Bowl Predictions 2012: Projecting Top Games Following Wild Week 10
Everything is set to stand pat at the top of college football's BCS rankings after an action-packed Week 10. Alabama and Oregon were both threatened on the road, but both were able to pull off thrilling wins to move closer to what looks like an impending showdown in Miami for the BCS National Championship.
There's sure to be a shuffle inside the Top 10, but with LSU losing a tight one to Alabama, will it affect the Tigers' stock for future bowl games? Elsewhere, five schools (excluding bowl-disqualified Ohio State) are still unbeaten and aiming towards the national-championship game, including a Louisville team led by outstanding QB Teddy Bridgewater.
The bowl picture is slowly starting to piece itself together, and Week 10 helped clear up what's sure to be a muddy mess if any of these unbeatens decide to go ahead lose in the final three weeks of the season or on conference-championship weekend, when upsets rule the day.
With five BCS bowls to fill up, the selection committees for these major television and money markets will have their hands full.
Here's an updated projection of those five bowls, keeping in mind that anything can happen before the end of November.
Rose Bowl: Nebraska vs. Notre Dame
For those of you bowl-savvy folks at home, the inclusion of Notre Dame here means a Pac-12 school will not be represented. To put two and two together, that means a certain green and gold team is in the national-championship game.
But we'll save that for a little on down the list.
Nebraska benefits from Ohio State and Penn State's blunders to grab a Big Ten championship win over either Wisconsin or Indiana. After beating Michigan, the Huskers control their own destiny, with Penn State, Iowa and Minnesota still on the schedule.
That's a better draw than Michigan's, which still includes a dangerous Northwestern team and Ohio State, a team likely trying to cap a 12-0 unbeaten season and do so behind a very emotional Urban Meyer.
Although a Pac-12 team could still get in here with just two losses, USC and Stanford are probably both out, since each will have more than two losses after Oregon runs the table.
Oregon State has the best chance, but with Oregon and a trap game against Stanford still there, I think the Beavers choke this one away and end up allowing the Rose Bowl to invite Notre Dame to the illustrious venue.
Discover Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Louisville
Not the scenario either team really wants, as both had national-championship aspirations. Louisville will be unbeaten if it gets a bid to the Orange Bowl and will likely make a claim that they too should be playing in the BCS title game.
But the Big East schedule does them no favors, and this could be an exciting matchup of QBs in E.J. Manuel and Bridgewater.
Louisville is underrated, but a Seminole defense that is clicking at the right time will have plenty of frustration about losing to North Carolina State earlier in the season, a loss that knocked them out of the national championship picture.
Florida State already knocked Miami down in Coral Gables, and a potential rematch looks like the story in the ACC Championship Game. No matter what happens when the Seminoles battle the Florida Gators for the Florida Cup, the 'Noles will get the nod with the ACC title.
The picture is murkier for Louisville, but an unbeaten regular season would net them a spot in a BCS bowl. The Orange seems to be the most likely.
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Oklahoma
Many people like Clemson in this spot, and with losses to both Florida State and potentially South Carolina as the only blemishes, I could certainly see that happening.
But Oklahoma's two losses have come at the hands of the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the country, in Kansas State and Notre Dame, respectively. Granted, both losses were in Norman, which could sway the minds of both voters and the computers.
If OU can run the table, it has a real shot to stake a claim at this matchup. A potential rematch of the national-championship game in 2008, the New Orleans-held event would be a major draw for both schools, which are relatively close to Louisiana.
This matchup would be something feasible for both schools, while giving coach Bob Stoops yet another chance to prove his team can win BCS bowls.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State vs. Clemson
The Tigers won't be a huge draw for this game, but neither will Kansas State. The Wildcats will get the automatic nod after being the No. 3 team in the nation and the Big 12 champion. Behind QB Tahj Boyd and the prolific Clemson offense, Dabo Swinney's team will also get the bid here.
Kansas State fans will be troubled to learn that an undefeated mark won't get them a shot at Alabama, just like with Notre Dame and Louisville, should those two run the table.
In a game that will pit clock management and old-school principals against the spread offense and extremely fast skill players, it would be a nice matchup of polar opposites.
The Rose Bowl would get first crack at a new team with its host school in the title game and the replacements having more than two losses, so if the Rose Bowl committee decided to go in another direction, you could see Notre Dame here.
Which BCS bowl are you most excited for?
BCS National Championship: Alabama vs. Oregon
The country's No. 1 and No. 2 teams will square off in this classic affair, as Oregon proved against USC that its late-season conference wins will be impressive enough to vault them past Kansas State and into the second spot.
With games still left against Oregon State, Stanford and whoever comes out of the Pac-12 South (likely USC again), the Ducks have three more chances to beat ranked teams. 'Bama is no doubt in if it runs the table, but the Tide still have two tough games against Texas A&M and the SEC East winner.
All that's left for these two teams is to win out, a daunting task for both, considering the nature of upsets in college football and their remaining schedules.
Still, Chip Kelly will get his second crack at solving an SEC defense if his team finishes the season undefeated.
It might make fans mad, but the Ducks have the best shot at 'Bama right now.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R and a member of the site's Breaking News Team.
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