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NCAA Football: Get Ready for Bowling Season and the Heisman Winner

After three months of interesting wins and losses, NCAA football’s weekly games have ended and it’s time for more than 30 bowl games over the next month.

With Saturday’s win over Georgia, Alabama punched its ticket back to the National Championship against Notre Dame. Will the Tide repeat or will the undefeated Fighting Irish bring home the coveted win?

This year’s BCS Cinderella is Northern Illinois. On Friday, the Huskies (12-1, 8-0) defeated Kent State (11-2, 8-0) 44-37 in OT to win the MAC Championship; on Sunday, they jumped to No. 15  in the BCS rankings. They will meet Florida State in the Orange Bowl.

In other NCAA news, Heisman contenders will receive their long-awaited invites to New York for Saturday’s ceremony. Who will visit the Big Apple?

2012 BCS Bowls

NIU QB Jordan Lynch

By Saturday night, the BCS championship game was set after Alabama’s win. The Tide’s return visit represents the first opportunity for a team to repeat as champions since the 1998 implementation of the BCS.

The bettors give them -175 to do so vs. Notre Dame at +225.

For the Fighting Irish, they lack Alabama’s BCS  experience and its January’s game is the first one in a BCS Championship but another opportunity to become national champions. This was last achieved in 1988 under coach Lou Holtz’s guidance.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said of the Jan. 7 matchup via ESPN, “The tradition of Alabama and Notre Dame brings special attention to it, but we’re just trying to the best team on Monday, Jan. 7.  All of that tradition, what’s happened in the past, is not going to help us Jan. 7, but we do respect the traditions.”

For Georgia, they will miss out on a BCS bowl and after their season and Saturday’s game, it again shows the flaws of the BCS system. The Bulldog’s consolation prize is the Jan. 1 Capital One bowl against Nebraska.

The Cornhuskers, also disappointed by their Saturday loss of 70-31 by Wisconsin, will endure a second consecutive visit to this bowl; they’ll be avenging  last year’s 30-13 loss against South Carolina.

How did other schools fare for the BCS bowls?  Take a look.

No. 3 Florida (11-1) will meet Big East champ Louisville (10-2) in the Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2)

No. 5 Kansas State (11-1) will play No. 4 Oregon (11-1) in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 3)

No. 6 Stanford (11-2) takes on Big Ten winner Wisconsin (8-5) in the Rose Bowl Game (Jan. 1)

For the Huskies, they will be without their coach Dave Doeren for the Orange Bowl; he jumped ship on Saturday to take the top job at NC State. He’s not the first coach to leave his team before a BCS bowl: Kelly did so in 2009 while at Cincinnati to join Notre Dame.

Heisman Trophy

Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel

On Saturday, college football will name its top player for the 2012 season. It’s been an interesting journey as names have come and gone (see Geno Smith, Matt Barkley and Montee Ball).

The top contenders include the trio of two quarterbacks: Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Kansas State’s Collin Klein and one defensive player, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’O.

This past Saturday, Klein had one last shot to improve his Heisman resume. In the Wildcat’s 42-24 win over Texas, the quarterback had 287 total yards (184 passing and 103 rushing) with three touchdowns and one pick. Not his best game, but a good way to end his college career at home.

Other possible nominees include USC’s wide receiver Marqise Lee, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and Oregon’s running back Kenjon Barner.

In last week’s CBS Straw Poll, here’s the top five (in order): Manziel, Te’O, Miller, Lee and Klein.

Looking at the most recent odds, the win will go to freshman phenom, Manziel at 1 to 5.5.

Early Monday evening, the finalists will be announced and the ceremony is on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. ET.





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