Week 12 of the 2013 college football season saw only one major contender fall by the wayside, with Stanford picking up a second loss, while Auburn, Baylor, Michigan State and Oklahoma State picked up significant wins that boosted their standing in the latest BCS rankings.
If you haven't seen the latest rankings, they look like this:
- Florida State
- Ohio State
- Oklahoma State
- South Carolina
- Texas A&M
- Michigan State
- Fresno State
- Northern Illinois
- Arizona State
- Ole Miss
While there wasn't a lot of movement within the BCS bowls, that can't be said for the entire 35-game bowl lineup. There are some newcomers and some interesting pairings we're predicting at this point, though there's three weeks left to completely blow up this latest projection.
Take a look at what we're picking right now, and then chime in in the comments with your thoughts, opinions and commentary.
Washington vs. Utah State
When: Dec. 21, 2 p.m. ET
Where: Albuquerque, N.M.
Washington (6-4) has lost four of six, and now might have lost its franchise quarterback. The Huskies' season has fallen apart, and with another loss they could actually be among a handful of Pac-12 teams shopping for bowls outside the league's allotment.
Utah State (6-4) could still get into the Mountain West title game if Boise State slips up in the final two weeks. More likely, the Aggies will finish as the third- or fourth-best team in the league, which puts them either in San Diego or a closer venue like Albuquerque.
USC vs. Boise State
When: Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Las Vegas, Nev.
USC (8-3) has been on a heck of a run of late, and could still climb higher with a game against UCLA left on the schedule. The Trojans don't travel well, though, so if they can't get into the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, the next-best option (other than the Rose Bowl, which isn't completely out of the picture) would be Vegas.
Boise State (7-3) is stuck going to Las Vegas yet again unless it knocks off Fresno State in the Mountain West final or Fresno doesn't get a BCS slot. The Broncos have been there the last three years, taking out three different Pac-12 teams, so why not a four-pack of beatdowns?
Ball State vs. UNLV
When: Dec. 21, 5:30 p.m. ET
Where: Boise, Idaho
Ball State (9-2) is the second-best team in the Mid-American, something it showed in a good game at Northern Illinois this past week. But by being the second-place team in their division, the Cardinals likely can do no better than the third bowl slot from the MAC, which means Boise instead of Detroit.
UNLV (5-5) has failed in its first two chances to become bowl-eligible for the first since 2000, and if the Runnin' Rebels can't do it Thursday at Air Force, they'd have to try to knock off a hot San Diego State team to get to six wins.
Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Tulane
When: Dec. 21, 9 p.m. ET
Where: New Orleans, La.
Call it the battle to be the second best from the Bayou State.
Louisiana-Lafayette (8-2) has been in this bowl the last two years, winning both times, and is destined to head back as the Sun Belt champion. The Ragin' Cajuns deserve to get to play somewhere better, but the league's bowl affiliations are poor and few.
Tulane (6-4) won't mind getting to have its first bowl game since 2002 in the same stadium where it plays its games. The crowd might be a little bigger, too, with another Louisiana team bringing fans down to the cavernous (for the Green Wave, at least) Superdome.
Marshall vs. Toledo
When: Dec. 23, 2 p.m. ET
Where: St. Petersburg, Fla.
Marshall (7-3) gets East Carolina at home to end the regular season, which could put it into the Conference USA title game. That could lead to the Liberty Bowl, which would be a first for the Thundering Herd. More likely, though, will be a second trip to Tampa Bay in three years.
Toledo (7-3) could force a logjam atop its division in the MAC if it can knock off Northern Illinois at home on Wednesday. If not, the Rockets would be the odd team out from the league's paltry three bowl allocation. Thankfully, the AAC doesn't have enough bowl-eligible teams, and Toledo deserves this more than a 6-6 Pittsburgh team, per se.
Colorado State vs. North Texas
When: Dec. 24, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Honolulu, Hawaii
Colorado State (6-5) isn't bowl-eligible yet, because the Rams must finish with at least seven victories because they're playing a 13-game schedule. That should happen Nov. 30 against Air Force, unless they can win at Utah State this week. Either way, it would give CSU its second trip to Hawaii this season and its first bowl bid since 2008.
North Texas (7-3) hasn't bowled since 2004, when it had the last of four straight trips to the New Orleans Bowl as the class of the Sun Belt. The Mean Green are in line to play for the Conference USA title, which could send them to the Liberty Bowl with a victory.
Notre Dame vs. Bowling Green
When: Dec. 26, 6 p.m. ET
Where: Detroit, Mich.
Notre Dame (7-3) and its refusal to join a conference, plus the recent loss to Pittsburgh, puts it in a position where it has to hope and beg for a chance to fill a bowl slot that someone else couldn't fill. Granted, most bowls would kill for Notre Dame, but it looks like the best option is going to be a regional game against a MAC team.
Bowling Green (7-3) is on pace to win the easier side of the MAC, which would get it into the title game against most likely Northern Illinois. Only three teams from the league are guaranteed bowl slots, with the second-best one getting to play in the Midwest while the other two travel far. And who said second wasn't any good?
San Diego State vs. Arizona
When: Dec. 26, 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: San Diego, Calif.
San Diego State (6-4) started 0-3, losing to an FCS team, getting blown out at Ohio State and losing a late lead to Oregon State. Since, the Aztecs are 6-1. They're going to a bowl for the fourth year in a row and the third time getting that game on their home field.
Arizona (6-4) looked like a team that could contend for one of the Pac-12's upper-level bowl slots. But home losses to UCLA and, inexplicably, Washington State now put the Wildcats in a situation where they could be the eighth- or ninth-place team with only seven or eight bowl slots. But with Army not bowl-eligible, this leaves a spot open for a team with a strong southern California fanbase.
Maryland vs. Florida Atlantic
When: Dec. 27, 2:30 p.m. ET
Where: Annapolis, Md.
Maryland (6-4) won at enigmatic Virginia Tech to become bowl-eligible for the first time in three seasons. The payoff is getting to play its bowl quite close to home, as the Naval Academy is about an hour from campus. It's a nice way to end what's been a challenging, injury-plagued season for the Terrapins.
Florida Atlantic (4-6) was 2-6 when its coach resigned amid a drug scandal, a messy situation that continues to linger away from the field. Yet the Owls have won both games since this happened, and have two very winnable contests left to reach their first bowl since 2008.
Texas Tech vs. Michigan
When: Dec. 27, 6 p.m. ET
Where: Houston, Texas
Teams who were unbeaten in mid-October end up finishing disappointing seasons against each other in a meaningless late December game.
Texas Tech (7-4) has lost four straight, and they've been worse each time. Although the Red Raiders started strong against Baylor over the weekend, they failed to hold onto that edge and are now looking at a season with such promise a month ago now looking like something of a failure.
Michigan (7-3) has dropped three of five, and needed triple overtime to beat a Northwestern team that's cursed more than any club in the country. The Wolverines' offense has disappeared, and they're lucky to even get a bowl game the way the second half of the season has gone.
BYU vs. Oregon State
When: Dec. 27, 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: San Francisco, Calif.
BYU (7-3) is signed, sealed and delivered to San Francisco thanks to a deal worked out before the season began. The Cougars will use their last two games as practice for the bowl game, a very odd scenario where they'll essentially have no worries until late December.
Oregon State (6-4) has dropped three in a row, all to the better half of the Pac-12, completely erasing a 6-1 start. The Beavers have seen their offense dry up, and with it the prospect of a better bowl game. Still, this one is the closest to its fanbase, if you're looking for a silver lining.
Cincinnati vs. Syracuse
When: Dec. 28, noon ET
Where: Bronx, N.Y.
Cincinnati (8-2) has been on a roll of late, especially when it rolled Rutgers on the road over the weekend. The Bearcats could win the AAC through a weird scenario of tiebreakers, but would need UCF (which they don't play) to lose as well. More likely, the Bearcats are going to play a football game in a baseball stadium.
Syracuse (5-5) left the Big East for greener pastures in the ACC, yet that league may end up with too many bowl-eligible teams. The Orange might have been left out of a bowl if not for the Big 12 coming up short on its commitments, leaving the upstate New York team to head downstate.
Duke vs. Houston
When: Dec. 21, 9 p.m. ET
Where: Charlotte, N.C.
Duke (8-2) has played its way into a very likely trip to the ACC title game thanks to a six-game winning streak, and the Blue Devils actually won a non-sloppy game by easily beating Miami (Fla.) over the weekend. But road games at Wake Forest and North Carolina still wait, meaning Duke might end up back in the same bowl as last year.
Houston (7-3) has fallen short in its three main matchups this season, both in- and out-of-conference, so the Cougars aren't going to finish any higher than third place in the AAC. Still, after last year's subpar season, getting back to a bowl of any kind will be considered a success.
Louisville vs. Miami (Fla.)
When: Dec. 28, 6:45 p.m. ET
Where: Orlando, Fla.
Louisville (9-1) has a very small chance of winning the AAC and getting into a BCS bowl, but don't bet on that happening. Instead, the Cardinals must resign themselves to having their final season before joining the ACC end in a low-level Florida bowl game.
Miami (7-3) has lost convincingly the last three weeks, and if not for the presence of Virginia on the schedule next, the Hurricanes could be staring a four-game skid in the face. Miami has fallen apart and could drop even further in the ACC's bowl lineup, but it's a safe bet it will end up playing relatively close to home.
Oklahoma vs. Nebraska
When: Dec. 28, 10:15 p.m. ET
Where: Tempe, Ariz.
Oklahoma (8-2) still has a chance to finish higher than fourth in the Big 12, but that will require the Sooners to beat a good team. Texas Tech doesn't count, apparently. If that doesn't happen, then Oklahoma's descent from the BCS title game in 2009 to pre-New Year's bowls continues.
Nebraska (7-3) fell out of the Big Ten Legends race by losing at home to Michigan State last week, and the Cornhuskers are probably no longer in contention for a New Year's Day bowl. Losing to an old Big 12 rival could be the last match to overwarm Bo Pelini's hot seat.
Navy vs. Rice
When: Dec. 30, 11:45 a.m. ET
Where: Fort Worth, Texas
Navy (6-4) met its commitment to a prearranged spot in this bowl by beating South Alabama over the weekend, sending the Midshipmen to a bowl for the second year in a row and the ninth time in the last decade.
Rice (7-3) can only make the Conference USA title game if it wins out and North Texas loses. But while a conference championship would be nice, it would mean the Owls play in Hawaii or Memphis instead of in-state against a like-minded run team. A much better scenario.
Georgia Tech vs. Ole Miss
When: Dec. 30, 3:15 p.m. ET
Where: Nashville, Tenn.
Georgia Tech (6-4) could end up tied for the ACC's Coastal title but would lose out to most teams in a tiebreaker. That would push the Yellow Jackets down the bowl list, but playing in Tennessee is far better than trips to El Paso the last two seasons.
Ole Miss (7-3) has a very good shot at a 9-3 record, which could bring with it a much better bowl venue. But that means taking out Missouri at home, then going to Starkville to beat Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. Achieve that, and the Rebels deserve to be higher on the SEC bowl list.
Texas vs. Stanford
When: Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m. ET
Where: San Antonio, Texas
Texas (7-3) had its amazing run come to an end with a convincing home loss to Oklahoma State, but the Longhorns can still impact who wins the Big 12 thanks to an upcoming game at Baylor. The Longhorns could finish second, still, which would send them to the Cotton Bowl, but odds are they'll play a bowl game in Texas no matter what.
Stanford (8-2) dropped out of the BCS after its loss at USC, and barring further losses from at-large candidates probably won't give the Pac-12 two entrants. Instead, the Cardinal will carry the league flag in Texas, where the Pac-12 is 0-3 since affiliating with this game.
UCLA vs. Kansas State
When: Dec. 30, 10:15 p.m. ET
Where: San Diego, Calif.
UCLA (8-2) wins the Pac-12 South by taking out Arizona State at home and then winning at USC, but the Bruins still won't get into the BCS unless it knocks off the North champ for the league title. Instead, the Bruins will likely go to San Diego and have a relatively decent home-field advantage.
Kansas State (6-4) has surged to the fourth spot from the Big 12 after being 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the league. The Wildcats could move up even higher with a win over Oklahoma this weekend, a great rebound in a season that began with a home loss to an FCS team.
North Carolina vs. Mississippi State
When: Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. ET
Where: Shreveport, La.
North Carolina (5-5) becomes bowl-eligible with a win over transitioning FBS program Old Dominion on Saturday, or the Tar Heels would have to win at Duke in the finale. Either way, the Heels making a bowl has to be considered remarkable seeing as they were 1-5 after blowing a late lead at home to Miami (Fla.).
Mississippi State (4-6) has to win out to get into a bowl, which means going to Arkansas and then taking out Ole Miss at home in the Egg Bowl. It's doable, but not easy, and if the Bulldogs can't achieve two victories then the SEC will forfeit this bowl spot to an at-large team.
Arizona State vs. Boston College
When: Dec. 31, 2 p.m. ET
Where: El Paso, Texas
Arizona State (8-2) will win the Pac-12 South and then get a shot at Oregon in the conference title game if the Sun Devils can win at UCLA and then beat rival Arizona at home. If not, they'll end up as no better than the fourth-best team in the league, which brings with it a trip to dreary El Paso.
Boston College (6-4) has been on a surge of late, mostly because of running back Andre Williams' massive rushing numbers. The Eagles would be heading out to the Rio Grande area for the second time this season, having won at New Mexico State in nearby Las Cruces two weeks ago.
Vanderbilt vs. East Carolina
When: Dec. 31, 4 p.m. ET
Where: Memphis, Tenn.
Vanderbilt (6-4) has secured its first-ever stretch of three straight bowl games, but the Commodores are hoping for higher than the ninth-best spot for an SEC team. This would be the third straight year Vandy's bowl came in Tennessee, winning last year in Nashville and losing to Cincinnati in the 2011 Liberty Bowl.
East Carolina (8-2) has been the best-looking and most consistent team in an otherwise middle-of-the-road Conference USA this season. The Pirates just have to hold off Marshall in the regular-season finale, then take down the West champ (likely North Texas) to make its fifth visit to this bowl.
LSU vs. Virginia Tech
When: Dec. 31, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Atlanta, Ga.
LSU (7-3) gets a chance to ruin Texas A&M's BCS hopes, but it won't be enough to get the Tigers into a big game. Instead, they've dropped far enough down that playing on New Year's Eve might be the ceiling for their postseason participation.
Virginia Tech (7-4) somehow is still in the hunt for the ACC title game, despite three befuddling losses (including two at home) during a four-week span that also saw the Hokies win at Miami. Playing in the Georgia Dome would almost seem fitting, since the season started there with a loss to Alabama.
Iowa vs. Georgia
When: Jan. 1, 12 p.m. ET
Where: Jacksonville, Fla.
Iowa (6-4) has somehow backed into a New Year's bowl despite a relatively vanilla season. The Hawkeyes have won four of their last five such bowl games, but haven't been in a January game since January 2010.
Georgia (6-4) is a great draw, which outweighs the Bulldogs' subpar season. They've fallen too far down the SEC standings to get into one of the better January bowls, but not so far they end up in a lower-tier game.
Washington State vs. Middle Tennessee
When: Jan. 1, noon ET
Where: Dallas, Texas
Washington State (5-5) is a home win over Utah or a victory at rival Washington away from its first bowl bid since 2003. But with the Pac-12 no longer projected to get two BCS entrants, that would mean some scrambling for teams on the bottom end of a league that will have eight or nine eligible teams but only seven bowl agreements. The Big Ten is going to come up short on its commitments, leaving this one open for the Cougars.
Middle Tennessee (6-4) made three low-end bowls while in the Sun Belt, but now in Conference USA the Blue Raiders have played well enough to fall into a slot that's matched up against a foe from an upper-tier conference for the first time.
Missouri vs. Wisconsin
When: Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET
Where: Orlando, Fla.
Missouri (9-1) is a dangerous trip to Ole Miss and a visit from Texas A&M away from the SEC title game in its second year in the league. No guarantees there, which is why the Tigers aren't projected to get into the BCS, because even with 11 wins they'd probably need to win the conference championship to get in.
Wisconsin (8-2) is pretty much locked into one of the Big Ten's New Year's bowl games, since it won't end up any better than the third-best team in the league unless the Legends Division champ has three losses. The Badgers have been in the Rose Bowl the previous three years, so a game in Florida might be a nice change of scenery.
South Carolina vs. Minnesota
When: Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET
Where: Tampa, Fla.
South Carolina (8-2) is at the mercy of others (i.e., Missouri's remaining opponents) in order to get into the BCS, needing Missouri to lose once to give the Gamecocks the SEC East title and a shot at the league championship. But with that out of its control, South Carolina also has a big finale against Clemson left that will impact bowl scenarios.
Minnesota (8-2) has quietly ascended up the Big Ten's bowl ladder to be in the running for a New Year's Day slot, something the Golden Gophers haven't achieved since back-to-back Rose Bowl trips in 1961 and 1962. Minnesota could be in for something much better, though, if it beats Wisconsin and Michigan State to finish out the regular season.
Oklahoma State vs. Auburn
When: Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Arlington, Texas
Oklahoma State (9-1) should go to the BCS as the Big 12 champ if it can beat Baylor at home on Saturday. But because no one has come close to doing that this season, the Cowboys instead end up in the league's best non-champion slot. It would be OSU's fourth trip to the Cotton Bowl, the first since January 2010.
Auburn (10-1) may have to beat Alabama and win the SEC title game to get into the BCS, since a loss in either scenario would leave the Tigers as the third choice from the league. Auburn last played in the Cotton Bowl in 2007.
Tennessee vs. Rutgers
When: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET
Where: Birmingham, Ala.
Tennessee (4-6) needs to win out to make a bowl, which means beating rival Vanderbilt at home this weekend and then winning at home against Kentucky. A loss would not only knock the Volunteers out but keep the SEC from filling all its bowl slots.
Rutgers (5-4) has looked really shaky lately, especially in blowout home losses to Houston and Cincinnati. The Scarlet Knights can't play with the top teams in its league, but only needs to win once more (with games left against Connecticut and South Florida) to avoid a total collapse.
Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State
When: Jan. 5, 9 p.m. ET
Where: Mobile, Ala.
Northern Illinois (10-0) handled a good Ball State team last week, but that wasn't enough to put the Huskies ahead of Fresno State to be the front-runner for a BCS buster slot. Wins at Toledo this week and over either Buffalo or Bowling Green in the MAC championship might not do it, either, so NIU would be relegated to the league's champion spot unless a deal with another bowl could be worked out.
Arkansas State (6-4) is bowl-eligible for the third season in a row, and each time under a different coach. The Red Wolves will hold onto the second spot in the Sun Belt with two victories in its last three, which would get it into this game for a third straight year.
Oregon vs. Ohio State
When: Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET
Where: Pasadena, Calif.
Oregon (9-1) is projected into a third different BCS bowl in as many weeks. The Ducks dropped from the title game to the Orange following the loss to Stanford, but now that Stanford has a second league loss Oregon is in line to win the Pac-12 North and represent the league in its traditional Rose Bowl slot.
Ohio State (10-0) must hope Michigan and Michigan State continue to win leading up to their games with the Buckeyes. It's the only way OSU can improve its stature, by having its victories come against better opposition than it has faced in the past six weeks.
Baylor vs. Fresno State
When: Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Glendale, Ariz.
Baylor (9-0) still has some resume-boosting games left to move further up the BCS ladder, but it just doesn't look like that'll be enough to get up to second place without a loss from either Alabama or Florida State. The Bears should be more concerned with holding onto the Big 12's bid, though, especially with Saturday's trip to Oklahoma State looming.
Fresno State (9-0) is still tracking to finish high enough (and ahead of the AAC champ) to get in as a BCS buster, assuming it stays unbeaten. There's a Nov. 30 trip to San Jose State and then the Mountain West final (against Boise State, most likely) to worry about first.
Texas A&M vs. Central Florida
When: Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: New Orleans, La.
Texas A&M (8-2) is still the most likely choice for an SEC team not named Alabama, assuming the Aggies can get through their season-ending gauntlet at LSU and Missouri. A third loss will probably knock them out, though, but the allure of Johnny Manziel-fueled ratings could still influence the at-large choices.
Central Florida (8-1) still has the AAC's automatic bid at this point, but a narrow win at Temple makes the Knights' hold tenuous. Still, they'd need to lose twice in their last three, or get in a tie with surging Cincinnati and lose out on the BCS entry through some tiebreaker.
Michigan State vs. Clemson
When: Jan. 3, time TBD
Where: Miami, Fla.
Michigan State (9-1) has all but locked up the Legends Division, which would set up a game with Ohio State in the Big Ten final. The Spartans' profile keeps improving, so much so that they're projected to get an at-large spot even with a loss to Ohio State ahead of a second team from the Big 12 or Pac-12.
Clemson (9-1) can solidify an at-large spot with a win at South Carolina in two weeks, but a loss in that game might not cause too much of a drop to where the Tigers might still get in without 11 victories. The Tigers would end up being only the third-rated team from the ACC if Florida State were to lose in the conference final.
Alabama vs. Florida State
When: Jan. 6, 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Pasadena, Calif.
Alabama (10-0) did all it needed to against Mississippi State, which was win. Sloppy victories won't affect the Crimson Tide, at least not enough to knock it out of the championship game. But with a very epic Iron Bowl against Auburn looming, Alabama's hold on this spot is only as good as the zero in its record.
Florida State (10-0) wasted little time ripping past Syracuse to wrap up a perfect ACC run, a game so effortless some Seminoles players were seen playing hangman on the sidelines. Now all that remains is a nap of a game against Idaho, a trip to downtrodden Florida and whoever decides to win the ACC Coastal Division.