Another unbeaten dropped out of the championship hunt, helping to clear up the top of the BCS picture, at least in terms of the national championship. But Baylor's loss at Oklahoma State actually muddies the lower-end of the BCS, as can be seen from the Week 14 standings.
The full list looks like this:
- Florida State
- Ohio State
- Oklahoma State
- South Carolina
- Michigan State
- Arizona State
- Northern Illinois
- Fresno State
- Texas A&M
- Notre Dame
The BCS is the trigger that sets the dominos in motion for all 35 postseason bowl games, most of which can't finalize their participants (other than BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl and Navy in the Armed Forces Bowl, thanks to pre-arranged deals) until Dec. 8.
But with two weeks left, the picture is getting clearer for most of the games. However, there's the added issue of there already being more than 70 teams eligible, with a few more getting to the six- or seven-win plateau this weekend. This means some teams getting left out, possibly ones from major conferences.
Here's our projections for all 35 bowl games, which are sure to be completely wrong this time next week.
Check out all the matchups, then let us know your thoughts on the pairings in the comments section.
Washington State vs. Utah State
When: Dec. 21, 2 p.m. ET
Where: Albuquerque, N.M.
Washington State (6-5) is ahead of schedule in the Mike Leach rebuilding plan, getting bowl-eligible in his second season in Pullman. The Cougars haven't been to a bowl since 2003 and, as a result, find themselves as a more appealing draw for this low-tier bowl than Washington or Oregon State.
Utah State (7-4) has found itself in line for the Mountain West title game, where it could get a shot to knock off Fresno State. Win that game and the Aggies would go to Las Vegas; lose and it's a trip to Albuquerque.
Arizona vs. Fresno State
When: Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Las Vegas, Nev.
Arizona (7-4) made a jump up the Pac-12 bowl list with the upset of Oregon, after being projected as a team having to look for an empty slot outside the league's allotment a week ago. The Wildcats have already played in Las Vegas this season and would be well-represented there again.
Fresno State (10-0) fell out of the BCS despite a 42-point win over New Mexico, likely the product of the exposure Northern Illinois has gained via back-to-back midweek games on ESPN. As a result, the Bulldogs' best locale is here as the Mountain West champion.
Colorado State vs. Buffalo
When: Dec. 21, 5:30 p.m. ET
Where: Boise, Idaho
Colorado State (6-6) needs a seventh win for eligibility, due to a 13-game schedule, and should get that with a win over Air Force. The Rams haven't been to a bowl since 2008, so it's unlikely they'd be disappointed to have to go to Idaho to play one, especially considering the proximity to its fanbase.
Buffalo (8-3) plays Bowling Green this week for a spot in the Mid-American title game, where the winner faces Northern Illinois. The Bulls would go to Detroit or Mobile if they make the conference championship, instead they'd end up in Boise for the school's second-ever bowl game.
Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
When: Dec. 21, 9 p.m. ET
Where: New Orleans, La.
Tulane (7-4) ended a two-game skid since becoming bowl-eligible, but all signs point to the Green Wave's first bowl game in more than a decade being in New Orleans as opposed to a higher slot from Conference USA's bowl allotment. It's the best bet for the league and the game to have Tulane in this one.
Louisiana-Lafayette (8-2) is used to playing in this game, as it will be the Ragin Cajuns' third straight trip there after a 41-year bowl absence. Sadly, short of being a BCS buster, this is the best a Sun Belt team can hope for until the league gets better bowl affiliations.
Pittsburgh vs. Middle Tennessee
When: Dec. 23, 2 p.m. ET
Where: St. Petersburg, Fla.
Pittsburgh (6-5) continued its up-and-down season with a surprising one-point win at Syracuse to lock up a bowl in its first season in the ACC. The Panthers are still part of an overabundance of bowl-eligible teams in the league but likely would get the nod to fill this slot (left open by their former league's inability to qualify enough clubs) over a team from the west.
Middle Tennessee (7-4) has far exceeded expectations for its first season in Conference USA, and as a result, the Blue Raiders get their first-ever bowl game against a team from an upper-tier league.
Boise State vs. Marshall
When: Dec. 24, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Honolulu, Hawaii
Boise State (7-4) lost in overtime at San Diego State and, as a result, will most likely miss out on the Mountain West title game. But that really only means the Broncos will fail to end up in Las Vegas yet again, which probably isn't such a bad thing since they'd been there the previous three seasons.
Marshall (8-3) can play in the Conference USA title game with a win over East Carolina this week, which could earn it a trip much closer to home in the Liberty Bowl. If not, look for the Thundering Herd to be the C-USA's choice to make the long trip to Hawaii. Someone's gotta bite the bullet.
Ball State vs. Western Kentucky
When: Dec. 26, 6 p.m. ET
Where: Detroit, Mich.
Ball State (9-2) is the second-best team from the Mid-American Conference, but because of being behind Northern Illinois, that means finishing no better than third in terms of bowl preference. That would normally mean a trip to Boise, but with Northern Illinois going to the BCS, everyone moves up a slot.
Western Kentucky (7-4) went to Detroit last season, and just like this year, it would do so as a replacement for the Big Ten not filling all of its bowl slots. The Hilltoppers otherwise wouldn't be going to a bowl, as the Sun Belt only has two guaranteed slots. It's part of the reason the school is going to Conference USA next season.
Toledo vs. San Diego State
When: Dec. 26, 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: San Diego, Calif.
Toledo (7-4) missed out on its chance at a piece of the Mid-American title with a loss to Northern Illlinois, and with only four automatic bids for the league, the Rockets could have been the odd team out had NIU not moved back into the BCS. As a result, Toledo gets to go to San Diego to fill the spot left open by Army not qualifying for a bowl.
San Diego State (7-4) has won six of seven since an 0-3 start, most recently knocking Boise State out of the Mountain West title race thanks to another stellar comeback. The Aztecs' reward for the great rebound this season would be to get to play at home for their finale.
Maryland vs. Florida Atlantic
When: Dec. 27, 2:30 p.m. ET
Where: Annapolis, Md.
Maryland (6-5) is the best option for the ACC to send to this game, since it's around the corner from the Terrapins' campus. The team hasn't played well for most of the second half of the season, but maybe the motivation of a pseudo home game for a bowl would change that.
Florida Atlantic (5-6) was 2-6 when its coach was canned, and now the Owls are on fire. With a finale against 1-10 Florida International, all that stands between them and a bowl, look for a spirited effort from the first-year Conference USA members.
Minnesota vs. Washington
When: Dec. 27, 6 p.m. ET
Where: Houston, Texas
Minnesota (8-3) had its run come to an end at home to Wisconsin, and unless it can beat Michigan State this weekend, the Golden Gophers will take a two-game skid into the bowl season. It's still been a successful year for this underrated program, and whoever they play in this game will pose a nice year-end challenge.
Washington (7-4) is projected as one of the odd teams out of the Pac-12's bowl lineup, but with extra slots available—like this one, dumped by the Big 12—the Huskies seem like a good choice to fill in as a replacement.
USC vs. BYU
When: Dec. 27, 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: San Francisco, Calif.
USC (9-3) is among the hottest teams in the country and could head into a bowl with 10 wins in the same season it dumped its coach. The Trojans would be an interesting choice for this northern California bowl, but it's probably the best place to put a team whose fans don't travel well.
BYU (7-4) couldn't win at Notre Dame, knocking the Cougars down another peg in stature after a 6-2 start. They finish with a meaningless game against Nevada, knowing their bowl fate was sealed as soon as they hit six wins, and BYU is playing with that kind of complacency of late.
Notre Dame vs. Rutgers
When: Dec. 28, noon ET
Where: Bronx, N.Y.
Notre Dame (8-3) gets what, outside of the BCS, is the best-case scenario for an independent without any bowl agreements: a game in a major TV market with plenty of alumni nearby and against an opponent it can stomp on. The Fighting Irish could still find a way to move up with a win at Stanford, but that would require some bowl to make various deals to get that arrangement.
Rutgers (5-5) has been a game short of bowl eligibility for three weeks, but in that time, the Scarlet Knights have looked horrible. Thankfully, they have Connecticut and South Florida left, needing only to beat one of those lowly opponents to salvage the season.
Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
When: Dec. 28, 3:20 p.m. ET
Where: Charlotte, N.C.
Cincinnati (9-2) still has fleeting hopes to get into the BCS, but that would require beating Louisville, hoping UCF loses one of its final two and finishing ahead of UCF in the BCS standings. More likely, the Bearcats end up in this relatively close bowl game, which is still a good start to the Tommy Tuberville era after having to play last year's bowl with almost no coaches.
Virginia Tech (7-4) had many opportunities to end up higher on the ACC food chain, but home losses to Duke and Maryland squash those chances. The Hokies are still a defensive force and would provide a good challenge for most teams they're apt to be paired up with.
Louisville vs. Miami (Fla.)
When: Dec. 28, 6:45 p.m. ET
Where: Orlando, Fla.
Louisville (10-1) is one of the lowest-rated one-loss teams in college football, the product of its conference as much as anything else. As a result, the best the Cardinals can do is this post-Christmas game in Orlando, ironically in the city of the only team they've lost to.
Miami (8-3) righted the ship, temporarily, by beating woeful Virginia, but the Hurricanes have still fallen hard in the last month. They've been leapfrogged in the standings by many ACC teams but probably will still get picked by this bowl because of their ability to draw a local crowd.
Nebraska vs. Kansas State
When: Dec. 28, 10:15 p.m. ET
Where: Tempe, Ariz.
Nebraska (8-3) won in overtime at Penn State to stop the bleeding on what was turning into a lost season, and suddenly the Cornhuskers can still get to nine regular-season wins despite struggling most of the year.
Kansas State (6-5) saw its hot streak end at home to Oklahoma and, as a result, will probably finish no higher than fourth in the league. The Wildcats could get into the Alamo Bowl depending on the remaining Big 12 results, but playing in Arizona (where they lost to Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl last season) isn't such a bad destination either.
Navy vs. Rice
When: Dec. 30, 11:45 a.m. ET
Where: Fort Worth, Texas
Navy (7-4) got seven rushing touchdowns from QB Keenan Reynolds in their triple-overtime win at San Jose State on Friday, but its third straight win didn't affect the postseason because the Midshipmen have been locked into this bowl ever since hitting six wins.
Rice (8-3) moves back into the Conference USA title picture after North Texas lost, but the Owls still have to beat Tulane to get into the conference championship game. The Owls are probably going to end up in this bowl unless they win the league, as a way of keeping them close to home.
Vanderbilt vs. Boston College
When: Dec. 30, 3:15 p.m. ET
Where: Nashville, Tenn.
Vanderbilt (7-4) is headed to an unprecedented third straight bowl game, and its thrilling comeback over Tennessee on Saturday added to the historic nature of this season. But the Commodores aren't going to get any higher in the SEC's bowl lineup, though that still means getting to play in their hometown.
Boston College (7-4) has rode the running of Andre Williams to four straight wins, turning an inconsistent season into a successful one. The Eagles haven't won a bowl game since 2007, when they beat Michigan State in what was then known as the Champs Sports Bowl.
Arizona State vs. Oklahoma
When: Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m. ET
Where: San Antonio, Texas
Arizona State (9-2) is in the Pac-12 title game and could end up hosting the contest with a win over rival Arizona this weekend. The Sun Devils already lost once to Stanford, but a revenge victory would send them to the Rose Bowl.
Oklahoma (9-2) has moved upward in the Big 12 bowl lineup with Oklahoma State joining Baylor in the BCS projections. This hasn't been a particularly good season for the Sooners, but to get to play in the league's third-best bowl isn't as bad as it could have been.
Oregon vs. Texas Tech
When: Dec. 30, 10:15 p.m. ET
Where: San Diego, Calif.
Oregon (9-2) got a lot of flack for De'Anthony Thomas downplaying the possibility of going to the Rose Bowl, then it fell out of the Rose Bowl picture with a loss at Arizona. The Ducks now will have to find motivation to play further south in California.
Texas Tech (7-4) could be entering this game on a five-game losing streak, but with the Big 12 now in line to get two BCS participants, there's nowhere lower for the Red Raiders to go in the bowl lineup. Tech last played in San Diego in 2004, beating California.
North Carolina vs. UNLV
When: Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. ET
Where: Shreveport, La.
North Carolina (6-5) reached bowl eligibility in dominant fashion, dropping 80 on FBS transitioner Old Dominion to cap off a rally from a 1-5 start to the season. The Tar Heels could still finish higher in the bowl order with a win over Duke on Saturday.
UNLV (6-5) gets to go back to a bowl for the first time since 2000, but with the Mountain West giving up its spot in the Armed Forces Bowl to Navy this year (and Fresno State falling out of the BCS), the Runnin' Rebels will have to hope this bowl picks them over a Pac-12 team like Oregon State.
UCLA vs. Duke
When: Dec. 31, 2 p.m. ET
Where: El Paso, Texas
UCLA (8-3) fell out of the Pac-12 title picture with the home loss to Arizona State and now must focus on getting bypassed by rival USC in the standings with Saturday's showdown in Los Angeles. The Bruins would be better served to stay in California for a game, but someone from the league has to go to El Paso.
Duke (9-2) ends up out West due to a clause in the ACC's deal with this bowl that forces the conference title runner-up to play there if it hasn't been chosen yet. With the Blue Devils in line to play Florida State in the ACC final, and without the attractiveness of other league teams, they'll be playing in southwest Texas.
Ole Miss vs. East Carolina
When: Dec. 31, 4 p.m. ET
Where: Memphis, Tenn.
Ole Miss (7-4) couldn't provide the upset of Missouri that so many other SEC teams were hoping for and now hit the road for the Egg Bowl at Mississippi State looking at no better than the league's eighth-best bowl slot.
East Carolina (9-2) took down another ACC foe, beating North Carolina State after downing North Carolina earlier this season. The Pirates must beat Marshall this week to get into the Conference USA final and with a win in that game would get a chance to take out an SEC team.
LSU vs. Georgia Tech
When: Dec. 31, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Atlanta, Ga.
LSU (8-3) showed it deserves to remain in the discussion for top-tier bowls with its dismantling of Texas A&M on Saturday, but the three losses keep the Tigers from getting too good of a bowl spot. LSU lost to Clemson by a point in this game last season, so there's added motivation to get back to Atlanta and win this one.
Georgia Tech (7-4) would get this spot over some more deserving ACC teams because of the allure of a better gate for having the local team in the matchup rather than someone like Duke. The Yellow Jackets could sew up this spot with a win over Georgia this week.
Georgia vs. Iowa
When: Jan. 1, noon ET
Where: Jacksonville, Fla.
Georgia (7-4) saw its injury-filled season suffer its most significant blow with the news that Aaron Murray's college career is over due to a torn ACL, per a report by Mark Weiszer of onlineathens.com. The Bulldogs would have finished higher in the bowl picture had it not been for all the ailments, but getting to play in a familiar locale will make for a soft landing to the season.
Iowa (7-4) has quietly kept itself in line for a New Year's Day bowl by playing tough at home and avoiding any bad road losses. The Hawkeyes aren't the most eye-pleasing team, but they travel well and their tourist dollars will be welcomed in Jacksonville.
Michigan vs. North Texas
When: Jan. 1, noon ET
Where: Dallas, Texas
Michigan (7-4) is the last of the Big Ten teams to get a bowl invite, by virtue of what will be a 3-5 league mark that completely erases memories of the 5-0 start. The Wolverines can't win away from home but should be able to take down a Conference USA foe in a neutral site game.
North Texas (7-4) fell out of first in the C-USA's West Division with a home loss to UTSA, meaning the Mean Green are out of the running for the Liberty Bowl or Hawaii Bowl. Instead, they'd get to play their first bowl game since 2004 not far from home.
Auburn vs. Michigan State
When: Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET
Where: Orlando, Fla.
Auburn (10-1) really can't zero in on its bowl fate until after the Iron Bowl visit from Alabama on Saturday. A win in that game would turn the BCS on its head, while a loss will still likely send the Tigers to a strong January bowl as part of their amazing turnaround from a 3-9 season a year ago.
Michigan State (10-1) is locked into the Big Ten title game, with a chance to knock off Ohio State and go to the Rose Bowl. The assumption is that wouldn't happen, but the Spartans would still be heading to a great game, likely its fifth January game in six seasons.
Wisconsin vs. South Carolina
When: Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET
Where: Tampa, Fla.
Wisconsin (9-2) is probably the second-best team in the Big Ten, but stuck behind Ohio State, it's been shut out of the league championship game. The Badgers have an outside shot to sneak into the BCS picture as the second choice from the Big Ten, but they'd need some one-loss teams to drop off first.
South Carolina (9-2) wants to think it can get into the BCS, but the best route for that to happen would be to get into the SEC final via a Missouri loss to Texas A&M, then knock off Alabama or Auburn. More plausible is another New Year's Day trip to Florida, where it's gone (and won) the previous two seasons.
Texas A&M vs. Texas
When: Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Arlington, Texas
Texas A&M (7-4) fell out of the BCS picture with the loss at LSU and could fall out of the New Year's Day bowl picture with a loss at Missouri this Saturday. But someone will pick up the Aggies for their matchup, likely on the high end, in hopes of marketing what will most certainly be Johnny Manziel's final college game.
Texas (7-3) could see the Mack Brown era end against an old rival that's supplanted it as the top program in the Lone Star State. The Longhorns still have to beat Texas Tech and Baylor to stay in this spot, though, and with injuries and suspensions popping up, that's not a given.
Mississippi State vs. Houston
When: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET
Where: Birmingham, Ala.
Mississippi State (5-6) must beat Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl to be eligible for a bowl and probably to keep its coach employed. The Bulldogs needed overtime to get past Arkansas and now will need to beat a ranked team for the first time in six tries to keep their season alive.
Houston (7-4) has failed in all four of its major tests this season, losing to all three high-end AAC teams as well as BYU. The Cougars offense has sputtered down the stretch, but it's still potent enough to do some damage.
Arkansas State vs. Bowling Green
When: Jan. 5, 9 p.m. ET
Where: Mobile, Ala.
Arkansas State (7-4) gets into this game for the third straight year and the second time against Northern Illinois. The Red Wolves are on their third coach in as many seasons, so to get into a bowl in each of those years is a major accomplishment, considering the leadership uncertainty.
Bowling Green (8-3) is playing for a shot in the Mid-American title game this week, but assuming that happens and it falls to Northern Illinois, the Falcons would still head to Alabama as the MAC "champion" by virtue of Northern Illinois getting a BCS nod. Bowling Green played in this game in 2008 and 2004, when it was still the GMAC Bowl.
Stanford vs. Ohio State
When: Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET
Where: Pasadena, Calif.
Stanford (9-2) moves back into a trip to Pasadena with Oregon's loss at Arizona, though the Cardinal would still need to beat Arizona State in the Pac-12 title to lock this spot up. The Cardinal are pretty much out of the BCS title running but could still keep that possibility alive with a win over visiting Notre Dame on Saturday.
Ohio State (11-0) is starting to get some help from the rest of the Big Ten, as Wisconsin and Michigan State keep winning. Assuming the Buckeyes win out, they will stay in the running for a BCS title spot if Alabama or Florida State were to fall.
Oklahoma State vs. Northern Illinois
When: Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Glendale, Ariz.
Oklahoma State (10-1) has leaped into the BCS with its win over Baylor, but it still needs to win Bedlam in two weeks at home against Oklahoma to hold on to the Big 12 bid. The Cowboys beat Stanford in this game two years ago, and nothing would make Team T. Boone Pickens happier.
Northern Illinois (11-0) moves back into the BCS mix by leapfrogging Fresno State as the top non-automatic qualifier sitting ahead of American Athletic Conference representative UCF. The Huskies wouldn't go back to the Orange Bowl, after losing that one last season, so it's out West for the Huskies.
Missouri vs. Central Florida
When: Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: New Orleans, La.
Missouri (10-1) still has to beat Texas A&M to lock up the SEC East title, which would probably cinch at least an at-large BCS slot assuming that Alabama beats Auburn. The Tigers are also still in the mix for the championship game with Baylor's loss, but they'd need to win out and get help.
Central Florida (9-1) looked solid in throttling Rutgers on Thursday and now just has to avoid a letdown against South Florida or at Central Florida to lock up the American Athletic bid. The Knights are the least attractive of the potential BCS participants, though, and would likely be considered big underdogs against whoever they'd face.
Clemson vs. Baylor
When: Jan. 3, time TBD
Where: Miami, Fla.
Clemson (10-1) can get a huge BCS boost with a win at South Carolina this weekend, since it won't get another chance at Florida State. As it stands, though, Clemson is the likely choice of this bowl if its eligible.
Baylor (9-1) fell out of the national title picture with the blowout loss to Oklahoma State, but the Bears' loss was the Big 12's gain. Baylor stayed high enough in the rankings and are an attractive enough of a club to get the nod over Michigan State for this at-large spot.
Alabama vs. Florida State
When: Jan. 6, 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Pasadena, Calif.
Alabama (11-0) did nothing against Chattanooga that had any bearing on its BCS standing. The Crimson Tide are a lock to make the BCS, it's just a matter of whether it can hold on to a title slot with a loss to Auburn or in the SEC final. The further decrease in unbeaten teams helps the cause in that respect.
Florida State (11-0) had no business playing Idaho, especially this late in the season, but so it went. The Seminoles will probably face Duke in the ACC final, after going to Florida this weekend in a game that should be a walkover but screams of trap with how bad Florida is looking.