College Football Bowl Picks 2013: Forecasting Intriguing Non-BCS Matchups

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2013

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 29:  Torrodney Prevot #86 (c) of the Oregon Ducks celebrates a 36-35 victory against the Oregon State Beavers during the 117th playing of the Civil War on Novemeber 29, 2013 at the Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

If you only focus on the BCS during bowl season, you're doing yourself a disservice.

Each and every year, many of the lesser bowls prove more entertaining than their BCS counterparts. These games give fans a chance to see two teams that normally don't play each other. It's also a chance to see some of college football's biggest stars put on a show before heading for greener pastures.

The 2013-14 bowl slate is no different. From top to bottom, the schedule is loaded with plenty of mouth-watering matchups. Among those 30 bowls, these three stand out.

They feature very good football teams and plenty of intriguing storylines to watch as the action unfolds.


Alamo Bowl

Oregon Ducks vs. Texas Longhorns

The sentimental pick would be Texas. Mack Brown deserves to end his Longhorns career with a win. But against a tough Oregon Ducks team, that's a big ask.

You wonder, though, if this game will have the right combination of motivation from Texas and disappointment/apathy from Oregon to make the upset happen.

Ultimately, Texas' defensive deficiencies are too large to overlook. The Longhorns finished 67th in total defense and 80th against the run.

The Oregon offense will take control early and build a nice lead, and the Ducks will coast until the final whistle.

Prediction: Oregon 47, Texas 24


Cotton Bowl

Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Missouri Tigers

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 07:  Dorial Green-Beckham #15 of the Missouri Tigers celebrates scoring a touchdown with teammate Bud Sasser #21  in the second quarter against the Auburn Tigers during the SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 7, 2013 i
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Cotton Bowl could go either way. It is shaping up to be one of the more evenly matched non-BCS bowls.

The performance against Baylor makes you think twice about doubting the Cowboys. They dominated on both sides of the ball and looked like one of the best teams in the country.

But Missouri has weapons in Henry Josey, Russell Hansbrough, L'Damian Washington and Dorial Green-Beckham. That's the kind of explosiveness Oklahoma State lacks, and it will prove pivotal in this game.

James Franklin hasn't missed a beat since returning from injury, meaning Mizzou has the kind of QB who can counter Clint Chelf.

Mike Gundy isn't taking that Missouri offense lightly, per Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

They have very athletic players that run to the ball and make plays. They’ve always had a couple linemen, safeties and linebackers that end up playing in the NFL, and offensively they have great speed. They’re tall and rangy at the wideout position. The quarterbacks are playing good. Running backs make plays. So it’s very similar to what we’ve seen in the past from when we’ve competed against Missouri.

The Tigers should prevail, as they get the slight offensive edge.

Prediction: Missouri 34, Oklahoma State 28


Capital One Bowl

Wisconsin Badgers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks

IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 2: Running backs Melvin Gordon #25 and James White #20 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrate with fans after the match-up against the Iowa Hawkeyes on November 2, 2013 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. Wisconsin won 28-9. (Photo
Matthew Holst/Getty Images

The Wisconsin Badgers aren't just playing for themselves in this game. To a certain extent, they're representing the Big Ten as a whole. Should they lose, that's another stick with which critics will bash the conference next year and beyond.

On paper, the Badgers have a great defense, but the numbers may have been inflated by playing in what was admittedly a bad conference. The season-ending loss to Penn State could be an outlier, or it could be a sign of larger issues with Wisconsin.

This game will likely come down to whether the Gamecocks can stop the Badgers' one-two punch of Melvin Gordon and James White. Both guys eclipsed 1,300 yards and combined to have 25 touchdowns.

If they get going, South Carolina won't stand a chance. Wisconsin will set the tone with time-consuming drives, and Jared Abbrederis will get more space and one-on-one matchups in the secondary.

Prediction: Wisconsin 24, South Carolina 20