Excitement and intrigue are the driving factors for ratings with college football bowl games. You need the right teams in the game, sure, but a matchup that is sure to have fireworks in one way or the other will make it a must-see game.
One of the great things about the potential bowl matchups on the docket for this year is the way the teams seem to match up so well with each other. For instance, a potential Notre Dame-Alabama BCS Championship Game features two teams with outstanding defenses and decent offenses.
You want to see two teams that mirror each other, so when the action begins, you know exactly what kind of game you are in store for.
As things stand right now, here are the best bets for the most exciting bowl games of this year.
Bowl projections based on ESPN projections, as well as potential outcomes of Conference Championship Games.
BCS Championship Game: Alabama vs. Notre Dame
*This scenario assumes Alabama beats Georgia in the SEC Championship Game
Doesn't it just feel like Notre Dame and Alabama, the top two scoring defenses in the country, are on a crash course to meet in the biggest game of the 2012 season?
While some might hate the idea of this matchup, since it could be seen as a carbon copy of last year's dreadful Alabama-LSU game, don't underestimate how good Notre Dame's offense is, at least compared to last year's LSU team.
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has evolved into one of the better dual-threat players in the country. We saw Alabama have problems earlier this season with Johnny Manziel, another dual-threat quarterback.
Offense is what sells tickets, but defense wins championships, or so they say. These are the two best and most dominant defenses in college football, with underrated offenses that can move the ball up and down the field in the right scenario.
Plus, don't forget the rich tradition of Notre Dame and Alabama. We all want to know who the best team in the country is. This matchup will provide us with our answer.
Capital One Bowl: Michigan vs. Texas A&M
Take the best running quarterback in college football right now, put him against the best dual-threat quarterback and presumptive Heisman Trophy winner in a bowl game, and you have all the makings of a classic showdown.
Michigan's Denard Robinson never progressed after the 2010 season, when he completed 62.5 percent of his passes and had 4,272 yards of total offense. His passing game has fallen off a cliff, but he is still great running around out of the pocket.
Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel has taken the college football world by storm in his freshman season. He had 4,610 yards of total offense and 43 touchdowns for the 10-2 Aggies.
Even though both quarterbacks will be the focus, these defenses don't get enough credit for their efforts this season. Texas A&M finished 30th in points allowed, while Michigan was 20th.
Getting the opportunity to see these two quarterbacks, one just starting his college career, the other trying to go out on a high note, duke it out against each other is great theater.
Watching Manziel and Robinson try to break through the defensive walls Michigan and Texas A&M put up will be must-see TV.
Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. UCLA
*This scenario assumes UCLA loses to Stanford in the Pac-12 Title Game
Ladies and gentlemen, leave your defense at the door, because you are going to get an offensive display the likes of which we rarely see when Oklahoma State and UCLA hook up.
I would say you'll never see it, but we saw Baylor and Washington put up 123 points and nearly 1,400 yards of offense.
Under Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State just keeps putting up video-game numbers on the offensive side of the ball. The Cowboys finished third in the FBS with 45.6 points per game. They topped 50 points four times and have not scored less than 30 since October 13.
UCLA doesn't move up and down the field as fast as Oklahoma State, but the Bruins have put up a lot of points against soft Pac-12 defenses. They finished 25th in the nation in points scored, led by the dominating performance of star running back Johnathan Franklin and freshman quarterback Brett Hundley.
On the defensive side of the ball, neither team is going to give you a lot to pay attention to. UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr did finish tied for sixth in the nation in 12 sacks, but that is about the best you are going to get.
And that's okay. This is not a game that will require a lot of thought or analysis. Take two teams who can score a lot and let them go.
UCLA's 55th-ranked scoring defense and Oklahoma State's 67th will be there just because the rules require them to.
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