up with seven linemen, bang you 60+ times a game, and beg QB Hogan not to lose it. This game could last three days, and I still would be happy with whoever wins it; but, in this case, we have to take the slightly more talented Trees by a score.
BCS BOWL: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Central Florida vs. Baylor (January 1, 2014)
UCF has one loss to a top-10 team, a solid running game, a better passing attack, and an even better defense. Baylor, meanwhile, has a hyper-efficient quarterback, the best team speed this side of Oregon, and a defensive line that creates sheer havoc in the passing game. Baylor should be on notice that this won't be a gimme against the surprisingly game Knights, but the Baptist Bears still should outscore UCF.
BCS BOWL: Allstate Sugar Bowl - Alabama vs. Oklahoma (January 2, 2014)
OU seems to have finally compensated for their many defensive injuries, and the nation's least coherent offense/passing attack, to basically steal a Sugar Bowl bid on the basis of name cache alone. Alabama -as flawed and error-prone as the 2013 team was- was nevertheless one team effort (and Plains' voodoo) away from likely playing for another national title. RBR will be breaking down this mismatch later: Alabama absolutely crushes the Sooners, as veteran standouts say farewell in style and young guys set the tone for a 2014 run. Ed. Note: I am really going to miss Kevin Norwood. If there is a player on this team that screams ten-, fifteen-year productive NFL player and draft day steal, it is Captain Clutch.
BCS BOWL: Discover Orange Bowl - Ohio State vs. Clemson (January 3, 2014)
When we last saw the Clemson Tigers, OBC was again having his way with Dabo, and the lack of a running game -and interior softness- came back to haunt the Tigers again. Ohio State generally, and Hyde/Braxton specifically, have played their collective asses off, despite severe shortcomings at linebacker and a season-long swoon by CB Roby. I have a hunch that Urban Meyer's coaching leads to a Buckeye win over the raw talent advantage that Clemson may have.
Vizio BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP - Auburn vs. Florida State (January 6, 2014)
Auburn (well, Malzahn) has used this script before: very good offensive and defensive lines, solid corps of running backs, an iffy overall defense, and a QB that is a running back first but makes hay with the play action. FSU, meanwhile, has a tremendous OL/DL tandem, the nation's best WR corps, the nation's best individual TE, three legitimate NFL-type RBs, and a guy named Jameis -the nation's best QB and best individual player. This is actually the game that should be the least competitive, as Florida State is demonstrably better at literally every position on the field, and we think the Seminoles cruise to a pretty easy win and BCS title.