No fewer than 35 bowl games take place this holiday season, and unless you’re an NFL GM, you probably don’t need to watch most of them. But there are some quality matchups out there. Namely, the five BCS bowls, which all air on ESPN. To help you sound like the smartest man in the room at your viewing party/sports bar/correctional facility, we enlisted broadcasting legend Brent Musburger, who’ll be on the mike for both the Rose Bowl and the BCS National Championship. Here’s what jumps out at him about each tilt, along with some fun facts and, naturally, his thoughts on the Brent Musburger Drinking Game.
Rose Bowl, Jan 2, 5pm ET: #10 Wisconsin Badgers vs. #5 Oregon Ducks Musburger: “Ducks running back LaMichael James is as explosive as anybody in the country. Once he gets to that second and third level, he becomes unstoppable. So the Badgers have to keep Oregon’s offense in front of them, or they’re in trouble.” Fun Fact: Oregon is making its fifth Rose Bowl appearance, but has not won since beating Penn in 1917. Fun Fact #2: Wisconsin running back Montee Ball is six touchdowns shy of Barry Sanders’ single-season record of 44, set in 1988.
Fiesta Bowl, Jan 2, 8:30pm ET: #4 Stanford Cardinal vs. #3 Oklahoma State Cowboys Musburger: “Andrew Luck, who everyone says will be the first player selected in the NFL Draft, will get to move the ball in the air against a Cowboy defense that sometimes is suspect. On the Oklahoma State side, watch Justin Blackmon. He’s as good a wide receiver as we’ve seen since Calvin Johnson was at Georgia Tech.” Fun Fact: Luck has failed to crack 260 yards in any of his last four games, and he threw at least one interception in each of his final five. Fun Fact #2: Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden has actually passed for 1,158 more yards than Luck this season (4,328 to 3,170).
Sugar Bowl, Jan 3, 8:30pm ET: #13 Michigan Wolverines vs. #11 Virginia Tech Hokies Musburger: “Denard Robinson can escape trouble as well as any quarterback in the country and has been one of the more exciting players over the last two seasons. Virginia Tech will have to keep Robinson under control, or they’re going to be in for a long night down at the Sugar Bowl.” Fun Fact: Michigan has lost five of its last six bowl games, including a 52-14 drubbing last year to Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. Fun Fact #2: The Hokies are down to their third-string kicker, Justin Myer, after the first two got in trouble and were suspended for this game.
Orange Bowl, Jan 4, 8:30pm ET: #23 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. #15 Clemson Tigers Musburger: “I am curious about Dana Holgorsen’s ability, with a long layoff, to operate the Mountaineer offense. He calls plays on the sidelines, he’s very animated, and we’ll see what he comes up with against a Clemson team once considered a national championship contender.” Fun Fact: It’s been 30 years since Clemson played in the Orange Bowl. Notes coach Dabo Swinney: “This is the site of our program’s greatest moment, and we’ve been wandering in the desert for a long time since.” Fun Fact #2: The game’s two QBs could be Heisman finalists next year: WVU’s Geno Smith is a junior and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd is a sophomore.
BCS National Championship, Jan 9, 8:30pm ET: #1 LSU Tigers vs. #2 Alabama Crimson Tide Musburger: “These teams are loaded with defensive stars who will start in the NFL, and we’re in for a very entertaining fourth quarter, because I don’t see either team pulling away. If LSU wins, I wouldn’t have any quarrel with calling them one of the best teams ever. They have played a killer schedule, and they’ve handled everything.” Fun Fact: This game guarantees a sixth-consecutive BCS title for the SEC. Fun Fact #2: Alabama’s defense gave up 191 yards per game, best in the country by more than 60 yards. Number 2? LSU, the first school ever to place two cornerbacks on the All-America first team: Morris Claiborne and Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu.
And If Anybody Mentions the Brent Musburger Drinking Game… Musburger: “I’m not offended by it. An old warhorse like me, it would take an awful lot to offend me. Whatever people think or whatever they want to do, it’s more of a compliment than anything else... Listen, I can’t play the game because I’m busy. And that disappoints me. I wish I could sit back and watch a game and partake. I think it would be great fun.”