College Football

Bowl Projections 2013: Predicting Landing Spots for Top Schools

WINSTON SALEM, NC - NOVEMBER 09:  Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles during their game at BB&T Field on November 9, 2013 in Winston Salem, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIINovember 27, 2013

Bowl season is approaching with a vengeance in college football. If the top two teams win out, they will almost certainly play for the national championship. Alabama and Florida State have played solid schedules, and both have a few more challenges to conquer before the programs meet for what could be an epic showdown for the crystal football.

Nov 16, 2013; Starkville, MS, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron (10) calls a play at the line during the game at Davis Wade Stadium. Alabama Crimson Tide defeat the Mississippi State Bulldogs with a score of 20-7.  Mandatory Credit: Spruce
Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Not only does Florida State have the athletes on defense to test Alabama's balanced attack, but the Seminoles offense has dynamic playmakers and perhaps the best player in college football in Jameis Winston. The Heisman trophy winner will be announced on Dec. 14. If Winston has already picked up the hardware, it will add even more intrigue to the title game.

While the potential battle for the BCS title is intriguing, it isn't the only great matchup that could be in store for college football fans during bowl season. Here's the projected bowl game for every team in the AP Top 25 and a look at two other potentially interesting showdowns.

Projected Bowl Games for AP Top 25
RankSchoolRecordProjected Bowl
1Alabama11-0BCS Title Game
2Florida State11-0BCS Title Game
3Ohio State11-0Rose Bowl
4Auburn10-1Sugar Bowl
5Missouri10-1Chick-fil-A Bowl
6Clemson10-1Orange Bowl
7Oklahoma State10-1Fiesta Bowl
8Stanford9-2Rose Bowl
9Baylor9-1Cotton Bowl
10South Carolina9-2Outback Bowl
11Michigan State10-1Capital One Bowl
12Oregon9-2Alamo Bowl
13Arizona State9-2Holiday Bowl
14Wisconsin9-2Orange Bowl
15LSU8-3Cotton Bowl
16Fresno State10-0Fiesta Bowl
17UCF9-1Sugar Bowl
18Northern Illinois11-0GoDaddy.com Bowl
19Texas A&M8-3Capital One Bowl
20Oklahoma9-2Alamo Bowl
21Louisville10-1Russell Athletic Bowl
22UCLA8-3Sun Bowl
23USC9-3Las Vegas Bowl
24Duke9-2Chick-fil-A Bowl
25Notre Dame8-3Pinstripe Bowl
Projections per Jerry Palm of CBS Sports

 

Fiesta Bowl - Oklahoma State vs. Fresno State

Oct 26, 2013; Ames, IA, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy looks on during the first quarter against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. Oklahoma State defeated Iowa State 58-27. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

Fresno State and Northern Illinois are in a similar boat. Both programs are likely to finish the season undefeated, but because neither belongs to a major conference, neither will have a chance to play for a national championship. At least Fresno State is on target to play in a BCS bowl; Northern Illinois looks to be headed for a berth in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Yay!

The Bulldogs will undoubtedly face the toughest test of the year. The team hasn't played a ranked team all season, and the Cowboys proved their mettle by ruining the national title hopes of the Baylor Bears. Matched against the nation's top offense, Oklahoma State's surprising defense held the Bears to just 17 points.

September 15, 2012; Fresno, CA, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws a pass to wide receiver Davante Adams (15) against the Colorado Buffaloes in the second quarter at Bulldog Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Spo
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

On the strength of that performance alone, Mike Gundy's team would be massive favorites in the game. However, don't completely count out the Bulldogs. Derek Carr to Davante Adams has been one of the most prolific combinations in college football this season.

Carr has 39 touchdown passes and just four picks in 502 passing attempts. Adams has 100 receptions and 19 TD receptions this season. Curtailing them will be a challenge for the Cowboys defense.

Though their competition hasn't been stellar, only three of the Bulldogs' opponents have even stayed within a touchdown this season. The game could be the program's coming out party, much like the 2007 Fiesta Bowl was for Boise State.

 

Capital One Bowl - Texas A&M vs. Michigan State

Nov 23, 2013; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) passes the ball in the second half against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium. LSU defeated Texas A&M 34-10. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Manziel could lead the Aggies into a battle of two college football extremes. Seeing one of the nation's best offenses and most dynamic and polarizing players take on one of the best defenses is exciting. 

The Michigan State Spartans have the No. 1 defense in the country. The unit has allowed a measly 653 yards on the ground this season. Led by senior linebacker Denicos Allen and sophomore lineman Shilique Calhoun, the Spartans' front seven is a legitimate problem for any offense in the nation.

EAST LANSING, MI - NOVEMBER 02:  Devin Gardner #98 of the Michigan Wolverines is sacked by Shilique Calhoun #89 of the Michigan State Spartans as teammates Micajah Reynolds #60 and Denicos Allen #28 celebrate in the first quarter at Spartan Stadium on Nov
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It hasn't faced a team with the weapons on the outside the Aggies have, though. Mike Evans is a future No. 1 receiver in the NFL and Manziel has followed up his Heisman season with another banner year. They are two of the biggest reasons the Aggies are fourth in total offense in college football.

What will happen if these two forces collide? I hope we get a chance to find out.

 

Stat references per CFBStats.com

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