Will Oregon end up one of the top two teams in the BCS standings and get a chance to play for a title?
Now that the first BCS standings have been released for the 2013 college football season, it's time for the inevitable guesswork that comes with figuring out who will face whom come bowl time.
In case you haven't seen the first set of standings, they look like this:
2. Florida State
4. Ohio State
7. Miami (Fla.)
10. Texas Tech
14. Virginia Tech
16. Texas A&M
17. Fresno State
18. Northern Illinois
19. Oklahoma State
21. South Carolina
25. Oregon State
But while these standings will determine which schools play in the big five bowls that are part of this last year of the BCS system, all told there are 35 bowl games. That means more than 55 percent of the 126 FBS programs will be playing at least one more game than is on the schedule.
Though so much can—and will—happen between now and Dec. 8, when the final BCS standings and the complete bowl lineup is released, that doesn't mean we can't start predicting, does it?
Check out our projections for the entire 2013-14 bowl season, and weigh in with your comments if you agree or disagree with our guesses. And remember, they're just guesses at this point.
San Jose State vs. Utah
When: Dec. 21, 2 p.m. ET
Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico
The 2013 bowl season kicks off with a Mountain West/Pac-12 matchup that will be hard-pressed to outdo the late-game heroics from last year's game, when Arizona scored twice in the final two minutes to beat Nevada 49-48.
After upsetting Stanford last week, being slotted to play in this game has to be a letdown for Utah.
For San Jose, though, making it back to a bowl after Mike MacIntyre left to coach Colorado has to be considered a success.
Fresno State vs. Washington
When: Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
This is traditionally one of the better early-bowl matchups, especially if the Mountain West rep was a candidate to sneak into the BCS at one time or another.
Fresno could be undefeated going into this game and still miss out on a big-bowl invite, which could lead to an uninspired performance.
Washington has had a meteoric fall from grace after a 4-0 start, losing three straight in increasingly worse fashion. The Huskies had much higher hopes for this season but will have to settle for another trip to Vegas (where they lost 28-26 to Boise last year).
Buffalo vs. UNLV
When: Dec. 21, 5:30 p.m. ET
Where: Boise, Idaho
This is a matchup of teams playing in the postseason for the first time in a while. Buffalo's last (and only) bowl appearance was in 2008 when it lost to Connecticut in the now-defunct International Bowl in Toronto, while UNLV hasn't been bowling since beating Arkansas in the 2000 Las Vegas Bowl.
Buffalo might actually be in a better bowl depending on how it fares next month in games against Ohio and Bowling Green. If it wins or splits those games, it could play in the MAC Championship, which could lead to other invites.
Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Tulane
When: Dec. 21, 9 p.m. ET
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
Why go looking outside the state for teams to fill this bottom-of-the-food-chain bowl when you've got a pair of very willing participants so close by?
Louisiana-Lafayette played in (and won) the New Orleans Bowl the previous two seasons, while Tulane hasn't bowled since 2002 and would jump at the chance to play in its home stadium, let alone in a postseason game.
Marshall vs. Toledo
When: Dec. 23, 3 p.m. ET
Where: St. Petersburg, Florida
Marshall currently leads Conference USA's East Division but will probably finish behind East Carolina, thus causing the Thundering Herd to miss out on a more lofty bowl. Toledo, on the other hand, would only get into this one by virtue of the weak American Athletic Conference likely not filling all of its bowl slots, thus leaving this one open.
No bother, as it should be a high-scoring game featuring a pair of teams that average more than 30 points per contest and aren't that fond of playing defense.
Rice vs. Utah State
When: Dec. 24, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Honolulu, Hawaii
Without the chance of getting Hawaii (currently 0-6, and very, very unlikely to suddenly run off six straight wins) into this game, it traditionally becomes one of the bowl schedule's biggest stinkers.
But don't tell that to Rice.
The Owls would be playing in a bowl for the second year in a row—they beat Air Force in last season's Armed Forces Bowl—for the first time in school history.
And for Utah State, getting a chance to go escape the winter for a little bit and play in Hawaii isn't likely to be looked at as a bad thing.
Ball State vs. Indiana
When: Dec. 26, 6 p.m. ET
Where: Detroit, Michigan
It's the Battle of Indiana! But in Michigan!
Assuming Indiana can actually slow an opponent or two down enough to reach bowl eligibility, it would be the school's first postseason berth since losing to Oklahoma State in the 2007 Insight Bowl.
Ball State would be making its seventh bowl appearance, but it's still in search of its first-ever victory. It would also give the Cardinals a chance to extend their dominance over their in-state foes, which they beat in 2008, 2011 and 2012.
San Diego State vs. BYU
When: Dec. 26, 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: San Diego, California
Bowl organizers don't really like having rematches, unless it involves a local team (San Diego) and one that travels really well (BYU). Therefore, look for these former WAC and Mountain West rivals to square off for the second year in a row in this game.
BYU won last year's meeting 23-6, but SDSU won this bowl game over Navy in 2010.
Middle Tennessee State vs. Maryland
When: Dec. 27, 2:30 p.m. ET
Where: Annapolis, Maryland
Maryland would be playing a virtual home game less than an hour from its campus, but that's about all the Terrapins are likely to enjoy about this game considering the expectations they had following a 4-0 start before a massive wave of injuries hit.
For Middle Tennessee State, its ascension from the Sun Belt to Conference USA is rewarded with a better bowl selection and a better opponent. It would be the first time the Blue Raiders would face a BCS conference opponent in the postseason.
TCU vs. Minnesota
When: Dec. 27, 6 p.m. ET
Where: Houston, Texas
Minnesota has lost its last five bowl appearances, the last four coming against Big 12 opponents. The Golden Gophers would be trying to snap both of those streaks with the added disadvantage of facing TCU only a few hours from its Fort Worth campus, making this almost like a road game.
But it should be good for ticket sales, which is what really matters, isn't it?
Boston College vs. Arizona
When: Dec. 27, 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: San Francisco, California
Boston College continues its play-every-other-year-in-San-Francisco trend, also getting picked for this bowl as an ACC representative in 2009 and 2011 (while not bowling in 2010 or 2012). The Eagles lost both of those visits, to USC in 2009 and Nevada two years ago.
Arizona would be making a slight upgrade in its bowl appearance after being in the New Mexico Bowl in 2012, giving the Wildcats four bowl games in five years for the second time in school history.
This game would also feature one of the best showcases of running backs in postseason play, as Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey ranks No. 1 in FBS at 161.0 yards per game and BC's Andre Williams is fifth at 139.7.
Rutgers vs. Kansas State
When: Dec. 28, 12 p.m. ET
Where: Bronx, New York
How much difference a year makes for Kansas State. A year ago the Wildcats were a surprise BCS participant by winning the Big 12. They now would need to win four of their last six just to be eligible to play in this game.
Rutgers would be a virtual home team, not far from its New Jersey digs. It would be in this bowl for the second time in three years after beating Iowa State in the 2011 edition.
Cincinnati vs. Georgia Tech
When: Dec. 28, 3:20 p.m. ET
Where: Charlotte, North Carolina
Cincinnati returns to the scene of its 2012 bowl win, where it beat Duke 48-34 despite most of its coaching staff having already left with Butch Jones to get the ball rolling at Tennessee. The Bearcats also return that game's MVP, quarterback Brendon Kay, who threw for 332 yards and four touchdowns.
Georgia Tech gets to stay a lot closer to home than in the previous two years, both of which saw the Yellow Jackets play in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. Tech beat USC there last year but lost in overtime to Utah in 2011.
Louisville vs. Notre Dame
When: Dec. 28, 6:45 p.m. ET
Where: Orlando, Florida
Let's call this the Disappointment Bowl, because neither team will want to be there.
Louisville firmly expected to be in a BCS game, possibly even getting consideration for the national championship, but all that has been tossed aside following Friday's home loss to Central Florida.
Now the Cardinals must settle for the next-best thing, at least in terms of its soon-to-be-former conference's bowl affiliations are concerned.
And when it comes to Notre Dame, if it's not an upper-crust bowl, it's not that important. Heck, if it's not the championship, it's considered meaningless. That's why, throwing out last year's loss to Alabama in the BCS title game, the Fighting Irish have gone an uninspiring 2-12 in their previous 14 bowl games.
Texas vs. Nebraska
When: Dec. 28, 10:15 p.m., ET
Where: Tempe, Arizona
The tradition and history of the programs involved in this game make it feel like a much bigger matchup, but truth be told, this is considered either a second- or third-tier bowl for both teams.
Being in this bowl could add to that warmth.
Above all that, it would also pit a pair of former Big 12 foes that three times have met for a conference title but haven't met each other in a bowl game since Nebraska won the 1974 Cotton Bowl.
Navy vs. Boise State
When: Dec. 30, 11:45 a.m. ET
Where: Fort Worth, Texas
Navy's 10th bowl appearance in 11 seasons takes it to yet another different locale, the joys (or burdens) of being an independent. The Midshipmen have played bowls in San Francisco, San Diego, Houston, Honolulu, Washington, D.C. and Charlotte during that span. Have bowl, will travel.
Boise will just be glad not to have to go to Las Vegas for the fourth straight year, having won that bowl over Washington, Arizona State and Utah the previous three seasons.
Pittsburgh vs. Florida
When: Dec. 30, 3:15 p.m. ET
Where: Nashville, Tennessee
This could be one of the lowest-scoring games of the bowl season. Florida brings in not only one of the nation's best defenses, but one of the worst offenses among BCS-level programs. Pittsburgh has struggled to score against anything but the worst defensive teams.
This would be the first time Florida played its season's bowl game in the same calendar year as the regular season since beating Miami (Fla.) in the 2004 Peach Bowl. Since then, the Gators have played on Jan. 1 or later.
Oklahoma vs. Arizona State
When: Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m. ET
Where: San Antonio, Texas
Playing in this game would mark Oklahoma's first three-year BCS bowl drought since the 20th century, but the depleted Big 12 isn't likely to get an at-large BCS bid. If it did, it would more likely be for Baylor or Texas Tech.
Arizona State controls its own destiny to get into the Pac-12 title game, but it would need to win it to get into the BCS. But getting into what's considered the league's best non-BCS bowl slot would still be a major achievement for the Sun Devils in Todd Graham's second season as coach.
Oklahoma State vs. UCLA
When: Dec. 30, 10:15 p.m. ET
Where: San Diego, California
UCLA still has a good shot to make a BCS bowl, but that would require it to win the Pac-12 title. More likely, the Bruins will be the league's most favorable choice to head down the coast to play in San Diego.
Oklahoma State last played in this game in 2008, falling to Oregon. The Cowboys are still in the hunt for the Big 12's BCS bid, but they would need to probably run the table against Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Baylor and Texas to make that happen. Not likely.
Duke vs. Tennessee
When: Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. ET
Where: Shreveport, Louisiana
Any bowl game should be considered a success in Butch Jones' first year, especially seeing how tough it is to be bowl-eligible if a team doesn't go 4-0 in nonconference play before entering the SEC slate.
Duke, which lost to Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl last year to end a 17-year bowl drought, would be making its first back-to-back bowl appearances in school history.
Virginia Tech vs. Oregon State
When: Dec. 31, 2 p.m. ET
Where: El Paso, Texas
Fans of both of these teams are probably going to scoff mightily at this projection, which is understandable. Both squads are currently 6-1, both are unbeaten in their respective conferences and both have a fighting chance to not only make their league championship game, but to win it.
But these are projections, and both Virginia Tech and Oregon State are likely to lose to at least one of the higher-rated opponents remaining on their respective schedules, thus knocking them down to this bowl.
OSU played in the Sun Bowl in 2006 and 2008, while Virginia Tech was there way back in 1947.
East Carolina vs. Ole Miss
When: Dec. 31, 4 p.m. ET
Where: Memphis, Tennessee
Mississippi has won its last five bowl games, including a 38-17 win last January over Pittsburgh in one of the bowls that happen in between the BCS games, so forgive yourself if you had no clue the Rebels went bowling last season.
East Carolina has lost its last four trips to bowl games, including back-to-back Liberty Bowls to SEC opponents in 2009 and 2010.
Miami (Fla.) vs. South Carolina
When: Dec. 31, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Atlanta, Georgia
The final game on the schedule before the calendar turns over to 2014 will be a doozy, but it will also feature teams that really expected to be playing their final game in January.
South Carolina fell out of the BCS picture in all likelihood (though the crazy SEC East is capable of anything at this point), while Miami showed a high level of vulnerability in its last game that makes the chances of it surviving ACC play unbeaten much less certain.
Their losses are our gain. And by "our," I mean all of us people who will be sitting home watching college football on New Year's Eve before going to bed and getting a good night's rest before getting up to watch more college football all day the next day.
Wisconsin vs. Georgia
When: Jan. 1, 12 p.m. ET
Where: Jacksonville, Florida
Wisconsin was in the Rose Bowl a year ago, but while it may be as good as it was last season, it doesn't have the luxury of Ohio State being ineligible for the Big Ten title again.
So rather than another Rose appearance, the Badgers will have to settle for spending the new year in Florida.
Georgia, if it still has enough healthy bodies to field a team, will be continuing its tour of the Florida-based Jan. 1 bowls after beating Nebraska in last year's Outback Bowl and losing to Michigan State in the 2012 Capital One Bowl.
North Texas vs. Iowa
When: Jan. 1, 12 p.m. ET
Where: Dallas, Texas
This game wins the "which of these doesn't fit with the other" award as far as New Year's Day bowls go, and as a result it could be among the biggest mismatches.
North Texas, in its first year in Conference USA, would leverage its first bowl appearance since 2004 into a matchup with a Big Ten team that seems to bring its entire state with it for these games.
Iowa is probably looking for a bowl breather after having to face Oklahoma and Missouri after the 2010 and 2011 seasons in the Insight Bowl. The Hawkeyes split those games, losing to Oklahoma and beating Missouri.
Michigan State vs. Auburn
When: Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET
Where: Orlando, Florida
From 3-9 and firing a national championship-winning coach last year to a New Year's Day bowl game this season, it would be quite a turnaround for Auburn.
While the Tigers are still in the conversation for a BCS bid, that's only if they somehow come out on top in the SEC West and then win the league championship game.
For Michigan State, the same BCS possibility applies, but back-to-back November games against Michigan and Nebraska will likely knock the Spartans out of contention for the Big Ten title game.
Michigan vs. Texas A&M
When: Jan. 1, 1 p.m.
Where: Tampa, Florida
A lot has been made about how a potential BCS pairing of Baylor and Oregon would create a betting scenario so wild it would make Las Vegas explode, but so could this matchup of teams that consider defense an optional exercise.
Michigan just won a 63-47 game over Indiana, a week after losing 43-40 to Penn State in four overtimes, while Texas A&M just dropped a 45-41 decision to Auburn a week after edging out Mississippi 41-38.
Put the over/under at 90 and get ready to watch lots of scoring.
Texas Tech vs. LSU
When: Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Arlington, Texas
One of three bowl games to be played during the BCS bowls' time window but not actually part of that upper tier, this one is far more prestigious than the other second-tier games in early January.
Texas Tech could still make the BCS if it runs the table in the Big 12, while LSU is also still alive despite two losses because it still has Alabama to play and could win the SEC West Division.
For the sake of having a great matchup that will actually be a pretty good defensive game, let's hope neither of these teams goes unbeaten between now and Jan. 4.
Houston vs. Vanderbilt
When: Jan. 4, 1 p.m.
Where: Birmingham, Alabama
After Louisville lost to Central Florida on Friday, Houston probably got excited about its chances of sneaking into the BCS through the American Athletic Conference's last automatic bid.
Then the Cougars lost at home to BYU, exposing them as a much worse team than their unbeaten start would indicate.
Vanderbilt still has a tough road just to get bowl-eligible.
Arkansas State vs. Bowling Green
When: Jan. 5, 9 p.m. ET
Where: Mobile, Alabama
Arkansas State would be making its third straight appearance in the Mobile game, and the Red Wolves hope to not be using an interim coach after both Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn have bolted for SEC jobs before the game was played.
Bowling Green would be returning to Mobile for the first time since losing 63-7 to Tulsa in what was then known as the GMAC Bowl.
Fans of these schools will be very excited to be the only game on television when this otherwise pointless bowl game is played.
Ohio State vs. Stanford
When: Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET
Where: Pasadena, California
Whether Ohio State goes undefeated and wins the Big Ten championship game or not, it doesn't look like the Buckeyes' schedule and overall resume will be strong enough to get into the BCS title game.
Stanford's placement in this game would be as the Pac-12's third-best team in terms of overall placement on the league, since the Cardinal wouldn't be in the conference title game unless it beats Oregon, which it probably won't. But other than UCLA, no other Pac-12 school has the pedigree to get an at-large berth, and the voters and computers will probably love even a two-loss Stanford team.
This would be Ohio State's first trip to Pasadena since the 2010 edition, when it beat Oregon, while Stanford downed Wisconsin in this one last season. The schools have only met five times before, with the only postseason matchup occurring in the 1971 Rose Bowl, won by Stanford.
Baylor vs. Northern Illinois
When: Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Glendale, Arizona
I know what you're thinking: Northern Illinois, again? Didn't that 31-10 pasting by Florida State in last year's Orange Bowl prove the Huskies weren't ready for primetime?
But the truth of the matter is, in this last rendition of the BCS, there's nothing to lose.
That means one of the so-called BCS busters from a non-power conference is going to make it, and it's either Northern Illinois or Fresno State. Both have some challenges in their leagues that could prevent such an occurrence, but Fresno's are probably more daunting because of the likelihood of facing Boise State in the Mountain West title game.
NIU made it last year with a one-point loss to Iowa on its resume, and this year the Huskies won by three over the Hawkeyes. They also have the country's most ridiculously run-happy quarterback in Jordan Lynch, who just set the FBS record for rushing yards by a QB in a single game with 316 yards and three TDs.
Baylor could also be unbeaten going into this one, but if enough other teams are perfect (or the SEC produces a good-enough one-loss team), the Bears won't be getting an invite to the BCS title game.
Wherever they play, though, expect scoreboard pyrotechnics, something that could be exacerbated by the fact Northern Illinois isn't exactly a defensive juggernaut.
Missouri vs. Clemson
When: Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
Missouri is the flavor of the month in college football with its surprising 7-0 start, despite the injury to star quarterback James Franklin last week. The Tigers probably aren't good enough to beat Alabama in the SEC title game and very easily could lose two or three league games before that, considering how bonkers that conference has been in October.
Clemson went from being a national darling to that team that annually lets you down in a big game when it got blown out at home by Florida State, so it's out of the ACC title picture unless FSU inexplicably loses twice to a league slate with only one really dangerous game left.
But the Tigers could still run the table and, with a season-ending win over rival South Carolina, have a strong enough at-large resume to beat out teams like Texas Tech, UCLA and whoever loses the ACC title.
Assuming Franklin returns from his shoulder injury for Missouri, this could be one of the more competitive BCS games on the slate in terms of the similarities between the teams.
Florida State vs. Central Florida
When: Jan. 3, time TBD
Where: Miami, Florida
While the standings currently have Florida State in second place, odds are if all the top teams keep winning, the Seminoles will get leapfrogged by at least one team, most likely Oregon. That's because the Seminoles' remaining schedule only features one BCS-ranked opponent (Miami), not including who it would face in the ACC title game, while Oregon still has to play UCLA, Stanford and Oregon State.
So look for the 'Noles to once again stay in-state to play the annual surprise BCS participant, the role this time being played by upstart Central Florida via its "hey, we still get an automatic bid, no matter how bad our league is" affiliation with the American Athletic Conference.
Don't count UCF out, since it's already fared well on the big stage this season, winning at Penn State and Louisville and coming close to taking out South Carolina at home. The Knights aren't flashy and aren't as talented as FSU, but they should still be a quality opponent.
Alabama vs. Oregon
When: Jan. 6, 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Pasadena, California
Hate it as you might (I'm talking to you, every person that's not an Alabama fan), the Crimson Tide are legacied into this game by virtue of their recent BCS title-game prowess, most likely even if they were to fall somewhere along the way to the Rose Bowl.
Frankly, Alabama would need to really start stinking up the joint, or lose to both LSU and Auburn and miss out on the SEC championship, for it to not end up in this game.
Oregon, on the other hand, must win out and hope it gains ground on Florida State in the computers and holds off Midwest voters who might want Ohio State in this game. The Ducks still have the toughest part of their schedule remaining, as everyone they still have to face currently has a winning record.
Assuming all things pan out, though, this is the dream matchup that most of the country would like to see and that Oregon students have been spending their student loan money to campaign for.