Week 10 of college football is now in the bag, and the 2012-2013 bowl picture is beginning to take shape. Now is the best time to take a look at what the experts are saying the bowl season will hold heading into Week 11.
Alabama solidified its place in the BCS title game with a win over LSU, and the Oregon Ducks attempted to spring themselves into the title game with a big win over Pac-12 rival USC. Kansas State is also making a push with its big wins in the Big 12.
Looking ahead at the bowl season, here are the projections for the 2012-2013 bowl season.
CFN Projections: Washington vs. Boise State
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Arizona State vs. New Mexico
Jerry Palm: Nevada vs. Arizona State
The New Mexico Bowl will host a Mountain West and Pac-12 team this season with a number of key matchups landing as possibilities in Albuquerque. The Pac-12 will seat its No. 7 bowl team in the game looking for a win for the conference.
The Mountain West will have a hill to climb in this game, but it would be a big win for the MWC.
My Prediction: Arizona State vs. Nevada
CFN Projections: Louisiana Tech vs. Toledo
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Louisiana Tech vs. Northern Illinois
Jerry Palm Projections: Utah State vs. Northern Illinois
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl—formally known as the Humanitarian Bowl—will pit the WAC champion and a bowl team from the MAC.
Louisiana Tech is the current leader in the WAC, and Colby Cameron is looking to keep it that way this year. Barring a BCS bid, the Bulldogs will head to Boise to the blue field and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Toledo is making a charge inside the MAC right now, but Northern Illinois is getting the nod into this game from the early projections. With Toledo the hot team, it will land in the game closest to home.
My Projections: Louisiana Tech vs. Northern Illinois
Orlando Sentinel Projections: BYU vs. San Diego State
CFN Projections: BYU vs. San Diego State
Jerry Palm Projections: BYU vs. San Diego State
The Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego annually hosts a bowl eligible BYU team and the MWC No. 2 bowl seed. San Diego State knocked off the Boise State Broncos this past Saturday, pushing the Aztecs into the Poinsettia Bowl discussion.
This game is all but decided if the Aztecs finish out the season with wins.
My Projections: BYU vs. San Diego State
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Arizona vs. Boise State
CFN Projections: Stanford vs. Fresno State
Jerry Palm Projections: Boise State vs. Washington
Boise State is in the lead in the MWC, matching the Broncos against a Pac-12 team in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Broncos will look for a big win over a major conference opponent in this game.
The Pac-12 will likely place UCLA in this game against Boise State, leading to an offensive showdown in Vegas between these two teams. This will be a fun matchup for the country—especially the Boise haters that don’t think the Broncos belong.
My Projections: UCLA vs. Boise State
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Tulsa vs. Western Kentucky
CFN Projections: Tulsa vs. Utah State
Jerry Palm Projections: Kent State vs. Tulsa
The Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl is set to have explosive offenses take the field in St. Petersburg with Tulsa, Utah State and Western Kentucky all likely possibilities to land in the Dec. 21 contest.
Tulsa is coming off of a heartbreaking loss this past week to Arkansas, and with only two losses lead the pack to land in the South Florida showdown. Utah State is having a great season with Chuckie Keeton leading the offensive charge and likely earning the Aggies a bid in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl.
My Projections: Tulsa vs. Utah State
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Louisiana-Monroe vs. East Carolina
CFN Projections: Marshall vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Jerry Palm Projections: Louisiana-Monroe vs. Ball State
Louisiana-Monroe was on a tear to start the season, defeating SEC foe Arkansas to start the year and battling Auburn into overtime. The Warhawks are in the No. 2 position in the Sun Belt currently and should finish the season in New Orleans.
The Warhawks' opponent is what is up for discussion in the New Orleans Bowl. A Conference USA team will be pitted against ULM, with East Carolina or Marshall the most likely fits.
My Predictions: Louisiana-Monroe vs. East Carolina
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Ball State vs. Nevada
CFN Projections: Nevada vs. East Carolina
Jerry Palm Projections: Fresno State vs. Marshall
The Hawaii Bowl is one of the best bowl trips of the season. What college football star doesn’t want to spend a weekend on the islands?
There are a few teams up for the trip with a Conference USA team and a MWC team landing in the bowl this coming season. Fresno State is leading the MWC and will face Nevada this coming Saturday in a big conference matchup. If the Bulldogs win, they will land in Honolulu.
Marshall is a hot pick for this bowl, but even though the Thundering Herd are not bowl eligible, they should earn the right in the next three games.
My Projections: Fresno State vs. Marshall
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Utah State vs. Kent State
CFN Projections: Middle Tennessee State vs. Kent State
Jerry Palm Projections: Toledo vs. Western Kentucky
The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl is in Detroit, Mich. and typically ties in the No. 8 Big Ten team and the No. 2 MAC team. No Big Ten team is expected to be eligible for the game, so an at-large bid will be placed on that bowl slot.
Toledo is having a strong season in 2012, earning a Top 25 ranking this past weekend. The Rockets would be a great fit for the bowl against a dangerous Utah State squad.
My Projections: Toledo vs. Indiana
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Bowling Green vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
CFN Projections: San Jose State vs. Ball State
Jerry Palm Projections: Western Michigan vs. Middle Tenneessee
The Military Bowl is designed to have Army as an automatic tie-in, but this season, the Black Knights will fall short of qualifying for bowl, so the at-large bid will be opened up for this Washington D.C. bowl game.
The ACC No. 8 is also a tie-in for this game, but the conference is not expected to have a qualifier. It is a tossup between possible at-large teams, but local teams and explosive offense are the likely determining factor in selection.
My Projections: Bowling Green vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Orlando Sentinel Projections: N.C. State vs. Cincinnati
CFN Projections: N.C. State vs. Cincinnati
Jerry Palm Projections: Cincinnati vs. Duke
The Belk Bowl is beginning to take shape already, with the No. 3 team in the Big East easily being spotted as Cincinnati right now. The Bearcats will receive the bid to play in the game once they finish the season, but the opponent isn’t quite as clear.
The ACC has witnessed a resurgence in Duke this season, as the Blue Devils have earned their first bowl bid since the mid-1990’s. N.C. State could also be a possibility in this game, but the Wolfpack is not playing as solid as Duke currently.
My Projections: Duke vs. Cincinnati
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Stanford vs. West Virginia
CFN Projections: USC vs. TCU
Jerry Palm Projections: Texas Tech vs. UCLA
The Holiday Bowl receives the No. 3 Pac-12 team and the No. 5 Big 12 team for its bowl selection. There is a lot of shuffling that remains inside both conferences, but the crowd is beginning to clear as the season draws to a close.
Texas Tech is currently in position to receive the bid to this game after beating TCU earlier and the season, but there will be opportunity for a number of Big 12 teams to come available for this game. The Pac-12 is also battling out the final conference standings, but Stanford is a safe bet for this game.
The Cardinal faces off against Oregon State this coming week, which will determine who takes the second spot in the Pac-12 North. The winner will finish with a bid in to the Holiday Bowl.
My Projections: Stanford vs. Texas Tech
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Wake Forest vs. Fresno State
CFN Projections: Louisiana-Lafayette vs. SMU
Jerry Palm Predictions: Miami (Oh.) vs. Louisiana Tech
The Independence Bowl is traditionally an ACC and SEC matchup, but this season, neither conference appears to have a team that will be able to fill the bowl slots left open for the conferences. The lack of teams from the tie-ins will provide for at-large bids into the game.
Wake Forest is an ACC team that is one win away from bowl eligibility, but a tough stretch remains with no sure win before it is a bowl eligible team.
Dancing with the borderline bowl eligible teams is always a gamble, but I don’t see any team from the ACC or SEC landing in this game. It will be an at-large filled game.
My Predictions: Ball State vs. SMU
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Rutgers vs. Miami (Fl.)
CFN Projections: Louisville vs. Virginia Tech
Jerry Palm Projections: Rutgers vs. Miami (Fl.)
The Big East is coming down to the wire, with Louisville and Rutgers set to square off to finish the season. That season ending battle will determine which Big East team will land in the Russell Athletic Bowl and which squad finishes the season in the BCS.
The showdown in Orlando will also place the No. 3 team from the ACC, which looks to be Miami (Fl.) at this point. The Hurricanes lead the Coastal Division of the ACC and boast the third-best record in the conference.
My Projections: Rutgers vs. Miami (Fl)
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Minnesota vs. TCU
CFN Projections: Texas Tech vs. Iowa
Jerry Palm Projections: Baylor vs. Minnesota
The Meineke Car Care Bowl pits the Big Ten against the Big 12 on December 28. The Big Ten and Big 12 are beginning to take shape, but a number of key matchups remain that will help settle the bowl picture.
Minnesota has a solid record and has won some essential games this year that has led to a winning record and a possible bowl berth. The Golden Gophers look to be the leading team from the Big Ten for this game.
TCU is the next in line for the Big 12 and will stay home in Texas to play Minnesota in this bowl game. The Horned Frogs have battled a lot of adversity this season and still face three ranked opponents to close the season. This bowl visit isn’t the Rose Bowl for the Horned Frogs, but making it to the postseason is always a positive for a program.
My Projections: TCU vs. Minnesota
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Air Force vs. Marshall
CFN Projections: Houston vs. Air Force
Jerry Palm Projections: Air Force vs. East Carolina
Air Force has been impressive with its option offensive this season, pushing forward with some big wins and a close game against Michigan, but this past Saturday, a big loss to Army pushed back the positive perception the Falcons had built through the year.
Air Force will still finish bowl eligible and will play in the Armed Forces Bowl. The Falcons' opponent is still up in the air. A Conference USA team will take on Air Force, and to this point, Houston looks to be in the driver’s seat for the bid.
My Projections: Houston vs. Air Force
Orlando Sentinel Projections: USC vs. Texas Tech
CFN Projections: UCLA vs. Texas
Jerry Palm Projections: West Virginia vs. USC
The Big 12 and Pac-12 will face-off in the Alamo Bowl on December 29 with a number of big names remaining as possibilities to land in this game. USC has fallen far from the national title game that the Trojans were set on to start the year, but this will be a nice consolation bowl for USC.
The Big 12 is still shaking out the remaining standings, but Texas has climbed back into the Top 25 and is currently third in the conference standings. If the Longhorns can continue to push through the remaining three games with at least two wins, they will land in the Alamo against USC.
My Projections: Texas vs. USC
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Navy vs. Washington
CFN Projections: Navy vs. Arizona State
Jerry Palm Projections: Arizona vs. Navy
Navy has an automatic bid into the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, and the Midshipmen are now eligible to take their position in the bowl game. The No. 6 selection from the Pac-12 will face off with Navy in the game.
Washington has worked its way back into the bowl conversation this season despite three big losses that came earlier this year. With three winnable games remaining, the Huskies should finish the year fighting hunger and the Midshipmen from Navy in this bowl game.
My Projections: Washington vs. Navy
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Iowa State vs. Pittsburgh
CFN Projections: Iowa State vs. Syracuse
Jerry Palm Projections: TCU vs. Utah
The Pinstripe Bowl has become a new tradition for college football, as Yankee Stadium turns into a football field for one day every season. This year, the Big 12 will send Iowa State to the game. The Cyclones have played inspired this fall, winning a big game over TCU and losing a heartbreaker to Kansas State.
The Big East is scrambling to find additional bowl eligible teams this fall to help fill its bowl obligation. Pitt is still two wins away from bowl eligibility, but the remaining schedule holds two winnable games for the Panthers. If Pitt can find six wins, it lands in New York to finish the year.
My Projections: Pitt vs. Iowa State
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Oklahoma State vs. Michigan State
CFN Projections: Oklahoma State vs. Northwestern
Jerry Palm Projections: Oklahoma State vs. Northwestern
Buffalo Wild Wings decided to step into the bowl sponsorship game this fall, hosting a game in Phoenix, Ariz. this year. The Big Ten and Big 12 will feed the bowl its teams, with Oklahoma State being the runaway favorite to take the field for the Big 12.
Northwestern is working on one of the best records in the Big Ten this fall, pushing to a seven-win season already. Key games against Michigan State and Michigan remain that could shape this bowl picture, but at this point, the Wildcats are the runaway favorite.
My Projections: Northwestern vs. Oklahoma State
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Missouri vs. Virginia Tech
CFN Projections: Tennessee vs. West Virginia
Jerry Palm Projections: Virginia Tech vs. Vanderbilt
The ACC is struggling to find a bowl eligible member to fill the Music City Bowl tie-in with Virginia Tech standing on the edge of eligibility after this past Saturday’s loss to Miami (Fl.)
The Hokies could finish the season with two more wins, making them eligible, but it may be a long shot with Virginia, Florida State and Boston College remaining. This bowl may see an at-large filler team.
The SEC has a number teams that are pushing for wins in the last few weeks trying to earn a bowl bid. At this point, Vanderbilt is in the lead, with only one win needed to finish the year with a bowl berth. The Commodores appear to be the SEC tie to the Music City Bowl.
My Projections: Vanderbilt vs. West Virginia
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Duke vs. UCLA
CFN Projections: Duke vs. Arizona
Jerry Palm Projections: N.C. State vs. Stanford
N.C. State has been a surprise name this fall in the college football world after it knocked off Florida State in early October. Since then, the Wolfpack have gone 1-3, but they are only one win away from bowl eligibility.
The Wolfpack will be in the Sun Bowl to conclude the season.
Battling N.C. State could be a number of Pac-12 teams, but Arizona is playing on-top of its game right now after a win over USC two weeks ago. The Wildcats were throttled by UCLA this past Saturday, but that won’t stop them from going bowling.
My Projections: N.C. State vs. Arizona
Orlando Sentinel Projections: UCF vs. Vanderbilt
CFN Projections: UCF vs. Vanderbilt
Jerry Palm Projections: UCF vs. Tennessee
The Liberty Bowl is set to host the No. 1 team out of Conference USA and a team from the SEC or Big East.
Central Florida is leading the charge for Conference USA and is set to take its position in the bowl at year’s end.
The SEC is trying to find more bowl eligible teams for its tie-ins, and Tennessee is pushing to be the next bowl eligible squad. The Volunteers face winnable games to close the season and should find a sixth win before the regular season concludes.
My Projections: Tennessee vs. UCF
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Texas A&M vs. Clemson
CFN Projections: Miami (Fl.) vs. Texas A&M
Jerry Palm Projections: Clemson vs. Texas A&M
Is Clemson tired of chicken biscuits yet? I hope not, as it is set to have a plateful in the next few months. The Tigers are the clear favorite to take the Chick-fil-A Bowl slot for the ACC in what has become an every-other-year tradition for Clemson.
SEC newcomer Texas A&M is projected to take the other seat in the game, pitting two dominant offenses against one another. If the season closes as expected, this matchup will be one of the better bowls of the season.
My Projections: Clemson vs. Texas A&M
Orlando Sentinel Projections: San Jose State vs. SMU
CFN Projections: Arkansas State vs. Minnesota
Jerry Palm Projections: San Jose State vs. Iowa State
The Big Ten and Conference USA are the feeder conferences for the Heart of Dallas Bowl, but a shortage of bowl eligible teams will lead to at-large bids to happen for this game.
San Jose State has charged to some big wins this fall and are currently the third in the WAC standings. The Spartans will be a highlighted team for this bowl because of their record.
Arkansas State is having a good year as well under first-year head coach Gus Malzahn, and the Red Wolves are leading the Sun Belt Conference. A game in Dallas would be a great finish to a first season for the Malzahn-led Red Wolves.
My Projections: Arkansas State vs. San Jose State
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Mississippi State vs. Northwestern
CFN Projections: Michigan State vs. Mississippi State
Jerry Palm Projections: Michigan State vs. Mississippi State
Mississippi State started the season on fire, but after a huge loss to Alabama the Bulldogs, were crushed by Texas A&M and are struggling to find the right track. Mississippi State takes on LSU this coming Saturday, likely handing the Bulldogs their third loss of the year.
Despite the quick fall, they are the leading SEC team to head to the Gator Bowl.
Michigan State has battled to stay relevant in the Big Ten this year and has a tough road remaining to bowl eligibility. This bowl could finish with an at-large bid, but as it stands today, it looks like the Spartans could fill the Big Ten seat in Jacksonville.
My Projections: Mississippi State vs. Michigan State
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Georgia vs. Michigan
CFN Projections: Georgia vs. Michigan
Jerry Palm Projections: Georgia vs. Michigan
The Capital One Bowl is one of the more exciting contests annually during the bowl season. The SEC and Big Ten bring a lot of good teams down to Orlando for this showdown.
This year, the Georgia Bulldogs and Michigan Wolverines are headed for a collision in this bowl. Michigan has underachieved this year, and the Bulldogs have quietly climbed into the lead in the SEC East.
A win in the SEC title game by Georgia will change this outcome, but as it stands, this matchup is as set in stone as it gets.
My Projections: Georgia vs. Michigan
Orlando Sentinel Projections: South Carolina vs. Wisconsin
CFN Projections: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina
Jerry Palm Projections: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina
The Outback Bowl traditionally loves the SEC East, and this season projects to be no different. A tough South Carolina squad is set to do battle in Tampa with a member of the Big Ten.
Wisconsin has stumbled at times this fall, but overall, it is a strong football team that should bring a strong opposition to the bowl and the Gamecocks defense.
This is set to be another big matchup between the Big Ten and the SEC at season's end.
My Projections: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Florida vs. Texas
CFN Projections: Oklahoma vs. LSU
Jerry Palm Projections: Texas vs. LSU
The Cotton Bowl is a college football tradition and pits the Big 12 against the SEC on an annual basis. This is a game that hosts two very talented teams and typically provides great football to close the year.
LSU was less than two minutes away from a BCS opportunity this past weekend, but a loss to Alabama sealed the fate of the Bayou Bengals.
The Big 12 has a tie into this game and the Cotton Bowl pits the No. 2 team from the conference. Right now, Oklahoma is set to take this seat beside LSU in this game. Oklahoma could still be a longshot BCS at-large team, but as it stands, it finishes the year in the Cotton Bowl.
My Projections: Oklahoma vs. LSU
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Ohio vs. Middle Tennessee State
CFN Projections: Ole Miss vs. Pitt
Jerry Palm Projections: Bowling Green vs. Arkansas State
The BBVA Compass Bowl is slated to host SEC, Big East and Conference USA schools. None of the tie-in conferences may have eligible teams to fill this bowl slots. Games remain that could change that.
Ole Miss is one of the remaining SEC teams with work to do to find bowl eligibility, but it could find a sixth win in the next three weeks. Assuming they do, the Rebels land in Birmingham.
Middle Tennessee State has already won six games and is sitting with bowl eligibility hoping to get picked up. This would be a game that would look for a local team, and the Blue Raiders fit the bill.
My Projections: Ole Miss vs. Middle Tennessee State
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Toledo vs. Arkansas State
CFN Projections: Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois
Jerry Palm Projections: Ohio vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Northern Illinois has done a lot this year to make a case for a bowl game. The GoDaddy.com bowl will place the MAC winner against the Sun Belt No. 2, and the Huskies are in the driver’s seat to win their conference.
The opponent for the Huskies is still very much in the air, as the Sun Belt has a number of games that need to play out that could change the projections in this game. This will be a quality game in Mobile and should bring a lot of offense in early January.
My Projections: Northern Illinois vs. Western Kentucky
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Oregon State vs. Nebraska
CFN Projections: Nebraska vs. Oregon State
Jerry Palm Projections: Nebraska vs. Oregon State
The Rose Bowl has provided a lot of spark to the bowl season over the past few years, but this year, things return to normal with traditional teams taking over the game.
Nebraska appears to hold the keys to the Rose Bowl drive, but a Big Ten title is still in the Cornhuskers' way. The Cornhuskers will have to finish the year with a possible second win over Wisconsin to land the bid, but it is a safe bet to take Nebraska in Pasadena.
Oregon State will pull a bid to the Rose Bowl if the Beavers can become a 10-win team. The Beavers face Stanford and Oregon before the season closes and will need to split those games.
A win over Stanford would place Oregon State comfortably in the Rose Bowl, assuming Oregon lands in the title game.
My Projections: Oregon State vs. Nebraska
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Florida State vs. Louisville
CFN Projections: Florida State vs. Rutgers
Jerry Palm Projections: Florida State vs. Louisville
With an ACC conference championship comes a BCS bid, and Florida State is staring down the Orange Bowl right now. The Seminoles could be battling for a BCS national title, but an early loss to N.C. State shattered those dreams.
The Seminoles still can leave a national mark with a major BCS win.
Louisville is leading the Big East and has a showdown against Rutgers to close the year that will determine the conference winner.
To this point, the Cardinals are playing strong football, and the assumption would be that they finish the year in the BCS as Big East champions.
My Projections: Florida State vs. Louisville
Orlando Sentinel Projections: LSU vs. Oklahoma
CFN Projections: Florida vs. Clemson
Jerry Palm Projections: Florida vs. Oklahoma
The Sugar Bowl will carry the Florida Gators this January if they remain undefeated. With Alabama taking the top spot in the BCS title game, the BCS selection will look for the next best SEC team to fill in for the automatic tie to the Sugar Bowl.
The at-large slot is what is still up for debate.
Oklahoma is a strong contender for the at-large bid for the Sugar, but it is likely going to land in the Cotton Bowl. Clemson can fight for wins and land in this game, earning an at-large bid for the ACC.
The SEC is heavy in the BCS Top 16, but there will not be an SEC vs. SEC matchup in this game.
My Projections: Clemson vs. Florida
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Kansas State vs. Notre Dame
CFN Projections: Kansas State vs. Notre Dame
Jerry Palm Projections: Kansas State vs. Notre Dame
Kansas State is leading the Big 12 and is looking to finish the season as the conference winners. The BCS awaits the Collin Klein-led Wildcats, and it appears that Notre Dame may as well.
The Irish are fighting to finish the year undefeated, but even if they win out, they will not make it into the BCS title game without an Oregon or Alabama loss.
Finishing in the BCS far exceeded expectations out of South Bend for this year and will give the Fighting Irish a lot to grow on heading into the 2013 season.
This will be one of two BCS bowls that will bring unbeaten teams together.
My Projections: Kansas State vs. Notre Dame
Orlando Sentinel Projections: Alabama vs. Oregon
CFN Projections: Alabama vs. Oregon
Jerry Palm Projections: Alabama vs. Oregon
Alabama and Oregon are set to face off in a battle of unbeaten in the BCS national title game. Alabama is fielding the best defense in the country, while the Ducks are the most explosive offense in the land.
Oregon will attempt to use its perimeter speed to keep the Alabama defense at bay, but the Crimson Tide will be ready for the Chip Kelly spread.
This is a matchup that has been years in the making. How good can Oregon’s offense look against a top-level SEC defense?
We get answers this year, as this game will bring a lot of fireworks and big hits to the screen. This will be one of the best contests of the bowl season for 2012-2013.
My Projections: Alabama vs. Oregon