2011 Bowl Games: Predicting the Top 5 Must-Watch Non-BCS Bowl Games

Colby LanhamCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2011

2011 Bowl Games: Predicting the Top 5 Must-Watch Non-BCS Bowl Games

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    Well, the college football season is coming to a close, and the champions for each conference have been decided. Now, the teams lucky enough to garner at least six wins will be waiting for their bowl bids for a shot to win one more game. And some of the best bowl games aren't just the BCS Bowl games either.

    Sure, the BCS Bowl games are the biggest bowl games of the year, but before we reach those climatic games in early January, college football fans can enjoy a December full of non-BCS Bowl games during the holidays to stave off their hunger for college football.

    In this segment, we will highlight the biggest non-BCS bowl games, what kind of matchups we could see and show that the biggest games aren't always the big time BCS Bowls.

Belk Bowl

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    This bowl matchup pits an ACC team against a Big East team. Everytime these two conferences go up against one another on the field, they always put up a good show for college football fans.

    Two conferences that are very similar in terms of playing style and ability on both sides of the ball, the ACC and the Big East are continuously matched up against one another during bowl season. Last year, South Florida's 31-27 over Clemson proved to be a good game towards the end, as Clemson's late rally proved almost too much for the Bulls to handle, but in the end, they pulled it out.

    This year, the early projections show a Louisville-Virginia matchup. Two teams that came so close to winning their respective conferences should make for yet another intriguing matchup that should see a close matchup wrought with plenty of anticipation.

Outback Bowl

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    The Outback Bowl features a Big Ten vs. SEC matchup, and last year's matchup proved in favor of the Florida Gators, who were matched up against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

    The Big and the SEC have some of the best matchups in the country with both conferences usually sporting talented defensive play, but sometimes having questionable options on offense to rely on. Defense proved the determining factor in last year's game, with Florida's play on defense and forcing turnovers leading to Penn State's downfall.

    These kind of bowl games always have these kind of interesting matchups. This year, early projections show a Georgia vs. Michigan State matchup.

Chick-Fil-a Bowl

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    This bowl matchup is without a doubt one of the most anticipated bowl games before the BCS showcases their chosen teams in January. This bowl features a classic ACC vs. SEC matchup.

    This is a chance for those ACC fans to quiet the SEC, who are touted by many as the best conference in the nation, and how no one can possibly hope to stand against the SEC. This is the prime opportunity for the ACC to make a statement. And last year, Florida State made that statement against South Carolina, who won the SEC East Division last year.

    These matchups are hard hitting, physical, and a complete slug fest for 60 minutes. And this year looks to be no different.

    The early bowl projections indicate a Virginia Tech vs. Auburn matchup.

Capital One Bowl

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    Yet another highly anticipated non-BCS bowl matchup, the Capital One Bowl features a Big vs SEC matchup.

    As before, these two conferences love their defenses. As was the case last year, the Alabama Crimson Tide easily beat the Michigan State Spartans 49-7, showing a lot more offense and a whole lot of defense that shut down Kirk Cousins and an underrated Spartans offense.

    These games have, however, had a big crowd and is perhaps among the most watched bowl game that has perhaps the best matchup next to the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.

    Early projections favor a Nebraska vs. South Carolina matchup, both teams who love to run the ball but possess questionable ability in the passing game.

At&T Cotton Bowl

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    A big time classic, the AT&T Cotton Bowl, formerly the Cotton Bowl, has hosted many historic games since the 1930s. And today, it's still going strong and it remains one of the best non-BCS bowls to watch for all of college football bowl season. The Cotton Bowl pits the SEC against the Big 12.

    The Big 12, known for their high octane offenses, and the SEC, generally known for their defenses, provide college football fans with a matchup to see who prevails over who.

    Last year, it was the LSU Tigers who proved victorious over the Texas A&M Aggies 41-24. This year looks to become a shoot out, however, should the bowl projections prove correct. The early projections have an Arkansas vs. Baylor matchup.

    Arkansas, despite their suspect defense, have perhaps the best offense in the SEC, while Baylor is among the best of offenses in the Big 12, despite their own suspect defense.

    Every college football fans alike would like to see this matchup.