BCS Bowl Projections 2013: Predicting Matchups for CFB's Biggest Games

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent INovember 7, 2013

Oct 19, 2013; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) runs the ball for a touchdown against the Washington State Cougars at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

If only these projections were for a four-team playoff. With Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Baylor all sitting with undefeated records, it would be wonderful to think only one of those teams would have to be excluded from the opportunity to play for the national championship. 

Alas, only two teams will get a crack at playing for the ultimate prize in college football this season.

I've been holding on to the notion that a few losses by top teams would help sort out this picture. However, looking at the schedule and recent form of the teams mentioned above, I've shifted my prediction to a much more cloudy future. 

At least three of those teams are going to finish the regular season undefeated, and I expect four to do so. 

At any rate, while this system pales in comparison to the joy we'd have with a four-team playoff, there are a lot of entertaining possible matchups for the BCS bowl games. Check out my projections for the games and then I'll take a closer look at three of the more notable matchups. 

Langford's BCS Bowl Projections
BCS GameDateLocationMatchupPrediction
Rose BowlJan. 1Pasadena, Calif.Big Ten/BCS vs. Pac-12/BCSOhio State vs. Stanford
Fiesta BowlJan. 1Glendale, Ariz.Big 12/BCS vs. BCSBaylor vs. Fresno State
Sugar BowlJan. 2New Orleans, La.SEC/BCS vs. BCSTexas A&M vs. UCF
Orange BowlJan. 3Miami, Fla.ACC/BCS vs. BCSFlorida State vs. Michigan State
BCS Title GameJan. 6Pasadena, Calif.BCS No. 1 vs. BCS No. 2Alabama vs. Oregon

BCS Title Game: Oregon vs. Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 26:  AJ McCarron #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide leaves the field after their 45-10 win over the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 26, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If Alabama wins out, there will be no question the Crimson Tide will be in this game. Alabama is comfortably in front of the rankings, and its schedule has enough strength that the Crimson Tide will not fall from that spot if they don't lose. 

Alabama has a matchup with with No. 13 LSU on tap for this week and No. 9 Auburn in the final game of the regular season. LSU doesn't have the defense to slow down Alabama, and the offense is not good enough to win a shootout against the Crimson Tide's defense. 

Meanwhile, Auburn has been impressive, but the Tigers need their ground game dominating to win games, and the Crimson Tide are allowing just 3.4 yards per carry

Alabama has the SEC championship game to worry about, but likely opponents Missouri or South Carolina will not be able to upset Alabama. 

As for Oregon, its positioning for this game is not as clear. Florida State and Oregon have been flipping spots the past few weeks. However, the Ducks have the inside track to be No. 2. 

The Ducks play No. 5 Stanford this week while Florida State doesn't have a ranked opponent remaining on the schedule. 

Florida State does have a potential matchup with No. 11 Miami in the ACC Championship Game, but Oregon will likely wind up with No. 22 Arizona State or No. 19 UCLA. 

The Ducks' only serious threat in their remaining games is a tough Stanford squad that beat them last season by holding Oregon to only 14 points. 

However, Stanford's 19th-ranked scoring defense doesn't have the speed to slow down Oregon again this year.  

All of this sets up what will be an enticing title-game matchup of two undefeated college powers. 

Sugar Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Central Florida

COLLEGE STATION, TX - SEPTEMBER 14:  Johnny Manziel #2 of Texas A&M Aggies waits near the bench in the fourth quarter during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Kyle Field on September 14, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Texas A&M Johnny Manziels, I mean Aggies, aren't getting a lot of love these days in BCS bowl projections. 

I suppose that is understandable. With two losses on the season, the Aggies sit in 15th in the BCS rankings. They have to be in the top 14 to be eligible for a BCS game; they will get inside that top 14. 

The Aggies play Mississippi State, No. 13 LSU and No. 8 Missouri to finish out the season. As long as they win two of those three games, I see them moving up in the rankings. 

As LSU showed in allowing 44 points and 298 passing yards to Georgia earlier in the year, this defense is susceptible to quality passing attacks. Manziel will pull out a win for his team in that shootout. 

And all the Aggies have to do is be BCS bowl eligible, and they'll likely be picked. Given the choice between, say, the Aggies, an SEC team that just lost in the championship game or another BCS team like the runner-up in the Big Ten, what bowl game is going to pass on Manziel?

Love him or hate him, chances are you have an opinion on him and are curious about how he performs. He is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, the game's biggest star and one of the most polarizing figures in sports. 

Having Manziel in a bowl game is going to increase the exposure of that game and consequently its money-making potential. 

The Sugar Bowl will need that because UCF isn't going to bring in a lot of hype. 

ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 26:  Jeff Godfrey #2 of the UCF Knights attempts to run past Byron Jones #16 of the Connecticut Huskies during the game at Bright House Networks Stadium on October 26, 2013 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Knights and Houston are the only two undefeated teams in AAC play, but it is UCF with the inside shot at gaining the conference's automatic bid. The Knights host Houston this week and Houston still has to play No. 20 Louisville. The Knights already beat the Cardinals. 

Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Michigan State

TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 02:  Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles warms up during a game against the Miami Hurricanes at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 2, 2013 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Florida State will be in the unique position of being disappointed about making a trip to the Orange Bowl.

This is typically the goal for every ACC team, but the Seminoles have their sights set on a bigger prize.

I detailed above why Oregon has the inside track at the coveted title-game bid, but I am confident that the Seminoles will run the table. Miami certainly didn't show anything to suggest it can handle the Seminoles in a potential rematch. 

Michigan State's selection to this game is far less certain. 

The Spartans sit in 17th in the BCS rankings. They have three games left on the schedule. They will play at Nebraska, at Northwestern and then host Minnesota. 

With the nation's third-ranked scoring defense, the Spartans will win all three. All evidence I needed to support this claim came this past weekend with the Spartans holding rival Michigan to just six points and 168 yards of offense.

EAST LANSING, MI - NOVEMBER 02:  Devin Gardner #98 of the Michigan Wolverines is sacked by Shilique Calhoun #89 of the Michigan State Spartans as teammates Micajah Reynolds #60 and Denicos Allen #28 celebrate in the first quarter at Spartan Stadium on Nov
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

This will lead the Spartans to the Big Ten title game and a possible matchup with Ohio State. The Spartans don't have the offense to beat the Buckeyes, but they will keep the game close with their defense and retain a spot in the top 14.

That will be enough to earn them a BCS bid and a date with disgruntled Florida State. 


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