2011 BCS Bowls: An Easy Guide to Picking Sides During the BCS Season

Dan RubensteinCollege Football Lead WriterDecember 22, 2011

EUGENE, OR - DECEMBER 02 :  Head coach Chip Kelly has some words with running back LaMichael James #21 of the Oregon Ducks before the Pac-12 Championship game between the UCLA Bruins and the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on December 2, 2011 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

As anticlimactic as early January may seem on paper, what with a rerun headlining five games that vary in appeal, if you look just a little deeper, storylines exist to irrefutably either get behind or stand up against. Let this be your guide:

For -- No Defense in the Orange Bowl

CLEMSON, SC - OCTOBER 22:  Sammy Watkins #2 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates a second half touchdown against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Memorial Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Clemson and West Virginia won their respective conferences by outgaining and outscoring teams, particularly in the second halves of games as their opponents tired. There was very little this fall that was more fun to watch than Clemson’s balanced third quarter tidal wave or West Virginia’s first-year Holgorsen-ian air-raid. Here’s to hoping the off-time malaise lasts about as long as anything related to Todd Graham and the word “tenure.”

Against -- Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 03:  Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Frank Beamer looks on during the ACC Championship game against the Clemson Tigers at Bank of America Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Imag
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It really is nothing personal against the Hokies, but a vote against Frank Beamer (and the criminally underrated David Wilson) is simply a vote against the old boy college football network that lets Tech in over more deserving teams such as “all of them ranked between Arkansas and Virginia Tech. Just them.

For -- Brady Hoke

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 26:  Head coach Brady Hoke of the Michigan Wolverines yells from the sideline while playing the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 40-34. (Photo by Gregory Sh
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Not that there’s anything particularly noble about rooting for college football’s all-time winningest program, but Brady Hoke winning double digit games (against an admittedly navigable schedule) in his first season as Ohio State flails about would be gloriously punctuated by a BCS win in New Orleans. Plus, he wears a windbreaker all the time and it’s endlessly fun to make jokes about him breaking wind. Also, I’m 12.

Against Dana Holgorsen’s Composure

COLLEGE PARK, MD - SEPTEMBER 17:  Head coach Dana Holgorsen of the West Virginia Mountaineers yells at his team from the sidelines against the Maryland Terrapins during the first half at Byrd Stadium on September 17, 2011 in College Park, Maryland.  (Phot
Rob Carr/Getty Images

After seeing their November defensive deficiencies, it’s a pretty good bet that, at some point, West Virginia will find an offensive rhythm against the Tigers – let’s just hope, for the sake of pure entertainment value, Mountaineer QB Geno Smith makes a bad read or two and we get treated to Dana Holgorsen’s sideline shadow boxing clinic. Do it for the kids, Dana, do it for the kids.

For Russell Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 03:  Russell Wilson #16 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates after they won 42-39 against the Michigan State Spartans during the Big 10 Conference Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Indianapolis, India
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Unless I’m missing a hush-hush story in which Wilson secretly sacrifices cuddly animals before big Wisconsin games, there’s very little not to like about the one time NC State transfer. A big game from Wilson would quickly shift the tired (but deserved) narrative away from WISCONSIN BIG WISCONSIN RUN to the generally dynamic offense that Badger OC Paul Chryst has run for a while now. To come in, no matter his general success at NC State, and control games from the get-go has made Russel Wilson and Wisconsin’s game through the air one of the better parts of a season lacking consistent excitement at the top.

Against --  Whoever’s Usually in Charge of Bowl Turf

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 04: A penalty flag sits on the grass during the Washington Redskins and New York Jets game at FedExField on December 4, 2011 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Not that it ultimately played a huge role, but if the major bowls (looking at you Rose and Fiesta crews) are happy to accept the windfall associated with a largely crooked system, let us at least awake from a month of hibernation and not have to watch players slipping on grass on a sunny day outside of LA or in an indoor facility outside of Phoenix. If Erin Andrews isn’t holding up a cleat to describe how a team is combating the grass conditions, it’s a win for everyone.

For Oregon’s Running Game

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  LaMichael James #21 of the Oregon Ducks runs down field against the Auburn Tigers during the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jonathan
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Ok, so rooting for the nation’s top rushing attack to succeed isn’t technically that exciting, but if Oregon’s able to move the ball and at least allow the lazier writers and analysts to go a little deeper than CHIP KELLY TIME OFF BAD, when Oregon’s trench struggles have come against superior players, not just the vague idea that the Ducks can’t win a game with time off. Rhythm and opposing exhaustion certainly plays a part, but Oregon’s postseason and opener struggles have come against an Ohio State defense that finished fifth against the run nationally (y/a vs conference) and then Auburn and LSU, the last two teams to beat Alabama.

AgainstThat Pac-12 Ref with the Glasses

My preliminary research has led me to believe the name of the ref that’s universally loathed amongst west coast football fans is named Jay Stricherz. Aside from the super-hip “Z” ending his name, please don’t let who we out west call “Glasses Ref” decide a close game. I just don’t think we can take any more.

ForOklahoma State’s Defense

STILLWATER, OK - DECEMBER 03:  Davidell Collins #98 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Not that anyone should expect the Pokes to completely shut down Andrew Luck and his impossibly deep roster of tight ends, but part of the smear campaign against Oklahoma State included misleading stats about the Cowboys’ ability to play defense, which they actually did pretty well – led the nation in takeaways, 8th nationally in opposing QB rating (vs 5 top 15 QBs, compared to Alabama and LSU playing 1 and 2, respectively), and 51st in yards/play allowed (two behind Arkansas, four behind Stanford, and eight AHEAD of USC -- all AP top ten teams). So … yeah.

AgainstReruns in the National Championship

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05:  Kenny Bell #7 of the Alabama Crimson Tide fails to pull in his touchdown attempt against Brandon Taylor #18 and Tharold Simon #24 of the LSU Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This is because it’s right to be patriotic and want a new game to end the season. You know, for America. 

For a more detailed preview of Alabama/LSU, please click here.

Dan Rubenstein co-hosts The Solid Verbal college football podcast and can be followed on Twitter here.