The 2013 Sugar Bowl will take place on Thursday, Jan. 2, at 8:30 p.m. ET at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. It is the third of five BCS bowl games to be played in January, but heading into Week 15, nobody knows which teams will play in this year's contest.
An SEC team is guaranteed to play, but until the SEC Championship, Big Ten Championship and ACC Championship games are decided in Week 15, we won't know which one it'll be. As for the other team in this equation, it'll be one of the Top 14 BCS teams that have won at least nine games.
UCF is considered a favorite to be the "other" team, but it remains to be seen whether the Knights will receive a BCS bowl game invitation as the AAC champs.
What we do know is that some big-boy football will take place regardless of which SEC team makes it in. This conference has produced four teams that have won at least 10 games—three of which have lost only once.
Here's a look at when and where you can catch the action, followed by a prediction for the game and a closer look at some other teams that have a chance to earn a bid.
When: Thursday, Jan. 2, at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Florida State will easily take care of business against Duke in Week 15, but the outcome of the Big Ten Championship between Ohio State and Michigan State is up in the air. The Spartans feature the nation's No. 4 scoring defense, and Braxton Miller hasn't faced run defense like he'll see on Saturday.
However, you don't win 23 games in a row by chance, and Urban Meyer's team will find a way to get the job done to remain undefeated and claim the No. 2 spot in the final BCS rankings.
With the top two spots decided, the winner of the SEC Championship Game between Missouri and Auburn will represent the conference in the Sugar Bowl. Auburn will win this game, relying on its dynamic rushing attack, setting up a Sugar Bowl matchup against the UCF Knights.
Once in the Sugar Bowl, the Tigers will find themselves embroiled in a ferocious battle with one of the nation's least-hyped powerhouses.
UCF took down Teddy Bridgewater's Louisville Cardinals earlier this year, winning a shootout 38-35, and the team's only loss came back in late September against South Carolina. Since that time, the Knights have won a few tough games along with a few blowouts.
Quarterback Blake Bortles leads a balanced offensive attack. He does an excellent job spreading the ball around to his many talented pass-catchers, and eight different players have caught at least 10 passes and at least one touchdown.
But the Knights don't have a real answer for the double-headed monster of Auburn's Nick Marshall and Tre Mason, who totaled 263 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Alabama, which features one of the nation's top run defenses.
Auburn will run away with the contest in the second half, putting a cherry on top of its remarkable season.
Projected Score: Auburn wins 45-31.
Other Teams in Play
If Florida State and/or Ohio State loses in Week 15, the BCS will be an utter mess.
Such an event would mean that the winner of the SEC Championship Game would likely be one of the two top teams invited to Pasadena for the BCS Championship Game.
If Auburn wins on Saturday over Missouri and one of the two top teams loses, Alabama would be a lock to represent the SEC in the Sugar Bowl with a record of 11-1.
If both top teams lose and Auburn wins, it's almost guaranteed that Auburn and Alabama would meet for the second time this season in the title game, thrusting Missouri into the spotlight as the SEC's representative in the Sugar Bowl.
All three SEC teams would provide fans with a fantastic show.
Even though 'Bama lost to Auburn, the Crimson Tide are still the nation's most balanced team, featuring the nation's No. 13 scoring offense and its No. 2 scoring defense. Before Auburn's miraculous win at home, Alabama hadn't been challenged since Texas A&M pushed it to the brink in the second game of the year.
The real wild card in this game is which team will line up opposite one of these three SEC powerhouses.
UCF is the team most experts have pegged as the BCS at-large team in this matchup, but the Knights must first take care of business against SMU in Week 15. (They will.)
It's conceivable Baylor could be invited if UCF is snubbed, however.
The Bears host Texas in Week 15, and it's a game they should win. If this is the case, Baylor will finish the season with a record of 11-1, and a BCS bowl game wouldn't be out of the question.
Quarterback Bryce Petty leads the nation's top-ranked scoring offense, averaging 55.4 points per game, and thanks to his dual-threat abilities and the team's quick-tempo approach, the Bears have scored 35 or more points in every game this year but one.
But Baylor would be hard-pressed to take down any of the three SEC teams vying for a bid, as all three feature offenses capable of taking over the game. Baylor's defense has been open to exploitation this year, allowing 25 points or more four times.
In all likelihood, it won't matter which team makes it into the Sugar Bowl to compete with the SEC, which is clearly the best conference in college football.
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