College Football's Most Overrated and Underrated Bowl Clashes of the Week

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2012

College Football's Most Overrated and Underrated Bowl Clashes of the Week

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    The holiday season is the time for food, family and college football. However, it is important to figure out which games to watch and which to avoid. 

    There are 35 bowl games this year, so it is unlikely that every one of them will be exciting to watch. If you only have time to watch a few, make sure to choose the right ones.

    Here is a little cheat sheet to help you decide which games to tune in to and what time slots will be better spent doing other things.

Underrated: Holiday Bowl

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    Teams: Baylor vs. No. 17 UCLA

    When: Dec. 27 at 9:45 p.m. ET


    There are a number of great non-BCS bowls this season, but the Holiday Bowl might be the best around.

    Baylor is much better than its 7-5 record implies. The Bears are led by quarterback Nick Florence, who is responsible for more total offense per game than anyone in the country. 

    Florence has helped his team score the fifth-most points per game and the squad has won four of the last five.

    On the other side, UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin should be in line for a huge day against the weak defense of Baylor. He recently rushed for 194 yards and two touchdowns against the solid Stanford defense in the Pac-12 Championship Game, so the Bears should be no match for the senior.

    This should be one of the highest-scoring games of the bowl season and it will be entertaining from beginning to end. 

Overrated: Alamo Bowl

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    Teams: No. 23 Texas vs. No. 13 Oregon State

    When: Dec. 29 at 6:45 p.m. ET


    There is a lot of hype surrounding this game due to the fact that both teams enter in the Top 25. However, these teams are not as good as advertised.

    In the two biggest games of the year for Texas, the Longhorns lost to Oklahoma by 42 points and to Kansas State, 42-24. They were inconsistent on offense and defense this year, allowing over 48 points in three straight games while also being held to only 13 points against TCU.

    On the other hand, Oregon State also showed it was a step below the top teams in the nation with an embarrassing home loss to rival Oregon. Still, the squad has plenty of balance and should take care of business with Cody Vaz starting at quarterback.

    The Beavers will likely win this game, but the level of play will be worse than what you would expect out of these high-profile teams.

Underrated: Military Bowl

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    Teams: No. 24 San Jose State vs. Bowling Green

    When: Dec. 27 at 3 p.m. ET


    When you think about the most exciting bowl games of the year, it is unlikely the matchup between San Jose State and Bowling Green ends up near the top of the list. Regardless of what you think you know, it should be.

    San Jose State won 10 games this season and did it against some top competition. Only a fourth-quarter field goal separated the Spartans from eventual Pac-12 champion Stanford. 

    Quarterback David Fales is also one of the top passers in the nation. Only Aaron Murray of Georgia and Alabama's AJ McCarron had better efficiency ratings than Fales' 170.9, but he had more passing yards than either of them.

    Of course, it will not be easy to continue this against Bowling Green, which has the No. 8 scoring defense in the country. 

    This battle between offense and defense will be a thrill to watch, even though these schools come from smaller conferences. 

Overrated: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

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    Teams: Michigan State vs. TCU

    When: Dec. 29 at 10:15 p.m. ET


    Over the past decade, Michigan State and TCU have been two of the most underrated programs in the nation. This year, however, neither team lived up to expectations. 

    The Horned Frogs had been rewarded with a couple of BCS games for their play in recent years, but the current squad is not as skilled as past versions. They were exposed in Big 12 play, as they were only able to finish with a 4-5 conference record, including four home losses.

    Similarly, Michigan State collapsed in conference play, winning only three of eight games in the Big Ten.

    The Spartans' offense has been simply embarrassing at times this year. Although Le'Veon Bell is a powerful running back that can rack up plenty of yards, he often needs over 30 carries to have a big day. 

    Both teams were ranked heading into the season. Unfortunately, we now know that neither squad is among the best in the country. 

    This game will not be as entertaining as it seems at first glance. 

Underrated: Pinstripe Bowl

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    Teams: West Virginia vs. Syracuse

    When: Dec. 29 at 3:15 p.m. ET


    Do you like watching fast-paced football with a lot of points on the scoreboard? If that is the case, the battle between West Virginia and Syracuse will not disappoint.

    This game will take place at Yankee Stadium, which creates a little more buzz and energy in this early bowl game. This is in addition to the rivalry aspect between two teams that used to face each other regularly in the Big East.

    On the field, this should be a thriller. Geno Smith leads one of the top offenses in the nation, as he can find speedy receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin all day long. 

    Of course, the Mountaineers struggle to defend anyone, only improving to No. 114 in scoring defense after the last week of the season. 

    Syracuse's Ryan Nassib should be able to throw for a ton of yards. The only question will be whether he can do enough to outscore his opponent.

    Anyone who enjoys college football should be ready to find out. 

Overrated: Armed Forces Bowl

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    Teams: Air Force vs. Rice

    When: Dec. 29 at 11:45 a.m. ET


    While there are not too many people hyping up this bowl game between Air Force and Rice, it will probably be even worse than your lowest expectations.

    Like the rest of the military teams, Air Force utilizes a heavy run game to try to move the football. However, that has not been too successful this season. A 6-6 record that includes a 20-point loss to 2-10 Army is simply embarrassing.

    Rice has also struggled, falling to three different teams with losing records on the year. The Owls needed to win their last four games to even earn bowl eligibility.

    It is nice that the FBS allows teams like these to reach the postseason. On the other hand, it does not mean you have to watch it.

    Sleep in and avoid this one as you wait for the better games to come around.