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 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.|
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Pittsburgh (6-6) over Bowling Green (10-3)
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)
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.
That grin! Meet the "ridiculously photogenic" athlete that's snagged America's attention: http://t.co/EZxALFxjyK— Us Weekly (@usweekly) October 25, 2013
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)
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)
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.
Mack Brown told his players he was resigning. They told him they love him. More on that moment: http://t.co/Bp8rn4N5c2— Max Olson (@max_olson) December 20, 2013
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.