2011-12 Bowl Games: The 5 Best Matchups Besides the BCS Bowls
With all of the attention focused on who would play in the BCS championship game, there were a lot of great football games that might have gotten over looked. None of these teams are going to finish in the top five, but they are very good football teams.
Some of the bowl games are intriguing because of their style of play. Others are intriguing because they are traditional powerhouses and others are teams who are trying to take their program to the next level.
In this article I will list the top five non-BCS bowl games that were announced today.
Capital One Bowl: South Carolina vs. Nebraska
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If you had told me that South Carolina had lost stud running back Marcus Lattimore and quarterback Stephen Garcia had been dismissed from the team, I would have seen the Gamecocks losing four games.
Iinstead they finished the season 10-2. Remarkably the Gamecocks were able to finish strong and have proven they are more than a one-man team.
Connor Shaw has begun to come into his own, completing 30 of 39 passes over the past two games for 427 yards and six touchdowns to only one interception.
It has been the defense, however, that has carried the Gamecocks. South Carolina is fourth in the nation in total defense, giving up a stingy 268.9 yards per game.
Nebraska will give the SC defense a true test as it brings in the 13th strongest running game in the nation. The Cornhuskers average 223.9 yards per game on the ground and will try to control the time of possession.
Ticket City Bowl: Penn State vs. Houston Cougars
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The Houston Cougars bring the nation’s top scoring offense, averaging over 50 points per game. Penn State, on the other hand, brings in a defense that is fifth in the nation in scoring.
Both teams have been labeled as overrated and both teams have an opportunity to shed that label in this game.
Case Keenum has won big games in the past against teams like Oklahoma State and Mississippi State. However, this is the last big game of his college career.
Can he erase the memory of this seasons C-USA championship game loss? Time will tell but this game should be a great chess match.
Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Arizona State
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This should be a fun game to watch with plenty of offensive fireworks. Arizona State has averaged 33.9 points per game, while the Broncos have averaged 43.3 points per game.
It will be Kellen Moore’s final game for the Broncos and he is hoping to add to his already impressive wins record, which is No. 1 all time.
The Broncos might have played for the national championship this season had they not missed the game-winning field goal against TCU earlier in the season. However, they can continue their recent winning streak against the Pac-12.
The Sun Devils have looked very good at times this season but will need to play their best game of the season.
Outback Bowl: Georgia Bulldogs vs. Michigan State
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This game matches up the runners-up from the Big 10 and the SEC championship games. This game should have plenty of great defensive plays as the Bulldogs are ranked No. 3 in the nation in total defense and the Spartans are ranked No. 5.
Both have streaky offenses and elite defenses.
Will Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray or Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins make the needed plays to put their team in the best position to win?
This game will come down to the offense that makes the fewest mistakes.
Gator Bowl: Florida Gators vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
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Both of these teams have been mediocre on the football field, but both have showed potential at times. Florida’s defense has improved as the season went on and finished No. 9 in the nation in total defense.
Ohio State has struggled in the passing game this season but it has been impressive on the ground, rushing for just under 200 yards per game.
This game will come down to the Buckeyes' rushing offense against this young but talented Florida front seven.
Unfortunately, the Urban Meyer stories will get old quickly.