Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel runs the ball for a touchdown against Arkansas. His team will face Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4.
Six wins will qualify a college football team for a bowl game.
There are 35 bowl games, meaning 70 teams earn bowl berths. Georgia Tech finished with a losing record (6-7) and still clinched a spot opposite the University of Southern California in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
That being said, there will be plenty of mediocrity on display until the bowl season’s conclusion. But there are some good matchups as well.
Here are three non-BCS matchups that will be worth your time:
The Chick-fil-A Bowl: No. 8 LSU (10-2, 6-2 SEC) vs. No. 14 Clemson (10-2, 7-1 ACC) – Dec. 31
Polar opposites clash in this game. Clemson’s explosive offense against LSU’s big-time defense. Both teams, winners of their respective conferences in 2011, had high hopes for 2012. Both fell a little short of their BCS aspirations.
Seven times, Clemson scored more than 40 points in a game. Its per game scoring average of 42.3 is sixth best in the nation. Quarterback Tajh Boyd is one of the best in the nation, and he’s the straw that stirs the drink. Boyd passed for 3,550 yards and 33 touchdowns this season. Top wideout DeAndre Hopkins had 1,214 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns.
If LSU has its way, neither one will be very productive.
NFL prospects Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montogmery – both defensive lineman – lead a unit that yields 16.9 points per game, 11th nationally. Linebacker Kevin Minter was an All-American, too, and LSU allowed more than 20 points just twice this season.
The Capital One Bowl: No. 7 Georgia (11-2, 7-1 SEC) vs. No. 16 Nebraska (10-3, 7-1 Big Ten) – Jan. 1
A couple more teams that fell just short of the BCS. Georgia led eventual conference champ Alabama for much of the SEC Title Game before surrendering the lead late. Nebraska, on the other hand, was blown out by Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship.
Despite those title game losses, this is one of the few non-BCS games that pits two big-time foes against one another.
Georgia is a good all-around team – its offense and defense both rank in the top-20 nationally. Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray is one of the best in college football. His passer efficiency rating was the second-best in the county and his 31 passing touchdowns ranked second in the SEC.
Bulldogs linebacker Jarvis Jones was an All-American and his 12.5 sacks were fifth nationally.
Jones and his defense will be challenged by option-quarterback Taylor Martinez. Martinez leads one of the nation’s most potent rushing attacks – eighth best to be exact. He’s a much improved passer, too. His 21 passing touchdowns are a career high.
The AT&T Cotton Bowl: No. 11 Oklahoma (10-2, 8-1 Big 12) vs. No. 9 Texas A&M (10-2, 6-2 SEC) – Jan. 4
Former Big 12 foes will square off in a primetime showdown at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas. Both teams fell just short of a BCS berth, but there’s no shortage of talent on either end.
Heisman Trophy Winner Johnny Manziel will look to cap his sensational season by leading Texas A&M to its second straight bowl win. Manziel passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns and ran for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns, breaking Cam Newton’s SEC total yards record and becoming the first freshman to win college football’s top honor.
Senior quarterback Landry Jones leads the Sooners, whose only losses were against Kansas State and Notre Dame – both will be playing in BCS Bowls.
Jones, who will likely be picked in April’s NFL Draft, passed for 3,989 yards and 29 touchdowns. He holds school records in passing yards, pass attempts and completions.
Expect a shootout in this one – both teams rank top-15 nationally in total offense.
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