Bowl Projections 2013: Teams That Must Pull off Big Upsets to Go to BCS Games

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IINovember 30, 2013

OXFORD, MS - NOVEMBER 23:  Michael Sam #52 of the Missouri Tigers celebrates with fans following a victory over the Ole Miss Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on November 23, 2013 in Oxford, Mississippi.  Missouri won the game 24-10.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The BCS bowl picture is starting to take shape, but there are a few teams in the mix right now that need to pull off upset wins in order to make it to one of these big games.

A few teams like the Florida State Seminoles and UCF Knights are already preparing for BCS bowl bids with some easier remaining games.  However, even Alabama isn't safe right now, as a few remaining teams are on upset alert.

Below is a look at some of the best teams in the country that need to pull off big upsets in order to grab BCS bowl bids.


No. 11 Michigan State Spartans (10-1)

Nov 23, 2013; Evanston, IL, USA; Michigan State Spartans safety Isaiah Lewis (9) reacts to being ejected from the game for a personal foul against Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter (2) during the first quarter at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit:
Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans have already locked up a spot in the Big Ten Championship with their 10-1 record.  They shouldn't have a problem taking down the Minnesota Golden Gophers, but they are going to have a tough matchup next week against the Ohio State Buckeyes.

If the Spartans win that game, they'll lock up a spot in the Rose Bowl, and while there's a chance that they could grab a spot in the Orange Bowl with a loss, the Wisconsin Badgers are right behind them and could take the spot as well.

Defense will be key for the Spartans, as that's their biggest strength.  They're allowing just 12.5 points per game, which is the fourth-fewest points allowed in the nation.  Over the past five games, they've allowed more than six points in just one of them.

That defense will have to find ways to stop Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde while forcing some key turnovers, or it could be the Badgers that take their BCS spot.


No. 12 Arizona State Sun Devils (9-2)

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 16:  Quarterback Taylor Kelly #10 of the Arizona State Sun Devils throws a pass against the Oregon State Beavers during the third quarter of their college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Ph
Ralph Freso/Getty Images

A big win over the UCLA Bruins helped the Arizona State Sun Devils clinch the Pac-12 South title, and now they have a real shot at going to the Rose Bowl with a win in the conference championship.  They can't overlook the Arizona Wildcats, but the Sun Devils need to start preparing for a likely matchup against the Stanford Cardinal in the conference championship.

TEMPE, AZ - OCTOBER 19:  Running back Marion Grice #1 of the Arizona State Sun Devils rushes the football past linebacker Princeton Fuimaono #37 of the Washington Huskies during the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Tempe,
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Taylor Kelly has done a very good job running the offense, and he will need to do much of the same against an incredibly physical Stanford defense.  This season, he's thrown for 3,063 yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, adding another 411 yards and eight scores on the ground.

While Kelly has run the offense, he's also had Marion Grice helping him out in the backfield.  Grice has the opportunity to be one of the first running backs taken in the NFL draft, as he's made some big plays with the Sun Devils.  He's been a versatile player out of the backfield, putting up 1,434 total yards and 20 total touchdowns.

Those two playmakers will have to keep making big plays in order for the Sun Devils to pull off a big upset.  While they're bound to go to a prestigious bowl game, they'd much rather make a trip to the Rose Bowl and play a team like Ohio State or Michigan State.


No. 5 Missouri Tigers (10-1)

It's been an incredible run so far for the Missouri Tigers, but they might not be able to go to a BCS bowl game unless they can win the SEC championship.

At 10-1, the Tigers still have a tough game against the Texas A&M Aggies, but they currently hold the top spot in the SEC East with a 6-1 conference record, putting them just ahead of the South Carolina Gamecocks.  If they're able to beat the Aggies, they'll play in the conference championship, but that leaves them with what would be an incredibly tough game against either Alabama or Auburn.

Both of those teams are currently ranked higher than the Tigers, and they will be playing each other in the Iron Bowl.  The winner will go to the SEC championship, and if Missouri can pull off the upset in that one, it would put them in position to either go to the Sugar Bowl or even the BCS National Championship.

A balanced offensive attack and a strong defense have gotten the Tigers to where they are right now, but James Franklin is the key to Missouri pulling off an upset.  He missed four games before finally returning last week against Ole Miss, throwing for 142 yards and an interception in the game.  He will have to make big plays and put up points quickly in order to give the Tigers a shot at the SEC title.

Of the three teams mentioned, the Tigers are the most talented one that has a chance to make a BCS run.  However, they also have the toughest remaining schedule, and the next two potential games will say a lot about the Tigers.