Tuesday Question: The 5 Best Non-BCS Bowls
Oklahoma QB Landry Jones
Oklahoma QB Landry Jones
Posted Dec 18, 2012

Tuesday Question ... what are the best bowls on the board outside of the BCS?

The five best non-BCS bowl games.

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By Rich Cirminiello

5. Outback Bowl (South Carolina-Michigan)
How will the Wolverines use Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner? And will it make a difference against one of the country's best defenses? It's always fun watching Steve Spurrier with an opportunity to enhance his rather prodigious legacy.

4. Holiday Bowl (Baylor-UCLA)
There aren't many games this month that'll produce more offensive fireworks than the Holiday Bowl. With backs Johnathan Franklin and Lache Seastrunk, and receivers Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese in the same building, bank on more than 80 points, three-plus plays of at least 50 yards and a wild final stanza.

3. Capital One Bowl (Georgia-Nebraska)
It's always fun watching Georgia in action, with its mess of talent on both sides of the ball. It'll be even more fun when the camera pans over to an inconsolable Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini, who realizes he has a lot at stake on New Year's Day after his Huskers were obliterated in the Big Ten title game.

2. Chick-fil-A Bowl (LSU-Clemson)
The Georgia Dome will stage as good a matchup between a high-flying offense and a rock-solid D as there is this postseason. Clemson gets a second straight shot to prove itself against the SEC after failing in the regular season finale with South Carolina.

1. Cotton Bowl (Texas A&M-Oklahoma)
The Cotton Bowl landed a dream matchup by non-BCS standards, a pairing of former Big 12 rivals who were both good enough to earn a BCS berth this year. Obviously, this will be Johnny Manziel's first game as a Heisman winner, but also another chance for Sooners coach Bob Stoops to prop up his image and his resume in January bowl games.

By Phil Harrison

Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

5. Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, UCLA vs. Baylor
Remember the entertaining Holiday Bowls of yesteryear? Yeah, this one has the same potential as BYU vs. SMU in 1980, or Kansas State vs. Arizona State in 2002. Points will come in bushels, defense will be played sporadically, and you might be glued to the television set.

4. The Valero Alamo Bowl, Texas vs. Oregon State
Occasionally we get the treat of two ranked teams in the Alamo Bowl, and that's exactly what we have here. It'll be the no-frills, solid-play of Mike Riley's OSU squad vs. an underachieving, yet still-talented Longhorn team. The interesting underbelly of this game involves the status of the long-tenured Mack Brown. A Texas loss would make a lot of folks in Austin very unhappy about the status of the program. It's a traditional power versus one of the most overachieving teams of 2012. Game on.

3. The Chick-fil-A Bowl, LSU vs. Clemson
A James Bond flick has nothing on this game. The lovely folks in Atlanta always try to put a matchup of deserving teams together rather than pad the bankroll, and they got it right here as well. It's the offense of Clemson versus the nasty defense of LSU. There will be a lot of star power on both sides of the ball, and if the good sides of each team's multiple personalities show up, this could be a fun show.

2. The Outback Bowl, South Carolina vs. Michigan
It's "Shoelace's" last game, and if the Big Ten wants to pick itself up off the torn and tattered matt, it needs to win a game against a quality SEC team. It'll be interesting to see if Michigan has improved from the public flogging it took early in the year against a different SEC team. Likewise, it'll be worth watching to see if a Gamecock team still trying to find its identity on offense without Marcus Lattimore can keep the SEC dominance going.

1. The AT&T Cotton Bowl, Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma This may not be a BCS Bowl game in name, but the matchup is BCS worthy. Texas A&M might be playing the best football of anyone right now, and Oklahoma was considered the team that received a Northern Illinois wedgie. Johnny Football pyrotechnics versus Landry Jones fireworks should be a spectacle worth man-bonding.

By Matt Zemek

5) Alamo. With Bryan Harsin no longer the offensive coordinator for Texas, Mack Brown is staring at the end of his tenure in Austin. He needs – no, not a win – a strong performance from his team in this game. If he doesn't get it, he'll enter next September knowing that he must win at least 10 games to have a decent chance of maintaining power. This game will also be worth watching because Oregon State is once again a player in the Pac-12. How resilient the Beavers prove to be will affect the competitive balance on the West Coast. The 2012 Alamo Bowl won't be anything like the 2011 Alamo Bowl. It's not a bowl you watch for atmospherics or point totals. It's worth watching for the best reason: You're genuinely intrigued by the two participating schools and feel that the game possesses some degree of actual meaning for at least one of them, if not both.

4) Outback. Steve Spurrier coaches against Michigan. One of the sport's greatest coaches against one of the sport's greatest programs. 'Nuff said.

3) GoDaddy.com. Two of the best non-AQ teams in the country will compete in this game. The fact that Arkansas State is seen as a career-building program by the likes of Gus Malzahn and Bryan Harsin enhances the stature of the Red Wolves… and this contest in Mobile, Ala., against Kent State. The team that almost became the BCS buster in the Mid-American Conference will give Arkansas State a worthy postseason opponent.

2) Cotton. Texas A&M deserved a BCS bowl… and this game will feel more like a BCS bowl than the Orange or Sugar. Bob Stoops gets one more chance to win a game of significance, and so does Landry Jones.

1) Peach (okay, okay… Chick-Fil-A). Like Evert-Navratilova or Celtics-Lakers from the 1980s, the best sports collisions are the ones between players or teams with contrasting styles. LSU and Clemson fit the bill, and they bring a brand-name feel to a sold-out Georgia Dome. This is where the party TRULY starts for America on New Year's Eve.

By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

5. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (TCU vs. Michigan State) - Unlike many of the other bowls, this contest will be an old-fashioned defensive struggle. Both the Horned Frogs (10th) and the Spartans (8th) rank in the top ten in run defense, and allow a paltry 3.3 yards per carry. Without a ground game to rely on, this contest will hinge on which first-year signal caller can make the most plays. Will it be Trevone Boykin or Andrew Maxwell?

4. Holiday Bowl (Baylor vs. UCLA) - On the other hand, for those fans that want to see a high-octane shootout, this is your game. The QB duel between Nick Florence (1st in total offense) and Brett Hundley (26th in total offense) should provide plenty of fireworks, as each signal caller can defeat opposing defenses with both his arm and his legs. Given that both teams have positive turnover margins for the season, it's safe to say that whoever has the ball last will win the game.

3. Independence Bowl (Ohio vs. Louisiana-Monroe) - Yes, the QB matchup between Tyler Tettleton and Kolton Browning will be one of the most entertaining of the postseason. However, what separates this bowl from most of the others is that it matches strength against strength. Will the Warhawk D, which led the Sun Belt in run defense, be able to stop Beau Blankenship, who finished ninth nationally with 125 yards per game?

2. Chick-Fil-A Bowl (Clemson vs. LSU) - This is the most underrated game in the postseason. Unlike most ACC-SEC matchups, this one is simply too close to call. Sure, Clemson has the nation's sixth best scoring offense, but the Bayou Bengals finished eighth in total defense. It will be interesting to see how LSU's vaunted secondary, which recorded 18 picks this season, will do against the lethal tandem of Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins.

1. Cotton Bowl (Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma) - Let's be honest: the Cotton Bowl is better than most of the BCS games this year. It features an Aggie team that handed Alabama its lone defeat, against an Oklahoma squad that only lost to No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 5 Kansas State. Throw in the fact that the game also has Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and seasoned veteran Landry Jones (OU's all-time winningest QB), and this year's Cotton Bowl could be the best bowl game this year... period.