History to be made in BCS bowls

There are plenty of tradition-rich programs in the BCS bowls this year -- Oklahoma, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Virginia Tech among them.

But so much for history in any of the matchups. Four of the five bowls feature two teams that have NEVER played each other before.

And the only two teams that DO have a history are Wisconsin and TCU. Those two played to a 14-14 tie 40 years ago.

A few notes to whet your appetite on some matchups, with many more notes on the other games to come on this blog over the next few weeks:

• This will be the third BCS National Championship game in which each team was making its BCS Title Game debut. The other two took place in the inaugural game in 1998 (No. 1 Tennessee beat No. 2 Florida State, 23-16) and 2001 (No. 1 Miami defeated No. 2 Nebraska, 37-14)

An SEC team has finished in the top two in the final BCS standings in each of the last five years and in seven of the previous 13 final standings. The SEC is 6-0 in the BCS title game, winning the championship in each of the last four seasons.

By contrast, a Pac-10 team has finished in the top two of the final BCS standings three times (’04-’05 USC, ’10 Oregon). The Pac-10 is 1-1 in the BCS title game.

The matchup that might garner the most attention in this game: Oregon ranks fourth in FBS in rushing, averaging over 300 yards a game. Auburn brings the SEC's second-ranked rush defense, which holds teams to 111.7 yards a game.

Auburn has had to come from behind in eight of its 13 wins this season, but Oregon is outscoring opponents 125-24 in the 4th quarter.

• The Rose Bowl should be a high-scoring affair, with Wisconsin and TCU having scored exactly 520 points through 12 games, which puts them in a tie for fourth place among FBS teams (TCU's defense leads the nation in fewest points-per-game allowed. Wisconsin is averaging a whopping 67 points per contest in its last three games.

• Is Connecticut the mostly unlikely BSC bowl participant? The Huskies have only been playing at the FBS level since 2000 and this is just their seventh year playing in an automatic-bid conference.

They started the season 3-4 before winning their final five games and they have never been ranked this season. Their four losses are tied for the most losses by a team to make a BCS bowl game.

• Something’s gotta give in the Orange Bowl. Virginia Tech, the highest-scoring team in the ACC, takes on the best defense in the Pac-10, Stanford, which is allowing 18 points per game and has posted three shutouts this season.

• Arkansas is playing in its first BCS bowl game, with Ryan Mallett leading the Razorbacks' potent passing offense. Mallett was fifth in FBS in passing yards per game, throwing for 299 yards per contest. But he’ll be challenged by an Ohio State pass defense that ranked fourth in the nation, allowing only 156 yards per game. The most yards Ohio State has allowed through the air this year was 232 -- while Mallet has passed for fewer than 300 yards just three times in 12 games this year.