2011 Bowl Games: 7 Non-BCS Bowls You Can't Miss

Brian Dezelske@@BrianDezelskeCorrespondent IIIDecember 6, 2011

2011 Bowl Games: 7 Non-BCS Bowls You Can't Miss

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    The 2011-12 bowl Games are just around the corner, and all the talk is sure to be about the BCS bowls and the BCS National Championship Game that pits the No. 1 LSU Tigers against the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide.

    While those games will all make for great television, there are a handful of lesser bowl games that definitely warrant your attention.

    Here are seven bowl games that will wet your whistle and get you even more pumped for the big ones that we all want to see.

Champs Sports Bowl

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    Florida State Seminoles (8-4) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-4)

    When: Dec. 29th at 5:30 p.m. ET.

    Where: Orlando, FL

    Two of the most legendary programs in college football will face off when Florida State takes on Notre Dame.

    The Fighting Irish have a bit of a problem at the quarterback position.

    Tommy Rees was pulled for Andrew Hendrix in the last game of the season, and the Irish have yet to determine who the starter will be on game day.

    That’s a big issue for an Irish offense that will be facing the No. 4-ranked scoring defense in the nation, led by defensive ends Brandon Jenkins and Bjoern Werner.

Outback Bowl

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    No. 17 Michigan State Spartans (10-3) vs. No. 16 Georgia Bulldogs (10-3)

    When: Jan. 2nd at 1 p.m. ET.

    Where: Tampa, FL

    This game pits the Big Ten against the SEC, in what should be a great defensive display.

    The Spartans and the Bulldogs are bitter, because they feel they should be playing in a BCS bowl, but they both fell short in their respective conference title games.

    Both of these teams are ranked in the top five in the nation in total defense.

    This will be a hard-fought, physical game that will be won and lost in the trenches.

    It will be interesting to see if Bulldogs QB Aaron Murray can rebound from his performance against the No. 1 LSU Tigers in the SEC Championship, where he went 16-of-40 for 163 yards and two interceptions.

Capital One Bowl

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    No. 20 Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3) vs. No. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks (10-2)

    When: Jan. 2nd at 1 p.m. ET.

    Where: Orlando, FL

    The SEC and Big Ten square off again, when 20th-ranked Nebraska takes on Head Ball Coach Steve Spurrier and his ninth-ranked Gamecocks.

    Gamecocks freshman sensation Jadeveon Clowney and the nation’s fourth-ranked defense will look to disrupt the Husker offensive attack led by Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead.

    Martinez has had an up and down season, but looks to finish the Huskers’ inaugural Big Ten season on a winning note.

    The Gamecocks suffered a setback when wide receiver Alshon Jeffery broke his hand against Clemson in the last game of the year, but they’re now saying he should be ready to go by game time.

    They will be without premier running back Marcus Lattimore, who was lost for the season after suffering a torn ligament in his knee on Oct. 17th.

TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl

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    Ohio State Buckeyes (6-6) vs. Florida Gators (6-6)

    When: Jan. 2nd at 1 p.m. ET.

    Where: Jacksonville, FL

    The Big Ten and SEC will go at it for the third time on Jan. 2nd, when the Ohio State Buckeyes tangle with the Florida Gators.

    Head coach Luke Fickell will coach his last game against the team his replacement, Urban Meyer, coached just one year ago.

    After this game, Fickell will step aside and remain on Meyer’s coaching staff.

    How’s that for irony?

    I just wonder how much hidden influence Meyer will have on this game. He still knows virtually every player on that Gators team and how they run their offense and defense.

    I can’t imagine any scenario where he isn’t involved somehow.

AT&T Cotton Bowl

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    No. 8 Kansas State Wildcats (10-2) vs. No. 6 Arkansas Razorbacks (10-2)

    When: Jan. 6th at 8 p.m. ET.

    Where: Arlington, TX

    Bobby Petrino and the Arkansas Razorbacks have to feel a little slighted after not getting selected for an at-large BCS bowl bid.

    Their two losses this year came at the hands of No. 1 LSU and No. 2. Alabama, and they’re going to want to take their aggressions out on Collin Klein and the Kansas State Wildcats.

    Klein is the main figure on offense for KSU, and he'll be the center of attention for the Razorbacks defense.

    He’s thrown for 1,745 yards and 12 TDs and leads the team with 1,099 rushing yards and 26 rushing TDs.

TicketCity Bowl

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    No. 19 Houston Cougars vs. No. 22 Penn State Nittany Lions

    When: Jan. 2nd at 12 p.m. ET.

    Where: Dallas, TX

    This should be a fun game for football fans to watch.

    Case Keenum and the Houston Cougars got roughed up in the Conference USA title game by Southern Miss. and will want to come back and prove to everyone that they’re still a legitimate team.

    They’ll get that chance against a tough Big Ten defense in the Penn State Nittany Lions.

    Keenum has already passed for 5,099 yards and 45 TDs and will look to add to that in his final college game.

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl

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    Arizona St. Sun Devils (6-6) vs. No. 7 Boise State Broncos (11-1)

    When: Dec. 22nd at 8 p.m. ET.

    When: Las Vegas, NV

    Kellen Moore will step onto the field for the last time as the quarterback for the Boise State Broncos.

    This will be a monumental game.

    Maybe not for the competitive nature—because Boise State should walk all over ASU—but because with this win, Moore can become the first quarterback in FBS history to win 50 games.

    That alone makes this game worth watching.

    ASU may have something to say about this, albeit a small something.

    Inside linebacker and sure-fire first-round pick Vontaze Burfict will look to get after Moore and shut down that passing attack.

    If, somehow, the Sun Devils can keep this close and drag out a defensive battle into the fourth quarter, they’ll have a shot at knocking off the Broncos.


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