With Thanksgiving just a week away and the college football season slowly reaching its finale, a dark cloud has cast itself across the country (the college football season is almost over!)  While this brings a certain level is distress to all college football fans, it does mean one thing, bowl season is on the horizon.

Bowl season is one of the many things I look forward to each and every December.  If you ask me, it’s earned a spot as one of sports’ greatest events–right next to March Madness and the World Cup.  The best thing about bowl season is that it gives programs across the country something to play for.  It gives a team looking to turn around a program hope that better days are ahead.  It gives seniors one last chance at immortality and an opportunity at the greatest moment of their college football careers.

Although we still have a couple weeks left in the regular season–not to mention championship week–the BCS is beginning to take shape.  So in true sports fanatic fashion, it is my duty to weigh in on who I believe will be playing in the BCS bowl games this season before we reign in the long-awaited playoff system next season.

Rose Bowl Game – Oregon vs. Michigan State

Rose Bowl Game Stadium Players Fans(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

If you asked me to predict this game just over a week ago, sure enough I would have given you a different answer.  But after the Cardinal fell to the unranked USC Trojans last weekend–marking their second loss of the season–I don’t see how Oregon doesn’t run the table the rest of the way and win the Pac-12 Championship.  With only Arizona and arch-rival Oregon State left on the Ducks’ regular season schedule, Oregon is clicking on all cylinders and is nearly impossible of stopping.  As for the Spartans, some of you may not be too happy I’m going with MSU as opposed to Ohio State.  I’m telling you though, I’ve got a strong feeling the Spartan defense is finally going to deliver the Buckeyes their first loss in over 20 games when they meet in the Big Ten Championship game.  Not to say Ohio State’s offense isn’t talented.  Believe me, they most certainly are.  But I’m a firm believer in defense and at the end of the day, defense wins championships.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – Baylor vs. UCF

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl College Football(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

On one side of this matchup, you have the phenomenal offense of Baylor University, which has managed to put up video game-like numbers (even more so than Oregon).  And on the other, you have an up-and-coming UCF team who has proven it can hang with the likes of Louisville and South Carolina.  Considering the fact that the Golden Knights have already faced the Cardinals, I don’t see them losing the rest of the way.  But even if they somehow manage to drop one of their last three games, they would still remain ahead of the Louisville for the conference championship.  And as for the Bears, I believe their offense is just to strong for them to slip up now (not even against my beloved Longhorns).  But even if one of the teams ahead of Baylor slips up, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if the Bears get snubbed for a bid for the National Championship, seeing as how they will not play in a conference championship.  Junior quarterback, Bryce Petty, has proven his leadership week in and week out and I believe he has what it takes to lead Baylor to an undefeated season.

Discover Orange Bowl – Clemson vs. Fresno State

Discover Orange Bowl(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Clemson may not come as a shock to most of you.  The Tigers have put together a fantastic season thus far with their only blemish coming at the hands of the undefeated Seminoles.  Although the Tigers still have a tough season finale with in-state rival South Carolina, they’ve proven they can deliver in big games (i.e. season opener against a healthy Georgia squad).  In the end, you know senior quarterback Tajh Boyd and standout wide receiver Sammy Watkins want to finish their careers at Clemson on a high note, no better way then winning the Orange Bowl.  But they’ll have to go through the up-and-coming Fresno State Bulldogs and senior quarterback Derek Carr.  Although the Bulldogs do not play in an AQ (automatic qualifier) conference, they’ve compiled a very strong resume worthy of a BCS bid.  With victories against programs such as Rutgers and Boise State, there’s no doubt in my mind Fresno has officially arrive.

All State Sugar Bowl – Ohio State vs. Auburn

All State Sugar Bowl(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Even though I believe both Ohio State and Auburn will slip up in the remaining weeks of the season, they both still deserve to play in a BCS game.  If we are lucky enough to witness this matchup, I’d be willing to argue it’s the most intriguing BCS game outside the National Championship.  While Ohio State was widely expected to have a BCS-worthy season, the Auburn Tigers have, without a doubt, been one of this season’s biggest surprises.  This play pretty much sums up their season in a nut shell.  Throughout the season, the Ohio State Buckeyes have demonstrated both their skill as well as their team’s extraordinary depth.  These qualities have led the way all year long for yet another spectacular season in Columbus and have positioned the Buckeyes for a legit BCS run.  Part of me thinks this game will happen because I feel it will be increasingly difficult for these two programs to finish out the regular season unbeaten and win their conference, but the other side just wants to see this game for the sheer offensive power that would ensue.

BCS National Championship Game – Florida State vs. Alabama

BCS National Championship Game(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

With each passing day, our dream of an Alabama-Oregon National Championship game fades further into the distance.  And while that may have been the game we all wanted to see, this matchup isn’t too shabby (that’s right, I said shabby).  Two top-notch defenses paired alongside, by far, two of the most efficient offenses in the entire country.  Each side poses their own Heisman candidate with a slew of All-American selections on both sides of the ball.  Even if Ohio State and Baylor put on spectacular performances in the remaining weeks, Alabama and Florida State have earned their right to play for the crystal ball (so long as they win out).  Florida State has simply dominated competition all season long and has proven to the college football universe the Seminoles are once again an elite program.  And how can we forget about the Crimson Tide?  They have handled the enormous expectations in Tuscaloosa on their way to a potential third-straight National Championship.

What are your Bowl predictions?

Chris Pumphrey is a recent grad from Drew University, where he studied Political Science and History. A former soccer player, Chris loves all things sports-related and spends most of his time watching ESPN. If he's not talking politics, he's most likely to be found anywhere an Orioles game is happening.