Bowl Games 2013: Matchups That Will Produce Instant Classics

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIDecember 9, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 07:  Darien Harris #45 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates after Michigan State beat Ohio State Buckeyes 34-24  in the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With 35 bowl games and 70 teams playing in them, there are bound to be a few matchups that will produce instant classics during the holiday season.

Everyone is preparing for the BCS National Championship between the Florida State Seminoles and Auburn Tigers, but based off of what we've seen from both teams, it's unlikely that the game will be an all-time great.  

However, there is at least one BCS bowl and a couple of other top-tier bowl games that will be remembered for quite some time.  Below is a look at a few of those matchups, breaking down both teams and what could make these games so great.


Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina

At first glance, this may not seem like the most exciting game in the world.  It seems like one of the biggest storylines over the past few weeks has been how much better the SEC is than the Big Ten.

However, with how these two teams play, this could be an awesome one to watch.

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 02:  Jadeveon Clowney #7 of the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 2, 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Wisconsin Badgers are a team that loves to run the ball as often as possible and it usually works.  As a team, they average 283 rushing yards per game, which is the eighth-most in the country, while averaging 6.6 yards per carry.  James White and Melvin Gordon make up a big portion of that, as they've combined for 2,803 yards and 25 touchdowns this season.

That efficient running game will be going up against Jadeveon Clowney and the South Carolina Gamecocks, who allow just 20 points and 142.3 rushing yards per game.

But the Gamecocks have a strong running game of their own, averaging 205.3 rushing yards per game thanks to Mike Davis and Connor Shaw.  Meanwhile, the Badgers have held their opponents to just 3.2 yards per carry and 101.8 rush yards per game.

These two running games will be going against some strong defenses, and with the two sides going back and forth, this could really make for one entertaining matchup with a lot of future NFL players.


AT&T Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Missouri

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 07:  Dorial Green-Beckham #15 of the Missouri Tigers celebrates his second quarter touchdown against the Auburn Tigers during the SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 7, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Both of these teams had a chance to take their respective conference titles this past week, but neither the Oklahoma State Cowboys nor the Missouri Tigers were able to do so, falling to Oklahoma and Auburn.

The Cowboys have gone 10-2 this season and their biggest win by far came in dominating fashion, taking down the Baylor Bears 49-17.  Clint Chelf has been very hot lately, putting up 12 total touchdowns and just two interceptions over the past four games.

Oct 26, 2013; Ames, IA, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys cornerback Justin Gilbert (4) looks on during the first quarter against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. Oklahoma State defeated Iowa State 58-27. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TOD
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

The defense is where the Cowboys excel.  They're giving up just 20 points per game and holding opposing quarterbacks to a completion percentage of just 54.9 percent.  Players like Caleb Lavey, Shaun Lewis and Justin Gilbert continue to change the tide of the game, as they've combined for 19.5 tackles for loss and 13 interceptions.

It will be very interesting to see how Gilbert and Kevin Peterson match up up against these tall wide receivers for the Missouri Tigers.  L'Damian Washington and Dorial Green-Beckham are 6'4'' and 6'6'', with the two combining for 102 receptions, 1,683 yards and 22 touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, Chelf will have to avoid the dangerous pass rush of the Tigers.  Michael Sam, Kony Ealy and Markus Golden have combined for 22 sacks this year, and they could give Chelf problems throughout the entire game.

These teams match up well against each other, and with each team's strengths countering each other's, this could make for a tightly contested game.


Rose Bowl Game: Stanford vs. Michigan State

Of all of the BCS bowl games, this one has the potential to be the most exciting.

Both teams rely primarily on a strong running game and a quarterback that can manage the game when needed.  The Michigan State Spartans use Jeremy Langford as their primary running back, as he's carried the ball 269 times for 1,338 yards and 17 touchdowns.  Meanwhile, the Stanford Cardinal use Tyler Gaffney, who has 306 carries, 1,618 yards and 20 scores.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 16:  Running back Tyler Gaffney #25 of the Stanford Cardinal carries the ball against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Coliseum on November 16, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The numbers for the quarterbacks are quite similar as well.  Connor Cook and Kevin Hogan have both passed for over 2,400 yards along with 20 touchdowns, while the Spartans' QB has four fewer interceptions but has completed three percent fewer of his passes.

The comparisons don't stop there.  Both teams have top-tier defenses as well.  The Spartans are holding their opponents to just 12.7 points per game, and only two of their last seven opponents have scored more than six points.  For the Cardinal, they've allowed just 18.6 per game, with top-tier players like Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov leading the way.

Overall, these teams are nearly identical in almost every way.  It's hard to not see this game going down to the wire, and a matchup like this will bring everyone back to an old school type of football with stingy defenses and offenses focused on running it up the gut.