BCS Bowl Projections Week 12: Which 10 Teams Get the Coveted BCS Bowl Bids?

Elliott Pohnl@@ElliottPohnl_BRFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2010

BCS Bowl Projections Week 12: Which 10 Teams Get the Coveted BCS Bowl Bids?

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    BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  Darron Thomas #1 of the Oregon Ducks motions for a first down that clinched their game against the California Golden Bears at the end of the fourth quarter at California Memorial Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Berkeley, Calif
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    BCS Bowl Projections Week 12 have a familiar look with very little movement expected in the rankings.

    All of the top teams survived in Week 11, but things weren't exactly business as usual.

    Both Oregon and Stanford sputtered on offense and needed strong play from their defenses to escape with close road wins in Pac-10 play.

    Elsewhere, TCU fell behind, then nearly lost late when San Diego State quarterback Ryan Lindley made several big plays against the normally dominant Horned Frogs' defense.

    Boise State won big in Moscow against overmatched Idaho, but the victory won't provide any boost in the Broncos' BCS stock.

    Here's a look at the 10 teams leading the pack in the BCS race heading into Week 12.

No. 10: Pittsburgh, Discover Orange Bowl

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    PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 23:  Tino Sunseri #12 of the Pittsburgh Panthers hands the ball off to teammate Dion Lewis #28 during the game against the Miami Hurricanes on September 23, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Week 11 Results: Lost 30-28 at Connecticut 

    Why They Will Play in the Orange Bowl: Despite losing in a shocker in Storrs, the Panthers remain atop the Big East standings.  In a horrible conference, Pitt still looks like the most complete team on both sides of the ball. 

    The return of star defensive end Greg Romeus should provide a nice boost down the stretch, and Tino Sunseri has shown steady improvement throughout the season.

    By virtue of winning the Big East, Pitt would head to the Orange Bowl to face an unspectacular ACC foe.

    Biggest Remaining Hurdle: Vs. West Virginia, Nov. 26

    Few teams have underachieved more than the Mountaineers this season, but the teams match up evenly in terms of talent.  Look for Geno Smith to exploit Pitt's secondary and lead his team to an upset in the fierce rivalry game.

    Even if Pitt loses to WVU, the Panthers should still be able to capture the Big East crown.

No. 9: Virginia Tech, Discover Orange Bowl

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    BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 04: Running back Darren Evans #32 of the Virginia Tech Hokies runs with the ball against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Lane Stadium on November 4, 2010 in Blacksburg, Virginia.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Week 11 Result: Won 26-10 at North Carolina

    Why They Will Play in the Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech has won eight straight games and looked good doing it.  With an improved young defense and great quarterback play from Tyrod Taylor, the Hokies are poised to run the table in the ACC this season.

    By virtue of the Orange Bowl's ties to the ACC, the Hokies would end up playing in Miami.

    Biggest Remaining Hurdle: The ACC Championship Game

    Regardless of what happens Saturday in Miami, Virginia Tech is almost certainly headed to the ACC Championship game.

    Given their low ranking in the BCS Standings, the only chance the Hokies have to make the BCS is by holding off their ACC Atlantic opponent.

    Florida State, Maryland and North Carolina State are all vying for a spot opposite Tech in the title game.

No. 8: Ohio State, Allstate Sugar Bowl

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    COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 13:  Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes completes a pass against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Week 11 Results: Won 38-14 vs. Penn State

    Why They Will Play in the Sugar Bowl: Ohio State went bonkers in the third quarter and ran Penn State right out of the 'Shoe Saturday night.  Aside from his stinker at Wisconsin, Terrelle Pryor has engineered a very underrated Buckeye offense this season.

    Look for the Bucks' to secure an at-large spot in the BCS and end up in the Sugar Bowl.

    Biggest Remaining Hurdle: At Iowa, Nov. 20

    What looked like a chance for the Bucks' to boost their stock considerably with a quality road win now looks a bit hollow.  Iowa was upset by Northwestern and will plummet down the BCS rankings in Week 11.

    If there is one void on Ohio State's resume, it's the lack of a real quality win this season.

    Look for the Bucks to defeat the struggling Hawkeyes and finish the season with a win over Michigan.

No. 7: LSU, Allstate Sugar Bowl

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 06:  Quarterback Jordan Jefferson #9 of the Louisiana State University Tigers looks to throw the ball against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Tiger Stadium on November 6, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Tigers defeated the Crims
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Week 11 Results: Won 51-0 vs. Louisiana-Monroe

    Why They Will Play in the Sugar Bowl: There's nothing like piling up the points against a struggling non-conference foe.  After playing well in the win over Alabama in Week 9, both Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee came back to earth in the passing game Saturday night.  The struggling Tigers' offense didn't even net 300 yards of offense in the win.

    Depending on what happens to Auburn, LSU could end up being the highest ranked team to come out of the SEC.

    Sometimes it's better to not play in the conference title game.

    Biggest Remaining Hurdle: At Arkansas, Nov. 27

    LSU's defense will once again need to dominate in order to give the Tigers a chance against the potent Razorbacks.  Arkansas has played better defensively since being destroyed by Auburn earlier this year, but has yet to win a big game under Bobby Petrino.

    Look for Les Miles to just keep finding a way.

No. 6: Stanford, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

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    TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 13:  Quarterback Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal warms up for the game with the Arizona State Sun Devils  at Sun Devil Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Week 11 Results: Won 17-13 at Arizona State

    Why They Will Play in the Fiesta Bowl: Like Oregon, Stanford appears to have already passed its biggest tests this season.  Andrew Luck struggled Saturday night against the Sun Devils, but Stanford's improving defense got the job done again.

    Because of the BCS provisions, the highest-rated non-automatic qualifier would play in the Rose Bowl.  That means the Cardinal will be headed elsewhere.

    Biggest Remaining Hurdle: At California, Nov. 20

    Cal's defense played absolutely out of its mind against Oregon, but don't expect that to happen two weeks in a row.

    Look for Stanford to finish the season with two relatively easy wins.

No. 5: Nebraska, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

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    LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 30: Running back Roy Helu Jr. #10 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers break a long run against the Missouri Tigers during second half action of their game at Memorial Stadium on October 30, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska Defeated Missou
    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Week 11 Results: Won 20-3 vs. Kansas

    Why They Will Make the Fiesta Bowl: Nebraska is banged up, but the Huskers have a strong running game and a great defense.  There is no question Big Red is the most complete team in the Big 12 this season.

    By virtue of a high spot in the BCS rankings and a probable win in the Big 12 championship game, Nebraska will be headed to Arizona.

    Biggest Remaining Hurdle: The Big 12 Championship Game

    Nebraska appears poised to make the BCS, but a loss in the conference title game would almost certainly bounce the Huskers out of the picture.

    This isn't the year the Big 12 gets an at-large team into the BCS.

No. 4: Wisconsin, Rose Bowl Presented By Citi

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    IOWA CITY, IA - OCTOBER 23- Running back James White #20 of the Wisconsin Badgers drives the ball down field against the University of Iowa Hawkeyes during the first half of play at Kinnick Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Iowa City, Iowa. Wisconsin won 31-
    David Purdy/Getty Images

    Week 11 Results: Won 83-20 vs. Indiana

    Why They Will Play in the Rose Bowl: Those poor Hoosiers.  Wisconsin showed off its running back depth Saturday with James White and Montee Ball leading the way.

    Wisconsin sits atop the Big Ten in the BCS Standings, giving the Badgers the inside track on securing a BCS bid and a spot in the Rose Bowl.

    Biggest Remaining Hurdle: At Michigan, Nov. 20

    Michigan's defense can't stop anybody, but the Wolverines' offense is good enough to beat anyone in the Big Ten.

    John Clay's expected return should make Wisconsin's running game even more formidable, allowing the Badgers to play keep-up from Michigan and remain at the forefront of the BCS picture in the Big Ten.

    Don't expect feisty Northwestern to pull off an upset in the final game of the season in Madison.

No. 3: TCU, Rose Bowl Presented By Citi

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    LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 30:  Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs looks to hand the ball off during a game against the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium October 30, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. TCU won 48-6.  (Photo by Ethan
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Week 11 Results: Won 40-35 vs. San Diego State

    Why They Will Play in the Rose Bowl: TCU's defense is right up there with LSU in terms of being completely dominant all year long.  Andy Dalton has improved as a passer throughout the season, and Waymon James gives the Horned Frogs' another fantastic option at the running back spot.

    Don't expect TCU to be overtaken by Boise State in the standings, allowing Gary Patterson's team to secure a place in Pasadena.

    Biggest Remaining Hurdle: None

    TCU's season isn't over, but the lone remaining game against lowly New Mexico in two weeks simply isn't going to be much of a hurdle.

    Let the long layoff before the BCS begin.

No. 2: Oregon, Tostitos BCS National Championship

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    EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 6: Running back LaMichael James #21 of the Oregon Ducks steps into the end zone past defensive tackle Sione Potoa'e #55 of the Washington Huskies in the fourth quarter of the game at Autzen Stadium on November 6, 2010 in Eugene, Oreg
    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Week 11 Results: Won 15-13 at California

    Why They Will Play in the National Championship: Oregon's ridiculous offense can score points faster than any college football squad in recent memory.  The Ducks' defense isn't perfect, but that is no big deal given Chip Kelly's prolific attack.

    Oregon's body of work is very deserving of a spot in the National Title game.

    Biggest Remaining Hurdle: Vs. Arizona, November 26

    Normally, the Civil War to close out the season would be a possible trap game for Oregon.  With Oregon State losing to Washington State Saturday, that won't be the case this year.

    Instead, Nick Foles leads Arizona to Eugene in two weeks the chance to create a colossal mess in the BCS.

    Until Mike Stoops wins a big game, there is no reason to expect the 'Cats to pull an upset.

No. 1: Auburn, Tostitos BCS National Championship

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    AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 06:  Quarterback Cam Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers plays against the Chattanooga Mocs November 6, 2010 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Week 11 Results: Won 49-31 vs. Georgia

    Why They Will Play in the National Championship Game: Simply put, nobody has been able to stop Cam Newton.  Auburn's defense gave up big plays as usual Saturday against Georgia, but the offense was once again good enough to produce a fairly comfortable win.

    Now, Auburn will need to keep Newton on the field and find a way to win two difficult games.

    Biggest Remaining Hurdles: At Alabama, Nov. 26

    No BCS team has bigger hurdles than Auburn as the season winds down.

    The trip to Tuscaloosa Friday after Thanksgiving will be Newton's biggest test.  Alabama's defense has underachieved at times, and will be looking to make a statement against the best player in college football.  Don't expect Auburn's defense to get many stops against the Tide's offense, either.

    A loss to 'Bama would knock Auburn from the National Championship picture, but certainly wouldn't kill the BCS hopes.

    Despite the close call earlier this season against South Carolina, the Tigers should be able to emerge victorious against the Gamecocks in the SEC Championship game.