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Fearless Rick's 2012-13 College Football BCS - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | January 1-3, 2013

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Tuesday, January 1 5:00 pm
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO Pasadena, CA ESPN
Wisconsin vs. Stanford (-6, 48)
- According to the oddsmakers, this should be the closest of all the BCS Bowl games, and with good reason. Both teams possess ground-and-pound style offenses emphasizing the running game and stingy, hard-knocking defenses that seldom gave up big plays and more often than not produced turnovers, handing the ball back to the offense.

Both teams had some unusual twists and turns through the course of their seasons to arrive at the "Grand-daddy of 'em all" Rose Bowl.

Unranked, with an 8-5 record, Wisconsin went 4-4 in the conference, but completely overwhelmed Nebraska in the Big Ten championship, 70-31. Their five losses were all close calls against quality opposition. The Badgers lost by three at Oregon State, again by three at Nebraska, 30-27, by three once more against Michigan State, by seven in overtime to Ohio State and by three once again, to Penn State, 24-21.

A few plays here and there could have easily made the Badgers 9-3 or 10-2 or better, and it might be a mistake by the BCS to not have this team ranked. After all, they did capture the Big Ten championship in dominating fashion and played one of the most rugged schedules in America.

The #6, 11-2 Cardinal had a little less-circuitous route to the Rose Bowl, arriving as PAC-12 champions with just one loss in the conference - at Washington, 17-13, and another out--of-conference experience at Notre Dame, in a closely-played, 20-13, defeat.

The Cardinal bested everyone's choice in the PAC-12, Oregon, on the road, with a 17-14 win, the defense coming up with its biggest effort of the season. Stanford had to defeat UCLA twice in two weeks to win the conference, topping the Bruins, 35-17, in the regular season finale, only to have to defeat them again, 27-24, in the conference title game, played at Stanford.

While the Cardinal record is leaps and bounds better than that of the Badgers, it would be a mistake to discount Wisconsin's chances of pulling off the upset. Their defense is capable of huge efforts and turnovers and special teams could play a big part the outcome. Look for a tightly-played, defensive struggle which will produce a razor-thin victory.

Prediction: Badgers 22 Cardinal 20


--- Story continues below ---


Tuesday, January 1 8:30 pm
Discover Orange Bowl Miami Gardens, FL ESPN
Northern Illinois vs. Florida State (-13, 58 1/2)
- The Seminoles had a super season, with the exception of a couple of games in which the offense made too many mistakes, those being the 17-16 loss to NC State and their 37-26 defeat to the Florida Gators.

Other than those two contests, Florida State has been as solid as any team in the nation, going 11-2, most recently (12/1) beating Georgia Tech for the ACC championship, 21-15).

While the 'Noles put up 39.9 points per game, their defense is the real deal, allowing 15.1 ppg, seventh-best in the country. Florida State has turned the program around since the departure of Bobby Bowden and are once again becoming a national powerhouse.

Across the ball from the Seminoles will be the champions of the Mid-Atlantic Conference, the 12-1 Northern Illinois Huskies, led by QB Jordan Lynch, who was a legitimate Heisman candidate, throwing for 2962 yards with 24 TD passes and just five INTs.

Lynch also rushed 271 times for 1771 yards and 19 TDs and is as tough a runner as Tim Tebow was in his years at Florida.

Led by Lynch, the Huskies rolled up an average of 40.8 points per game and they sport an active defense as well, allowing just 19 points per game, 18th in the nation.

The Huskies came within one point of having a perfect season, losing, 18-17, to Iowa in their season opener. They've been flawless since, running up a 12-game winning streak, including going 8-0 in the MAC regular season and then knocking off Kent State, 44-37, in the conference title game.

A lot of skeptics thought the Huskies a poor choice for a non-AQ pick to play in a BCS bowl, but Northern Illinois is a powerhouse football team, capable of playing with any other 11 in the country.

Florida State is equally sound, but they will have to stop Lynch, who is highly competitive and threw down some smack in the lead-up to this game.

The Seminoles are not going to roll over these guys because the Huskies are well-coached and prepared for what should be, for most of their players, the biggest game of their collegiate careers.

Underdogs have covered the Orange Bowl recently, with a 7-2 ATS mark in the last nine years. But FSU is 8-0-1 ATS in their past 9 bowl games, so some caution should be observed on either side of the ledger.

Prediction: Seminoles 31 Huskies 24

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2012, 2013, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.

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