Alabama’s National Title Showdown With Notre Dame Among This Year’s Best College Bowl Games

AJ McCarronThe menu of college football bowl matchups, announced Sunday, looks quite appetizing.

Bovada has picked the four bowls that should produce the best entertainment value. Here’s a look at the games all fans should put on their holiday season must-watch list.

2013 Fiesta Bowl: Oregon Ducks vs. Kansas State Wildcats — Thursday, Jan. 3

Odds: Oregon -9

This is a game that is compelling not necessarily for the amount of offense it might have but because it has some of the more fascinating people in college football on each sideline. The matchup between the two head coaches will be worth watching — Chip Kelly is seen as an innovator at Oregon, while Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder is viewed as a very resourceful coach who gets the most out of comparatively little talent. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is a wizard within the read-option framework provided by Kelly’s offense, and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is a gritty, tough quarterback who regularly finds ways to make plays. Many people are complaining about the BCS bowl matchups, but this isn’t the game fans are upset with.

2012 Chick-Fil-A Bowl: LSU Tigers vs. Clemson Tigers — Monday, Dec. 31

Odds: LSU -3.5

This year, LSU and Clemson both won 10 games but failed to win their biggest games of the year. LSU lost at Florida and at home against Alabama, while Clemson lost to ACC rival Florida State and in-state rival South Carolina. Both teams now have the chance to end the season with a prime victory. This will be a classic clash of contrasting styles. LSU loves the power running game and the rugged, old-school style that 1970s SEC teams would have favored. Clemson embraces the modern approach with a spread passing offense that has enabled coach Dabo Swinney‘s team to remain very competitive in the ACC. The atmosphere in Atlanta should be electric for this contest. It’s certainly one of the most attractive offerings of the whole bowl season.

2012 Holiday Bowl: Baylor Bears vs. UCLA Bruins — Thursday, Dec. 27

Odds: UCLA -2

This is a game that longtime college football fans will embrace. The Holiday Bowl developed a reputation in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s as a shootout, a game made for offense and fun. This is what people have come to expect, and so with UCLA and Baylor on the same field, a lot of college football diehards are getting excited about what they’re going to see in San Diego. Both of the quarterbacks — Brett Hundley of UCLA and Nick Florence of Baylor — have played their best football in November. If they pick up where they’ve left off, this game should have at least 80 total points, if not more.

BCS National Championship: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish — Monday, Jan. 7

Odds: Alabama -10

This is the big one, and it’s a game that should be close. Neither defense will allow this game to get out of hand, creating a chance for fourth-quarter excitement. The pressure associated with this game is likely to fall more heavily on Alabama’s shoulders, but Notre Dame could be awed by the return to college football’s biggest stage. Emotions generally get the best of some players in a championship game, and the team that cracks under the weight of the moment is likely the one that will lose.

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