Games to Watch: Saturday, Dec. 8

Peter Sblendorio

No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 1 Notre Dame
The Crimson Tide enter the game as winners of two of the past three FBS championships, while the Fighting Irish return to the sport’s biggest stage for the first time since 1988. Offense will be at a premium, as Notre Dame and Alabama had the top two defenses in terms of opponent scoring in the regular season. Alabama is the stronger offensive team, led by the dynamic rushing attack of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. Running the ball will be tough for the Crimson Tide against a strong Irish front seven led by Heisman hopeful Manti Te’o. This matchup between two of college football’s prominent teams is likely to command considerable attention, and this should make for one of the most evenly matched national championship games in recent memory.

Game on Jan. 7 at 7:30 CT on ESPN

No. 4 Oregon vs. No. 5 Kansas State
The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl will feature two of the more prolific offensive teams in the nation, as both the Ducks and the Wildcats averaged more than 40 points per game during the regular season. Oregon’s Kenjon Barner was arguably the most impressive running back in college football, as the senior turned 248 carries into 1,624 yards and 21 touchdowns. Marcus Mariota was just as efficient passing the ball, completing 69.9 percent of his passes for 2,511 yards and 30 touchdowns against just six interceptions. The most dynamic player on the field will suit up for the Wildcats, as Heisman finalist Collin Klein threw for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns and ran for 890 yards and 22 scores. The game won’t lack for scoring.

Game on Jan. 3 at 7:30 CT on ESPN

No. 9 Texas A&M vs. No. 11 Oklahoma
The Sooners were snubbed for a BCS at-large bid, but their berth in the Cotton Bowl ensured they will face one of the nation’s toughest teams. Texas A&M enjoyed a breakout campaign in its first season in the SEC, going 10-2 behind freshman sensation Johnny Manziel. The Heisman hopeful set the conference mark for total yardage, throwing for 3,419 yards along with 24 touchdowns and rushing for 1,181 yards and 19 scores. His Aggies will be opposed by an equally potent Oklahoma offense led by Landry Jones, who turned in a strong senior season with 3,989 passing yards and 29 touchdowns. Each team will have plenty of supporters at Cowboys Stadium, and they will both be eager to claim victory against a former conference rival.

Game on Jan. 4 at 7:00 CT on FOX

Wisconsin vs. No. 6 Stanford
After its 70-31 drubbing of Nebraska, Wisconsin has become one of the bowl season’s most enticing teams. Montee Ball is in the middle of a tremendous streak of four games with at least 111 yards rushing and a touchdown. Stanford has been playing well of late, winning four consecutive games against ranked opponents and seven straight overall. Freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan has improved the Cardinal’s offense since being inserted into the starting lineup, and running back Stepfan Taylor enjoyed a fine season with 1,442 rushing yards and 12 scores. Of note: Wisconsin coach Brett Bielema left for Arkansas and current Wisconsin AD and former coach Barry Alvarez will man the sidelines for the Badgers.

Game on Dec. 31 at 4:00 CT on ESPN