Bowl Projections: Iowa to Dallas?

By Scott Dochterman, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Four times in the last 10 years a team was so dominant in the regular season that it seemed preposterous that it had to even had to play an opponent for the national title.

In 2003, Oklahoma was the unanimous No. 1 entering the Big 12 championship game. In Big 12 country, the Sooners were regarded as one of history's best teams with Heisman Trophy quarterback Jason White. Oklahoma averaged 51.5 points a game — this was way before the Big 12 played basketball on fake grass — and destroyed Texas 65-13 and Texas A&M 77-0. The Sooners never scored below 34 points in league play and only once did it fail to win a Big 12 game by at least 21 points. Its defense was stout in allowing 11 points per game.

In 2005, USC was the two-time defending national champion armed with back-to-back Heisman winners Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush and a 34-game winning streak. USC smashed its opponents that year by a combined score of 600-256. ESPN incorporated a daily countdown ranking the Trojans against other great teams from history. Their coronation seemed a foregone conclusion.

In 2006, Ohio State smashed its first 11 opponents by a combined score of 36-8. Only once did the Buckeyes allow more than 10 points in a game or win by less than 17 before outlasting arch-rival and No. 2 -ranked Michigan 42-39 in the season finale.

Last year LSU beat eight ranked teams en route to a 13-0 record and an SEC championship. Among the victories include the Pac-12 and Big East champions, as well as top No. 12 SEC teams Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia. LSU's average margin of victory was 39-11.

All four teams were undisputed and top-ranked entering their bowl games. And all four lost their bid for a national title. Three of the teams lost their BCS championships decisively — Oklahoma also was routed by Kansas State in the Big 12 title game — while USC fell 41-38 to fellow unbeaten Texas. That shows you anything in possible going into bowl season, including improbable upsets.

Defending BCS champion Alabama looks virtually invincible thus far, like the above teams. The Crimson Tide have rolled their five opponents 201-35, and dispatched perceived contenders Michigan 41-14 and Arkansas 52-0. Despite losing half its defense and the nation's best running back to the NFL, Alabama continues its chew up its opponents.

Today it seems unlikely the Crimson Tide will lose any game this year, but history shows us that it's certainly possible.

Here are this week's bowl projections:

BCS BOWLS

BCS CHAMPIONSHIP — Alabama vs. Oregon
The offense vs. defense debate will have a renewed discussion for this match-up

ROSE — Nebraska vs. USC
Cornhuskers are the Big Ten's best bet this week

FIESTA — Kansas State vs. Notre Dame
Would rather see Nebraska here against long-time rival Kansas State

SUGAR — Georgia vs. Oklahoma
Schools boast long-term coaches where fan bases are fatigued by, well, not winning quite enough

ORANGE — Florida State vs. Louisville
The Orange Bowl has been saddled with worse match-ups in recent years than this one

BIG TEN BOWLS

CAPITAL ONE — Michigan State vs. LSU
Would anybody score in this game?

OUTBACK — Michigan vs. South Carolina
A little different tone transitioning from Brady Hoke to Steve Spurrier

GATOR — Purdue vs. Tennessee
They could save some gas money and just play in Louisville

BUFFALO WILD WINGS — Northwestern vs. West Virginia
Lot of speed in this game, despite neither team playing in the SEC

MEINEKE CAR CARE — Wisconsin vs. TCU
A little lower than either team expected but not a bad landing spot

"DALLAS" — Iowa vs. SMU
Maybe Ewing Oil/Energy will sponsor the game in time for Iowa to participate

LITTLE CAESAR'S — Minnesota vs. Northern Illinois
Just name this one "The Jerry Kill Classic"

BIG 12 BOWLS

COTTON — Texas vs. Texas A&M
No bowl would match this intensity of this game, not even the BCS championship

ALAMO — Texas Tech vs. Stanford
To make this more interesting, make sure the fans mingle together before, during and after the game

HOLIDAY — Baylor vs. UCLA
Dream match-up for Holiday Bowl — Finally an L.A. team against a high-powered offense

PINSTRIPE — Oklahoma State vs. UConn
Last year's weather pattern was unusual; this year will be a blizzard

MILITARY — *Iowa State vs. *Marshall
Iowa State will have its pick of the fill-in bowls, and the Military pays the most

TOP SECOND-TIER BOWLS

CHICK-FIL-A — Clemson vs. Florida
SUN — Virginia Tech vs. Arizona
RUSSELL — Miami vs. Rutgers
MUSIC CITY — North Carolina State vs. Missouri
LIBERTY — Tulsa vs. Mississippi State
INDEPENDENCE — *Utah vs. Vanderbilt
BELK — Georgia Tech vs. Cincinnati
MAACO/LAS VEGAS — Boise State vs. Oregon State
COMPASS — Auburn vs. South Florida
OTHERS

BEEF O'BRADY'S — Pittsburgh vs. Central Florida
POINSETTIA — BYU vs. Nevada
POTATO — Utah State vs. Kent State
HAWAII — Fresno State vs. Houston
NEW MEXICO — Arizona State vs. San Diego State
GODADDY — Ohio vs. Western Kentucky
KRAFT — Washington vs. *San Jose State
ARMED FORCES — Air Force vs. UTEP
NEW ORLEANS — Middle Tennessee State vs. *Louisiana Tech


* Denotes replacement teams. Iowa State replaces Army in Military Bowl. San Jose State replaces Navy in Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Utah replaces seventh ACC team in Independence Bowl. Marshall vacates New Orleans Bowl and replaces eighth ACC team in Military Bowl. Louisiana Tech replaces Marshall in New Orleans Bowl.
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