Bowl Schedule 2012-13: Underrated Games That Will Be Wildly Entertaining
Focus on the BCS bowl games all you want, but you'll be doing yourself a disservice.
Plenty of outstanding bowl games of the non-BCS variety litter the college football landscape over the next few weeks. Some feature big-time teams, others mid-majors that you've paid little or no attention to all season long.
But good football is good football—and for those who enjoy the game and could care less about having a rooting interest, I suggest making it a point to watch these three games coming to a television near you.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Dec. 22, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
East Carolina (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
The Rajun' Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette can attest to how exciting this game can be after they mounted a comeback win in last year's contest against San Diego State.
But that was then, and this is now, and the East Carolina Pirates, who nearly won Conference USA this year.
Each team averages more than 250 passing yards per game, which will make this a high-scoring affair, considering that neither team has a pass defense that, frankly, is any good.
East Carolina ranks 108th against the pass, while Louisiana-Lafayette comes in at 114th, according to cfbstats.com.
Big games from both starting quarterbacks, the Pirates' Shane Carden and the Cajuns' Vintavious Cooper, will have the Superdome crowd on the edge of its seats all afternoon, and it wouldn't be surprising to see this one come down to which team has the ball last.
Chick Fil-A Bowl: Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
No. 8 LSU (10-2) vs. No. 14 Clemson (10-2)
LSU's defense is formidable against both the pass and the run, while Clemson's offense puts up more than 500 yards of offense per game and has the sixth-highest scoring average in the country.
Clemson's offensive line will have its hands full trying to keep Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery out of its backfield, while LSU will need to make sure that it contains Clemson's dual-threat QB, Tajh Boyd, who can cause problems with his arm and legs.
Some may scoff at the notion of an ACC team hanging with one of the big boys from the SEC, but Clemson has the ability to win this game, which will be closer than people think.
Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl: Jan. 1, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Mississippi State (8-4) vs. No. 20 Northwestern (9-3)
Mississippi State started the season 7-0 and looked like it might be ready to give LSU and Alabama a run in the SEC West, but the Bulldogs dropped four of their final five games and limp into the Gator Bowl to face a Northwestern squad that already has one win against the SEC this year, beating Vanderbilt earlier this season.
Neither team turns the ball over—Mississippi State ranks fifth in turnover margin while Northwestern comes in at 10th—so this one will come down to which team makes the fewest mistakes.
How the Bulldogs handle Northwestern's Kain Colter, who has lined up under center, in the backfield and split out wide this season, will be one of the more interesting aspects of any bowl game this season.
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