Among this year's slate of bowl games are the inevitable no-contest matchups—games between teams that were once national championship contenders and less-qualified teams that have automatic tie-ins to certain bowls—but then there are the big games worth watching.
And despite the controversy surrounding this year's chosen participants (though when isn't there controversy?), there are at least a few matchups that will doubtlessly present us with some football worth watching.
Here's a look at the BCS games you won't want to miss this bowl season. For a complete schedule of bowl games, click here.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Oregon vs. Kansas State
Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
One late-season loss to a lesser team, and that was a wrap on the national championship odds for both of these teams.
The Oregon Ducks and the Kansas State Wildcats were both excruciatingly close to national championship berths. They spent much of the season in the top five—and got as high as No. 2 (Oregon) and No. 1 (Kansas State)—but for the Ducks, a Nov. 17 overtime loss to Stanford robbed them of their chance to take over the No. 1 spot, and for the Wildcats, a blowout loss to Baylor jolted them back several pegs.
But in this Fiesta Bowl matchup, we have two extremely qualified teams who played remarkably well for the majority of the season, and we have two offenses that are capable of putting up some serious points. And although both of these teams lost late, they each closed out their regular seasons with decisive wins over ranked opponents, so don't think that they're going to play without intensity when they get back on the field in January.
AT&T Cotton Bowl
Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma
Jan. 4, 8 p.m. ET, FOX
For the first time, we'll get to see Mr. Heisman take the field ever since officially winning college football's most coveted award. And even though he couldn't lead the Aggies to the national championship, Johnny Manziel did a pretty good job with this team in its first season in the mighty SEC—for a freshman.
Oklahoma, meanwhile, had a couple of chances to assert itself as one of the top contenders in 2012 but failed on both counts. It got its first shot at a statement win on Sept. 22 but suffered a 24-19 loss to Kansas State.
A month later, facing undefeated Notre Dame at home, it melted down in the final five minutes of the game and ended up losing 30-13. But the Sooners weren't without big wins this season: They scored a ginormous 63-21 win over Texas in the Red River Rivalry, and they beat Oklahoma State in overtime in their penultimate game of the season.
And don't forget that A&M was the only team to beat Alabama this year. Both of these teams have great quarterbacks leading great offenses that are fun to watch.
Wisconsin vs. Stanford
Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. ET, ESPN
For the third consecutive year, Stanford will play in a BCS bowl—and this year, that's more meaningful than ever, considering how little was expected of this team in the wake of Andrew Luck's departure.
In a year when the only Pac-12 teams the pundits were interested in discussing were USC and Oregon, Stanford rose from some early-season adversity to somehow beat both of those teams en route to a Pac-12 title, taking down UCLA two weeks in a row in order to lay claim to it.
Quarterback Josh Nunes filled Luck's role pretty nicely, finishing the season with 1,643 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. Suddenly, the future is looking up for the Cardinal.
But the Cardinal's success in the regular season doesn't mean they're going to roll over Wisconsin in Pasadena. Granted, they certainly didn't get the toughest of opponents—the Badgers finished third in the Big Ten Leaders Division and were perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of Ohio State's postseason ban. And although the Badgers' 8-5 record objectively seems rather unimpressive, three of their losses came in overtime, and the other two came by just three points each.
This is a team that may seem unintimidating, but it doesn't go down easy, and it doesn't get blown out.
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