The 2013 college football season was one of the craziest in recent memory. It seemed each week at least one of the teams inside the Top Five would falter and completely alter the BCS picture.
Now that 15 weeks of play are finally in the books, we can take a minute to breathe, relax and identify what the matchups in each of the five prestigious BCS bowl games will look like.
|Mon., Jan. 6||BCS Championship||Florida State vs. Auburn|
|Wed., Jan. 1||Rose||Michigan State vs. Stanford|
|Wed., Jan. 1||Fiesta||Baylor vs. Central Florida|
|Thu., Jan. 2||Sugar||Alabama vs. Oklahoma|
|Fri., Jan. 3||Orange||Clemson vs. Ohio State|
While the Selection Sunday show and the official announcements for these contests are still a few hours away, keep reading for a look at my projections for which schools are making the most prestigious playoff appearances.
Florida State is the clear-cut No. 1 team in the nation and will assuredly be challenging for the national title. The Seminoles went into a Week 15 showdown with the Duke Blue Devils as the top-ranked squad and came out as ACC champions and the last remaining undefeated program from an automatic-qualifying conference.
Auburn has earned the right to challenge for the crystal trophy. The Tigers knocked off the Alabama Crimson Tide and Missouri Tigers in back-to-back weeks and seem to continue to get better with each passing Saturday.
While some would have argued for Auburn’s appearance in Pasadena regardless of what else happened over the weekend, the school’s championship chances are a borderline lock due to Ohio State’s failure in the Big Ten Championship Game.
The Buckeyes faltered down the stretch against Michigan State and will have to accept being relegated to a lesser BCS bowl, while the Spartans prepare to challenge for the 100th Rose Bowl title.
Don’t be surprised if Clemson is selected to clash with the Buckeyes in the Orange Bowl. The Miami-based game has ties with the ACC, meaning it will have to settle for a second-tier squad since FSU is playing for the national title. The Tigers are the second-highest ranked team in the conference; therefore they should get the nod to tangle with OSU.
Meeting Michigan State in the Rose bowl will be Stanford, as the Cardinal traveled to Tempe, Ariz., and took care of business against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Stanford may have taken some lumps this season—with losses to both Utah and USC—but it makes for a great matchup against Sparty’s elite defense.
Speaking of top matchups, the upcoming Sugar Bowl promises to be a good one. Alabama—which was idle after losing the Iron Bowl to Auburn—is a shoo-in for the SEC-affiliated BCS game.
The Crimson Tide were projected to compete for a third straight national title for much of the regular season before the Tigers stunned their rival on the Plains just over a week ago.
You can expect Nick Saban to have his squad hungry and motivated to exact revenge against its opponent in New Orleans. After winning the Bedlam series on Saturday, Oklahoma looks like an ideal candidate to face ‘Bama.
The Sooners dropped the rival Oklahoma State Cowboys to claim second place in the competitive Big 12 conference. Baylor outright won the conference, however, vanquishing in-state enemy Texas to claim the first Big 12 title in school history.
The Bears have accepted an invitation to the Fiesta Bowl for their efforts, where Central Florida likely awaits.
Which game are you most excited for?
The UCF Knights were the top team in the American Athletic Conference—a rather unimpressive feat, considering the relative weakness of the schools within that conference.
It seems that the BCS picture following the 2013 campaign will be solid. While there are a few teams that are questionable—such as UCF—the marquee games were fortunate to avoid an invasion of mid-major programs that finished undefeated in lesser conferences.
College football fans should be thrilled about these exciting matchups and must tune in to ESPN’s selection show at 8:30 p.m. ET to find out if they actually come to fruition.