It almost seems incredible that in the last year before the BCS moves to a 4-team playoff, the system worked itself out quite nicely. With Florida State rolling over Duke in a predictable ACC Championship, and Michigan State’s upset of Ohio State in the Big 10, the Seminoles will face the Auburn Tigers in the BCS National Championship on January 6th. While this matchup is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing in recent years, college football fanatics will not forget that there are 36 other bowl games taking place during the holiday season. This week we take a look at the best matchups in non-BCS bowl games.

December 21st, 3:30 p.m.

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State vs. USC


Although barely missing out on a BCS bid, the 1-loss Bulldogs couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to prove themselves in facing the resurgent USC Trojans. Derek Carr leads the Bulldogs’ high-powered offense against a USC team that is 6-2 since firing Lane Kiffin. It will be interesting to see if a non-BCS conference team can once again take down a perennial power, as well as see how the Trojans respond after the resignation of interim coach Ed Orgeron.

January 3rd, 7:30 p.m.

AT&T Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Missouri


For the second year in a row, former Big 12 foes will meet in the Cotton Bowl. Both teams still have a lot to play for and a lot to prove after both of their BCS dreams were tarnished this past Saturday. In the past 10 years, the SEC has dominated the Cotton Bowl, winning 9 of the last 10 matchups. Ironically the only Big 12 victory in that time period was by Missouri before joining the SEC.

Dec 31st, 2:00 p.m.

Hyundai Sun Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. UCLA


Virginia Tech and UCLA will be one of the many first time matchups this bowl season; however, the most intriguing matchup of the game will be between UCLA Quarterback Brett Hundley and the vaunted Virginia Tech defense that is only allowing 17.4 points per game, good for 8th best in the country. With Hundley projected to go in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft, it will be interesting to see how he fares against the Hokies’ stout D.

Dec 31st, 8:00 p.m.

Chick-fil-A Bowl: Duke vs. Texas A&M


Not enough can be said of the turnaround that Head Coach David Cutcliffe has spearheaded at Duke this year. Known as a strictly basketball school, the Blue Devils may have had their best season in program history, topping the 10-win plateau, and grabbing their first birth in an ACC Title Game. Yet all of this may be overshadowed by the fact that this might be Johnny Manziel’s last game in college. As a red-shirt sophomore, Manziel will have the opportunity to head to the NFL next year, giving us only one more opportunity to watch one of the most exciting players college football has seen.

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