Week 14 is poised to give us everything we need to know heading up to BCS selection Sunday, as the conference championship games and remaining schedule have college football fans ready for an exciting finish to the 2012 season.
While the BCS matchups will dominate the airwaves and the minds of many fans leading up to the January 7 conclusion of the national championship game, bowl season is about pitting teams and conferences against each other that would not normally square off.
Conversely, it makes for a clash of styles and sometimes explosive output of gamesmanship that stretches far across the annals of the sport's history.
This year is no exception. While getting ready for the chips and dip you prepare and pizza you order on Jan. 7, make sure you stock up on enough food for the rest of these bowl matchups—they have a chance to be just as exciting as the rest of the BCS field.
Pinstripe Bowl—Dec. 29, New York, NY
Prediction: Baylor/West Virginia vs. Syracuse
The Bears and the Mountaineers are both 3-5 in conference play, but West Virginia has the tiebreaker heading into this week's matchup with the Kansas Jayhawks.
Assuming things stay the same, West Virginia will get the task of taking on Syracuse. Either way, this would be a matchup that pits two of the most explosive offenses in the country against one another. QB Ryan Nassib leads a passing attack that averages over 300 yards per game, and an offense that's scored more than 30 points in five of its last six games.
West Virginia has QB Geno Smith—always a threat and likely the No. 1 overall selection in the 2012 NFL draft—while Baylor has QB Nick Florence and WR Terrance Williams, one of the nation's best QB-to-WR combinations in 2012.
This is a game that could get up into the 50- and 60-point range, regardless of which representative the Big 12 sends up North.
Chick-Fil-A Bowl—Dec. 31, Atlanta, Ga.
Prediction: Clemson vs. Georgia/LSU
As Brad Edwards of ESPN reports, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl will be a hotbed for talent and a big hook in the recruiting game for the two schools involved. It seems all but certain that Clemson is headed here after finishing near the top of the ACC.
Chick-fil-A Bowl will almost certainly have two top-15 teams. Should be Clemson vs. an SEC team with 10 or 11 wins.— Brad Edwards (@JBradEdwards) November 26, 2012
Georgia has a chance to be here if they lose to Alabama. LSU also has to let the chips fall where they may, even though the Tigers are a Top 7 team yet again.
Either way, the SEC school that gets the bid can yet again prove the conference is flooded with talent and so far ahead of the rest of the world in terms of depth by smoking a Clemson squad that is led by QB Tajh Boyd.
Clemson can put up points in bunches and would be a tough challenge—even for these two SEC defensive gurus. Keep an eye on which team Dabo Swinney's group will have to prepare for on New Year's Eve.
Capital One Bowl—Jan. 1, Orlando, Fla.
Prediction: Michigan vs. Texas A&M
Johnny Football versus Devin Garnder. Heisman trophy winner (maybe?) against the man who helped make Denard Robinson irrelevant as a QB during was supposed to be his swan song as a four-year starter.
The Aggies are apparently out of the Cotton Bowl mix, as Sports Illustrated's Stuart Mandel reported earlier this week.
I will be posting revised Bowl Projections later today. Main change: No Texas-Texas A&M Cotton Bowl. Not happening.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 30, 2012
It's a blesing in disguise for the Capital One Bowl, which would immediately pounce on the opportunity to add the Aggies and a Heisman candidate. Not many athletes are as hot as Johnny Manziel is right now, and this bowl could take advantage of that.
Not only that, but the lack of speed in the Big Ten would face a true test against one of the nation's fastest offenses. Would this game validate the claims that the Big Ten is a step underneath the speedy conferences like the Big 12, SEC and Pac-12? Only the outcome would help us find out.
These might not be the most popular of bowls, but they're ones you want to tune into.
Honestly, who would pass up a chance to see Johnny Football play these days?
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team. Follow @DowntownEG