Bowl Projections 2013: Breaking Down Favorites to Reach Each BCS Bowl

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2013

WINSTON SALEM, NC - NOVEMBER 09:  Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates after a touchdown by his team during their game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field on November 9, 2013 in Winston Salem, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The craziness of the college football season has led to some debate over the national championship, but the rest of the BCS bowls are starting to gain some clarity.

Obviously, a lot still must be decided before anything is set in stone. The conference championships of the ACC, Big Ten and SEC will greatly affect the BCS title game. Meanwhile, the Pac-12 and MAC championships could also change which teams find a spot in the bigger bowl games of the season.

Of course, the Big 12 and AAC continue regular-season battles that will play a role as well.

Before these games take place, though, here is a look at how each BCS bowl projects to line up.


BCS Championship Game: Florida State vs. Ohio State

In most seasons, BCS supporters pray for only two undefeated teams to reduce the controversy. Unfortunately, this has not happened in 2013.

Most agree Florida State will deserve this spot if the Seminoles are able to take care of business in the ACC Championship Game. However, there is still some debate as to whether Ohio State will stay at No. 2 even after finishing with an undefeated record.

The argument is that a one-loss team from the SEC, whether it is Auburn or Missouri, will have better wins. However, the Buckeyes have been perfect this season, and the fact that they have not lost in two years is certainly impressive.

With a relatively significant lead in the BCS standings, simply beating Michigan State should be all Ohio State needs to do to secure a spot in the national championship game.


Orange Bowl: Alabama vs. Clemson

The great finish at the Iron Bowl knocked Alabama out of the title picture for now, but the Crimson Tide will not fall too far.

Nick Saban's squad has no more games to impress committees, but it has done more than enough to earn a bid to a top bowl game. The Orange Bowl has that first choice, and it will bring in the most dominant team in college football over the past few years.

Competing against this juggernaut will be Clemson, which should earn this spot as a replacement for Florida State. The Orange Bowl will like to keep the ACC ties, which gives the Tigers the bid over a team like Baylor or Oregon.

Despite the fact Clemson lost its last game to South Carolina, the Tigers have an elite offense and are deserving of this big-time bowl.


Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs. UCF

Auburn will have a claim at the BCS Championship Game if it is able to secure an SEC title, but the argument will come up short. The squad lost once in September on the road to LSU, and this is enough to end the title hopes.

On the other hand, a Sugar Bowl appearance would have been a dream heading into the season after the squad finished 3-9 a year ago.

UCF is another team that has exceeded expectations this year with a 10-1 record. Louisville entered the season as the overwhelming favorite to win the American, but Blake Bortles and the Knights have been incredible all year.

While this team will be big underdogs in any BCS matchup, UCF is better than people realize and should be able to at least be competitive against Auburn.


Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Northern Illinois

DEKALB, IL - NOVEMBER 13:  Quarterback Jordan Lynch #6 of the Northern Illinois Huskies looks to pass during the first quarter against the Ball State Cardinals at Huskie Stadium on November 13, 2013 in DeKalb, Illinois. Northern Illinois defeated Ball Sta
Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Oklahoma State might have the worst loss of any team on this list, as the Cowboys dropped a game to West Virginia earlier in the season. However, they have been perfect otherwise, including a dominant win over Baylor.

One more win against Oklahoma will be enough to secure a Big 12 title and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.

Meanwhile, Northern Illinois is also one game away from a BCS bowl for the second year in a row. The Huskies are 12-0 this season behind Heisman candidate Jordan Lynch, and only Bowling Green stands in the way of an automatic bid.

The MAC squad could be knocked out of a spot if UCF passes it in the polls, but this seems unlikely at this point.


Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Michigan State

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 16:  Running back Tyler Gaffney #25 of the Stanford Cardinal carries the ball against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Coliseum on November 16, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Although Stanford has had a couple of slip-ups this year, this is still one of the best teams in the country. After beating Arizona State in September, the Cardinal should be able to accomplish this feat again.

Fortunately, this is a simple replacement if the Sun Devils are able to earn the win, as it would simply put them into the Rose Bowl.

The amazing thing for Michigan State is that it will likely be playing in Pasadena whether the team wins or loses in the Big Ten championship. A win makes the Spartans the automatic representative, while a loss will make them the replacement for a team in the BCS National Championship.

Wisconsin might have had a chance to take this spot, but a loss to Penn State on the last day of the season likely solidifies Michigan State in the Rose Bowl.   


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