Think the BCS title game is the only postseason game that really matters? Think again. In some cases, teams can use a bowl to advance the success they'll achieve the following calendar year, whether it's on the recruiting trail or during the ensuing season.
Northern Illinois went from a GoDaddy.com Bowl win against Arkansas State last season to a BCS berth this year. Florida just got past Ohio State in the Gator Bowl a year ago and now it's back in the Sugar Bowl. Auburn destroyed Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and ... well, so it might not work every time. But bowls do sometimes create offseason momentum.
Here is a countdown of teams that aim to be more NIU than Auburn, programs that could use a bowl win as a springboard to something larger in 2013.
10. Ole Miss Rebels
Bowl: BBVA Compass vs. Pitt, Jan. 5
Hugh Freeze quietly did one of the best coaching jobs in the SEC in 2012. In Freeze's first season, the Rebels won three league games compared with two combined in 2010 and 2011. (Plus, they were very much in games against Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and LSU.)
For a change, there's excitement in the Grove. Freeze's up-tempo offense has brought some sizzle and there's an anticipated recruiting class expected in February. And that's the case even if high-end D-end prospect Robert Nkemdiche doesn't wind up in Oxford. He just might, though.
All the talk of good mojo aside, it still would be a losing season if the Rebs do not defeat Pitt; 7-6 and 6-7 sound so different, including to future prospects.