BCS Bowl Projections 2012: Predictions for Every Major Matchup
Championship week is in the books, and barring any major surprises on tomorrow night's BCS selection show on ESPN, we'll be seeing an Alabama and Notre Dame national championship game on January 7.
The rest of the BCS field is also falling into place, with the remainder of the field all but set and awaiting the final approval via the BCS rankings and the bowl selection committees making their final announcements on Sunday.
The Rose, Sugar, Fiesta and Orange bowls are part of the tradition that make this sport great, and when coupled with the BCS National Championship Game, make for a seven-day span that rivals very few weeks in any sport.
Here's a look at the most recent projections for the BCS bowls. We'll know for sure on Sunday night, but for right now these are the most likely projections for the biggest games of the college football season.
Florida State vs. Louisville
Florida State took care of business against Georgia Tech on Saturday night in the ACC Championship Game, punching its automatic ticket.
The other spot is somewhat still in doubt. We won't know if Northern Illinois can jump into the Top 16 until Sunday night, but with UCLA, Nebraska and Texas all losing, it's not out of the realm of possibilities. It's still a long shot, but playing on the last week of the season obviously helped the MAC champion.
Florida State will be favored here—and for good reason—no matter what opponent they get. If it's Louisville, a matchup of QBs E.J. Manuel and Teddy Bridgewater will make for exciting television. If Northern Illinois squeaks in and Louisville heads to the Sugar Bowl.
I don't think the Huskies have enough widespread support both in the AP poll and the computers to push them into the Top 16. Louisville and Oklahoma benefit from that outcome.
Florida vs. Oklahoma
With Kansas State's win over Texas in the books, the Sooners almost assuredly gained this spot in the Sugar Bowl against the Florida Gators for a rematch of the 2008 national championship game.
The Sooners bring a potent offensive attack to New Orleans led by Landry Jones and Blake Bell; both QBs have accounted for a large portion of the team's attack on the season.
However, Florida isn't the No. 4 team in the nation for just any reason. The Gators have a great amount of speed and talent at skill positions, and even though the offense has sputtered over the past few weeks, Will Muschamp's defense always comes ready to play.
This could turn out to be the best BCS game of the five. The potential for the SEC-Big 12 clash and the matchup of Florida speed vs. Oklahoma talent will be one to keep an eye on.
Oregon vs. Kansas State
Kansas State was exposed in its loss to Baylor. Not only did the offense struggle to find a way to move the ball against a normally porous defense, but Baylor's offense put up huge numbers against the Wildcats en route to the upset.
With Oregon awaiting in the Fiesta Bowl, can Kansas State find a way to both slow down Oregon the way Stanford did while also solving the issues it's had on offense during close games this season?
This BCS bowl could have been the national championship game if both teams would have stayed undefeated. As it is, both suffered losses in the same week and now will still face off in the Fiesta Bowl with bragging rights on the line.
Oregon struck back against Oregon State in the Civil War, and it will have to find a way to slow down Collin Klein and the Wildcat offense. By the same token, the speed of De'Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner will be tough to stop.
Which style of play will win out?
Stanford vs. Wisconsin
Stanford withstood UCLA on Friday night, punching a ticket to the Rose Bowl. Odds were that Nebraska would win the Big Ten, but Wisconsin demolished the Huskers to gain the conference bid to Pasadena.
This game has all the big storylines to be one for the ages.
For starters, Wisconsin is in the Rose Bowl for just the third straight year. In doing so, the Badgers are the first team in the BCS era to make a BCS bowl with five or more losses.
For Stanford, freshman QB Kevin Hogan has four career starts and four career wins as the Cardinal signal-caller. He's led wins over Oregon and now UCLA twice, and he seems to have a firm command of this offense the way Andrew Luck did during his time at the school.
Additionally, top running backs Stepfan Taylor and Montee Ball will face off on opposite sidelines. Wisconsin and Stanford both use running offenses to grind out the opponent, so time of possession will be a big key for both teams.
BCS National Championship
Notre Dame vs. Alabama
We waited until the end to get to the game that was decided first on Saturday, but it's going to be one for the ages as these two storied programs square off.
Notre Dame, the BCS No. 1 and team that punched its ticket before championship weekend, will be a huge underdog heading into the game. According to Bryan Armen Graham and the online sportsbook 5Dimes, the Tide will have a 10.5 point advantage heading into January 7.
Alabama opens as 10.5-point favorite over Notre Dame in the BCS title game, per online sportsbook 5Dimes.— Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) December 2, 2012
We've got the marquee matchup we've all been waiting for.
Let the speculation begin about SEC dominance against the stout Notre Dame defense, as well as the resilience the Irish have shown this year with their backs against the wall. If you like grind-it-out football and two teams with solid running games, this one is for you.