Now that the regular season is over, the bowls are set and the teams are preparing for domination or heartbreak, it's time to start fighting about which teams were truly BCS-worthy and which ones are going to get steamrolled about a month from now.
And though the BCS picture is set, that doesn't mean it's pretty. Some teams got bumped out of games that should have been rightfully theirs while others will be gearing up to get embarrassed on one of college football's biggest stages.
Here's a look at some of the teams that will have no problem showing their opponents how it's done during bowl season. You can see the full bowl schedule here. (Projected winner is in bold.)
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Oregon vs. Kansas State
Somehow, despite spending most of the season as a contender to play in the national championship, the Oregon Ducks didn't even get an opportunity to play in their conference championship. That's what a late-season upset loss to the only other competitive team in your conference will do to you.
So here Oregon stands, ready to take on Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl. And while neither of these teams comes from the strongest of conferences, one of them suffered a loss that is far more of a red flag than the other.
Oregon's one loss to Stanford isn't a bad one. Stanford, though it began the season without much fanfare, knocked off the best teams in the Pac-12 and rolled to a win in the conference championship. Kansas State, on the other hand, suffered an incredibly disappointing late-season loss to 5-5 Baylor—and not only did the Wildcats lose, but they lost huge, 52-24.
A late-season defensive collapse like that is a big warning sign, and it's one the Ducks should be able to take advantage of.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Louisville vs. Florida
Why is it that the Big East gets an automatic bid to a major bowl game? The Big East was pretty bad at football this year, and the fact that a Big East team is playing an SEC team in a major bowl game is kind of a joke.
The Florida Gators spent their season battling some of the best teams in college football. You can say what you want about the SEC's superiority complex and the preseason bias afforded to its teams, but there is no denying that it boasted some of 2012's very best teams. And Florida beat many of those teams, including LSU and South Carolina. The Gators faced five ranked teams in 2012 and beat four of them.
Louisville, alternately, got to spend its season facing the likes of Pittsburgh, South Florida and Connecticut. Louisville did not face a single ranked football team in 2012. How does a team that didn't play another ranked team end up playing in a BCS bowl?
The good news for the Gators is that this game will be a breather in the aftermath of the schedule they faced in the regular season.
Discover Orange Bowl
Northern Illinois vs. Florida State
We're not going to talk about Oklahoma getting squeezed out of a BCS bowl berth in favor of a team that barely qualifies as Division I. We're not going to talk about all of the fans who would have preferred to see one of the ACC's best face one of the Big 12's best instead of the MAC's best, a team that has to offer free tickets in order to establish some kind of presence at its BCS bowl.
That's not to say it isn't nice to see the little guys succeed. It is nice. But is Northern Illinois on the same level as Oklahoma, or any of the other teams that were far more deserving of a BCS bowl bid in 2012? No. And playing Northern Illinois isn't going to be a bowl-worthy test for the Seminoles.
The best team Northern Illinois beat in 2012 was Kent State. Kent State, in fact, was the only ranked team NIU faced this season. Oklahoma's two losses came against two of the nation's top six teams. NIU's one loss came against a team that finished the year 4-8.
This isn't like the NCAA basketball tournament, where mid-majors get the chance to battle it out with the nation's top teams but have to do it with a No. 16 seed. This is the equivalent of a mid-major stealing a top seed from a team that had to do much, much more to prove itself this season and now has nothing to show for it.
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