Bowl Predictions 2012: Projecting Most Exciting Non-BCS Matchups

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIDecember 9, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 10:  Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates after a touchdown during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

This holiday season, the spotlight is going to be on the BCS bowl matchups. But, don't let that deter you from checking out some of the other exciting bowl games on the slate.

Some of the BCS matchups leave a little to be desired, but there are some incredibly appealing games to make up for it.

Take a look at three bowl games that are sure to grab your attention, keep it and then deliver with some of the best football of the season.


Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Nevada (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5)

If you want excitement you’ll tune into the early bowl matchup between Nevada and Arizona. Dec. 15 is the date for the defensively challenged Wolf Pack and Wildcats.

While both teams struggle to play any type of defense, each surrendering over 32 points per game, their offenses have picked up the slack as a necessity. Arizona is scoring 37.3 points per game and the Wolf Pack is close behind with 37 per game.

The biggest draw in this one will be the Wildcats’ spread offense led by Rich Rodriguez. In his system, running back Ka’Deem Carey led the nation with 1,757 rushing yards this season. Nevada had its own elite runner, too. Stefphon Jefferson run for 1,703 yards and 22 touchdowns for the Wolf Pack.


Chick-fil-A Bowl: No. 8 LSU (10-2) vs. No. 14 Clemson (10-2)

Both versions of the Tigers missed out on BCS bowls thanks to the automatic bids of schools like Wisconsin, Northern Illinois and Louisville. The system is flawed, sure, but we get an incredible matchup on New Year’s Eve as a consolation prize.

LSU prides itself on stingy, tenacious defense while Clemson is built to put up points rapidly. And both of these teams execute their respective fortes to perfection.

Clemson has been either hot or cold this season. When it wins, it wins big. When it loses, it’s not very close, either. Its lone two losses came at the hands of ACC Champion Florida State and No. 12-ranked South Carolina.

The Gamecocks were narrowly edged out by LSU by a 23-21 final score on Oct. 13.

For the LSU Tigers, this season has been filled with close calls. When a team is as good defensively as they are that’s bound to be the case.


AT&T Cotton Bowl: No. 9 Texas A&M (10-2) vs. No. 11 Oklahoma (10-2)

The ninth-ranked Aggies will take on former conference rival Oklahoma in Arlington in the annual Cotton Bowl.

This year’s edition of the game will feature Heisman Trophy winner and freshman QB Johnny Manziel against NFL-hopeful QB Landry Jones. Both passers have put up serious yards this season through the air.

The biggest draw of this game isn’t just the passers, though. It’s both offenses as a whole. Oklahoma is 12th in the nation in points per game, averaging 40.3 per contest. Manziel’s Aggies are a little better off, coming in at third in the country with 44.8 points per game.

If you’re looking for a game with high-flying offense and back-and-forth scoring, this is the bowl matchup for you.