Bowl Projections 2012: Best Potential Matchups Fans Must Watch

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2012

MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 03:  Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers drops back to pass against the TCU Horned Frogs during the game on November 3, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Some sporting events are meant to be watched intently. Others are there for the sole purpose of entertaining fans, not to have every little move scrutinized to death. 

During this bowl season, there are going to be plenty of games that command the attention of fans and analysts around the country and leave open a lot of discussions. If you have Notre Dame and Alabama playing each other in the BCS Championship Game, you have thousands of angles to discuss. 

But what about those lesser games that don't necessarily command as much attention? Should we completely ignore those matchups just because they don't have the target appeal of a huge game?

Here are the lesser matchups in bowl games that fans should go out of their way to pay close attention to.

Note: Projections are based on ESPN BCS analyst Brad Edwards' latest projections


Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Oregon State

When you have two teams capable of airing it out the way the Cowboys and Beavers can, there really is not much of an explanation necessary, right?

If you want one, let me tell you that the Cowboys also boast the No. 3 scoring offense in college football at nearly 46 points per game. They average nearly 548 yards of total offense per game. 

The Beavers aren't nearly as prolific at finding the end zone as Oklahoma State, scoring only 29 points per game. But the quarterback duo of Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz combined to throw over 3,300 yards and 21 touchdowns. 

Oregon State has a much better defense than Oklahoma State, though it also gave up 75 points in two games against Stanford and Oregon. The fireworks will fly as soon as this game kicks off. 


Holiday Bowl: West Virginia vs. UCLA

If there is going to be a common pattern in these games, it is that the desire for offense is something that trumps everything else. Defensive battles can be exciting to watch, but we are a society that needs fireworks to keep our attention. 

West Virginia and UCLA could be this year's version of Baylor-Washington from last year, which featured 123 points and 1,397 yards of total offense. 

West Virginia's first season in the Big 12 did not go according to plan. It started out great, with five straight wins and a Heisman campaign for Geno Smith. Then, the bottom dropped out thanks to a defense that couldn't stop me and a group of 10 people off the street. 

UCLA has had its own problems with consistency on defense, giving up at least 30 points five times this season. The Bruins have scored more than 30 points in eight games, so they don't need a great defense to win games. 

You want to watch teams who are going to give you a lot to talk about the next day. A game between two defensively challenged teams, not to mention a quarterback like Geno Smith, makes it worth the price of admission. 


Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: TCU vs. Michigan State

OK, to prove that I am not a completely offensive-minded person I wanted to single out a game between two stellar defenses. 

TCU and Michigan State both had disappointing seasons, thanks in large part to offenses that couldn't get the job done against superior competition. TCU did have a few shining moments, like the 49-point outburst against Baylor, or 39 points against West Virginia. 

Unfortunately, when the Horned Frogs got behind early, they were incapable of getting back in the game and put more pressure on the defense. 

The Spartans faced a similar problem, though they never really had a breakout game. In losing five of their last eight games, the Spartans failed to crack 20 points four times. They finished 109th in points scored this season. 

Fortunately, the Spartans had a great defense to fall back on and get them to six wins. They only allowed more than 20 points three times this season. 

If defense is your thing, root for TCU and Michigan State to cross paths when the bowl matchups are announced.