The regular season of college football is now over, but we'll end a memorable year with a flurry of bowl games that are certain to provide thrills and highlights in a big way. Understandably, most of the national attention is paid to the five BCS bowl games, but there are plenty of enticing matchups in the non-BCS bowls that should have you reaching for the remote.
For your reading (and future viewing) pleasure, here is a breakdown of four must-watch non-BCS bowl games.
Before we get to the analysis, take a gander at the bowl game schedule complete with all the TV information so you can circle the relevant dates on your calendar and prepare your excuses for missing classes/work.
|Gildan New Mexico||Washington St. vs. Colorado St.||Dec. 21||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Royal Purple Las Vegas||Fresno State vs. USC||Dec. 21||3:30 p.m.||ABC|
|Famous Idaho Potato||Buffalo vs. San Diego St.||Dec. 21||5:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|R+L Carriers New Orleans||Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette||Dec. 21||9 p.m.||ESPN|
|Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg||East Carolina vs. Ohio||Dec. 23||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sheraton Hawaii||Boise St. vs. Oregon St.||Dec. 24||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|Little Caesars Pizza||Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green||Dec. 26||6 p.m.||ESPN|
|S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia||Utah St. vs. Northern Illinois||Dec. 26||9:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman||Marshall vs. Maryland||Dec. 27||2:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Texas||Syracuse vs. Minnesota||Dec. 27||6 p.m.||ESPN|
|Fight Hunger||BYU vs. Washington||Dec. 27||9:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|New Era Pinstripe||Rutgers vs. Notre Dame||Dec. 28||Noon||ESPN|
|Belk||Cincinnati vs. North Carolina||Dec. 28||3:20 p.m.||ESPN|
|Russell Athletic||Louisville vs. Miami||Dec. 28||6:45 p.m.||ESPN|
|Buffalo Wild Wings||Kansas St. vs. Michigan||Dec. 28||10:15 p.m.||ESPN|
|Bell Helicopter Armed Forces||Middle Tennessee vs. Navy||Dec. 30||11:45 a.m.||ESPN|
|Franklin American Mortgage Music City||Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech||Dec. 30||3:15 p.m.||ESPN|
|Valero Alamo||Texas vs. Oregon||Dec. 30||6:45 p.m.||ESPN|
|National University Holiday||Texas Tech vs. Arizona St.||Dec. 30||10:15 p.m.||ESPN|
|AdvoCare V100||Boston College vs. Arizona||Dec. 31||12:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Hyundai Sun||Virginia Tech vs. UCLA||Dec. 31||2 p.m.||CBS|
|AutoZone Liberty||Rice vs. Mississippi St.||Dec. 31||4 p.m.||ESPN|
|Chick-fil-A||Duke vs. Texas A&M||Dec. 31||8 p.m.||ESPN|
|TaxSlayer.com Gator||Georgia vs. Nebraska||Jan. 1||Noon||ESPN2|
|Heart of Dallas||North Texas vs. UNLV||Jan. 1||Noon||ESPNU|
|Capital One||Wisconsin vs. South Carolina||Jan. 1||1 p.m.||ABC|
|Outback||LSU vs. Iowa||Jan. 1||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO||Michigan St. vs. Stanford||Jan. 1||5 p.m.||ESPN|
|Tostitos Fiesta||Baylor vs. UCF||Jan. 1||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Allstate Sugar||Alabama vs. Oklahoma||Jan. 2||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Discover Orange||Clemson vs. Ohio St.||Jan. 3||TBD||ESPN|
|AT&T Cotton||Missouri vs. Oklahoma St.||Jan. 3||7:30 p.m.||FOX|
|BBVA Compass||Houston vs. Vanderbilt||Jan. 4||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|GoDaddy||Arkansas St. vs. Ball St.||Jan. 5||9 p.m.||ESPN|
|VIZIO BCS National Championship||Florida St. vs. Auburn||Jan. 6||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
Now, to the bowl games!
Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State vs. USC
Like one of the games that we'll get to later, this is an odd pairing, but it will be a spectacular game. Fresno State lost only one game all year, and they're led by quarterback Derek Carr, who is shooting up NFL draft boards according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:
Talked to a GM Tuesday who offered this: “No QB is rising faster than Fresno St.’s Derek Carr.” Then asked: “What if Texans have No. 1 pick?— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 11, 2013
Carr runs a Bulldogs offense that leads the nation in passing yards per game and passing touchdowns, and the senior's numbers are eye-popping.
|Completion Percentage||Passing Yards||Yards per Attempt||TDs||INTs||Passer Rating|
The aerial attack of Fresno State will make this an enjoyable viewing experience, and we haven't even discussed the USC Trojans yet.
Interim head coach Ed Orgeron resigned after not getting the permanent position, so how will the Trojans react when they take the field? The Trojans are stocked with talent, and wide receiver Marqise Lee is one of the most skilled wideouts in the country.
You'll get the chance to watch one of the most storied programs in college football history, an up-and-coming school and one of the best quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL draft.
There's plenty to like about the Las Vegas Bowl.
Alamo Bowl: Texas vs. Oregon
There will be plenty of drama surrounding the Alamo Bowl, and the chief storyline will revolve around Texas head coach Mack Brown. Rumors about his future at Texas have been swirling, with many believing that his time in Austin is done:
According to sources, Mack Brown is expected to resign by the end of the week after 16 years as Texas Longhorns coach http://t.co/uNw3UNQwXA— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) December 11, 2013
Will the long-time head coach even be on the sidelines on December 30?
If he isn't, prepare yourself for a long summer of discussion regarding the vacancy, with plenty of high-profile names (like Nick Saban) in the mix. If he is, it will probably be his last game as the Longhorns head coach.
Which non-BCS Bowl game are you most excited for?
But enough of the drama, what about the action on the field?
For starters, the Oregon Ducks are one of the most enjoyable teams to watch because of their fast-paced offense and the speed and athleticism they have at every position.
On the other sideline, Texas has actually been quite good despite all the media fanfare and the "sky is falling" rhetoric. The Longhorns were just one win away from winning the Big 12 and earning themselves a berth in a BCS bowl.
Texas might not be able to keep up with the Ducks' third-ranked offense for long, but it will still be a fun game to watch with plenty of storylines to discuss.
Chick-fil-A Bowl: Duke vs. Texas A&M
It seems strange to be putting these two schools together on a football field in December, but Duke is ready to keep proving their detractors wrong when they take on Texas A&M. This is your chance to watch one of the under-the-radar teams in college football, but the Blue Devils will do much more than just show up.
The 88th-ranked Aggies defense holds less water than a sieve, so Duke will be able to find the end zone and turn this one into a shootout.
And we know that Texas A&M can score.
The aforementioned points are reasons to watch this game, but there is one X-factor that overshadows everything: Johnny Manziel.
Firstly, he is the most entertaining player in college football. He makes ridiculous plays through the air and on the ground, and the former Heisman winner has put up over 4,400 yards of offense and 41 touchdowns in 2013. Every game, he will do something that will leave you gobsmacked—a notion that is seconded by NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah:
Secondly, this will be his last game in an Aggies uniform.
Johnny Manziel will declare into the 2014 #NFL draft, has hired an agent— Insider Money (@TheBestInsider) December 13, 2013
You don't want to miss the magic of Johnny Football for the last time on the college football stage, do you?
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Missouri
This is virtually a BCS bowl game between the former Big 12 rivals. If each team had won their last game, not only would they be in a BCS bowl, but they would have been at the forefront of the national championship game conversation.
Revisiting their previous conference rivalry is a fun storyline, but this is a must-watch game because both of these teams are so good. In addition, both teams are smarting from their recent losses and will come out with all guns blazing.
This matchup features two top-15 offenses and top-30 defenses, so we'll get a very well-played game between two evenly matched teams.
|Team||Points Scored Per Game||Rank||Points Allowed Per Game||Rank|
It's going to be an entertaining contest, and you definitely don't want to miss the best non-BCS bowl game of the year.