Week 11 continued what has been a crazy college football season with the fall of another No. 1. Alabama lost at home to Texas A&M in a game that wasn’t close until the second half.
As teams continue to rise and fall, bowl projections shift with them. The coming weeks are when college football fans will reach fever pitch, as the race to the national title begins to come into view.
Right now, Oregon and Kansas State are the leading candidates to raise the Coaches’ Trophy in January. But every Saturday brings new change to the landscape.
Looking ahead to Week 12 of the college football season, here are the expert bowl projections for the 2012-13 bowl season.
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Nevada vs. Arizona
College Football News Projections: Washington vs. Boise State
Matt Murschel Projections: Arizona State vs. Nevada
The Gildan New Mexico Bowl is looking to land two quality teams this bowl season, with Boise State and Arizona leading the race to the December 15th showdown in Albuquerque.
Arizona has faced a tough schedule this season, but the Wildcats have earned two wins over ranked teams, including an upset victory over USC. Boise has not faced the same type gauntlet that has been laid before Arizona, but an impressive 10-win season is within reach, confirming the talent on the Broncos team.
Arizona and Boise State would be a solid matchup, bringing an offensive chess match to New Mexico.
My Projections: Boise State vs. Arizona
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Bowling Green vs. Utah State
College Football News Projections: Louisiana Tech vs. Toledo
Matt Murschel Projections: Louisiana Tech vs. Toledo
Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton is on a tear this season. The sophomore had some impressive showings as a freshman a year ago, but this season, he has taken his game to another level, tossing for over 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Toledo has put together one of the most exciting seasons of the college football year, pushing to a 8-2 mark so far this season. The Rockets lost this past Saturday to Ball State in a tight game, but they have solidified their stock in the bowl picture through the first nine weeks of football.
My Projections: Utah State vs. Toledo
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: San Diego State vs. BYU
College Football News Projections: San Diego State vs. BYU
Matt Murschel Projections: BYU vs. San Diego State
San Diego State is looking to stay home this bowl season, but for all the right reasons. The Aztecs are set to play BYU in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.
BYU has an automatic tie-in to the bowl, and the Cougars have reached bowl eligibility. Their opponent is slated to be the No. 2 team in the Mountain West, which brings in the hometown Aztecs.
My Projections: San Diego State vs. BYU
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Middle Tennessee State vs. Central Florida
College Football News Projections: Tulsa vs. Miami (Oh.)
Matt Murschel Projections: Ball State vs. Western Kentucky
The Beef O’Brady’s Bowl is slated to feature the Conference USA and Big East, but with a lack of eligible teams coming out of the Big East, an at-large bid is very likely.
After this weekend, Middle Tennessee State and Central Florida are in the lead to earn bids to the St. Petersburg bowl game.
The Golden Knights have a big weekend ahead, with Tulsa landing on the schedule. That Conference USA showdown has the chance to change the bowl landscape again next week, but as it stands, Central Florida lands in St. Petersburg.
My Projections: Middle Tennessee State vs. Central Florida
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Arkansas State vs. Kent State
College Football News Projections: SMU vs. Arkansas State
Matt Murschel Projections: Arkansas State vs. East Carolina
Arkansas State throttled Louisiana-Monroe this past Thursday, securing the Red Wolves' lead on the Sun Belt Conference. Gus Malzahn’s squad should finish with a Sun Belt title and New Orleans Bowl berth.
Conference USA will fill the other half of this bowl matchup, with East Carolina likely to land in this game. The Pirates are set to finish the season with eight wins, bringing a talented squad to the Big Easy in December.
My Projections: East Carolina vs. Arkansas State
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Boise State vs. Washington
College Football News Projections: USC vs. Fresno State
Matt Murschel Projections: Arizona vs. Boise State
The USC Trojans have fallen hard this year, and the struggles are set to continue. UCLA and Notre Dame remain on the schedule for USC, with a 1-1 finish to the year looking extremely tough.
With national title aspirations shattered, the Trojans will finish the year in Las Vegas.
Fresno State will also bring their talents to Las Vegas to face off with the Trojans. The Bulldogs are led by junior quarterback Derek Carr, who has tossed 32 touchdowns and gained 3,290 yards through the air so far this year.
My Projections: Fresno State vs. USC
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Fresno State vs. San Jose State
College Football News Projections: Nevada vs. East Carolina
Matt Murschel Projections: Tulsa vs. Utah State
The Hawaii Bowl is the best consolation prize to a national title bid every season. What college team doesn’t want to travel to Hawaii during December?
SMU and Nevada are set to receive the tropical honor of landing in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. SMU has struggled to find consistency this fall, but the Mustangs have a great shot to finish the season on a high note with a win in Hawaii.
My Projections: SMU vs. Nevada
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Northern Illinois vs. Western Kentucky
College Football News Projections: San Jose State vs. Kent State
Matt Murschel Projections: Louisiana-Monroe vs. Kent State
Louisiana-Monroe started the season on an impressive tear, beating Arkansas and pushing Auburn into overtime. The Warhawks were the hot pick of the month during September, but their stock leveled off midseason.
Kent State has been very impressive this year, only losing one game so far through 10 games. That loss came to Kentucky in Week 2.
The Golden Flashes have a dangerous ground game, with two running backs over 1,000 yards for the season. Louisiana-Monroe will look for junior Kolton Brown to counter that attack in what should be a great offensive matchup.
My Projections: Kent State vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Arizona State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
College Football News Projections: Bowling Green vs. Utah State
Matt Murschel Projections: San Jose State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Louisiana-Lafayette came within seconds of pulling off a major upset of Florida this past Saturday in Gainesville. The Ragin’ Cajuns led the game well into the second half, but they were unable to come away with the win.
Bowling Green dropped three games in the first four weeks of the season, but the Falcons haven’t lost since the third week in September. A tough game against Kent State awaits this coming Saturday, but the Falcons look solid to land in the Military Bowl.
My Projections: Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Bowling Green
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
College Football News Projections: Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati
Matt Murschel Projections: N.C. State vs. Cincinnati
Duke has been the surprise of the ACC this year, finally finding bowl eligibility for the first time since 1994. David Cutcliffe has worked magic in Durham, and his team has a great shot at getting a postseason win this fall.
Cincinnati was in the race to win the Big East, but a loss in overtime to Louisville pushed the Bearcats to the back of a three-team race. Cincinnati could earn a jump in bowl status with a win over Rutgers on Saturday.
My Projections: Cincinnati vs. Duke
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Oregon State vs. Texas Tech
College Football News Projections: Stanford vs. TCU
Matt Murschel Projections: Oregon State vs. TCU
Texas Tech was taken to the wire by Kansas on Saturday, with the Red Raiders needing overtime to finish off the Jayhawks. Seth Doege had a big game for Texas Tech and is having a great senior year, tossing 34 touchdowns and 3,345 yards so far this year.
Stanford has been equally impressive with its wins after the loss of Andrew Luck to the NFL last year. The Cardinal has fought through a very tough schedule, earning a major win over USC when the Trojans were the No. 1 team in the country.
Josh Nunes has stepped in and led the Stanford offense, but he has faced some growing pains. Those growing pains can’t continue against a stingy Red Raiders defense in San Diego.
My Projections: Stanford vs. Texas Tech
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Utah vs. Louisiana Tech
College Football News Projections: Ball State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Matt Murschel Projections: Virginia Tech vs. Fresno State
Virginia Tech has limped to four wins through 10 games so far this year, deflating expectations of what was supposed to be an ACC title run in 2012.
Meanwhile, Louisiana Tech is taking the country by storm, only losing one game—to Texas A&M. Colby Cameron is a showstopper at quarterback, tossing 27 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also has 3,283 passing yards on the year.
The Bulldogs would enter this game as underdogs, but the way the Hokies are playing, this bowl could spell disaster and lead to a losing season in Blacksburg.
My Projections: Virginia Tech vs. Louisiana Tech
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech
College Football News Projections: Louisville vs. Miami
Matt Murschel Projections: Rutgers vs. Miami
Rutgers has played impressive defense this fall, leading to a one-loss year so far this season. The Scarlet Knights still have to face Cincinnati and Louisville before the season concludes, though.
If Rutgers can win out, it will take its talents to the BCS. At this point, the Scarlet Knights are expected to finish in the No. 2 spot in the Big East.
Miami (FL) is leading the Coastal Division in the ACC with a 4-3 conference record. The Hurricanes are 5-5 overall. Miami (FL) has played very inconsistently, but they it is in the driver’s seat to land in Orlando to finish the year.
My Projections: Rutgers vs. Miami (FL)
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Iowa State vs. Minnesota
College Football News Projections: Iowa State vs. Minnesota
Matt Murschel Projections: Minnesota vs. West Virginia
West Virginia started the season with high expectations. The country was captivated by the Dana Holgerson offense and Geno Smith. The Mountaineers have now lost four games in a row, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier.
The Golden Gophers from Minnesota are bowl eligible and are one of the few eligible teams in the Big Ten. Heading to Houston to face off against West Virginia will be a tall task, but hitting the postseason is a big plus for this Minnesota squad.
My Projections: West Virginia vs. Minnesota
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Air Force vs. East Carolina
College Football News Projections: Houston vs. Air Force
Matt Murschel Projections: Air Force vs. Houston
Air Force has rushed its way to the edge of bowl eligibility this season, sitting at 5-5 so far this year. The Falcons are one win away from their bowl berth in the Armed Forces Bowl.
Houston is also sitting on the edge of bowl eligibility, but it should finish the year with at least six wins.
Both teams will bring offensive-minded attacks to the game, with Air Force having the edge in scheme and talent.
Fort Worth will host one of the more explosive bowl games of the season if these two teams finish the year there.
My Projections: Air Force vs. Houston
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Stanford vs. Navy
College Football News Projections: Oregon State vs. Navy
Matt Murschel Projections: Navy vs. Washington
Navy has reached bowl eligibility and will fill its tie-in with the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in Boise.
Washington earned its sixth win of the season against Utah this past Saturday, pushing the Huskies into the bowl discussion.
Navy will need to play keep-away from Keith Price and the Huskies offense if the Midshipmen stand a chance at earning a win in this postseason showdown.
My Projections: Navy vs. Washington
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: TCU vs. Syracuse
College Football News Projections: West Virginia vs. Syracuse
Matt Murschel Projections: Iowa State vs. Syracuse
Playing a bowl game in Yankee Stadium was an amazing idea when it was implemented a few years ago, adding to the tradition-filled bowl season.
This year, Iowa State and Syracuse look to fill the seats in the game.
Syracuse earned a huge win over Louisville this past Saturday, knocking off the previously undefeated conference foe. The Orangemen are a win away from bowl eligibility, but a season-ending game against Temple should push the Orange into the Pinstripe Bowl.
My Projections: Iowa State vs. Syracuse
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: West Virginia vs. USC
College Football News Projections: UCLA vs. Oklahoma State
Matt Murschel Projections: USC vs. Oklahoma State
UCLA has been impressive this season, leading the Pac-12 South and earning a spot in the Pac-12 title game. The Bruins will face Oregon, handing the Bruins a bid to the Alamo Bowl.
Oklahoma State has found success in the Big 12 after losing its star quarterback and receiver to the NFL draft this past April.
The Cowboys will have their hands full on defense against UCLA and should struggle against the Bruins in the December 29th game.
My Projections: UCLA vs. Oklahoma State
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Oklahoma State vs. Northwestern
College Football News Projections: Texas Tech vs. Northwestern
Matt Murschel Projections: Texas Tech vs. Michigan State
Northwestern can’t get over the hump against Michigan, but the Wildcats will bring a strong challenge to TCU in Tempe this December.
The Horned Frogs have been blasted with controversy all year, but they have been able to push through the off-the-field distractions and earn some quality wins and a bowl berth.
This game will be one of the most explosive bowl matchups of the season.
My Projections: Northwestern vs. TCU
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Duke vs. Vanderbilt
College Football News Projections: Missouri vs. Duke
Matt Murschel Projections: Vanderbilt vs. Duke
Vanderbilt started the season with bowl hopes and will finish the year in the postseason. The Commodores have fought with a rebuilt defense to become a dangerous threat in the SEC Eastern Division.
NC State struggled to start the season on good footing, but the Wolfpack have since turned the corner. Games against Boston College and Clemson remain, with the Wolfpack looking for a 1-1 split.
Nashville awaits the arrival of these two teams to help ring in the New Year.
My Projections: NC State vs. Vanderbilt
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Miami (Fl.) vs. UCLA
College Football News Projections: Georgia Tech vs. Arizona
Matt Murschel Projections: Duke vs. UCLA
Oregon State has been the most impressive comeback team of the college football season. The Beavers were 3-9 a year ago, but the Beavers are 7-2 this year, with a nine-win regular season within reach.
The Yellow Jackets from Atlanta have been consistently disappointing this fall, pushing to a 5-5 record to date. Two tough tests remain, with Duke and Georgia still remaining on the schedule.
Assuming the Yellow Jackets can win one more game, they will land in a shootout with the Beavers in the Sun Bowl.
My Projections: Georgia Tech vs. Oregon State
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Tulsa vs. Missouri
College Football News Projections: Central Florida vs. Vanderbilt
Matt Murschel Projections: Central Florida vs. Tennessee
Rumors are beginning to swirl that Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley is on his way out in Tennessee, but he will still get his Volunteers a berth in the Liberty Bowl.
Tulsa will provide Tennessee with a tough challenge in the Liberty Bowl and could earn the win. If Dooley is still leading the program, a loss to the Golden Hurricanes will bring termination.
My Projections: Tulsa vs. Tennessee
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: N.C. State vs. Florida
College Football News Projections: N.C. State vs. Texas A&M
Matt Murschel Projections: Texas A&M vs. Clemson
With the ACC possibly pulling two teams into the BCS, the SEC will have a strong advantage in Atlanta to celebrate the New Year.
Texas A&M is likely to earn the bid from the SEC and Virginia looks to fill the role for the ACC if it were decided today.
If the BCS were to deny an at-large bid for Clemson, Virgina will finish the season in this game.
My Projections: Texas A&M vs. Virginia
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Purdue vs. Baylor
College Football News Projections: Ohio vs. Purdue
Matt Murschel Projections: Ohio vs. SMU
Ohio burst onto the national college football stage with a win over Penn State in the season opener. The Bobcats have worked their way into an eight-win season so far this year and still face an outside shot at a MAC title.
Purdue will be one of the few teams eligible to fill bowl seats from the Big Ten, but the Boilermakers still need one win to earn eligibility. Illinois and Indiana remain on Purdue's schedule. A win by Indiana would push Purdue out and the Hoosiers into this game.
My Projections: Ohio vs. Purdue
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Michigan State vs. Mississippi State
College Football News Projections: Michigan State vs. Mississippi State
Matt Murschel Projections: Mississippi State vs. Northwestern
Michigan State has not been very successful against the SEC in the past, and unfortunately, the Spartans are looking to land in the Gator Bowl against Mississippi State.
Mississippi State started the season 7-0, but the Bulldogs have since lost three games in a row. They should finish the season with two more wins, placing them easily in the Gator Bowl.
The Spartans will attempt to control the clock and pound the ground against the Bulldogs. Controlling the clock will be the best shot at a win for Michigan State.
My Projections: Mississippi State vs. Michigan State
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Michigan vs. Georgia
College Football News Projections: Nebraska vs. Georgia
Matt Murschel Projections: Georgia vs. Michigan
The Capital One Bowl has a history of producing great games, and a matchup with Wisconsin and Georgia would continue the strong tradition in Orlando.
The Bulldogs are holding on to SEC title hopes, and Wisconsin is very much in the Big Ten title conversation.
Both the Bulldogs and Badgers will lose their respective title games and finish the year in this contingency bowl game. This game will bring two of the most explosive ground games in the country together in Orlando.
My Projections: Wisconsin vs. Georgia
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina
College Football News Projections: Michigan vs. South Carolina
Matt Murschel Projections: South Carolina vs. Wisconsin
South Carolina and Michigan started the season with high expectations. Michigan was deflated by Alabama in Week 1, while the Gamecocks held on to title hopes until midseason.
The Gamecocks will match tenacious defense against the sporadically-explosive Wolverines offensive unit.
While this game will bring a crowd to Tampa, South Carolina should win this game with relative ease.
My Projections: South Carolina vs. Michigan
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Texas vs. Texas A&M
College Football News Projections: Texas vs. LSU
Matt Murschel Projections: Florida vs. Texas
Florida squeaked by Louisiana-Lafayette at home on Saturday, holding onto the hopeful grip of a BCS at-large bid. Unfortunately for the Gators, LSU is taking center stage for the at-large bid, pushing Florida into the Cotton Bowl.
Texas will be welcomed with open arms into the home-state contest against the Gators, but the offensive struggles that have faced the Longhorns will likely give them issues against the tough Florida defense.
My Projections: Florida vs. Texas
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Toledo vs. Troy
College Football News Projections: Tennessee vs. ULM
Matt Murschel Projections: Missouri vs. Bowling Green
Missouri was limping toward a losing season just a few weeks ago before the Tigers turned the season around and marched one step closer to bowl eligibility against Tennessee.
Western Kentucky has only been an FBS member for a few seasons, currently sitting at No. 5 in the Sun Belt conference.
The Hilltoppers will bring an edge to the game that will make a win tough for Missouri, but the Tigers should finish with the win.
My Projections: Missouri vs. Western Kentucky
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Ohio vs. Louisiana-Monroe
College Football News Projections: Middle Tennessee vs. Northern Illinois
Matt Murschel Projections: Northern Illinois vs. Middle Tennessee State
Northern Illinois is in the driver’s seat to win the MAC and finish the year in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Meeting the Huskies in the game will likely be an at-large team. Troy is a leading candidate for the bid in the game after finishing in the middle of the Sun Belt conference pack.
Bringing in the local team in Troy would do well for the game and would pit two explosive offenses in the January showdown.
My Projections: Northern Illinois vs. Troy
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Nebraska vs. Notre Dame
College Football News Projections: Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame
Matt Murschel Projections: Stanford vs. Nebraska
Notre Dame is the odd-man-out right now in the BCS title discussion. Despite the chance at an undefeated season, the Irish will finish No. 3 and in the Rose Bowl if Oregon and Kansas State keep winning.
Nebraska is leading the Big Ten currently and has a shot at winning the conference, earning it a spot in the Rose Bowl. The Cornhuskers have battled for this chance on the national stage, and they will have earned every step to Los Angeles.
My Projections: Nebraska vs. Notre Dame
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Florida State vs. Louisville
College Football News Projections: Florida State vs. Rutgers
Matt Murschel Projections: Florida State vs. Louisville
Florida State had high hopes and national title aspirations to start the year, but a flop against N.C. State ended that run. Now the Seminoles will have to settle for an Orange Bowl appearance against Louisville.
The Cardinals did lose big to Syracuse on Saturday, but Louisville is still the pick of the Big East.
Rutgers will finish the year against Louisville and could challenge for the conference, but the Cardinals still carry the edge in the Big East.
My Projections: Florida State vs. Louisville
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Alabama vs. Clemson
College Football News Projections: Alabama vs. Clemson
Matt Murschel Projections: Alabama vs. Oklahoma
Alabama lost its first game of the season this past Saturday when the explosive Texas A&M Aggies offense crippled the Tide's defense. A win in the SEC title game is still expected over Georgia, giving the Tide the SEC’s bid to the Sugar Bowl.
Facing Alabama will be Clemson, with the Tigers earning an at-large bid into the BCS. Dabo Swinney will face his alma mater for the first time as a head coach if this matchup holds through the next few weeks of the season.
My Projections: Alabama vs. Clemson
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Oklahoma vs. LSU
College Football News Projections: Florida vs. Oklahoma
Matt Murschel Projections: Notre Dame vs. LSU
The Fiesta Bowl hosts the Big 12 title winner in most years, but Kansas State is slated for the title game, giving the Big 12 a possible at-large bid. The Fiesta Bowl will host two at-large teams in Oklahoma and LSU this season.
The SEC will earn a second BCS bid, with LSU jumping in the Top 25 after the SEC title game pushes Georgia or Alabama out of the Top Five.
This will be one of the better matchups of the BCS this season.
My Projections: Oklahoma vs. LSU
Jerry Palm/CBS Projections: Oregon vs. Kansas State
College Football News Projections: Oregon vs. Kansas State
Matt Murschel Projections: Oregon vs. Kansas State
The inevitable has occurred: The SEC will not find a place in the BCS title game for the first time since 2005. If the championship game were to be played today, Kansas State and Oregon would square off for the title.
Both teams face winnable remaining schedules, further solidifying the thought that they will finish the season against one another in January.
This will be an exciting title game, with the two most explosive offenses in the country taking the field. It will be a great close to a wild college football season.
My Projections: Oregon vs. Kansas State