Bowl Projections 2013 Week 13: Predicting BCS Bowl Matchups
With the bowl season drawing near, there's no question which is college football's most-wanted team. Everyone wants a piece of the No. 1 team in the Week 13 BCS rankings: the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Tide appear to be destined to take on Jameis Winston and Florida State for the national title, but that isn't the only enticing BCS matchup that could be coming after the New Year.
With several national-title caliber teams vying for BCS spots, those who don't make the national title game will be pitted together in what should be an incredible bowl season.
Where will each of those national title hopefuls land if they aren't playing for the crystal football? And where will BCS buster Fresno State be headed in January?
Find out up ahead.
Matchup: No. 4 Baylor vs. No. 15 Fresno State
Date: Jan. 1, 2014, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Baylor's bid: Big 12 Champion
Fresno State's bid: At-large (Non-AQ auto bid)
This could end up being one of the most exciting BCS matchups, as the Bulldogs will put their high-flying passing offense against an equally explosive BU attack.
If these two do meet up, it'll be a battle of two top-five offenses. BU is No. 1 nationally, averaging 683.9 yards per game, while Fresno is No. 5 with 546.6 yards per contest.
All of those yards have translated to a ton of points as well. Baylor is scoring at a blistering rate of 61.2 points per contest, while Fresno has posted 44.3 points on average.
Both offenses are led by prolific quarterbacks. Baylor's Bryce Petty and Fresno's Derek Carr can sling it with any quarterback in the country, but neither leads a one-sided offense. FS and BU both boast multiple talented running backs as well.
While this isn't the dream scenario for Baylor, it'll still mark the icing on a momentous season in Waco. It'll also be the first BCS appearance for both programs.
Matchup: No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 5 Oregon
Date: Jan. 1, 2014, 5 p.m. ET on ESPN
Ohio State's bid: Big Ten Champion
Oregon's bid: Pac-12 Champion
Ohio State and Oregon both carried strong national title hopes, but instead they'll likely have to settle for providing fans with the second-best matchup of the bowl season, behind the national championship.
The Ducks and the Buckeyes are evenly matched and both led by elite dual-threat quarterbacks. OSU's Braxton Miller and UO's Marcus Mariota are as dangerous as any quarterbacks in the nation with their legs as well as their arms.
Both squads also have talented running backs—Ohio State with the bruising Carlos Hyde and Oregon with a speedy duo of De'Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshall. This matchup would also feature two All-American defenders in Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier and Oregon defensive back Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
If there was a playoff this season, both of these squads would make a great case for a bid in that four-team battle.
Instead, we'll have to settle for a Rose Bowl that promises to be simply awesome.
If this plays out, Ohio State will make its 10th BCS appearance, while Oregon will have its sixth and its fifth in a row.
Matchup: No. 6 Auburn vs. No. 18 UCF
Date: Jan. 2, 2014, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Auburn's bid: At-large (Alabama replacement)
UCF's bid: AAC Champion
UCF is pretty close to a lock for this game, but Auburn's status is still up in the air. The Tigers would sew up a BCS spot by beating Alabama, but they also stand a chance at being jumped by Texas A&M if the Aggies can close the season by beating LSU and Missouri.
For now, AU is a more-than-deserving BCS candidate. If this matchup happens, it will cap off a remarkable turnaround for the Tigers, who finished 3-9 last year. They'll be led by the likely Coach of the Year, Gus Malzahn, and a lethal offense.
Auburn also has one of the strongest defensive fronts in the nation, though that front will have its hands full in containing UCF's talented backfield duo of Blake Bortles and Storm Johnson.
Many forget that the Knights nearly beat SEC foe South Carolina earlier in the season. While the AAC isn't exactly a juggernaut league, UCF is the real deal.
Both squads will be happy to be in a BCS bowl given their respective situations, making this a very intriguing matchup.
Matchup: No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 13 Michigan State
Date: Jan. 3, 2014, TBD on ESPN
Clemson's bid: At-large (Florida State replacement)
Michigan State's bid: At-large
Like Auburn, Michigan State is far from a lock for this bid. And like the Tigers, the Spartans could end up being jumped by Wisconsin.
MSU is almost a lock for a berth in the Big Ten title game and will be in good shape for a BCS bid if it ends the regular season at 11-1. It might come down to how the Spartans perform in that conference championship against Ohio State. If they do well, they might take the nod over Wisconsin, but if they don't, it'll be the Badgers.
Either matchup would be intriguing, but this one would pit a terrifying Michigan State defense against a lethal Clemson offense.
MSU has talent at all three levels of its defense and could match up with any offense in the country. The Spartans would make a great test for Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and the Tigers offense.
CU faltered against a tough Florida State defense, so this game will be the perfect platform for redemption.
BCS National Championship
Matchup: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Florida State
Date: Jan. 6, 2014, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Alabama's bid: SEC Champion (BCS No. 1)
Florida State's bid: ACC Champion (BCS No. 2)
Everyone wants Bama, but only Florida State will get it.
Alabama and Florida State have been the two most complete teams in the nation all season long.
The 'Noles have a strong line, a deep running back group, several talented receivers and a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback in Jameis Winston. They also have elite talent at all three levels on defense, including one of the best secondaries in the country.
The Crimson Tide will counter with a senior quarterback who already has two BCS rings, several skilled running backs, All-Americans on the line and a number of options at receiver. Defensively, Alabama is Alabama—meaning it is one of the best units in college football.
Neither team has a glaring weakness, but Bama holds two X-factors: experience and Nick Saban.
Could a redshirt freshman quarterback put FSU over the hump, leading it to a win over the two-time defending national champions? Or will Bama complete the three-peat?
We'll find out on Jan. 6.