Bowl Games 2013-14: College Football Showcases That Will Come Down to the Wire

Alex EspinozaCorrespondent IIIDecember 28, 2013

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 02:  Jadeveon Clowney #7 of the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 2, 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It's officially bowl season with college football teams around the country locking up in showcases to wrap up their respective campaigns. But once the calendar turns to January, the competition really heats up with the top teams taking the field in college football's marquee matchups.

While there are certainly some blowouts in the making, there are also a host of games that figure to be decided in the final stages of the game. Here's a look at the remaining bowl schedule and analysis of three contests with evenly matched teams.

Remaining Bowl Game Schedule
DateBowlSchoolSchool
12/28New Era PinstripeRutgersNotre Dame
12/28BelkCincinnatiNorth Carolina
12/28Russell AthleticMiamiLouisville
12/28Buffalo Wild WingsMichiganKansas State
12/30Bell Helicopter Armed ForcesMiddle TennesseeNavy
12/30Franklin American Mortgage Music CityOle MissGeorgia Tech
12/30Valero AlamoOregonTexas
12/30National University HolidayArizona StateTexas Tech
12/31AdvoCare V100ArizonaBoston College
12/31Hyundai SunVirginia TechUCLA
12/31AutoZone LibertyRiceMississippi
12/31Chick-fil-ADukeTexas A&M
1/1TaxSlayer.com GatorNebraskaGeorgia
1/1Heart of DallasUNLVNorth Texas
1/1Capital OneWisconsinSouth Carolina
1/1OutbackIowaLSU
1/1Rose Bowl Presented by VIZIOStanfordMichigan State
1/1Tostitos FiestaCentral FloridaBaylor
1/2Allstate SugarOklahomaAlabama
1/3Discover OrangeClemsonOhio State
1/3AT&T CottonOklahoma StateMissouri
1/4BBVA CompassVanderbiltHouston
1/5GoDaddyArkansas StateBall State
1/6VIZIO BCS National ChampionshipFlorida StateAuburn
ESPN.com

 

Capital One: No. 9 South Carolina (10-2) vs. No. 19 Wisconsin (9-3)

Both of these teams fell short of their big expectations, but it leaves us with a explosive non-BCS matchup that will pit two powerful teams against each other.

South Carolina has won five straight contests, but a 23-21 loss to Tennessee earlier in the year kept the the team on the outside of the BCS picture. Meanwhile, Wisconsin's regular season ended with a 31-24 loss to Penn State in the first year with coach Gary Andersen.

The main focus of this matchup will be on the impressive Wisconsin running game clashing with South Carolina's stout defensive front.

Behind another batch of big, athletic linemen, the Badgers ranked second in the nation with a 6.6 yards-per-carry average. Melvin Gordon (1,466 yards, 12 TDs) and James White (1,337 yards, 13 TDs) create the best backfield duo in the nation, but they will face a stiff test against South Carolina.

The Gamecocks are led by possible 2014 NFL No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney and All-American tackle Kelcy Quarles. Clowney became an instant phenomenon on New Year's Day 2013 with his crushing hit, and you can assume his motor will be turned up for this one.

In its three losses this year, Wisconsin has faced tough rushing defenses like Ohio State, Arizona State and Penn State. While South Carolina doesn't stack up with OSU, it compares favorably to ASU and Penn State, and it should be able to slow down Wisconsin. Badgers receiver Jared Abbrederis (73 catches, 1,051 yards, seven TDs) is a threat, but Wisconsin isn't built to win through the air.

On the other side of the ball, efficient quarterback Connor Shaw (2,135 yards, 21 TDs, one INT) and tailback Mike Davis (1,134 yards, 11 TDs) have enough firepower to get the job done for a Gamecocks victory.

Prediction: South Carolina wins 27-24

 

Cotton: No. 8 Missouri (11-2) vs. No. 13 Oklahoma State (10-2)

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 07:  Quarterback James Franklin #1 of the Missouri Tigers runs in a two-point conversion past Chris Davis #11 of the Auburn Tigers in the third quarter during the SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 7, 2013 in Atlanta,
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The selection committee for the Cotton Bowl picked two longtime rivals that have history dating back to 1915. The two schools were also conference foes in the Big Eight and Big 12 Conferences before Missouri joined the SEC in 2012.

Both of these teams suffered heartbreaking losses late in the season, with Oklahoma State losing its chance to win the Big 12 title by virtue of a 33-24 defeat to Oklahoma in the Bedlam rivalry game. Missouri missed out on a BCS bowl when it was walloped 59-42 by Auburn in the SEC Championship.

Still, coach Gary Pinkel deserves a lot of credit for the job he's done with Mizzou this year.

Quarterback James Franklin (2,255 yards, 19 TDs, five INTs) leads a balanced Tigers offense that also features tailback Henry Josey (1,074 yards, 13 TDs) and a trio of big wideouts in L'Damian Washington (47 catches, 853 yards, 10 TDs), Dorial Green-Beckham (55 catches, 830 yards, 12 TDs) and Marcus Lucas (55 catches, 646 yards, two TDs).

Think Missouri is pumped up for this game? Check out how excited the players were to receive their Cotton Bowl swag:

Oklahoma State also has a well-rounded offense, but I suspect Franklin will outplay inconsistent Cowboys QB Clint Chelf (1,792 yards, 15 TDs, six INTs), who will have a long day against Missouri defensive end stars like Michael Sams and Kony Ealy.

Prediction: Missouri wins 31-27

 

Orange: No. 7 Ohio State (12-1) vs. No. 12 Clemson (10-2)

This much-anticipated BCS matchup is expected to be a shootout, as these two schools possess some of the most potent offenses in the country.

Leading the way for both teams are a couple of talented quarterbacks in Clemson's Tajh Boyd (3,473 passing yards, 29 passing TDs, nine rushing TDs, nine INTs) and OSU's Braxton Miller (1,860 passing yards, 22 TDs, five INTs, 1,033 rushing yards, 10 TDs).

These two teams are also very similar on the defensive end in terms of points allowed per game, as Clemson (21.1) holds a slight edge over OSU (21.3). But Ohio State has a more complete attack with elite running back Carlos Hyde (1,408 yards, 14 TDs), who I suspect will run rampant against a Clemson defense that ranks 51st against the run (152.6 yards allowed per game).

Boyd and the Clemson offense will certainly put up some points, but Miller, Hyde and Buckeyes should be able to squeak by in a shootout. In the end, Ohio State is a more complete team than Clemson and should win this BCS bowl, which is something of a consolation after the Buckeyes lost out on a chance to play in the national championship.

Prediction: Ohio State wins 42-38