New Year's Day is perhaps the biggest day in college football, but there are some intriguing bowl games on tap before we reach 2013.
Here are the three most exciting matchups remaining in 2012.
Russell Athletic Bowl - Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech
This game will serve as proving grounds for both sides.
The Scarlet Knights didn't play a ranked team all year. Thus, they were never given much respect—even when they began the season 7-0.
There is no doubt the defense is a solid group. They have allowed only 14.3 points per game to opponents. The Hokies won't supply ranked competition, but this is still a bowl game, and the Scarlet Knights have something to prove.
They finished the regular season with losses to Pittsburgh and Louisville. They don't want to end their season on a three-game losing streak.
Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas was expected to make strides this season, but instead he seemed to regress. He's thrown fewer touchdowns, more interceptions and completed a lower percentage of his passes in one less attempt from 2012.
He is almost certainly coming back for his senior season, but it'll be interesting to see if he can finish the season strong against a tough defense.
Valero Alamo Bowl - No. 23 Texas vs. No. 13 Oregon State
We can only hope the game is as exciting as this NCAA Football 13 simulation.
The Longhorns pulled out an exciting win there, but the simulation was done before Cody Vaz was named the starter for the Beavers. No matter who starts under center, he will likely need to be prepared to put a healthy amount of points on the board.
The Beavers defense has been good this season allowing only 19.8 points per game, but this Longhorns offense is pretty powerful.
It starts with their running game.
They have rushed for 2112 yards and 31 touchdowns this season. Jonathan Gray and Joe Bergeron are a perfect speed and power combination.
The Beavers have defeated teams with solid rushing attacks this season. They held Wisconsin's Montee Ball to just 61 yards and defeated Arizona despite Ka'Deem Carey's 115 yards and two touchdowns.
Still, Gray and Bergeron present a different dynamic as a duo.
Texas QB David Ash has been called inconsistent this season, (Dallas News) but if the Longhorns can get the running game going early, it'll make this an easier game.
The question is: Can the Beavers score enough points to keep pace? That remains to be seen, but this should be a great game between teams with contrasting styles.
Chick-fil-A Bowl - No. 8 LSU vs. No. 14 Clemson
Do the Clemson Tigers deserve to be considered a top-10 team in the nation? Once this game is over we'll know for sure.
No one can doubt the potency of Clemson's offense. They are averaging 42.3 points per game this season. LSU represents their most difficult assignment of the year, though.
Will the mighty offense be as explosive against one of the nation's top defenses?
Tajh Boyd has had a solid year, but he's had some rough patches. In the regular season finale against South Carolina, Boyd completed just 11-of-24 passes and Clemson lost the game 27-17.
This was their second loss of the season, both coming against the only ranked opponents on the schedule.
LSU has two losses as well, but the level of competition was a bit higher. They have fallen to No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida, and the two games were decided by a total of eight points.
Even though they came up short against Alabama, QB Zach Mettenberger may have found himself in that game. He threw for 298 yards and a score.
Since then he hasn't thrown for less than 217 yards and that aerial dimension will allow LSU to take advantage of a Clemson pass defense that ranked 77th in the nation. This could be a spectacular game or an LSU rout.
The talent level on the field in this game will be the equivalent of a BCS matchup. Even if LSU runs away with the game, fans can get a glimpse of several NFL prospects in the process.
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