Bowl Projections 2012: Non-BCS Marquee Matchups We're Dying to See
All the buzz surrounding new No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama is great, and deservedly so. But by the numbers, there are going to be more teams in non-BCS games than there will in BCS ones, so these guys need a little love too.
Looking at the playoff picture, there are some marquee matchups just waiting to happen outside the five games that draw the most hype.
From a potential rivalry renewed in Texas to the Big 10 and SEC squaring off multiple times, there's going to be more football than many can handle over the two-week stretch in December and January.
Here's a look at some games that would blow away the college football fanatic and make for an exciting time leading up to the BCS events later in bowl season. This time of the year ranks only behind March Madness when it comes to exposure and fan interest, and these games would only help drive up the already sparkling brand college football exudes.
Valero Alamo Bowl - No. 17 UCLA vs. No. 21 Oklahoma State
There's more than one seeding to decide in the Pac-12. UCLA could see Stanford twice, go 1-1 and still get the conference bid to the Rose Bowl. It could also win this weekend and have to face Oregon in the conference championship game.
Stanford will prove to be too much for the Bruins, although that game is admittedly a toss up. After that happens, UCLA will get another chance to play the Cardinal in the Pac-12 final. If they win, it's on to the Rose Bowl. Lose, and it's still in the No. 3 seed for the conference after Oregon nabs an at-large bid.
That puts Oklahoma State, the No. 4 team in the Big 12, against the Bruins. This could be a shootout in San Antonio, much like Robert Griffin and Keith Price last year. Both Jim Mora and Mike Gundy are excellent coaches, and this would be a fun matchup of ranked teams for a city that's had to get its fix of football during Dallas Cowboys training camp for quite some time.
Chick-Fil-A Bowl - No. 11 Clemson vs. No. 4 Florida/No. 7 LSU
Either one of these SEC schools would be a true test for emerging Heisman candidate Tahj Boyd and the Tigers. We've seen that Texas A&M has the offense to take down the powerhouse defenses, and Clemson has the offense to put up points in bunches.
In a battle of differing styles, which one would win out?
This bowl is going to get great publicity since the SEC will likely have seven teams that have close to double-digit wins. Since only two can make BCS bowls, the chips have to fall somewhere else. One of those destinations is the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, which is poised to get a marquee matchup if Clemson isn't snatched up by the BCS.
It looks like Clemson and Oklahoma are the last two at-large teams for the Sugar Bowl. If the Sooners get the nod, the committee in Florida will be happy to take the Tigers, as this should be a great draw for any of these three teams.
Capital One Bowl - No. 19 Michigan vs. No. 3 Georgia
Another bowl, another highly ranked SEC team. If Georgia loses to Alabama in the SEC championship game, there's a good chance that LSU, Florida or Texas A&M all have better cases as two-loss teams.
That leaves the Bulldogs looking for a new home, and what a way for Aaron Murray and Devin Gardner to get together. It would also be Denard Robinson's last chance to make an impact on his legacy for the Big Blue, who've seen him struggle against highly ranked teams his entire career.
Gardner has lit college football on fire with his play over the last three weeks, and Georgia has been as consistent as they come this year, sans the loss to South Carolina. Mark Richt and Brady Hoke figure to be at their respective programs for quite some time, and the tradition and history of both programs would be on display.
As a college football fan, would you like to see Texas-Texas A&M?
AT&T Cotton Bowl - No. 9 Texas A&M vs. No. 16 Texas
Dallas, Texas. Jerry World. Old rivals once, now even more bitter enemies. Is there a game in college football this late in the season that could affect recruiting like this SEC/Big 12 clash?
The obvious matchup of two teams that are in the BCS Top 25 is mostly irrelevant here. For these two rivals to get the chance to trash talk and claim in-state dominance this soon is almost too perfect to fathom.
Despite speculation that Texas would reject a Cotton Bowl bid if Texas A&M were the opponent, both ESPN's Max Olsen and Austin American-Statesman sports writer Kirk Bohls are optimistic that this game would happen if extended to the Longhorns.
Texas DE Alex Okafor on a Cotton Bowl game vs. Texas A&M: "That's what the people want." #longhorns— Max Olson (@max_olson) November 19, 2012
Texas AD DeLoss Dodds on possible A&M-UT Cotton Bowl: "That’s dictated to us by BCS and bowl games. We'll take what we get."— kbohls (@kbohls) November 19, 2012
Suffice it to say, this might be one of the most highly anticipated games in college football history. Who would have guessed that fate would bring the Aggies right back into the loving arms of the Horns less than a year after the SEC jump?
You can bet recruits who are on the fence about these two programs will use this game as an indication of what the program is going to be like for the four years that student athlete is in attendance.
Aside from that, Texas would get a chance to slow down new Heisman front-runner Johnny Manziel and get a taste of the offense that slayed Alabama. So many storylines in this one, it's too hard to count. This is easily the big-money matchup outside the BCS, and if OU does indeed get a BCS bid, then we could see the storied rivals clash once more in Dallas.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.
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