College Football Bowl Games 2012: Intriguing Non-BCS Matchups You Must Watch

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2012

STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 30:  Johnathan Franklin #23 of the UCLA Bruins rushes for a twenty yard touchdown against the Stanford Cardinals in the third quarter during the Pac-12 Championship Game at Stanford Stadium on November 30, 2012 in Stanford, California. Stanford won the game 27-24. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Everyone is eagerly awaiting the BCS bowl games, but there are 30 other games to pay attention to as well.

Because every commercial brand seems to have its own bowl game nowadays, college football fans get to enjoy more games than they used to. For some, that's a bad thing. For collegiate football junkies, it's heaven.

With games starting as early as December 15, it's time to get familiar with what's worth watching aside from the BCS matchups.

Let's take a look at three non-BCS games that you must turn your attention to.

Chick-fil-A Bowl: No. 8 LSU vs. No. 14 Clemson

Watching Clemson's offense battle LSU's defense is reason enough to watch this game.

Just think of the talent on both units. Tajh Boyd, Andre Ellington, Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins will all test the LSU defense, as will tight end Brandon Ford. Clemson's attack did benefit from a weak ACC slate, but this group is still loaded with ability.

Meanwhile, the Tigers defense is among the best coached in the country. John Chavis understands how to get the most out of his players, and his aggressive scheme fits these speedy athletes like a glove.

This game is going to be close. LSU's offense isn't ready to blow anyone away, and the Clemson defense does have speed. Clemson has enough firepower to make this one interesting, and it will be a must-watch game as BCS bowls approach.

Most people will favor the SEC's battle-tested team in this one, and I do think LSU will win eventually, but not before Clemson creates some fireworks.

Holiday Bowl: Baylor vs. No. 17 UCLA

If you haven't watched Baylor yet and you like offense, you're going to want to watch this. Elite defenses are the only units with any hope of slowing this team down, and the Bruins do not have that to their credit.

Nick Florence and Terrance Williams could make a case as the nation's most dynamic duo, and Tevin Reese isn't too bad himself. Throw in Glasco Martin's north-south running and Lache Seastrunk's home-run ability out of the backfield, and you have yourself a well-oiled offensive machine.

UCLA is no slouch, either. It may not boast the playmakers that the Bears do, but Johnathan Franklin did run for 1,700 yards this year for a reason. He's one of the nation's best ball-carriers, and rising dual-threat quarterback Brett Hundley can play as well.

I like Baylor to pull the minor upset here. UCLA is allowing almost 26 points per game this year, and Baylor can flat-out score. Tune in, and watch the fireworks.

New Mexico Bowl: Nevada vs. Arizona

Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. Maybe it's just my personal preference, but I prefer to see wild, crazy shootouts in the lesser bowl games.

Why not? Who really wants to watch two sub-par teams duke it out in a defensive battle? It's no fun.

The first game of this year's bowl season certainly won't bore you. Of all the games, it's the most likely to clear 90-to-100 total points.

Arizona can air it out with Matt Scott in the pocket, but this game is really about the ball-carriers on both sides. Against two below-average defenses, Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey and Nevada's Stefphon Jefferson should both have big games.

Carey is one of the best running backs in the country this year, using Arizona's spread attack to run for over six yards per carry and 20 scores. Jefferson isn't a big-play threat like that, but his 22 rushing touchdowns show you how productive he's been.

If you want to watch two teams go score for score, this one is for you. The schools' names may not jump out at you, but don't let that fool you here.

Bowl Schedule

Note: All times are ET and p.m. unless noted otherwise. All games (except for the Sun Bowl and Cotton Bowl) can be streamed live at WatchESPN

Bowl Team 1 Team 2 Stadium: Location Date: Time TV
New Mexico Nevada Arizona University Stadium: Albuquerque, NM 12/15: 1:00  ESPN
Famous Idaho Potato Toledo Utah State Bronco Stadium: Boise, ID 12/15: 4:30 ESPN
Poinsettia BYU San Diego State Qualcomm Stadium: San Diego, CA 12/20: 8:00 ESPN
Beef 'O' Brady's Ball State
UCF Tropicana Field: St. Petersburg, FL 12/21: 7:30 ESPN
New Orleans East Carolina Louisiana-Lafayette Superdome: New Orleans, LA 12/22: Noon ESPN
Las Vegas Boise State Washington Sam Boyd Stadium: Las Vegas, NV 12/22: 3:30 ESPN
Hawaii SMU Fresno State Aloha Stadium: Honolulu, HI 12/24: 8:00 ESPN
Little Caesars Central Michigan
Western Kentucky
Ford Field: Detroit, MI 12/26: 7:30     ESPN
Military Bowling Green
San Jose State RFK Stadium: Washington, DC 12/27: 3:00 ESPN
Belk Duke Cincinnati
Bank of America Stadium: Charlotte, NC 12/27: 6:30 ESPN
Holiday Baylor UCLA Qualcomm Stadium: San Diego, CA 12/27: 9:45 ESPN
Independence Louisiana-Monroe Ohio Independence Stadium: Shreveport, LA 12/28: 2:00 ESPN
Russell Athletic Virginia Tech Rutgers
Florida Citrus Bowl: Orlando, FL 12/28: 5:30 ESPN
Meineke Car Care Minnesota
Texas Tech
Reliant Stadium: Houston, TX 12/28: 9:00 ESPN
Armed Forces Rice Air Force Amon G. Carter Stadium: Fort Worth, TX 12/29: 11:45 a.m. ESPN
Pinstripe Syracuse
West Virginia
Yankee Stadium: Bronx, NY 12/29: 3:15 ESPN
Kraft Navy Arizona State AT&T Park: San Francisco, CA 12/29: 4:00 ESPN2
Alamo Texas
Oregon State Alamodome: San Antonio, TX 12/29: 6:45 ESPN
Buffalo Wild Wings TCU
Michigan State
Sun Devil Stadium: Tempe, AZ 12/29: 10:15 ESPN
Music City N.C. State
Vanderbilt LP Field: Nashville, TN 12/31: Noon ESPN
Sun Georgia Tech USC Sun Bowl: El Paso, TX 12/31: 2:00 CBS
Liberty Tulsa Iowa State Liberty Bowl: Memphis, TN 12/31: 3:30 ESPN
Chick-fil-A Clemson LSU Georgia Dome: Atlanta, GA 12/31: 7:30 ESPN
Gator Northwestern
Mississippi State Everbank Field: Jacksonville, FL 1/1: Noon ESPN2
Heart of Dallas Purdue
Oklahoma State
Cotton Bowl: Dallas, TX 1/1: Noon ESPNU
Outback Michigan
South Carolina Raymond James Stadium: Tampa, FL 1/1: 1:00 ESPN

Capital One

Georgia Florida Citrus Bowl: Orlando, FL 1/1: 1:00 ABC
Rose Stanford Wisconsin Rose Bowl: Pasadena, CA 1/1: 5:00 ESPN
Orange Northern Illinois
Florida State Sun Life Stadium: Miami, FL 1/1: 8:30 ESPN
Sugar Florida Louisville Superdome: New Orleans, LA 1/2: 8:30 ESPN
Fiesta Oregon Kansas State U. of Phoenix Stadium: Glendale, AZ 1/3: 8:30 ESPN
Cotton Oklahoma
Texas A&M Cowboys Stadium: Arlington, TX 1/4: 8:00 FOX
Compass Pittsburgh
Ole Miss Legion Field: Birmingham, AL 1/5: 1:00 ESPN Kent State
Arkansas State Ladd-Peebles Stadium: Mobile, AL 1/6: 9:00 ESPN
National Championship Notre Dame
Sun Life Stadium: Miami, FL 1/7: 8:30 ESPN


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