Bowl Projections 2012: Boise State and Other Must-See Non-BCS Teams

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2012

BOISE, ID - NOVEMBER 17:  Blake Renaud #13 of the Boise State Broncos carries the hammer against the Colorado State Rams at Bronco Stadium on November 17, 2012 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

You might as well just skip the national title game this year. Each and every year, the most highly anticipated bowl games feature the biggest and baddest of college football.

Rarely is a non-BCS school deemed worthy of breaking in to a BCS bowl game. It can get a bit boring watching the elite of the Big Ten, ACC, Big East, SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12 face off, right?

Like March Madness, the real fun can come in watching little-known schools and their stars perform in what is likely their only taste of national television.

The one school who's been the exception is Boise State. Utah might have been the first BCS buster, but the Broncos made a real statement by winning the 2007 Fiesta Bowl over Oklahoma. It was the moment that the nation became aware that Boise State was not a team to be taken lightly.

Unfortunately, their margin for error is minute, so the tiniest slipup can mean going from the penthouse to the outhouse in the span of one week.

With their 9-2 record, the Broncos are looking at a date with the Washington Huskies in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl. It's still a great opportunity to watch Boise State attempt to pick up another win against a BCS school.

Here's three other non-BCS teams that should be on your radar come bowl season.


Kent State Golden Flashes

Kent State doesn't win much, but when they do, they do it big. The Golden Flashes haven't been to a bowl game since 1972. Now they're 11-1 and ranked No. 23 in the country. They meet Northern Illinois on November 30 in the Mid-American Conference title game.

In Dri Archer Kent state has a bona fide playmaker. Going into this weekend, the junior running back was fourth in the country in all-purpose yards, averaging 203.6 yards a game. Time and again his explosive runs and returns have turned the game in favor of the Flashes.

It's success for the school that's likely very fleeting as well, so you better catch it while you have the chance. It's only a matter of time before head coach Darrell Hazell is poached by a bigger school.


Northern Illinois Huskies

Simply put, the MAC is where it's at this year. After losing their opener, 18-17, to Iowa, the Northern Illinois Huskies have won 11 games in a row. Their meeting with Kent State in the MAC title game will be a great game to watch.

Joe Novak built a solid program in DeKalb, Jerry Kill continued it before moving to Minnesota and now Dave Doeren has the Huskies up in the conference's elite again.

Johnny Manziel might win the Heisman, but he probably isn't the best dual-threat quarterback in the nation. That title would fall to Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch.

The junior has thrown for 2,750 yards and 23 TDs, but he's rushed for an astounding 1,611 yards and 16 TDs. Lynch is second in the country in rushing yards.


Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

The WAC has produced three very good teams this year—San Jose State, Utah State and Louisiana Tech—and of that group, Louisiana Tech should get your undivided attention.

The Bulldogs put up a ton of points, 50-plus a game, so viewers will have plenty to keep them enthralled. Their 59-57 loss to Texas A&M was not one for the football purists, but it was one of the most exciting games of the year.

Senior quarterback Colby Cameron will be the one to watch. Louisiana Tech has had some prolific passers in the past, and Cameron is no different. His 3,679 yards passing are second in the country. He's also incredibly accurate, throwing 28 touchdowns to only two interceptions.