Bowl Projections 2013: Highlighting Best Potential Non-BCS Games

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2013

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 29:  Quarterback Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks throws a pass against the Oregon State Beavers during the 117th playing of the Civil War on November 29, 2013 at the Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Conference Championship week means plenty of buzz surrounding the BCS bowls. But let's face it, even when the champions of the ACC, Pac-12, Big Ten and SEC have been crowned, we still have to wait almost an entire month before the final BCS National Championship Game gets played.

But you know what makes that long wait a whole lot easier?

More bowl games. Copious, glorious amounts of bowl games. 

Some may complain about the ever-expanding number of "meaningless" games played in college football's postseason. But electing to skip some of these games would be a poor decision. Here's a look at some of the some of the top potential matchups outside of the BCS based on intrigue and entertainment value. 

Note: Potential bowl matchups based on projections from Jerry Palm of CBS Sports. 


Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: No. 23 Fresno State (10-1) vs. USC (9-4)

Date: Dec. 21

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

If Mr. Palm's projections hold up fans will be treated to a barn burner right out of the gate as Fresno State meets USC in the Las Vegas Bowl. 

Both teams may be a little disappointed to be in Vegas. Fresno State had a BCS buster resume before losing a shootout against San Jose State to drop to 10-1 on the season. USC might be disappointed because, well, USC isn't a program that considers a Las Vegas Bowl berth to be an accomplishment. 

The fans won't be disappointed, though. This game will offer the nation a chance to watch potential first round NFL draft pick Derek Carr operate the Fresno State offense against a USC defense that sits at No. 5 in terms of Football Outsider's FEI ratings

After a mediocre 4-3 start the Trojans have rallied to win six of their last seven contest. Watching one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation face one of the hottest teams in the nation is definitely a great way to spend a Saturday evening. 


Valero Alamo Bowl: No. 12 Oregon (10-2) vs. No. 17 Oklahoma (9-2)

Date: Dec. 30

The way the BCS picture is shaking out, either Baylor or Oregon is going to wind up left out of the BCS. For fans, that means the opportunity to see one of the country's most explosive offenses a little earlier. The Ducks are fifth in the country in scoring at 46.8 points per game. 

Oregon fell short of its national championship expectations thanks to a loss to Stanford and then a head-scratching blowout loss to Arizona. A loss in a non-BCS game would be the ultimate disappointment to Mark Helfrich's first year as the head coach so his ability to motivate will be tested. 

For Oklahoma, this matchup would offer a shot at some vindication. Bob Stoops and Co. were handed a thorough 41-13 beating at the hands of Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies in last year's Cotton Bowl. 

After both teams fell short of lofty expectations this season, both should be fighting hard to end the season on a positive note. That makes for a great bowl game and an excellent pre-cursor to the BCS games in January. 


Capital One Bowl: No. 21 Wisconsin (9-3) vs. No. 5 Missouri (11-1)

Date: Jan. 1

ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 12:  Dorial Green-Beckham #15 of the Missouri Tigers pulls in this reception against Shaq Wiggins #6 and Quincy Mauger #20 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on October 12, 2013 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Gett
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Obviously there's a very strong possibility this matchup doesn't come to fruition. Missouri has a strong chance to win the SEC Championship Game. But these projections are counting on Auburn continuing their hot streak and the Orange Bowl choosing to go with Alabama over Missouri. 

That leaves fans with an exciting Big Ten-SEC matchup on a day that figures to feature three of them. 

Chances are if you are an SEC fan you don't take the Big Ten serious. If you're a Big Ten fan, you hate the SEC and everything about it. This is a matchup that plays very well to the Big Ten crowd as Wisconsin may be the most underrated team in the country. 

The Badgers are No. 9 in Football Outsider's F/+ ratings and two of their losses have come to Ohio State (No. 5 in F/+) by seven points and Arizona State (No. 4 in F/+). The loss against the Sun Devils came by just two points and featured one of the most bizarre finishes in recent memory. 

Missouri has been one of the best turnaround stories in the country. After going just 5-7 in its first year in the SEC, Gary Pinkel has his squad competing for an SEC title with its only loss coming in double overtime to South Carolina.