Bowl Games 2013-14: Matchups Sure to Produce Upsets

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Bowl Games 2013-14: Matchups Sure to Produce Upsets
David Purdy/Getty Images
Texas will ride its running game to an upset.

The jam-packed bowl season is more dramatic when the underdogs pull off upsets, and 2013-14 will not disappoint in that regard.

On paper, most of the bowls are evenly matched, though some teams appear to be overmatched. Not all of those instances are hopeless, though.

The records aren't favorable, but other circumstances are. Whether they're close to home, playing an advantageous style for a given opponent or peaking at the right time, these teams are tailor-made to shock the favorites.

Bowl Schedule 2013-14
Bowl Game Teams Date/Time TV Predicted Winner
Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg East Carolina vs. Ohio Dec. 23 @ 2 p.m. ESPN East Carolina
Sheraton Hawaii Boise St. vs. Oregon St. Dec. 24 @ 8 p.m. ESPN Boise St.
Little Caesars Pizza Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green Dec. 26 @ 6 p.m. ESPN Pittsburgh
S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Utah St. Vs. Northern Illinois Dec. 26 @ 9:30 p.m. ESPN Northern Illinois
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman Marshall vs. Maryland Dec. 27 @ 2:30 p.m. ESPN Maryland
Texas Syracuse vs. Minnesota Dec. 27 @ 6 p.m. ESPN Minnesota
Fight Hunger BYU vs. Washington Dec. 27 @ 9:30 p.m. ESPN Washington
New Era Pinstripe Rutgers vs. Notre Dame Dec. 28 @ Noon ESPN Rutgers
Belk Cincinnati vs. North Carolina Dec. 28 @ 3:20 p.m. ESPN Cincinnati
Russell Athletic Louisville vs. Miami Dec. 28 @ 6:45 p.m. ESPN Louisville
Buffalo Wild Wings Kansas St. vs. Michigan Dec. 28 @ 10:15 p.m. ESPN Michigan
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Middle Tennessee vs. Navy Dec. 30 @ 11:45 a.m. ESPN Navy
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech Dec. 30 @ 3:15 p.m. ESPN Ole Miss
Valero Alamo Texas vs. Oregon Dec. 30 @ 6:45 p.m. ESPN Texas
National University Holiday Texas Tech vs. Arizona St. Dec. 30 @ 10:15 p.m. ESPN Arizona
AdvoCare V100 Boston College vs. Arizona Dec. 31 @ 12:30 p.m. ESPN Boston College
Hyundai Sun Virginia Tech vs. UCLA Dec. 31 @ 2 p.m. CBS UCLA
AutoZone Liberty Rice vs. Mississippi St. Dec. 31 @ 4 p.m. ESPN Rice
Chick-fil-A Duke vs. Texas A&M Dec. 31 @ 8 p.m. ESPN Texas A&M
TaxSlayer.com Gator Georgia vs. Nebraska Jan. 1 @ Noon ESPN2 Nebraska
Heart of Dallas North Texas vs. UNLV Jan. 1 @ Noon ESPNU UNLV
Capital One Wisconsin vs. South Carolina Jan. 1 @ 1 p.m. ABC South Carolina
Outback LSU vs. Iowa Jan. 1 @ 1 p.m. ESPN LSU
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO Michigan St. vs. Stanford Jan. 1 @ 5 p.m. ESPN Michigan St.
Tostitos Fiesta Baylor vs. UCF Jan. 1 @ 8:30 p.m. ESPN Baylor
Allstate Sugar Alabama vs. Oklahoma Jan. 2 @ 8:30 p.m. ESPN Alabama
Discover Orange Clemson vs. Ohio St. Jan. 3 @ TBD ESPN Clemson
AT&T Cotton Missouri vs. Oklahoma St. Jan. 3 @ 7:30 p.m. FOX Missouri
BBA Compass Houston vs. Vanderbilt Jan. 4 @ 1 p.m. ESPN Houston
GoDaddy Arkansas St. vs. Ball St. Jan. 5 @ 9 p.m. ESPN Ball St.
VIZIO BCS National Championship Florida St. vs. Auburn Jan. 6 @ 8:30 p.m. ESPN Florida St.

ESPN

 

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Pittsburgh (6-6) over Bowling Green (10-3)

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Pittsburgh stumbled through ACC play and just barely qualified for a bowl appearance, but the Panthers lucked out by drawing a vulnerable Bowling Green squad.

The Falcons rank eighth in the NCAA in total defense, but that stat requires some context. Northern Illinois was the only ranked team Bowling Green even faced this season, and though the Falcons won that game to take the MAC championship, they also fell to Indiana and Mississippi State earlier in the season.

They deserved to win 10 games, but judging them solely on their record overrates them.

Pitt will still have some difficulties scoring on Bowling Green, but it has enough weapons to get by. Senior Tom Savage is a veteran presence under center, Isaac Bennett and James Conner provide a two-pronged rushing attack and Tyler Boyd is a game-breaking receiver as a true freshman.

After facing Florida State in the opener, Pitt won't be intimidated by the Falcons now. The Panthers have enough talent to win, regardless of its opponent's record.

 

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers (6-6) over Notre Dame (8-4)

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Fighting Irish aren't built to win a bowl game in the Northeast.

New York City isn't exactly the frozen tundra, but an extended forecast calls for temperatures in the low 40s, at best, on December 28. That won't make matters easy for Tommy Rees at quarterback, especially because Notre Dame doesn't have an established runner to support him.

Notre Dame's top rusher, Cam McDaniel, had just 625 yards and three touchdowns this season; he became better known for being good-looking than for being good at football.

Three other backs have run for over 200 yards, but the Irish have just 10 rushing touchdowns as a team. If the cold impacts the Notre Dame passing game at all, the running game can't reliably take over.

Gary Nova is by no means Rees' equal, but Paul James gives the Scarlet Knights a steady option in the backfield. As the underdog, Rutgers is going to want an ugly game, one in which it is better suited to win.

 

Liberty Bowl: Rice (10-3) over Mississippi State (6-6)

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A .500 record in the SEC is greater than a .500 record in any other conference, which is enough to make Mississippi State the favorite over a Rice team with four more wins.

That said, the Bulldogs are still worse than their record indicates.

They needed consecutive overtime wins over Arkansas and Ole Miss to even finish 6-6. In regulation, Mississippi State's victories have come in blowouts over Alcorn State and Troy, along with tight wins over Bowling Green and Kentucky by a combined seven points.

Rice's Conference USA schedule isn't very impressive, either, but that's less of an issue by comparison.

The Owls know how they want to play, and they will execute their triple-option attack regardless of opponent. They run for 240.2 yards per game, and if Charles Ross and company get rolling, the Bulldogs won't be able to stop them.

 

Alamo Bowl: Texas (8-4) over Oregon (10-2)

Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

In Mack Brown's Texas finale, the Longhorns will not be denied—especially not against an Oregon team that has not looked itself of late.

Prior to the Ducks' matchup with Stanford, they had won each of their first eight games, scoring at least 42 points in each game and winning by at least 21. In their last four games, Oregon is 2-2, topping that 42-point mark just once. One-time Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota also threw all four of his interceptions this season in the past two games.

The vaunted Oregon offense is at its shakiest, and Brown's players will be ready to shut it down.

For all the miscues Texas had in its 1-2 start, the Longhorns have found their footing with the ground attack, preferring to pound the ball with Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown rather than overexert Case McCoy, rushing for 24 touchdowns this season against just 11 McCoy passing scores.

If the Longhorns can protect the ball and further limit Oregon's offense, they'll dictate the outcome of their beloved coach's last game.

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