Heading into Week 14, there are some fascinating potential matchups brewing for the five BCS bowl games that will conclude the 2013 college football season.
After this weekend's slate of games, the only thing left to decide is conference championship games, and then the bowl season will commence in full swing. The first games start on Dec. 21, and the festivities will run all the way through the new year, finishing with the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 6.
Nothing is set in stone at this point, but here's a look at the potential matchups for each BCS bowl game, followed by predictions for each one:
|BCS National Championship Game||Alabama vs. Florida State|
|Orange Bowl||Clemson vs. Michigan State|
|Sugar Bowl||Auburn vs. UCF Knights|
|Fiesta Bowl||Oklahoma vs. Fresno State|
|Rose Bowl||Ohio State vs. Stanford|
BCS National Championship Game: Alabama vs. Florida State
Alabama appears destined for a three-peat, but Florida State isn't going to be pushed around, should these two powerhouses take the field on Jan. 6 to decide the national championship.
Led by freshman phenom Jameis Winston, the Seminoles have faced down every challenge this year, and this team is loaded with talent across the board.
Winston has proved to be unflappable under pressure, and his big-play receivers Rashad Greene and Kenny Shaw will be a handful for 'Bama's secondary to corral.
But the biggest reason to believe FSU has a shot to win this game is the team's defense, which trails only Alabama in points allowed this season (11.4 points per game).
Projected Score: Florida State wins, 38-28.
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Michigan State
Talk about a contrast in styles—this game would feature one of the nation's top offensive teams going up against one of its most ferocious defenses.
Which team will prevail?
Clemson, led by quarterback Tajh Boyd, hasn't come close to losing a game since Florida State so easily abused it back in mid-October. The Tigers have scored no less than 52 points the past three games, and Boyd has thrown 12 touchdowns in the same period of time.
Michigan State is incredibly stout on defense, ranking No. 4 in points allowed (12.5), and would provide perhaps the stiffest defensive test for Clemson all year long.
But Michigan State isn't the only defensive powerhouse in this game. Clemson also features a strong defensive unit, and the Spartans aren't particularly dangerous on offense.
Projected Score: Clemson wins, 21-13.
Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs. UCF
On paper, this matchup looks like a potential barnyard brawl.
Central Florida's only loss of the season came against South Carolina—a narrow 28-25 stinger that cost the Knights a chance of pulling off an undefeated season.
Auburn's only loss came against LSU, which won by two touchdowns early in the season.
Both teams love to run the ball, but Auburn has been much more successful this season and ranks No. 3 in the nation, averaging 320.3 yards per game.
When it comes to stopping the run, however, UCF has the clear advantage. The Knights rank No. 21 in the nation, allowing just 123.7 yards per game, while Auburn ranks No. 51, allowing 152.1 yards per game.
In the end, this matchup will boil down to quarterback play, and Nick Marshall should outclass Blake Bortles.
Projected Score: Auburn wins, 28-21.
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Fresno State
After watching Oklahoma State shut down the potent offense of Baylor on Saturday night, it't not hard to imagine this Cowboys team would shut down Derek Carr and Fresno State, should the two teams meet up.
However, Carr is a more polished passer than Bryce Petty, who is more of a dual-threat quarterback in a gimmick system.
The senior Bulldogs quarterback leads the nation with 39 touchdown passes this year, and he's the second-leading passer in terms of yards. He has thrown at least two touchdowns in every game this year, and his offense has scored at least 35 points every week.
Fresno State will score points in this matchup, meaning the Cowboys must be able to answer in kind with offensive production of their own. Thankfully, that shouldn't be a problem, as this team has scored at least 38 points in the past five games.
Projected Score: Oklahoma State wins, 45-41.
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Stanford
It's hard to believe that Ohio State has zero chance to make the BCS National Championship Game without a loss by Alabama or Florida State. All the Buckeyes have done since last year is win 23 straight games.
Led by Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller, Ohio State's offense has been just chewing up opposing defenses and spitting them out to the tune of 48.7 points per game. Making matters worse for their opponents, the Buckeyes have allowed just 18.4 points per game.
Which is the stronger unit?
Stanford will provide a bit of a different challenge than any of the teams the Buckeyes have faced this year, though. The Cardinal successfully shut down Oregon's potent offense earlier this year, and they did the same to UCLA.
If Tyler Gaffney can churn out first downs in the running game for Stanford, then the Cardinal will hand Ohio State its first loss in two seasons.
Projected Score: Stanford wins, 21-20.
Updated BCS Standings
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