With previously undefeated Baylor getting crushed by Oklahoma State on Saturday, the picture for the BCS title game has been given even further clarity.
Should the two schools win out, Alabama and Florida State are all but locks to play for the national championship. However, that much has been clear since Oregon picked up its first loss.
What Baylor's loss does is help sort out the picture behind the top two.
Undefeated Ohio State retains its third spot in the rankings, but there was a good chance that Baylor would have leapfrogged the Buckeyes had the Bears been able to defeat Oklahoma State.
As it is, that won't help the Buckeyes much...unless either Alabama or Florida State picks up a loss. I don't see that happening.
Here is how I see the matchups for the five BCS games playing out, and below my projections, I'll discuss some of the more interesting matchups.
|Rose Bowl||Jan. 1||Pasadena, Calif.||Big Ten/BCS vs. Pac-12/BCS||Ohio State vs. Arizona State|
|Fiesta Bowl||Jan. 1||Glendale, Ariz.||Big 12/BCS vs. BCS||Oklahoma State vs. Fresno State|
|Sugar Bowl||Jan. 2||New Orleans, La.||SEC/BCS vs. BCS||Auburn vs. UCF|
|Orange Bowl||Jan. 3||Miami, Fla.||ACC/BCS vs. BCS||Clemson vs. Wisconsin|
|BCS Title Game||Jan. 6||Pasadena, Calif.||BCS No. 1 vs. BCS No. 2||Alabama vs. Florida State|
BCS Title Game
Alabama vs. Florida State
We might as well start with the game that will be played last. As I mentioned above, if Alabama and Florida State both win out, there isn't a lot of mystery as to which teams will be playing in this game.
Who would win this game?
Where winning out is concerned, Florida State has a much easier path. The Seminoles will play the Florida Gators in the regular-season finale.
Most seasons, this would be a potential stumbling block for the Seminoles. However, in most seasons, Florida isn't entering the matchup after having lost to an FCS school that didn't complete a pass.
It looks like a date with No. 24 Duke awaits the Seminoles in the ACC Championship Game. The Blue Devils are turning in a solid season, but at 58th in the nation in passing yards and 57th in rushing yards, they do not boast the firepower to handle the Seminoles.
Meanwhile, Alabama has the Iron Bowl next week, and No. 4 Auburn would love nothing more than to beat rival Alabama and enter the BCS title game discussion itself.
Alabama doesn't just have to worry about Auburn either. There is the SEC Championship Game looming as a potential stumbling block. It will either be No. 5 Missouri or No. 10 South Carolina representing the SEC East in that game.
In other words, this matchup is far from set in stone.
Arizona State vs. Ohio State
The Pac-12's representative for the Rose Bowl in my projections has become an adventure. It wasn't that long ago that I had Stanford taking the nod, with Oregon playing in the BCS title game.
After Oregon got knocked from the ranks of the undefeated, I slid the Ducks to the Rose Bowl.
Now, they can't even compete with Arizona and have no business being in a BCS bowl game. This could push me back to Stanford for the Rose Bowl. However, I'm going to side with Arizona State. The Sun Devils are cruising and coming off a 38-33 road win over UCLA.
The Sun Devils still have to play Arizona and then the Pac-12 Championship Game, but in this up-and-down conference, I see this late-surging team taking the crown.
Meanwhile, Ohio State is staring at a fate of going undefeated for the second consecutive year and not getting a shot to play for the national title in either.
Clemson vs. Wisconsin
Clemson has a tough game against South Carolina on tap, but regardless of that outcome, a berth in the Orange Bowl is fairly secure. That hinges on Florida State making the BCS title game, but as I discussed above, there is a strong possibility of that happening.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin's path is a little cloudier.
The Badgers currently sit 15th in the BCS standings, but with just a game against a less-than-elite Penn State team left, the Badgers will undoubtedly move up into the top 14.
There is Michigan State sitting at No. 10 and also playing out of the Big Ten, which makes the selection of the Badgers to a BCS game a little tricky.
The Spartans will be a strong candidate to get an at-large bid. However, in my scenario, the Spartans are going to lose to Ohio State in the conference championship game and the BCS has been shy about taking teams that lose their conference championship games.
This will lead the selection committee to Wisconsin. The Badgers have just two losses on the season—one to undefeated Ohio State and the other in controversial fashion to a strong Arizona State team.
Who would have thought at that moment that both of those teams could very well end up in BCS bowl games?