Ranking The 2012-2013 Bowls - The Solid
Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell
Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell
Posted Dec 5, 2012

Before they start, the ranking of the bowls - No. 11 to 15

2012-2013 Bowl Matchups

The Solid Bowls 

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The 2012-2013 Pre-Bowl Rankings
The top ten to come Wednesday afternoon
- Just Bowls. No More, No Less - No. 16 to No. 20
- The Mediocre - No. 21 to No. 25
- The Lousy - No. 26 to No. 30 
- Seriously? - No. 30 to No. 35  

15. TaxSlayer.com Gator

Northwestern vs. Mississippi State
Jacksonville, FL EverBank Field
Jan. 1, 12:00 pm, ESPN2    

Three Reasons Why You Have To Watch This Bowl
1. Yes, really, Northwestern could finally be able to come up with a bowl win for the first time since 1948. It's not like recent bowls when the Wildcats had to play up – they're really and truly good enough to break the bowl win drought against a reeling Mississippi State team that lost four of its final five games. This is a game the Big Ten HAS to have.

2. Strength on strength. Mississippi State has a terrific punting game, even if Baker Swedenburg's average is just under 41 yards per kick. Northwestern is third in the nation in punt returns thanks to Venric Mark. It should be a fun game-within-the-bowl-game matchup.

3. Turnover margin. For those of you who want a clean game, Miss State is fifth in the nation in turnover margin and Northwestern is tenth. Neither team is that bad when it comes to penalties.

And Why You Shouldn't Care A Lick: Be honest; you're going to forget this game is going on. With Purdue and Oklahoma State starting at the same time in the Heart of Dallas, and with the big boys kicking off an hour later in the Outback and Capital One, sleep in after New Year's night and you might miss this.

Three Names To Drop To Make Every Man Want You And Every Woman Fear You

1. RB Venric Mark, Jr. Northwestern – The Wildcat star might be the most entertaining player you haven't seen. Not only has he rushed for 1,310 yards with 11 scores, but he's been an elite punt and kick returner and a solid receiver. He's the most dangerous player on the field.

2. CB Johnthan Banks, Sr. Mississippi State – One of the nation's best defensive backs is dangerous with the ball in his hands and a sure tackler. With his size and talent, he's going to make a lot of money at the next level for a long time.

3. QB Kain Colter, Jr. Northwestern – With time to prepare, how will the NU coaching staff use Colter? He's part quarterback, part receiver, part running back, but he's going to be used in a variety of ways.

Gut-Reaction Pick That Might Change In The Next Few Days On A Whim: Northwestern 27 … Mississippi State 24

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14. Valero Alamo

Oregon State vs. Texas
San Antonio, TX Alamodome
Dec. 29, 6:45 pm, ESPN

Three Reasons Why You Have To Watch This Bowl

1. Talk about pressure, it's going to be a really, really ugly offseason for Mack Brown if he loses in a home bowl game to close out with three straight losses. If you want to see a desperate team that might come out roaring, Texas should be it. If it's not, then that might be a referendum on Brown's status.

2. Oregon State is good enough to win the game and make a big statement for the Pac-12. The offense has the passing game to light up an underwhelming Longhorn defense, while the defense is one of the best in the conference against the run. The Beavers are for real.

3. There's a good history. Oklahoma State blasted Arizona two years ago in an ugly blowout, but last year's Baylor win over Washington was the wildest game of the bowl season, and most games over the last several years have either been close or crazy shootouts.

And Why You Shouldn't Care A Lick: Will the real Texas please stand up? If the Longhorns play like they did over the final two weeks of the season, or in the ugly win over Kansas or the clunker against Oklahoma, the well-coached Beavers could bring the boo birds out early.

Three Names To Drop To Make Every Man Want You And Every Woman Fear You

1. QB David Ash, Soph. Texas – Does he get the keys to the car again after Case McCoy's issues against Kansas State? Ash was fantastic in last year's bowl victory over California, and this game could determine the future of the program.

2. CB Jordan Poyer, Sr. Oregon State – No. 2 in the nation in interceptions with seven, he has been one of the Pac-12's best all-around cover-corners while doing a decent job against the run.

3. DE Alex Okafor, Sr. Texas – The defense might be a dog this year, but Okafor has come up with a strong year with eight sacks and 46 tackles. He has been the bright spot.

Gut-Reaction Pick That Might Change In The Next Few Days On A Whim: Texas 24 … Oregon State 17

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13. Buffalo Wild Wings

TCU vs. Michigan State
Tempe, AZ Sun Devil Stadium
Dec. 29, 10:15 pm, ESPN
Three Reasons Why You Have To Watch This Bowl

1. This is a message board bowl. It might not be the biggest matchup of the season, but it's the type of game that fans tend to point to as evidence one way or another about the strength of the respective conferences. Can the Big 12 come up with a nice win from its newcomer? A victory by TCU over a good Big Ten team would do wonders for the conference, while the Big Ten needs as many feathers in its cap as possible.

2. The Spartans have been a disappointment, needing to beat Minnesota in the final game of the regular season, just to be bowl eligible. However, this might be the chance at a little bit of redemption. The defense is among the best in America and it's fantastic against the run. Considering TCU is ten in the nation against the run, for those wanting to see a defensive slugfest of a bowl, this is it.

3. TCU managed to close out the year with a slew of interesting games. The second half was wild and wacky with a few multiple overtime outings and battles with Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma. The team knows how to do interesting.

And Why You Shouldn't Care A Lick: Michigan State has been one of the worst big-name teams in the bowls over the last two decades. Last year it took a lot of magic and three overtimes to get by Georgia, but before that the team lost five straight after beating Fresno State in a shootout in 2001. The program just isn't that good in bowls.

Three Names To Drop To Make Every Man Want You And Every Woman Fear You

1. RB Le'Veon Bell, Jr. Michigan State – Arguably the most valuable running back in the nation, he quietly came up with a brilliant 1,648-yard, 11 touchdown season to go along with 30 catches. He's the one player who can take over this game.

2. P Ethan Perry, Fr. TCU – It might not seem that exciting to highlight a punter, but the true freshman deserves it in a game like this. It's likely going to be a defensive, low-scoring fight, and the more that Perry can blast away and tilt the field to one side, the better.

3. PK Dan Conroy, Sr. Michigan State – If this really is going to be a tussle, Conroy and his big leg will play a huge role. He missed a few too many kicks, but he nailed 22-of-31 and showed off excellent range.

Gut-Reaction Pick That Might Change In The Next Few Days On A Whim: Michigan State 23 … TCU 16

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12. Gildan New Mexico

Arizona vs. Nevada
Albuquerque, NM University Stadium
Dec. 15, 1:00 pm, ESPN

Three Reasons Why You Have To Watch This Bowl

1. At least in theory, this should be among the most fun offensive shootouts and it should be a whale of a way to open up the bowl season. Nevada has one of the nation's top rushing offenses, but it can't play a lick of defense against the run. Arizona has a devastating offense and is great at running the ball, but it doesn't play a lick of defense, period.

2. Could this be the coming out moment for Arizona football? Beating USC was big, and it has been a great season under Rich Rodriguez, and beating Nevada would send the program into the offseason with a ton of positive momentum – the team will get a ton of hype as the next star.

3. This is a big game for the Mountain West. This is an also-ran of a Wolf Pack team that lost four of the last five games, but a win would show that the league really can play. It would do wonders for the conference if a mid-level team could beat the Pac-12.

And Why You Shouldn't Care A Lick: Nevada has been a miserable bowl team. It was able to beat Boston College a few years ago when Colin Kaepernick was able to lead the way for the greatest team in school history. That was the one bright spot for a program that has lost five of its last six bowl games. Arizona hasn't been much better losing the 2009 Holiday and the 2010 Alamo by a combined score of 69 to 10.

Three Names To Drop To Make Every Man Want You And Every Woman Fear You

1. RB Ka'Deem Carey, Soph. Arizona – The nation's leading rusher, Carey tore off 1,757 yards with 20 touchdowns including 366 yards and five touchdowns against Colorado. Second in the nation in rushing is …

2. RB Stefphon Jefferson, Jr. Nevada – The Wolf Pack always cranks out big rushing numbers in the Chris Ault Pistol offense, and this year it's Jefferson who is taking advantage with a 1,703-yard, 22 touchdown season. He hit the 100-yard mark nine times, and ran for 90 or more in two of the other three games.

3. WR Austin Hill, Soph. Arizona – Overshadowed by the other Wildcat stars, Hill rose up to lead the team with 73 catches for 1,189 yards and nine scores. He had his big moment against USC with ten grabs for 259 yards, but he was strong throughout the year.

Gut-Reaction Pick That Might Change In The Next Few Days On A Whim: Arizona 38 … Nevada 31

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11. Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO

Wisconsin vs. Stanford
January 1st, 5:00 pm, ESPN
Pasadena, CA Rose Bowl
Three Reasons Why You Have To Watch This Bowl

1. All of a sudden, the Rose Bowl went from interesting to must-see with all the Wisconsin coaching drama. What kind of a team will come out? Will the Badgers be able to avoid losing three straight bowl games? For a team that just hung 70 on the board against Nebraska to win the Big Ten championship, there are a whole slew of big question marks.

2. Stanford can firmly establish itself as a superpower under David Shaw. Going to the Fiesta Bowl and battling with Oklahoma State last year was one thing, and winning the Pac-12 title this season took things to another level. Going 12-2 with a Rose Bowl victory would be another big step forward with a few strong recruiting classes about to mature.

3. It's the Badger running game against the nation's No. 1 defense in sacks and tackles for loss. Can Stanford blast away on the Wisconsin defensive front? It's going to be one of the most physical games of the bowl season.

And Why You Shouldn't Care A Lick: Wisconsin lost five games for a reason. Granted, they were all close calls with three overtime losses in the final four regular season games, but the quarterback play is a concern and there's a chance the nation's No. 3 run defense will stop Bucky cold.

Three Names To Drop To Make Every Man Want You And Every Woman Fear You

1. QB Kevin Hogan, Fr. Stanford – He's not Andrew Luck, but the freshman showed great poise and moxie in leading the team over the back half of the season. Very mobile and ultra-competitive, he has the right make-up to go along with the talent to make this his national coming out party.

2. RB James White, Jr. Wisconsin – Montee Ball is the record-setting star and the workhorse, but White has become every bit as dangerous with blinding speed and good toughness. Occasionally operating out of the Wild Badger formation, he threw a touchdown pass against Nebraska to go along with 109 rushing yards and four scores on just 15 carries.

3. LB Shayne Skov, Sr. Stanford – There might not be a better tackling team in America, and it starts with Skov. How did the Cardinal beat Oregon? Skov led the way with ten tackles for a D that didn't miss a stop.

Gut-Reaction Pick That Might Change In The Next Few Days On A Whim: Stanford 24 … Wisconsin 21

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