Bowl Predictions 2012: Games Guaranteed to Be Exciting Nail-Biters

Ethan GrantAnalyst IDecember 2, 2012

WACO, TX - DECEMBER 1:  Nick Florence #11 of the Baylor University Bears throws a pass against the Oklahoma State University Cowboys on December 1, 2012 at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The field is set for the 35-team bowl season that college football fans wait for with extreme anticipation during the fall and winter months.

Among those 70 teams, we always get teams that appear overmatched by their personnel and teams that seem to match up perfectly with each other. That's the case this year, as there are already some games that are guaranteed to come down to a final field goal, turnover or maybe even go into overtime.

BCS bowl games are the ones that will get the most hype, and deservedly so. But it's the under-the-radar games that have us poised to see the best matchups of the bowl season.

Here's a look at some games that are going to head to the wire. For a complete look at the bowl schedule, click here.



Holiday Bowl—No. 17 UCLA vs. Baylor

One of the nation's best offenses against a quality defense quite spurned after a Pac-12 Championship Game loss? Count me in.

Not only is QB Nick Florence and the Bears on a three-game winning streak, they also have one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. Personally, Florence's numbers are on pace to beat Robert Griffin III's, yet Baylor has suffered some hard luck losses with its defense not playing well early on.

UCLA has to be frustrated after losing to Stanford again, especially with chances to win down the stretch. Jonathan Franklin is an absolute stud, and has a chance to skyrocket his draft status with a good game.

Freshman QB Brett Hundley and TE Joseph Fauria are also also players to watch in this one, as is Baylor WR Terrance Williams—another guy on first-round radar. This one could eclipse the 80- or 90-point mark and will give fans a big treat.



Chick-fil-A Bowl—No. 14 Clemson vs. No. 8 LSU

After being dropped all the way down to playing before New Year's Day, LSU has to feel a little bit sour after being snubbed in the Cotton Bowl in favor of Texas A&M—a team it beat earlier in the season.

With Heisman fringe candidate Tajh Boyd leading a potent Clemson attack against an LSU defense that will likely send five or  six guys to the NFL, which style of play will win out?

The way both teams are playing right now, this one has a real chance to be one of the biggest nail-biters of all time. LSU clearly won't be giving up 50+ points to a team capable of those numbers, but how Clemson's defense performs against Zach Mettenberger could be the story of the game.

Still, there's too much talent in this one not to see the game go down to the wire. Whoever has the ball last will likely have a chance to win it.



Cotton BowlNo. 9 Texas A&M vs. No. 11 Oklahoma

The Cotton Bowl is going to be a good one.

We all wanted the Texas—Texas A&M matchup we didn't get on Thanksgiving weekend, but with Heisman candidate Johnny Manziel in Dallas on a day he could potentially already have the trophy, there are plenty of storylines to go around.

Oklahoma will play ambassador for the entire Big 12. And by ambassador, they'll try to prove Texas A&M still has no case with the top teams in the league they left less than a year ago. Landry Jones and this offense have plenty of weapons, but can Oklahoma's defense do anything to stop Manziel?

I say yes, and both offenses take over this game in the second half. They have a legitimate shot to break the all-time record of 81 points set in 2009. A true test of SEC vs. Big 12 dominance, much more is on the line that just the trophy.

That being said, look for a barn burner. 



Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl—TCU vs. Michigan State

The Frogs burst on the scene when they won the Rose Bowl just two years ago, and have another chance to prove their style of football compares favorably to the rugged Big Ten.

No doubt Michigan State suffered after losing Kirk Cousins to the NFL, but it is a good football team with a running back—LeVeon Bell—once in the Heisman hunt after his opening week performance.

It'll be a good test for TCU after coming up just short against Oklahoma in Week 14, and a statement game for the underclassmen at Michigan State. Both teams have excellent ground games, and a similar mix of veteran and young talent. Coaches Gary Patterson and Mark Dantonio are in for a battle.



Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.