Bowl season is among the most exciting times during football season, as the 70 best teams in the nation will have an opportunity to show their stuff on the national stage. Most viewers will be focused on the BCS bowls, but the other bowls can be just as interesting and perhaps even more so.
There may not be as much on the line but there are storylines galore for each and every bowl on the slate. Also, since only a handful of teams are lucky enough to play in BCS games, quite a few excellent programs have been relegated to what some might call lesser bowls.
The bowls may not be huge in terms of name recognition, but they will be when it comes to entertainment value. Here is some further analysis of three non-BCS bowls that will get fans talking.
2013-14 BCS Bowl Schedule
|Jan. 6||8:30 p.m.||BCS Title||Florida State vs. Auburn||ESPN|
|Jan. 5||9 p.m.||GoDaddy||Ball State vs. Arkansas State||ESPN|
|Jan. 4||1 p.m.||BBVA Compass||Houston vs. Vanderbilt||ESPN|
|Jan. 3||8 p.m.||Cotton||Oklahoma State vs. Missouri||FOX|
|Jan. 3||8:30 p.m.||Orange||Clemson vs. Ohio State||ESPN|
|Jan. 2||8:30 p.m.||Sugar||Alabama vs. Oklahoma||ESPN|
|Jan. 1||12 p.m.||Gator||Nebraska vs. Georgia||ESPN2|
|Jan. 1||12 p.m.||Heart of Dallas||UNLV vs. North Texas||ESPNU|
|Jan. 1||1 p.m.||Capital One||Wisconsin vs. South Carolina||ABC|
|Jan. 1||1 p.m.||Outback||Iowa vs. LSU||ESPN|
|Jan. 1||5 p.m.||Rose||Michigan State vs. Stanford||ESPN|
|Jan. 1||8:30 p.m.||Fiesta||Baylor vs. UCF||ESPN|
|Dec. 31||12:30 p.m.||AdvoCare V100||Boston College vs. Arizona||ESPN|
|Dec. 31||2 p.m.||Sun||Virginia Tech vs. UCLA||CBS|
|Dec. 31||4 p.m.||Liberty||Rice vs. Mississippi State||ESPN|
|Dec. 31||8 p.m.||Chick-fil-A||Duke vs. Texas A&M||ESPN|
|Dec. 30||11:45 a.m.||Armed Forces||Middle Tennessee vs. Navy||ESPN|
|Dec. 30||3:15 p.m.||Music City||Georgia Tech vs. Ole Miss||ESPN|
|Dec. 30||6:45 p.m.||Alamo||Texas vs. Oregon||ESPN|
|Dec. 30||10:15 p.m.||Holiday||Texas Tech vs. Arizona State||ESPN|
|Dec. 28||12 p.m.||Pinstripe||Notre Dame vs. Rutgers||ESPN|
|Dec. 28||3:20 p.m.||Belk||North Carolina vs. Cincinnati||ESPN|
|Dec. 28||6:45 p.m.||Russell Athletic||Miami (FL) vs. Louisville||ESPN|
|Dec. 28||10:15 p.m.||Buffalo Wild Wings||Kansas State vs. Michigan||ESPN|
|Dec. 27||2:30 p.m.||Military||Maryland vs. Marshall||ESPN|
|Dec. 27||6 p.m.||Texas||Syracuse vs. Minnesota||ESPN|
|Dec. 27||9:30 p.m.||Fight Hunger||Washington vs. BYU||ESPN|
|Dec. 26||6 p.m.||Little Caesars Pizza||Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green||ESPN|
|Dec. 26||9:30 p.m.||Poinsettia||Utah State vs. Northern Illinois||ESPN|
|Dec. 24||8 p.m.||Hawaii||Boise State vs. Oregon State||ESPN|
|Dec. 23||2 p.m.||Beef O'Brady's||East Carolina vs. Ohio||ESPN|
|Dec. 21||2 p.m.||New Mexico||Colorado State vs. Washington State||ESPN|
|Dec. 21||3:30 p.m.||Las Vegas||Fresno State vs. USC||ABC|
|Dec. 21||5:30 p.m.||Famous Idaho Potato||San Diego State vs. Buffalo||ESPN|
|Dec. 21||9 p.m.||New Orleans||Tulane vs. La-Lafayette||ESPN|
Oklahoma State vs. Missouri (Cotton Bowl)
Most would probably agree that Oklahoma State and Missouri both deserved BCS berths, but neither program was ultimately invited. The Cowboys lost to rival Oklahoma in their final game of the season, and the Sooners ultimately seized a BCS spot that could have gone to them, while Baylor won the Big 12 title. The Tigers were also a victim of the numbers game. Only two teams from each major conference can make a BCS bowl, and since both Auburn and Alabama ranked higher out of the SEC, Mizzou was left out in the cold.
Even so, both of these teams have reason to get up for this game. The Cotton Bowl has arguably lost some prestige over the years, but it will soon be a part of the College Football Playoff rotation, so it is on the verge of relevancy. OK State and Missouri have a chance to give it one more push. This season's Cotton Bowl will take place at the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium as well, so the surroundings will be extravagant. According to the bowl's official Twitter account, a fantastic crowd is expected.
“I can guarantee you, with OSU and Mizzou’s strong fan base, it’s going to be a great atmosphere at AT&T Stadium.” http://t.co/dXHxXWv9hA— AT&T Cotton Bowl (@ATTCottonBowl) December 9, 2013
Since AT&T Stadium is clearly in Big 12 country, the atmosphere ought to be something special. Missouri may be an SEC team now, but it was in the Big 12 for quite some time and already has an established rivalry with Oklahoma State. The main thing to watch in this game is Oklahoma State's strong defense against Missouri's explosive offense. Mizzou has the edge in quarterback play with James Franklin as well as a great running game due to the presence of Henry Josey, so the Tigers should prevail in a hard-fought battle.
Oregon vs. Texas (Alamo Bowl)
The Alamo matchup between No. 10 Oregon and Texas may seem a bit lopsided on paper, but this game could be much closer than most are anticipating. The Ducks have to be disappointed to be in this position after being in position to play for the national title just a couple months ago. The Longhorns, on the other hand, will be motivated to play well. This will be Texas' final game under head coach Mack Brown as he will step down afterwards, according to ESPN College Football.
Brown's final couple seasons at Texas weren't as successful as many hoped, but he was still beloved by his players. Per Christian Corona of the Associated Press, the players want to send Brown out with a victory.
"It would be great to have him ride off in the sunset (with a win)," junior center Dominic Espinosa said. "More than anything it excites us to make sure we send Mack out with a win. That's another incentive to go out and practice harder this week."
It remains to be seen if motivation alone is enough to slow down Oregon, though. The Ducks hit some rough patches late in the season with a loss to Arizona and narrow victory over Oregon State, but they still have the No. 3 offense in the nation. Quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back De'Anthony Thomas form a dynamic duo that Texas will have to account for throughout. Ultimately, Texas simply won't have enough offensive punch to keep up.
Miami (FL) vs. Louisville (Russell Athletic Bowl)
Which bowl are you most looking forward to?
The Miami Hurricanes opened the season as one of the biggest surprises in college football. They started 7-0, and although they ultimately lost three games, it looks as though "The U" is finally back on track. The Louisville Cardinals entered the season with decidedly more hype, but they fell off the map after losing to Central Florida in October. That was Louisville's only loss, though, and the attention is suddenly back on them because of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Bridgewater enjoyed an excellent season that saw him throw for over 3,500 yards and 28 touchdowns. He wasn't in the Heisman Trophy discussion, but he is very much in the discussion when it comes to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Bridgewater does have another year of eligibility should he decide to exercise it, however. Most seem to believe that he will enter the draft, but Bridgewater hasn't yet decided, according to ESPN's Brett McMurphy.
UL's Teddy Bridgewater told @ESPN he's "undecided" whether to leave early for NFL & "not leaning either way"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 17, 2013
Perhaps his performance in the Russell Athletic Bowl will influence his decision. Bridgewater is also a Miami native, so playing against the Hurricanes will probably mean a little extra to him. Fans will unfortunately be robbed of a truly great offensive encounter since Miami running back Duke Johnson is out, but the Bridgewater factor will be plenty in terms of attracting interest.
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