The conference championships have been played, the contestants for the BCS title game will be named without controversy and the only thing left to do is project the BCS matchups.
Yeah, I'm excited too. Let's predict some bowls!
Before we begin, however, let's review the BCS selection process. The first thing to remember is that the Rose Bowl is tied to the Big Ten and Pac-12 champions, the Sugar Bowl is tied to the SEC champion, the Orange Bowl is tied to the ACC champion and the Fiesta Bowl is tied to the Big-12 champion.
Now, we know Florida State and Auburn are off to the BCS championship. That means the Orange Bowl gets the first selection to replace top-ranked Florida State, and the Sugar Bowl gets the second selection for losing Auburn.
We also know that Michigan State, Stanford and Baylor are off the table, as they'll go to their respective bowls as conference champions. And Orange Bowl can try to select Alabama but likely won't succeed in landing them, since the bowl replacing the top-ranked team can't choose a team from the conference with the second-ranked team unless given consent to do so.
And why in the world would the Sugar Bowl give up a powerhouse like Alabama?
After those two bowls make their selections, the order of the remaining picks goes the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl, respectively. In other words, get ready to see Baylor take on Central Florida.
The Orange Bowl will likely make Clemson their first selection to maintain an ACC connection. The Sugar Bowl will follow with Alabama. And then it gets really, really interesting.
At first glance, you'd think the Orange Bowl would go with Ohio State. They have just one loss, they're a huge draw and they have a good enough offense to make a meeting with Clemson an exciting shootout.
That's the likely choice.
But they could choose to go with another team, with Oregon, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State the likely options. Oklahoma State's loss to Oklahoma likely eliminates them. Both Oregon and Oklahoma are big draws, but the Ducks are probably the more appealing choice for the television audience.
On the other hand, Oklahoma fans will probably travel better than Oregon fans, having far less of a distance to go. And the Oklahoma fanbase certainly extends far wider than simply Norman, Oklahoma.
So, will the Orange Bowl go with Ohio State, Oregon or Oklahoma to face Clemson? Or could they bypass Clemson altogether?
It'd be pretty surprising if they passed up Ohio State versus Clemson. The ACC draw is too strong to ignore with Clemson, and their fans will travel to the game in droves, while the Ohio State brand is large enough to ensure they'll both travel and help the game earn solid ratings.
So that leaves us with one bowl to decide: the Sugar Bowl. Who will face Alabama?
The matchup every neutral will want is Oregon versus Alabama, even if this game wouldn't be nearly as appealing as a national championship clash would have been, as we all hoped for in the past two years. The Ducks wouldn't be able to stop Alabama's offense at all, of course, but the Crimson Tide defense has been vulnerable against talented offenses and the Ducks would score some points.
But don't be surprised when the Sugar Bowl goes with Oklahoma. Ultimately, the bowls are about making money, and if they feel the Sooner fanbase will travel better and the game will still do well in the ratings, Oklahoma will get the nod.
The neutrals among us will be disappointed, but let's be honest—Oregon didn't do enough this season to make a compelling enough case that they absolutely deserve the bid more than Oklahoma anyway. The Sooners would be totally justified reaching the Sugar Bowl.
So, without further ado, here are my official projections for the BCS bowls:
|BCS Bowl Projections|
|BCS National Championship||Florida State vs. Auburn|
|Rose Bowl||Stanford vs. Michigan State|
|Orange Bowl||Clemson vs. Ohio State|
|Sugar Bowl||Alabama vs. Oklahoma|
|Fiesta Bowl||Baylor vs. UCF|
What do you think? Will Oregon get in? What matchup do you want to see in the Orange Bowl? Will any neutral fans watch Baylor versus UCF?
Be sure to leave your projections in the comments.