There is still plenty to be decided heading into college football's final weekend before bowl season. With conference championships taking place across the country, there will be some late drama between high-profile teams before Sunday's BCS Bowl Selection Show (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
According to BCSFootball.org, there are still 19 teams in contention for nine spots in the five BCS matchups, which include the Fiesta, Sugar, Orange and Rose Bowls and the national championship game. Five more conference champions will receive automatic BCS bids, and then there will still be four at-large spots up for grabs, while Central Florida has already claimed the American Athletic Conference's berth.
Here's a look at the full list of teams still alive for BCS bids followed by the likeliest matchups in college football's top bowl games.
|2||Ohio State*||Big Ten|
|6||Oklahoma State||Big 12|
|10||Michigan State*||Big Ten|
|*Denotes playing in conference championship|
BCS National Championship: Florida State vs. Ohio State
Both teams have big hurdles to clear if they want to reach the national championship. For No. 1 Florida State (12-0), it means getting past No. 20 Duke (10-2) in the ACC title game, while No. 2 Ohio State (12-0) will have to beat No. 10 Michigan State (11-1) in the Big Ten Championship.
This matchup would pit two of college football's top quarterbacks against each other, with Heisman favorite Jameis Winston (3,490 passing yards, 35 TDs, eight INTs) leading FSU and Braxton Miller (1,759 passing yards, 891 rushing yards, 29 total TDs) guiding the Buckeyes to an undefeated record so far.
It would be a welcome return to college football's big stage for Ohio State, who was banned from the postseason after going 12-0 in Urban Meyer's first season with the school in 2012. For FSU, it would represent the first trip to a national championship since the 2000 season.
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Northern Illinois
The Big 12 picture has a lot of moving parts heading into Saturday without a championship game to decide things and four teams tied at 7-1 in the conference standings. No. 6 Oklahoma State (10-1) can win the Big 12 outright with a victory over No. 17 Oklahoma (9-2), but if the Sooners can pull off a victory, the Texas-Baylor contest later Saturday afternoon will decide the fate of the conference.
If OSU wins, the Cowboys would likely be headed for a date with mid-major No. 14 NIU (12-0), who are poised to crash the BCS bowl picture for the second straight year. As Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman noted, the Fiesta Bowl committee has the last pick of teams this year, meaning they could be forced to host NIU, which doesn't have the star power of the other programs.
Still, this would be an intriguing matchup of a powerhouse program against an upstart underdog.
Orange Bowl: Alabama vs. Clemson
The Orange Bowl has a long-term contract to host the ACC champion, but with Florida State poised to make the BCS title game, the committee will have a wide range of options, as it has the first pick of at-large teams this year.
The likely choice for an at-large bid would be No. 4 Alabama (11-1), who was in the driver's seat to make the BCS title game until last week's epic 34-28 loss to Auburn. Crimson Tide fans travel well and would surely be well represented at this game in Miami.
As for Alabama's opponent, No. 13 Clemson (10-2) should finish ahead of Duke in the rankings as the second-place team in the ACC. Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press shared his thoughts on why Clemson and Alabama would make sense for the Orange Bowl:
Rose Bowl: Arizona State vs. Michigan State
The Grandaddy of Them All has longstanding ties with the Big Ten and Pac-12, and this year's contest figures to feature two powerful squads.
Per VegasInsider.com, No. 11 Arizona State (10-2) is currently favored by three points over No. 7 Stanford (10-2) to win the Pac-12 championship, a victory that would likely send the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl for the first time since Jake Plummer led them there after the 1996 season. No. 10 Michigan State (11-1) is still in line for a BCS bowl even with a loss against Ohio State.
ASU's high-powered offensive attack, which ranks eighth nationally (43.2 points per game), would face a stiff test against the Michigan State Spartans, who rank third in scoring defense (11.8 points allowed per game).
Sugar Bowl: Missouri vs. Central Florida
Even though the No. 3 Auburn Tigers (11-1) are in the midst of a magical run this season, VegasInsider.com still has No. 5 Missouri (11-1) favored to win the SEC championship by two points.
The SEC has sent a participant to the BCS title game seven straight years, but this year, it looks like the conference champ is headed to the Sugar Bowl in Atlanta. No. 16 Central Florida (10-1) was the first team to claim a BCS bid this year by winning the American Athletic Conference and is expected to be picked ahead of Northern Illinois by the Sugar Bowl Committee.
As Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, Missouri and Central Florida have played each other recently and are slated to play in 2014:
This doesn't carry the weight of other major matchups, but it would still feature two solid conference champions.