Projecting Every Bowl Game Post Week 12

Alex CallosCorrespondent INovember 18, 2012

Projecting Every Bowl Game Post Week 12

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    Another week has come and gone. We are now only two weeks away from the end of the college football season, and what was once a blurry bowl picture is starting to take shape.

    Who would have thought heading into the weekend that the BCS standings would have the shakeup it did?

    It looks like it is going to be a struggle to compile 70 teams who have a .500 record or better.

    With teams like Ohio State, Penn State and North Carolina not eligible for bowl games, it is slim pickings.

    There are still two weeks left, but as of right now, the BCS Bowl teams are in relatively good shape if they can handle their business the final few games.

    Here are bowl projections for every game from the New Mexico Bowl to the BCS National Championship.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Arizona vs. Nevada

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    When: Saturday, Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN

    The bowl season gets kicked off with the New Mexico Bowl with the Pac-12 and Mountain West doing battle.

    Nevada is coming off a win against New Mexico and at 7-4 has Boise State to close out the season. 

    The Wolf Pack are in the top half in a very talented Mountain West Conference.

    Arizona is also 7-4 and recently knocked Utah out of bowl contention with a 34-24 victory on Saturday. The Wildcats are having a much better season under the leadership of Rich Rodriguez than they were a year ago. 

    This would seemingly be a fairly evenly matched battle.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. Ball State

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    When: Saturday, Dec. 15 at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

    Even though Louisiana Tech suffered a devastating 48-41 overtime loss against Utah State on Saturday, it is still the biggest draw in the WAC.

    With the second-highest scoring offense in the country, the Bulldogs are sitting at 9-2 overall.

    Ball State, on the other hand, has been one of six MAC teams likely to reach a bowl game. The Cardinals knocked off Ohio, 52-27, on Wednesday night and are now 8-3 overall.

    This would certainly be an extremely high-scoring game because both teams leave a lot to be desired on the defensive side of the ball.

Poinsettia Bowl: BYU vs. San Diego State

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    When: Thursday, Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN

    BYU has played an extremely challenging schedule this season and right now is only sitting at 6-5. Still, the Cougars are already a certainty to end up here in the Poinsettia Bowl.

    They have lost to Utah, Boise State, Oregon State, Notre Dame and San Jose State. Certainly not any cupcakes on that list.

    San Diego State is one of the hottest teams in the country and would pose a huge threat for the Cougars.

    The Aztecs have won six games in a row after starting the season 2-3. They are sitting at the top of the Mountain West Conference and rank in the top 20 in the country in rushing yards.

Beef 'O'Brady's Bowl: Rice vs. Toledo

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    When: Friday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

    Rice still has some work to do to get to a bowl game; the 5-6 Owls will need to win the season finale at UTEP to become bowl eligible.

    After a 36-14 win against SMU, this team is headed in the right direction, having won three straight games.

    Toledo, on the other hand, has fallen on hard times lately. The Rockets lost their second consecutive game, falling 31-24 at Northern Illinois on Wednesday.

    At 8-3, Toledo has Akron to close out the season. A 9-3 record will certainly be a successful season with a new head coach.

New Orleans Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Arkansas State

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    When: Saturday, Dec. 22 at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN

    This is one of those instances where certain bowls might be searching for a team without a losing record.

    Central Michigan is 5-6 right now. Thanks to the Utah loss on Saturday, it could very well end up here with a win at Massachusetts in the season finale on Friday.

    Arkansas State is one of a cluster of teams at the top of the Sun Belt Conference, but it is in the driver's seat right now.

    The Red Wolves are 6-1 in league play and 8-3 overall. A win over Middle Tennessee in the season finale, and this is where they will end up.

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. USC

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    When: Saturday, Dec. 22 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

    The loss by USC against UCLA severely hurt its bowl status, and the Trojans continue to drop down the bowl ladder.

    USC is sitting at 7-4 right now and has a tough one against Notre Dame to finish out the season.

    Boise State is the obvious choice here; the Broncos are the biggest draw in a Mountain West Conference that looks like it is going to end in a three-way tie.

    The Broncos boast one of the best defenses in the country, and it would be an interesting matchup to see how the group fared against the talented USC offense.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Central Florida vs. Fresno State

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    When: Monday, Dec. 24 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN

    Fresno State had a bye this week, and a victory against Air Force on Saturday will ensure at least a tie for the conference title.

    The Bulldogs have one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Derek Carr. He has already passed for 3,290 yards with 32 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

    Central Florida will likely end up here if it loses again to Tulsa in the Conference USA championship game.

    The Knights are 8-3 overall after falling 23-21 to Tulsa on Saturday. The group is battle tested and a step above the rest of Conference USA.

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Northern Illinois

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    When: Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

    Western Kentucky has fallen on hard times in recent weeks but still stands at 6-5 and a virtual lock to reach a bowl game.

    The Hilltoppers have lost three straight games, but they should be able to handle North Texas and finish 7-5. That would guarantee a bowl game somewhere.

    Northern Illinois looks like the best team in the MAC right now along with Kent State, and the winner of their matchup in the MAC championship game will end up here.

    The Huskies are 10-1 and have won 10 consecutive games. This would be a game featuring two very talented teams.

Military Bowl: San Jose State vs. Ohio

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    When: Thursday, Dec. 27 at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN

    These are two teams with solid records which appear to be headed in opposite directions right now.

    San Jose State is 9-2 and has won five games in a row. The Spartans' only losses on the season came by three points at Stanford and against Utah State.

    This is a very talented team. That will be on full display Saturday night when they take on Louisiana Tech in the season finale.

    Ohio is 8-3 but has lost three of its past four games. With a road trip against Kent State on Friday to close out the season, it is not looking like things are going to get any better.

    This one would be a little bit of a mismatch.

Belk Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Cincinnati

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    When: Thursday, Dec. 27 at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

    The Belk Bowl features the ACC and the Big East. Georgia Tech is one of the hottest teams in the conference right now and still has a chance to win the ACC.

    The Yellow Jackets have won three games in a row and are now bowl eligible. If Miami loses at Duke on Saturday, Georgia Tech will play Florida State for the ACC championship.

    Cincinnati suffered a devastating defeat at home against Rutgers on Saturday and is looking like a virtual lock for this bowl game.

    The third-place team in the Big East will be here. If Cincinnati defeats South Florida and Connecticut to close out the season, it will finish no worse than third place.

Holiday Bowl: TCU vs. UCLA

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    When: Thursday, Dec. 27 at 9:45 p.m. ET on ESPN

    TCU and UCLA both have a shot to end up in a more premier bowl than the Holiday Bowl, but this is a likely destination for both as of now.

    The Horned Frogs are finding a transition to the Big 12 to be a little more challenging than anticipated. They are sitting at 6-4 overall with Texas and Oklahoma still left on the schedule.

    UCLA is a win away from the Rose Bowl, but a loss will likely drop the Bruins back to this bowl game. Right now, UCLA is sitting at 9-2 with Stanford remaining.

    Even though the Rose Bowl is not likely, ending up here would be quite an improvement for a team that lost eight games a season ago.

Independence Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Bowling Green

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    When: Friday, Dec. 28 at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN

    Louisiana-Lafayette has been playing much better in its past three games, and by winning its final two games against South Alabama and Florida Atlantic, the Ragin' Cajuns will end up 8-4.

    That would be quite an impressive season considering the teams they have played.

    Bowling Green is another team that has had a very successful season. Like the Ragin' Cajuns, the Falcons also lost a close game at Florida.

    This would be very interesting; Bowling Green is 7-4 and has won six of its past seven games. It is one of the hottest teams in the MAC.

Russell Athletic Bowl: Baylor vs. Louisville

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    When: Friday, Dec. 28 at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

    With Miami backing out of a potential bowl game, the Russell Athletic bowl could move a team up or go with a team from another conference.

    After a win over Kansas State, the 5-5 Baylor Bears only needs one more win to become bowl eligible and there is a strong possibility that will happen.

    The opponent will be Louisville if the Cardinals do not win the Big East. They can reach the Orange Bowl by winning their final two games of the season.

    Still, though, winning on the road at Rutgers is no easy task.

    Odds are Louisville will fall in that game and find itself in a three-way tie for second place in the conference with Cincinnati and Syracuse.

Meineke Car Care Bowl: West Virginia vs. Minnesota

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    When: Friday, Dec. 28 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN

    West Virginia suffered another gut-wrenching defeat, losing 50-49 at home against Oklahoma on Saturday.

    The Mountaineers fell to 5-5 on the season and have not won a game since the first weekend of October. They did look impressive on the offensive side of the ball, however.

    Minnesota is 6-5 but would be severely overmatched in this bowl game. The Gophers have been the beneficiary of a very favorable schedule and have taken advantage of it.

    Even though the records may not indicate it, West Virginia would have an easy time in this one.

Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force vs. East Carolina

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    When: Saturday, Dec. 29 at 11:45 a.m. ET on ESPN

    Air Force has already committed to this bowl game. The Falcons made that commitment shortly after knocking off Hawaii on Friday night.

    We all know Air Force loves to run the football, and its opponent would certainly have its hands full stopping the run.

    The opponent is still up in the air, but East Carolina is the obvious choice right now. 

    The Pirates are 7-4 and one of only three teams with a winning record in Conference USA. 

    East Carolina has won two games in a row, and this one would be very hard to predict.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Washington vs. Navy

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    When: Saturday, Dec. 29 at 3:15 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN2

    Washington is one of the hottest teams in the country. At 7-4, the Huskies are bowl eligible and have won four games in a row.

    A month ago, they stood at 3-4, and it was not known if they would even be bowl eligible. Now they are in the BCS Top 25 and looking rather impressive.

    Navy has won six of its past seven games and now stands at 7-4. The Midshipmen love to run the football.

    The key to this one would be whether or not the Navy offense could keep the Washington attack off the field.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse vs. Iowa State

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    When: Saturday, Dec. 29 at 3:15 p.m. ET on ESPN or ESPN2

    Syracuse has one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and senior Ryan Nassib proved that on Saturday, leading the Orange to a 31-27 victory at Missouri in the closing seconds.

    The win propelled Syracuse to a 6-5 record and gave it bowl eligibility. The Orange certainly love this bowl game because of the close proximity to home (New York City).

    Iowa State is now bowl eligible at 6-5 and has West Virginia to close out the season. The Cyclones played here last year, losing to Rutgers, and could very likely find themselves back here once again.

    This would probably be a close, low-scoring affair.

Valero Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford

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    When: Saturday, Dec. 29 at 6:45 p.m. ET on ESPN

    Stanford is fresh off a monumental upset on the road against Oregon, and if the Cardinal win their final two games of the season, they will end up in the Rose Bowl.

    They proved once again that defense wins games, and if they do lose to UCLA in the season finale or in the Pac-12 championship, this is where they will end up.

    Oklahoma State was also very impressive over the weekend, manhandling Texas Tech. The Red Raiders had no answer for the big-play capabilities of the Cowboys.

    This would be an interesting battle between an outstanding offense and a very solid defense.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan State vs. Texas Tech

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    When: Saturday, Dec. 29 at 10:15 p.m. ET on ESPN

    This bowl game has been renamed and features the Big 12 against the Big Ten.

    For Michigan State to get here, the Spartans are going to need to knock off Minnesota on the road in the season finale.

    The Spartans have struggled all season long, losing multiple close games, and they may need to win one on Saturday to even reach this bowl game.

    Texas Tech has struggled in recent weeks. With Baylor coming up in the season finale, Texas Tech could drop even further.

Music City Bowl: Vanderbilt vs. Duke

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    When: Monday, Dec 31 at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN

    Talk about a game not many people saw coming when the season began. These schools are more known for excellent academics and basketball than talented football teams.

    Both are headed in the right direction, particularly Vanderbilt, which continues to improve under head coach James Franklin.

    With a win on Saturday in the season finale at Wake Forest, the Commodores will improve to 8-4, something the school has not done in quite some time.

    Duke, on the other hand, has lost three games in a row but has been bowl eligible since Oct. 20.

    With a win against Miami on Saturday, Duke could find itself in an even better bowl.

Sun Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Oregon State

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    When: Monday, Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. ET on CBS

    Virginia Tech needs to knock off in-state rival Virginia to get to 6-6 and become bowl eligible. If that happens, the Sun Bowl is a strong possibility.

    Oregon State has a very good shot to be here unless something drastic happens, such as a victory against Oregon on Saturday.

    These two teams have had completely opposite seasons from what was expected when the year began, but they could still end up in the exact same bowl game on New Year's Eve.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Tulsa vs. Ole Miss

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    When: Monday, Dec. 31 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

    Tulsa proved on Saturday that it is the best team in Conference USA by knocking off Central Florida 23-21.

    In all likelihood, the Golden Hurricane are going to need to beat the Knights once more to get to this game; the two are set to meet in the Conference USA championship game.

    Ole Miss needs one more win to become bowl eligible. That must come against rival Mississippi State in the final game of the season.

    The Rebels had their chance against LSU on Saturday to get that win, but they fell just a little bit short, giving up three fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Chick-fil-A Bowl: North Carolina State vs. South Carolina

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    When: Monday, Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

    The Chick-fil-A Bowl is almost always a good one, and this year would be no different if these two teams were involved.

    North Carolina State is one of the top teams in the ACC, and South Carolina is near the top of the SEC.

    The Wolfpack are very talented on the offensive side of the ball, and quarterback Mike Glennon would certainly be tested against the talented South Carolina defense.

    What better way to start a New Year's Eve celebration than by watching this one.

Heart of Dallas Bowl: Purdue vs. Arizona State

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    When: Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 12 p.m. ET on ESPNU

    Purdue is another team that still needs one more win to become bowl eligible. The last game of the season is at home against Indiana, so that is a strong possibility.

    After enduring five straight losses, winning the final three games of the season would be a huge accomplishment for the Boilermakers.

    Arizona State became bowl eligible with its sixth win of the season. With a showdown against in-state rival Arizona on Friday night, the Sun Devils have a chance to move up to an even better bowl game with a win.

    Odds are this is where they will end up with a loss on Friday.

Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Northwestern

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    When: Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN2

    Northwestern won a close game on Saturday, knocking off Michigan State 23-20. That may not seem like a big deal, but an eight-win season is certainly something to brag about for the Wildcats.

    With Illinois coming up next, a nine-win season is likely in store for Northwestern.

    Mississippi State finally got its eighth win of the season on Saturday against Arkansas and is likely headed for a New Year's Day bowl game.

    If the Bulldogs slip up against Ole Miss on Saturday and Vanderbilt wins, there is a chance they could slip back to an earlier bowl game.

    Either way, both of these teams have had excellent seasons.

Capital One Bowl: Michigan vs. Florida

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    When: Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. ET on ABC

    This could be one of the more intriguing of all the bowl games. Michigan has seemingly found its stride, and Florida is struggling on offense.

    The Florida defense would have its hands full with the new and improved Michigan offensive attack.

    On the other side of the ball, Florida might have some trouble getting its offense going against a solid Michigan defense.

    The Gators still have a great shot to land in a BCS bowl game, but they will likely have to beat Florida State to end up there.

    A loss to the Seminoles, and this is the likely destination for the Gators.

Outback Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Georgia

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    When: Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN

    Wisconsin nearly knocked off the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, falling 21-14 in overtime.

    Either way, the Badgers will play in the Big Ten championship. Win, and they will end up in the Rose Bowl. Lose, and the Outback Bowl is the likely destination.

    After a slow start to the season, the Badgers have really found their stride, having won four of their past six games.

    Georgia, on the other hand, could still play in the BCS National Championship if everything falls into place. Still, a win over Alabama in the SEC championship game will give the Bulldogs a BCS berth.

    A loss in that game and the Outback Bowl is the strongest possibility.

AT&T Cotton Bowl: Texas vs. Texas A&M

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    When: Friday, Jan. 4 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox

    What a game this matchup of old Big 12 rivals would be.

    There is no doubt that the Cotton Bowl selection committee would not pass up on these two teams.

    The only problem is Texas A&M still has a shot to be selected for the Fiesta Bowl, which would certainly dash the hopes of the Cotton Bowl.

    Unless something outrageous happens, Texas is almost a lock to end up here.

BBVA Compass Bowl: Utah State vs. Louisiana-Monroe

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    When: Saturday, Jan. 5 at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN

    Utah State is fresh off a victory against No. 20 Louisiana Tech and could end up in a much better bowl game than this.

    The Aggies have one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the country in Chuckie Keeton. At 9-2, they also have one of the best defenses in the country.

    Louisiana-Monroe was surprising earlier in the season with a win over Arkansas and are 7-4 right now and near the top of the Sun Belt.

    This would be a matchup of a very talented offense against a stingy defense.

GoDaddy.com Bowl: Kent State vs. Middle Tennessee

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    When: Sunday, Jan. 6 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN

    There are a lot of talented non-BCS team this season, and the GoDaddy.com bowl will feature two of those teams.

    If Kent State does not win the MAC championship game against Northern Illinois, this is where it might end up.

    At 10-1, the Golden Flashes have been one of the country's most pleasant surprises.

    Middle Tennessee is one of five Sun Belt teams which is bowl eligible, and it has won three games in a row to get to 7-3.

    This would be quite a matchup the night before the national championship.

Rose Bowl: Nebraska vs. Oregon

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    When: Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN

    With the loss by Oregon on Saturday night, the Rose Bowl will get a shakeup. The Ducks are still likely to be here, but Stanford is also a strong possibility as of right now.

    Nebraska has been the pick here for quite some time and will have to knock off Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game to get here.

    If this was the matchup, it would be hard to imagine Nebraska hanging around with Oregon for too long because the Cornhuskers defense leaves a lot to be desired. The group has improved in recent weeks, though.

    The Ducks are also still likely to be angry from the loss to Stanford.

Discover Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Rutgers

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    When: Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

    Of all the BCS bowl matchups, this appears to be the most certain of them all, but Louisville might have something to say about that.

    Florida State is a lock for the ACC championship game and will just need to win against either Miami or Georgia Tech to get to the Orange Bowl.

    The Seminoles are one of the most complete teams in the country, and it appears like they are going to be tough to beat.

    Rutgers is fresh off a win against Cincinnati and in the driver's seat to play in its first BCS Bowl game.

    This would certainly be a contest featuring two very talented defenses.

Allstate Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma vs. LSU

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    When: Wednesday, Jan. 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

    The Sugar Bowl also saw a major shakeup with the Alabama-Georgia winner now back in the national title conversation.

    The SEC spot could go to a number of teams, including Texas A&M, Florida or LSU. If Florida knocks off Florida State on Saturday, it just might end up here.

    If not, it will be a tossup between LSU and Texas A&M as long as Alabama beats Georgia.

    Oklahoma preserved its BCS hopes with a dramatic win over West Virginia and likely just needs to win its final two games to secure a BCS berth. This would be the most likely destination.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State vs. Clemson

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    When: Thursday, Jan. 3 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

    Kansas State may be out of the national title conversation, but it is still very much in the BCS talks as long as it can beat Texas in the final game of the season.

    Collin Klein may have had a subpar game on Saturday, but he is still a Heisman hopeful. Going up against Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd would be quite a matchup.

    The Clemson Tigers are one of the hottest teams in the country and have one of the most complete offenses out there.

    This would be a very high-scoring, fun game to watch.

BCS National Championship: Notre Dame vs. Alabama

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    When: Monday, Jan. 7 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

    Who would have thought a few days ago that these two teams would be the favorites to play for the national championship with just two weeks left in the regular season.

    If Notre Dame beats USC, it is a lock to end up here. Alabama must knock off Auburn and Georgia in the SEC title game.

    That is easier said than done, but it is looking like these two teams will be playing for all the marbles in Miami on Jan. 7.