It should come as no surprise that most of the focus heading into bowl season is on the National Championship Game as well as the other BCS bowls. Despite that, there are plenty of lesser-known bowls that promise to impress in the coming weeks.
Oftentimes the BCS bowls fail to live up to the hype. Non-BCS bowls usually don't have to deal with such excitement, so it is much easier for them to exceed expectations. There also happens to be a number of intriguing matchups on tap, so college football fans will be locked into the action.
Here are three unheralded bowl games that aren't receiving much press right now but will ultimately be viewed as among the best contests of the bowl season.
AdvoCare V100 Bowl (Arizona vs. Boston College)
The Arizona Wildcats and Boston College Eagles each finished with a modest record of 7-5 this season, but there are two big reasons to watch their clash in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl on Dec. 31.
Those reasons are running backs Ka'Deem Carey and Andre Williams. Carey and Williams are two of the best rushers in college football, and they were both honored as AP First-Team All-Americans. According to Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press, this meeting between Carey and Williams is of the rarest form.
It often felt as though Carey and Williams didn't receive much help around them over the course of the season, but it allowed both of them to put up monster numbers. Carey, a junior, rushed for more than 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns. Williams ran for better than 2,100 yards and 17 touchdowns, and he also finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting as a senior.
Since both Carey and Williams may have NFL careers on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how they fare in this head-to-head showdown. BC has a worse defense, as it surrenders nearly 28 points per game, which bodes well for Carey.
Williams was dominant regardless of whom he faced this season, as he even produced against Florida State. With that in mind, watching Carey and Williams try to one-up each other will be a real treat.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (Boise State vs. Oregon State)
The Boise State Broncos weren't exactly BCS busters this season, which is a departure from their usual modus operandi, but they still turned in a solid record of 8-4. Oregon State disappointed with a record of 6-6, but they happen to be one of the most offensively explosive teams in the nation. All of that will come to a head in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve, and it will produce a game that will leave college football fans salivating.
Most fans love to watch a dynamic passing attack, and Oregon State definitely has that. The Beavers are led by quarterback Sean Mannion, who passed for 4,403 yards and 36 touchdowns this season. It's interesting to note that he is weighing his options in terms of whether or not he will enter the NFL draft in 2014, according to Sean Meagher of The Oregonian.
"For me personally, I got one more game (this season) to try to play my best football and then I'll worry about all that stuff afterward," Mannion said. "I haven't even had a chance to think about it because I'm so focused on Boise State."
The Beavers also boast a stud wide receiver in the form of Brandin Cooks. The diminutive junior caught 120 passes for 1,670 yards and 15 touchdowns this season, and he was rewarded with the Biletnikoff Award for his efforts, according to ESPN College Football.
Boise State shouldn't be discounted, especially due to the play of unheralded running back Jay Ajayi, who has rushed for over 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. This game will feature a clash of styles, and it will be interesting to see which style prevails.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Buffalo vs. San Diego State)
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl doesn't sound particularly prestigious on the surface, but it has all the makings of an entertaining game between two non-BCS schools. Both Buffalo and San Diego State enter the game with a ton of momentum as the Bulls have won eight of their past 10 contests, while the Aztecs have prevailed in seven of their past nine games. Not only will this tilt feature two red-hot teams, but there are plenty of individual players worth watching, too.
UB is of particular interest, thanks largely to linebacker Khalil Mack. The 6'3", 248-pound senior entered the year with massive expectations, and he lived up to them. Mack finished the regular season with 10.5 sacks, three interceptions and two touchdowns.
He was dominant on a weekly basis, and he even had his way against Ohio State in the season opener. All of that led to Mack being named a First Team All-American by CBSSports.com, according to MAC assistant commissioner of public relations Ken Mather.
Mack is currently in line to be a top-10 selection in the 2014 NFL draft, and he can solidify that with a strong showing against San Diego State. Running back Branden Oliver is also a potential draftee with 1,421 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on the year.
San Diego State's talent is still developing, but with 1,000-yard rusher Adam Muema and 1,000-yard receiver Ezell Ruffin in place, there could certainly be some offensive fireworks in the northwest.
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