Bowl Games 2012: Overlooked Matchups Every College Football Fan Needs to Watch

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2012

BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 02: Shaq Thompson #7 of the Washington Huskies returns a interception during their game against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on November 2, 2012 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and not just because Christmas is approaching.

Along with snowfall and Santa Claus, December brings about the bowl season in college football. It's a dream for any fan as it's almost a month of wall-to-wall football.

The biggest schools and bowl games get the majority of attention, and rightfully so. They'll feature some of the best coaches and players going head to head. It's not every day that hallowed programs like Notre Dame and Alabama play each other with so much on the line.

That doesn't mean, though, that the little guys should be ignored. It can often be that some of the most exciting bowl games have non-BCS or lesser-known major conference schools.

Bowl games offer some schools their only chance at reaching a nationwide audience.

Here are three matchups that have been wrongly cast aside this bowl season.


Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Washington

Any time the Boise State Broncos get an opportunity to knock off a BCS team, fans should be intrigued. Their 10-2 record condemned the school to having to settle for a bowl bid outside one of the prized BCS bowls, but this is still a great Broncos team.

A win here would continue to bolster Boise State's standing against teams from the major conferences.

There's no secret anymore in Boise, so few will be that surprised if they can beat the Huskies. With all the notoriety Boise State receives, the more in demand head coach Chris Petersen becomes. This bowl game could very well be the last for him at the school.

In Seattle, it's quite the opposite case. Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian is sitting on a seat that, while not hot, is beginning to get a tad warm. He's gotten the Huskies on the right track, but a third consecutive season of finishing 7-6 won't do much to engender the complete approval and faith of Huskies fans.

Ending the season with a tough loss to Washington State after their fourth-quarter capitulation then followed by a defeat in the bowl game is not a great way to go into 2013.


New Mexico Bowl: Arizona vs. Nevada

This is the equivalent to a Wild West showdown. On one end stands Arizona sophomore running Ka'Deem Carey. On the other stands Nevada junior running back Stefphon Johnson.

Statistically speaking, Carey was the second-best rusher in the nation, and Johnson wasn't far behind, ranking fourth. The Wildcats running back ran for 1,757 yards and 20 TDs, while the Wolf Pack running back went for 1,703 yards and 22 TDs.

It's also a matchup of two very good coaches.

Rich Rodriguez was a disaster in Ann Arbor, with his time at Michigan and the way he left West Virginia tarnishing his coaching reputation. In Tucson, he looks to be building a very good program that can compete with the elite of the Pac-12 in the coming years.

On the other sideline, Chris Ault has been a fixture in Reno since 1976. It was because of the success under Ault that Nevada moved all the way up to Division I-A in 1992. It's under Ault that the Pistol formation was created. Bowl: Kent State vs. Arkansas State

This one needs to be seen purely for a level of shock value.

The Kent State Golden Flashes hadn't been to a bowl game since 1972, and then with this season came within a hair of reaching the Orange Bowl. Head coach Darrell Hazell has done a masterful job elevating the school.

With junior running back Dri Archer, Kent has the kind of playmaker who can take a game over and has been a one-man highlight reel this season. Any chance the team has relies on him, as was evidenced in the Mid-American Conference title game against Northern Illinois.

On the other side, you have an Arkansas State Red Wolves team that, while their narrative isn't equal to Kent State, is just as fun to watch.

Led by senior quarterback Ryan Aplin, Arkansas State has a very prolific offense. Aside from their loss to Western Kentucky, the Red Wolves' 9-3 record is a bit misleading. The other two defeats came away to Oregon and away to Nebraska.