Bowls will spread holiday cheer

With the Christmas season comes the climax of American college football.

Pigskin lovers have many chances to channel their gridiron love with the postseason for Division One of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Bowl games started last week and continue on into the New Year, culminating with a national championship.

For starters, Cayman fans can note the games with a Florida connection. The University of Central Florida, 9-4, plays in St. Petersburg against 9-3 Ball State on Friday, 21 December, with Orlando’s Russell Athletic Bowl featuring 6-6 Virginia Tech and 9-3 Rutgers next Friday, 28 December.

On 1 January, Jacksonville’s Gator Bowl pits 9-3 Northwestern against 8-4 Mississippi State, Orlando’s Capital One Bowl sees 11-2 Georgia battling 10-3 Nebraska and Tampa’s Outback Bowl features 10-2 South Carolina challenging 8-4 Michigan.

Much attention will rest on the Bowl Championship Series contests in 2013. Locals can root for two Sunshine State schools as Florida State University plays in the Orange Bowl on 1 January and the University of Florida stars in the Sugar Bowl on 2 January.

The 11-2 Seminoles are heavy favourites as they play in Miami, sport an exceptional talent in E.J. Manuel at quarterback and face a 12-1 Northern Illinois team that has not battled major schools. The 11-1 Gators barely missed a spot in the national title behind hurler Jeff Driskel and now head to New Orleans to face a 10-2 Louisville side that was the best in the Big East Conference.

California’s Rose Bowl on 1 January and Arizona’s Fiesta Bowl on 3 January figure to offer plenty of intrigue. It will be interesting to see how Kansas State’s Heisman finalist Collin Klein measures up to a Oregon offence led by Marcus Mariota.

The national title game is in Miami Gardens on 7 January and pits 12-0 Notre Dame against 12-1 Alabama. Everett Golson’s Fighting Irish offence has its hands full trying to overcome AJ McCarron’s Crimson Tide.

Be sure to check out Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel leading his 10-2 Texas A and M Aggies against the Oklahoma Sooners on 4 January in the Cotton Bowl. Manziel was named college football’s top player after racking up 4,600 total yards and 43 total touchdowns as a freshman while Oklahoma sports Landry Jones in the pocket.

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