Had it not been for a stunning upset by Auburn and a season-defining loss by Ohio State, predicting the top potential matchups of the 2013 BCS bowl season would be a significantly easier task.
This college football season has been a crazy one, and the changes in the BCS standings from week to week reflect the chaotic Saturdays of football that have passed in recent weeks. With Florida State the only undefeated team in the nation remaining, it will be interesting to see which teams will get nods for BCS bowl games.
There are plenty of favorites and dark-horse candidates to play on the game's biggest stage. Such a wide-open field leaves plenty of opportunities for quality matchups that will be exciting for both the fans and the squads involved.
The top potential matchups have, well, the potential to make for some of the best games of the season.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Oklahoma
After nearing an undefeated season and presumed berth in the BCS title game, Alabama was stunned by Auburn in dramatic fashion at the end of the Iron Bowl. Luckily, that "bowl" game won't be the last prominent game they play in this season.
Alabama will miss out on the title game, but the Sugar Bowl will allow them to re-establish some of their value. In all likelihood, they'll go up against the 10-2 Oklahoma Sooners.
Oklahoma has had an interesting season. They just took down No. 6 Oklahoma State and also won against then-No. 10 Texas Tech, but also lost to then-No. 6 Baylor and Texas this season. Regardless, the rushing attack and defense of the Sooners could give Alabama some problems.
We saw what a strong running attack could do to the Crimson Tide against Auburn. Running back Tre Mason led the Auburn offense and prevented drives from stalling. That'll be the key for Oklahoma.
In the end, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Alabama loses to the Sooners. Oklahoma is a very good team, but the Crimson Tide will be hungry and motivated coming off a loss. Alabama will win, 38-21.
Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. Clemson
Losing against Michigan State essentially destroyed Ohio State's bid for the BCS title game. Securing a second straight undefeated season would have likely propelled Urban Meyer's team to the big game, but their inability to perform against quality opponents like the Spartans sealed their fate.
In the Orange Bowl, the Buckeyes could potentially take on Clemson in what would figure to be an exciting contest. Tajh Boyd and the Tigers have a potent offense, incredible passing attack and stout defense. It was Michigan State's defense that did the Buckeyes in, and Clemson's defense could give the Buckeyes fits in this matchup.
The Tigers have the passing attack to slowly pick apart Ohio State's secondary. Boyd has thrown for more than 3,400 yards with 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season, and his status as one of the top passers in college football has been defined throughout the 2013 season.
OSU quarterback Braxton Miller will have to prove he can handle the pressure that a top defense will throw his way. He was just 8-of-21 for 101 yards and a touchdown against the Spartans. Those numbers will not lead to a victory against Clemson.
Clemson will win this one 31-24 on the strength of the defense.
BCS National Championship Game: Florida State vs. Auburn
No team has made a quicker rise to the top of the rankings than Auburn. A win against Alabama can do that for you, but their decisive 59-42 victory over Missouri in the SEC Championship game proved that Auburn belongs at the top.
They'll meet Heisman favorite Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles (in all likelihood) in the BCS title game, and it will be an explosive game from the beginning. These two teams have potent offenses, making the contributions defensively from each team that much more important.
It goes without saying that the key for Auburn will be slowing down Winston and the passing attack of the Seminoles. Florida State boasts the nation's top defense, and the key for the Seminoles will be to stop Tre Mason on the ground.
This game has all the makings of a classic. Arguably the nation's best player (Winston) will be taking on what appears to be the team of destiny (Auburn). It figures to be a much more compelling title game than last season's Alabama-Notre Dame blowout.
Florida State is just too good, though. They'll win 42-38 in a tightly contested matchup.