Allstate Sugar Bowl

Allstate Sugar Bowl: Cincinnati (12-0) vs. Florida (12-1)

Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. (FOX)

Cincinnati had hoped to play for the BCS title after its perfect season. A Sugar Bowl trip against the defending national champs and the team that was ranked No. 1 most of the season is not a bad consolation prize.

The Bearcats -- who are making their second straight BCS appearance -- could even siphon some first-place votes in the final Associated Press poll with an impressive performance against the Gators. But that won't be easy.

The Cincinnati defense allowed 146 points in its last four regular-season games, and while Florida struggled at times this season to score points, giving Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow nearly a month to prepare is a scary proposition. The Gators' overall team speed and athleticism will provide a stiff test, though with guys like Mardy Gilyard, Armon Binns and Isaiah Pead, the Bearcats are not exactly plodders either.

Interim Bearcats coach Jeff Quinn has to be encouraged by how Alabama scored 32 points on the mighty Gators' defense, which had allowed only 20 points once before Saturday. Nobody has been able to keep Tony Pike, Gilyard and the Bearcats' attack under 24 points all season, and they're very comfortable if it becomes a shootout.

It's no BCS title game, but beating the program that has recently been the gold standard in college football would represent a huge leap forward for Cincinnati, which is Meyer's alma mater. Like a lot of alumni, Meyer probably never thought he'd see the day when the Bearcats could stack up to SEC powers in the Sugar Bowl. We'll find out if that day has arrived.