The Bowl Championship Series has come under much scrutiny in lieu of an official major college football playoff system.
But this year, the BCS appears to have gotten things mostly right. The best five bowl matchups this year, from this viewpoint, are all BCS games, leading off with the national championship game Jan. 7 between unbeaten Alabama and undefeated Texas in Pasadena, Calif.
With apologies to all those sentimental favorites - the legendary Bobby Bowden coaching his last game at Florida State against his former West Virginia Mountaineers in the Gator Bowl, former Hollidaysburg High School standout Justin Gildea's Temple Owls against UCLA in the EagleBank Bowl, and traditional greats Penn State and LSU playing in the Capital One Bowl - here are the most intriguing matchups this bowl season has to offer:
1.) Alabama vs. Texas: The BCS national championship game pits two 13-0 teams, with Alabama coming off an impressive plastering of previously top-ranked Florida (12-1) in the Southeastern Conference championship game Dec. 4, and Texas dodging a bullet that same night to win the Big 12 Conference title game, 13-12 over Nebraska on a last-second field goal. Alabama appears to be a team with no visible flaws, and the showcase of Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram of the Crimson Tide against Heisman finalist Colt McCoy of the Longhorns should be a dandy.
2.) TCU vs. Boise State: The Jan. 4 Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz. matches unbeaten BCS busters TCU (12-0) against 13-0 Boise State. The winner likely won't be named the national champ, but would still have a convincing argument.
3.) Florida vs. Cincinnati: The Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans figures to be a festive affair, but both these teams enter on a down note. Florida's hopes for a national title defense were derailed by Alabama earlier this month. Cincinnati lost coach Brian Kelly to Notre Dame after he directed the Bearcats to a 12-0 season. This game, more than any other Bowl contest, will be played from the neck up.
4.) Ohio State vs. Oregon: The Jan. 1 Rose Bowl game in Pasadena is always fascinating, and this year, it pairs seventh-ranked Oregon's scary spread offense against eighth-ranked Ohio State's vaunted defense. Toss in the wild card of talented but mercurial Buckeyes' quarterback Terrelle Pryor, and this should be a game to remember.
5.) Georgia Tech vs. Iowa: The Jan. 5 Orange Bowl in Miami highlights Tech's fearsome option attack against a stingy, solid Iowa team. Can Tech continue to roll against the workmanlike Hawkeyes?
John Hartsock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.