Bowl Schedule 2012-13: Underrated Games That Will Provide Must-Watch Television

Shawn Brubaker@@63brubakerContributor IIDecember 23, 2012

Everyone might be getting pumped up for the big BCS games, but there are plenty of lesser-known games that are sure to excite this bowl season.

Some of the brightest stars in college football, such as Geno Smith, Brett Hundley and Jordan Lynch, will take the field in games that many fans are ignoring.

Don't miss out. Make sure to catch these players and more in some of the bowl season's most exciting games.

These are the ones to watch out for.

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl: Baylor vs. No. 17 UCLA (Dec. 27, 9:45 p.m. ET)

If you like offense, this game is the one to watch.

Baylor averaged an impressive 44 points per game this year, but it surrendered a horrifying 38 points per game. UCLA was similar this season, averaging 35 points per game while surrendering 26.

Both of these teams feature premier quarterbacks and strong running attacks.

For Baylor, Nick Florence leads the nation's third-best passing attack. He regularly hits star receiver Terrance Williams for big gains, as Williams has racked up a stellar 1,764 receiving yards on an 18.6 yards-per-catch average.

On the ground, Baylor is led by Lache Seastrunk. Since Seastrunk has taken over the starting position, Baylor has gone 4-1 with an upset over then-No. 1 Kansas State. He has rejuvenated this Baylor running attack and made this offense even more deadly.

For the Bruins, Brett Hundley was perhaps the second-best freshman quarterback in the nation behind Johnny Manziel. Hundley went for 3,776 yards of total offense this season along with 35 combined touchdowns. He's a star whose exposure will only grow over the years.

While Hundley will continue to grow in UCLA, this will be the last chance to catch running back Johnathan Franklin. Franklin had a career year with 1,700 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, as teams had no answer for the quick senior running back.

With such great offensive talent for both teams, you can expect a shootout in this game. Hundley and Florence are two of the best quarterbacks in the nation, and this game is a great opportunity to see them at their best.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: West Virginia vs. Syracuse (Dec. 29, 3:15 p.m. ET)

Getting excited for a bowl game between two mediocre major-conference schools can be difficult, but not this game. Top draft prospects Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib promise plenty of fireworks and points, while draftniks will be sure to check out what these two quarterbacks can do.

There are a combined 7,623 passing yards and 64 passing touchdowns between Smith and Nassib. With no defense to be found in this game, expect those totals to grow significantly. 

Another reason for optimism: Both of these teams are riding winning streaks. West Virginia has won its last two games, while Syracuse has won its last three. Both of these teams are hot, so expect them to be at their best.

Outside of the quarterbacks, Tavon Austin is the main attraction in this game.

The West Virginia wide receiver is an elite playmaker who can run the ball and catch the ball effectively. In a 50-49 loss to Oklahoma, Austin racked up 344 rushing yards and 82 receiving yards in a dominant individual effort. He is always capable of busting off that kind of performance, so watch out for Austin in this game.

With so much offensive firepower, the last team to possess the ball could end up winning this game. That sounds like a promising formula for an exciting bowl game.

Discover Orange Bowl: No. 15 Northern Illinois vs. No. 12 Florida State (Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Despite being a BCS game, the Orange Bowl is being ignored among the more exciting matchups between power-conference schools. The ACC isn't the draw it once was, and Northern Illinois isn't exactly a well-known school.

But this game features two dynamic quarterbacks who will promise an entertaining matchup.

For Florida State, EJ Manuel is a possible early-round draft pick after successfully leading Florida State the past two years. His passer rating has been over 150 in both of the past two years, and he's combined for 40 passing touchdowns over that span.

He will be helped by the nation's seventh-ranked scoring defense. Defensive end Bjoern Werner is a player to watch on that defense. He's a sure-fire first-round pick in April, and for good reason. Werner has racked up 13 sacks this season and has a dominant performance against Florida to his credit.

Making things difficult for Werner will be NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch.

Lynch is the Johnny Manziel of the Mid-American Conference. With 4,733 yards of total offense and 43 total touchdowns, boosted by a BCS quarterback-record 1,771 rushing yards, Lynch has posted the most eye-popping numbers in the nation.

Watching Lynch is always a joy, and finding out how he will do against a defense this good will be fun to watch. Don't ignore this game; it will be a good one.


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