Bowl Projections 2012: Best Matchups for Top Non-BCS Bowls

Jonathan IrwinContributor IINovember 26, 2012

Bowl Projections 2012: Best Matchups for Top Non-BCS Bowls

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    With the conference championship week upon us, BCS projections are starting to take shape. While everyone is talking about the major bowls, the non-BCS schedule could feature some of the most exciting matchups.

    From high-powered offenses to dominating defenses, the field of bowl-eligible teams is as diverse as they come.

    Here's a look at five of the most exciting non-BCS bowls.

    A note to remember: while the field is solidifying, these are still just projections and anything can happen.

Las Vegas Bowl

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    Projected matchup: Boise State vs. USC

    A win over Nevada this weekend would put Boise State as the at-large in the MWC. With the Pac-12 practically decided, USC will be their inevitable opponent in the Las Vegas Bowl.

    It hasn't been the most prolific season for the Broncos, with their only high-profile game a 13-17 loss to Michigan State.

    USC has been a disappointment on the season, but they're still one of the most storied programs in college football. This game gives Boise State a chance to once again prove they deserve to play with the big boys.

    Boise State's fourth ranked passing defense versus Matt Barkley and his high-powered receivers makes this one of the more exciting bowl games.

    Both teams will have plenty to prove, and should put on a great show.

Cotton Bowl

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    Projected matchup: Texas vs. Texas A&M

    With Kansas State and Oklahoma destined for BCS bowls, Texas gets the nod as the No. 2 in the Big 12. That would align them to face an SEC team in the Cotton Bowl. And who doesn't want to see this old time rivalry reborn?

    These two have been evenly matched over their last six meetings, with each team coming out 3-3. But the rivalry was put on hold with A&M's move to the SEC.

    Now it could be alive and well again. And like any great western saga, this one should end in a shootout.

    Could Johnny Football put a better cap on his freshman season than a bowl game win over Texas?

    And what better way for the Longhorns to claw back into relevance than a big win over a highly ranked SEC opponent?

    Hands downs, this is going to be a fantastic game.

Capital One Bowl

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    Project matchup: Michigan vs. Georgia

    While Georgia could still shock the BCS world with a win over Alabama in the SEC championship—sealing their National Championship fate—it just doesn't seem probable.

    And with Florida's BCS bowl fate practically sealed, that would land the Bulldogs as the No. 2 SEC team, set to face the Big 10 No. 2 in the Capital One Bowl. That would be Michigan.

    The Wolverines were embarrassed in their last SEC matchup, a 14-41 beatdown at the hands of 'Bama to open the season. Denard Robinson will attempt to leave a more positive mark on his Michigan career with a final bowl win.

    Georgia will look to do some damage to that tough Wolverine defense with their own power offense.

    Should be a hard-fought battle, with both teams featuring tough defenses and high-powered running.

Alamo Bowl

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    Projected matchup: TCU vs. UCLA

    Coming off a 35-17 loss to Stanford, UCLA's fate is all but sealed with the same exact match coming up in this week's Pac-12 Championship Game.

    Though they're coming off an upset of Texas, TCU will have their hands full with Oklahoma in their final game of the season.

    With both teams predicted to lose in Week 14, they will fall into the Alamo Bowl—TCU as the No. 3 in the Big 12, and UCLA as the No. 2 in the Pac-12.

    This should be a great matchup, with UCLA's offense facing off with TCU's defense.

    Jonathan Franklin could cement himself as one of the best tailbacks in the FBS with a big game over the Horned Frogs.

    But after a disappointing first season in the Big 12, that might not be so easy. No doubt Gary Patterson will have his team at their best in order to try and cap off the season with that big final win.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

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    Projected matchup: Oklahoma State vs. Michigan State

    What happens when the speeding bullet hits the brick wall?

    With Oklahoma State inevitably destined to finish fourth in the Big 12, they're predicted to square off with Michigan State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

    The Cowboys continue to live off of high-powered offense, ranking fifth in the FBS in yards per game and averaging over 40 points a game.

    The Spartans aren't prolific on offense, but dominate on defense. They allow less than 300 yards of offense per game, and have yet to give up 30 or more points in a game.

    High-powered offense against hard-nosed defense always makes for a great matchup.