Bowl Games 2013: Predicting Top Non-BCS Showdowns of Postseason

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVDecember 8, 2013

Dec 7, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Missouri Tigers wide receiver Darius White (8) celebrates a touchdown during the second quarter of the 2013 SEC Championship game  against the Auburn Tigers at Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

There's no doubt that the BCS games will dominate the viewing slate for college football's biggest fans, but don't let that fool you—there's plenty of other exciting football to be watched.

Whether it's a team that fell just short of BCS glory or two evenly-matched foes from power conferences, there's no shortage of enticing matchups across the postseason that will beg to be watched. 

Often times, the most down-to-the-wire games of the bowl slate get looked over in anticipation for the national championship or another hyped BCS game. But don't let that happen to these potential matchups this year.

Here's a look at likely scenarios for some of the best non-BCS bowl games this season. 


Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Missouri

Dec 7, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback James Franklin (1) looks to throw chased by Auburn Tigers defensive end Carl Lawson (55) in the first quarter during the 2013 SEC Championship game at Georgia Dome.. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shire
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Capital One Bowl typically grabs two teams that could've very well been featured in a BCS game, and this year is no different.

Gary Pinkel's Missouri team came off a 5-7 season to make the SEC championship game and come within one game of threatening for a bid to the national title contest. Had the Tigers taken it up a notch in the fourth quarter and kept their lead over Auburn, we would be talking about Missouri in the BCS picture.

On the other hand, Wisconsin entered the final week of the regular season in a much more favorable position before falling to Penn State at home on Nov. 30. Before that, the Badgers had an outside shot at a BCS bid. But they'll be fortunate to get into this one, as Ohio State garnering an at-large BCS bid is the only reason why they'll be heading to Orlando.

The story of this game will be how Missouri's run defense recovers from giving up more than 500 ground yards to Auburn in the SEC title game. Before that, the Tigers featured one of the SEC's best rushing defenses, and Wisconsin will be coming in with the two-headed monster of James White and Melvin Gordon. 


AT&T Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. LSU

Dec 7, 2013; Stillwater, OK, USA;  Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback Clint Chelf (10) looks to pass the ball during the first quarter against the Oklahoma Sooners at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports
Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M had the inside track to this game before falling to LSU and Missouri late in the season. Now, it'll be LSU and Oklahoma State instead of a Big 12 reunion in the Cotton Bowl.

Yet another game that could've been seen in a BCS picture, this one has a little bit for everybody. LSU's once-struggling defense has pulled things together in the final stretches of the season. Just as well; both squads can light it up with potent offenses.

It'll be interesting to follow how the absence of Zach Mettenberger plays a part in this one. The senior quarterback, on the cusp of single-season records galore at LSU, tore his ACL in the regular season finale. Anthony Jennings replaced him against Arkansas and led his team to a comeback victory. 

If Jennings gets hot, he could prove to be a problem for an Oklahoma State defense that proved to be suspect against the Sooners on Saturday. Such a development wouldn't be too surprising, considering the Cowboys are likely deflated from coming so close to a conference title but falling just short. 


Russell Athletic Bowl: Miami vs. Louisville

Dec 5, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) walks off the field after defeating the Cincinnati Bearcats 31-24 at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

It's not often that a postseason matchup of this prestige takes place three days before New Year's Eve, but such is life for the No. 2 team in the AAC. 

After coming up short of the new conference's automatic BCS bid, Louisville and Teddy Bridgewater will have to take solace in an exciting bowl matchup by facing the Miami Hurricanes.

Despite staying ranked for the whole season, the Cardinals haven't looked impressive in recent weeks. Each of their last three wins were one-touchdown margins against Houston, Memphis and Cincinnati—not exactly top talent. 

Miami has faced a considerably tougher ACC schedule and has three straight losses in early November to show for it. Stephen Morris' passing attack may very well be the best offense Charlie Strong has faced all year. 

Louisville doesn't have conference title aspirations to play for, but there are plenty of people who are wondering whether the Cardinals could hold their own in a better conference. Here's a good chance to prove it.