BCS Bowl Projections 2012: Bold Predictions for Rose Bowl, Sugar and More
With Saturday's slate of conference championship games finished, many of the BCS bowl game matchups are set, including a championship showdown between Notre Dame and Alabama.
However, there are still a few bowls, namely the Allstate Sugar Bowl, that aren't set in stone.
Florida boasts perhaps the strongest resume in the country, so it appears the Gators should be a lock for a trip to New Orleans.
Oregon and Georgia also put together impressive seasons, leaving many to wonder where those two squads will end up after the bowl selection show is finished.
Let's take a look at my bold predictions for every BCS bowl game.
Discover Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Northern Illinois
Just a week after blowing a fourth-quarter lead against Florida, Jimbo Fisher's squad nearly repeated history in the ACC Championship game against Georgia Tech.
However, after taking down the Yellow Jackets 21-15, the Seminoles (11-2) earned a trip to the Orange Bowl.
FSU put together a solid season, losing just two games; however, one of those came against North Carolina State.
Led by quarterback EJ Manuel and a strong one-two punch of Devonta Freeman and James Wilder, Jr., the Seminoles bring a diverse offensive attack to the Orange Bowl.
While a matchup against Charlie Strong and Louisville would have been more exciting, drawing Northern Illinois doesn't mean the Seminoles can afford to have another off day.
Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch is an unsung star for the nation's No. 9 scoring offense (40.8 points per game).
The redshirt junior does it all for NIU, throwing for 2,962 yards and 24 touchdowns while leading his team with 1,771 rushing yards and another 19 scores.
Everyone's going to knock NIU for playing in the MAC, but this is a chance for the Huskies to prove they belong.
Prediction: Florida State 35, Northern Illinois 21
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Oklahoma
While Florida fans wished this rematch of the 2008 BCS National Championship game was once again for the big prize, a spot in the Sugar Bowl isn't bad consolation for a team that lost just one game despite having the most difficult schedule in the country.
The last time the Gators faced the Sooners came on the big stage, and Florida delivered a knockout performance against Sam Bradford and Oklahoma's high-powered offense.
This time around the Gators will combat veteran quarterback Landry Jones with rising sophomore Jeff Driskel, who showed flashes of greatness in his first full season at the helm.
Jones is regarded as a first- or second-round talent, but he will be exposed by the Gators' fantastic defense.
Sharrif Floyd, Matt Elam and Jon Bostic anchor the nation's No. 3 scoring defense, and with such a long time to prepare, expect defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to collaborate with defensive-minded head coach Will Muschamp in drawing up the perfect game plan to get in Jones' head.
Prediction: Florida 28, Oklahoma 13
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State vs. Oregon
The ball was in Kansas State's court to go to the BCS National Championship game, but a shocking 52-24 loss to unranked Baylor two weeks ago quickly ended that dream.
The Wildcats still managed to finish the season with a bang, blowing out Texas 42-24, in the Big 12 Championship.
After an incredibly fervent start, senior quarterback Collin Klein slowed down the past month, but the 6'5" signal-caller is still a viable Heisman candidate.
It's not often that scoring 40 points per game isn't good enough, but when facing the Oregon Ducks, toss the conventional out the window.
Chip Kelly's team is an offensive juggernaut, and with a dangerous trio of quarterback Marcus Mariota and running backs De'Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner, the Ducks are capable of dropping 50 on just about any team in the country.
Kansas State actually has a pretty solid defense, but the Wildcats simply haven't faced anything like Kelly's quick-hitting, no-huddle attack.
Prediction: Oregon 45, Kansas State 33
Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Wisconsin
Montee Ball didn't replicate his 2011 magic, but the senior running back carried the load for Wisconsin down the stretch, leading the Badgers to a 70-31 blowout win against Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship.
The Badgers didn't dominate this season, but four of their five losses came by three points.
Ball's hard-charging ways and a stout defense helped the Badgers earn a spot in the Rose Bowl against a similarly constructed team in the Stanford Cardinal.
Led by the nation's No. 14 scoring defense, the Pac 12 champions did well in their first season without No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck, going 11-2.
Both teams play tough, aggressive defense and rely on two bell cow running backs—Ball for Wisconsin and Stepfan Taylor for Stanford—so this game should be a close, low-scoring affair.
Prediction: Stanford 17, Wisconsin 13
BCS National Championship Game: Notre Dame vs. Alabama
There are so many storylines to this game, it's tough to pick just one.
Can the SEC maintain its string of dominance with its seventh consecutive national title?
Does Notre Dame actually have a better defense than Alabama?
Can Manti Te'o, perhaps the most recognizable defensive player in the country, cap off a Heisman campaign with a championship?
Will Alabama establish itself as the sport's greatest dynasty with its third national title in four years?
All these questions and more will be answered on Jan. 7 in Miami.
Te'o and the Fighting Irish are constructed so similarly as SEC champion Alabama it's scary.
Both teams employ 3-4 defenses that rely on the front seven to wreak havoc, but it's Te'o's squad that's ranked No. 1 in the country.
Alabama showed resiliency in their late-game victory against a tough Georgia squad, but the Tide clearly aren't the same machine they were in 2009 or 2011.
This matchup of two of college football's most storied programs figures to be a slobber knocker for the ages, but Notre Dame has the pieces to pull off the upset.
Prediction: Notre Dame 17, Alabama 14