College Football Bowl Picks 2012: Underdogs That Will Score Upsets

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2012

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 8: Joe Bergeron #24 of the Texas Longhorns scores a touchdown against the University of New Mexico Lobos on September 8, 2012 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Bowl season wouldn't be the same without upsets. They bring some excitement to the college football landscape while fans are waiting for the National Championship Game, which will feature a meeting of giants as Notre Dame takes on Alabama.

Before the big day arrives, however, there are plenty of other bowl games to watch during the holidays. Picking out which underdogs are going to pull off an upset during the 33 remaining hyped matchups is the tough part.

That's also what makes bowl games fun. Let's take a look at three teams that should be able to defy the odds and finish their season on a winning note.


Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Rutgers lost its final two games of the regular season, so it's no surprise the oddsmakers are down on the Scarlet Knights as they prepare to face Virginia Tech. Having almost an entire month off between games should help them regroup, though.

The Scarlet Knights own the country's fourth-ranked scoring defense at just over 14 points per game. The standout unit, which is led by senior linebacker Khaseem Greene, should be able to shut down the Hokies' 80th-ranked offense.

On offense, Rutgers relies on a balanced approached that should be able to move the ball against a lackluster Virginia Tech defense. One player to keep an eye on is wide receiver Brandon Coleman, whose big-play ability could break the game open.


Texas Longhorns

The biggest problem for Texas during the regular season was inconsistency. There were moments, most notably during the upset win over Texas Tech, when it looked like the Longhorns were turning the corner. They just couldn't sustain it.

Again, it's an example of where having a month off should help. It gives the coaching staff a chance to fix the mental errors that are too tough to correct during a normal week. That gives Texas a realistic shot of taking down Oregon State.

The Beavers started the season with a couple impressive wins over Wisconsin and UCLA, but have failed to make an impact late. Their most notable win since that point came against an average Arizona State squad. Texas will ride Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray to victory.


Pittsburgh Panthers

Pittsburgh is an interesting team. The Panthers started the season with a shocking loss to Youngstown State from the FCS. However, later in the season, they took Notre Dame to triple overtime and knocked off Rutgers.

So when they face Ole Miss in early January, a lot will depend on what version of the Panthers shows up. What gives them the edge is the strong play of senior quarterback Tino Sunseri, who threw just two interceptions all season and none since mid-September.

Pittsburgh doesn't have a high-powered offense, but it's an efficient unit when Sunseri is playing well. Devin Street and Mike Shanahan give him two reliable targets, and Ray Graham brings balance to the offense. That should be enough to push the Panthers to an upset of the Rebels.