Bowl Projections 2013: Potential Non-BCS Games You Won't Want to Miss

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2013

COLLEGE STATION, TX - SEPTEMBER 14:  Johnny Manziel #2 of Texas A&M Aggies drops back to pass during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Kyle Field on September 14, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Everyone wants to know which teams will be in the BCS bowl games, but there are some "lesser" bowls with potential matchups too good to pass up. 

Last year, South Carolina and Michigan put on a show at the Outback Bowl, Clemson and LSU played a thrilling game at the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Boise State took down Washington in a tight one early in the proceedings at the Las Vegas Bowl.

There were plenty of other great non-BCS bowl games that proved to be well worth the viewing, and there are some compelling matchups on the slate for this year's holiday season as well. 

 

Cotton Bowl: Baylor vs. LSU

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 29:  Quarterback Zach Mettenberger #8 of the LSU Tigers throws a a pass against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Tiger Stadium on November 29, 2013 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

LSU is traditionally known for its stifling defense and conservative offensive approach, but the 2013 Tigers haven't followed that mold. 

Featuring a formidable passing attack, led by quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who should be healed up from his strained MCL by the time bowl season rolls around, LSU is more offensive-minded this year.

If by some chance he's not able to play, then LSU fans will be pleased to see what freshman Anthony Jennings can do for an entire game after his late-game heroics against Arkansas in Week 14. 

The team's defense hasn't been shutting teams down, as we saw when the Razorbacks nearly won, scoring 27 points. Going up against Baylor, this means a Mettenberger versus Bryce Petty duel would almost be a certainty. 

Petty and the Baylor offense have been ripping mediocre defenses to shreds all year long, leading the nation by averaging 55.4 points per game. Running back Lache Seastrunk is finally healthy again, and he makes the Bears hard to beat. 

Predicted Score: Baylor wins 45-38.

 

Chick-fil-A Bowl: Duke vs. Texas A&M

Duke is a team not many casual fans have seen this year, but the Blue Devils are worth the price of admission. This is something everyone will see firsthand in Week 15, when Duke takes on No. 1-ranked Florida State in the ACC Championship Game.

Junior quarterback Anthony Boone struggled during the middle of the season, but he's been coming on strong for the Blue Devils the past couple of games, passing for 530 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. 

He'll have to keep up with the biggest gunslinger of them all, though, should Duke take on Texas A&M. Johnny Manziel isn't going to win his second Heisman Trophy in a row this year, and his Aggies have been miserably mediocre, but he's still the most exciting player in college football. 

Nov 23, 2013; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils Justin Foxx (92) reacts after Duke recovered a fumble in the second half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, including Wake Forest Demon Deacons Frank Souza (75) at BB&T Field. Duke won 28-21. Mand
Ellen Ozier-USA TODAY Sports

Of the two teams, Duke features the better defense, but the Blue Devils haven't faced an offensive attack to rival that of Texas A&M. Likely, the contest would turn into a shootout, and there's nothing more exciting than watching Manziel duel. 

Unfortunately for Aggies fans, the duel won't end well.

Projected Score: Duke wins 42-41.

 

Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State vs. USC

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 29: Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Fresno State Bulldogs points out the San Jose State Spartans defense in the second quarter on November 29, 2013 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Fresno State couldn't keep its undefeated season alive, losing a high-scoring contest against San Jose State in Week 14. David Fales outplayed Derek Carr by just enough, leading the Spartans over the Bulldogs, 62-52.

USC lost four games this year, but the Trojans really turned things around under interim head coach Ed Orgeron after Lane Kiffin was fired. Before losing a tough one to UCLA in Week 14, Orgeron had led his team to five straight wins—including a shocker over Stanford.

Though not as highly touted as the top squads in the nation, both of these teams have played outstanding football heading down the final stretch of the season.

USC's defense would give Fresno State's high-powered offense a stiff challenge. Allowing just 21.3 points per game this year, the Trojans are fast up front and know how to get after the quarterback (35 sacks; No. 9 in the nation). 

Projected Score: USC wins 35-31.

 

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