College Football Rankings Week 12: The Latest Bowl Projections and Predictions
For the first time in five years, the BCS Top 10 remained exactly the same as they were the week before. Quack Attack remains atop the standings, still followed by the three other undefeateds, Auburn, TCU and Boise State in that order.
The Bayou Bengals came in at No. 5 for the second straight week, and Stanford, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State and Oklahoma State round out the top 10.
The biggest news surrounding the new BCS standings may be the fact that Boise State is gaining ground on TCU. The Horned Frogs were ahead of the Broncos by nearly six one hundredths of a point in last week's standings. This week, Boise State is only about three one hundredths back.
There weren't too many upsets this week around the country, but that doesn't mean that the bowl landscape didn't change. Here's a look at the latest projections for bowl season.
New Mexico Bowl (MWC vs. WAC)
Week 12 projection: BYU vs. Idaho
Neither school is currently bowl eligible, but by season's end there is a good chance both will be.
Even though the Vandals were humiliated in front of a national audience and didn't look like a bowl team, of the WAC schools that are not yet bowl eligible, they have the best shot. They're 4-6 with two winnable games remaining—Utah State and San Jose State.
BYU needs one more victory to become bowl eligible and that could come against New Mexico this week.
Humanitarian Bowl (WAC vs. MAC)
Week 12 projection: Nevada vs. Ohio
The Wolf Pack may be one of the most underrated teams around the country. They're No. 21 in this week's BCS standings and two weeks ago against Idaho, they racked up over 800 yards of total offense. They could gain some respect around the nation by taking down Boise State in a couple of weeks.
The Bobcats are led by former Nebraska coach Frank Solich, and he has his team playing solid football. Ohio still has a chance to win the MAC eastern division with a win over Temple on Tuesday.
New Orleans Bowl (Sun Belt vs. C-USA)
Week 12 Projection: Florida International vs. UTEP
Florida International currently sits at 4-5, but its coming off a win over Troy to gain control of the Sun Belt conference. Two more wins will make the Golden Panthers bowl eligible and clinch the Sun Belt.
Since winning five of its first six games, UTEP has cooled off quite a bit. The Miners have lost four of five, but are already bowl eligible with six wins and will likely represent Conference USA in the New Orleans Bowl.
St. Petersburg Bowl (Big East vs. C-USA)
Week 12 projection: UCONN vs. East Carolina
The Huskies are coming off of huge back-to-back wins over West Virginia and Pittsburgh. They are 5-4 and with three games remaining, only need one more victory to be eligible for bowl season.
After getting shellacked by Navy a week ago, the Pirates bounced back with a victory over UAB. East Carolina can still win the eastern division of Conference USA if UCF falters again like they did this week, but the Pirates lost control of their own destiny when they lost to the Knights two weeks ago.
Las Vegas Bowl (MWC vs. Pac-10)
Week 12 projection: Utah vs. UCLA
What a terrible two weeks for the Utes. First, they were embarrassed on their home turf by TCU, then followed it up with a dismal performance against Notre Dame. It's surprising they're still ranked (No. 23 in BCS).
With USC being ineligible for postseason play, its crosstown rival Bruins may be the beneficiary. UCLA is 4-6 with games against Washington and the Trojans left. If the Bruins beat USC, they'll be bowling.
Poinsettia Bowl (MWC vs. Navy)
Week 12 projection: San Diego State vs. Navy
If bowl eligible, which they are at 7-3, the Midshipmen will be invited to the Poinsettia Bowl. It's a stipulation Navy has with the bowl.
The Aztecs could have changed the college football landscape if they were able to pull off the upset over TCU. Unfortunately for many one-loss teams, SDSU came up short losing 40-35.
This matchup should make for an interesting game.
Hawaii Bowl (C-USA vs. Hawaii)
Week 12 projection: Tulsa vs. Hawaii
Much like Navy and the Poinsettia Bowl, the Warriors have a deal with the Hawaii Bowl (imagine that) that requires the bowl to invite them if they are bowl eligible.
With seven wins, the Warriors are eligible for postseason play and won't have to rack up any frequent flyer miles traveling to a bowl game.
Tulsa is 7-3 and 4-2 in C-USA, but lost to SMU earlier in the year. The Mustangs are also 4-2 in the conference and unless they slip up, the Golden Hurricane won't be playing for the C-USA crown.
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (MAC s. Big Ten)
Week 12 projection: Northern Illinois vs. Illinois
Not exactly the bowl game the Illini were hoping to play in at the start of the season. Nonetheless, it's still a bowl game. And in order to get into it, they still have to win one more game. Illinois is 5-5 and plays Northwestern and Fresno State to end the year.
Northern Illinois would be crowned the MAC Champions if the season ended today and would be licking its chops if they were able to get this matchup in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. A chance to knock off an instate AQ-school in a bowl game would be enormous for the Huskies.
Winner: Northern Illinois
Independence Bowl (MWC vs. ACC)
Week 12 projection: Air Force vs. Boston College
Air Force is 7-4. Its losses are to Oklahoma, TCU, Utah and San Diego State. Those four teams have a combined record of 34-7. The Falcons are a good football team, they're just in a competitive conference with a BCS crasher at the top.
The Eagles are not yet bowl eligible, but with a win over Virginia or Syracuse they'll get there.
Winner: Air Force
GMAC Bowl (Sun Belt vs. MAC)
Week 12 projection: Troy vs. Temple
Troy needs one more win in order to represent the Sun Belt conference in the GMAC Bowl, but if they don't do it, it's unlikely any other Sun Belt team will. The Trojans are the only Sun Belt school over .500.
The Owls play Ohio on Tuesday and the outcome of that game will go a long way in deciding their bowl fate. For now, Temple can be penciled into the GMAC Bowl as the MAC's No. 2 team.
Armed Forces Bowl (C-USA vs. MWC/Army)
Week 12 projection: Southern Miss vs. Army
What's with all these military schools having automatic bids to bowl games? Who do they think they are—BCS schools?
Army, like Navy and the Poinsettia, has a stipulation with the Armed Forces bowl that says the bowl must invite the Black Knights if they are bowl eligible prior to the Army-Navy game AND the Mountain West Conference doesn't have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill its bowl tie-ins.
The MWC has five bowls that it's associated with and only four current bowl-eligible teams, with BYU knocking on the door. However, TCU has a potential date with a BCS game, opening up a MWC spot in a bowl game for Army, who is 6-4.
Southern Miss is 7-3 and the third best team in C-USA.
Winner: Southern Miss
TicketCity Bowl (Big Ten Vs. Big 12)
Week 12 projection: Toledo vs. Texas Tech
Even if Illinois becomes bowl eligible, the Big 10 probably won't have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of their bowl tie-ins.
The MAC is the secondary backup for the TicketCity Bowl, behind primary backup C-USA, who will also struggle to fill its bowl tie-ins in case the Big 10 or Big 12 doesn't have enough teams who are bowl eligible.
The Rockets are 6-4 and are one of five MAC schools currently bowl eligible.
The Red Raiders need to win one more game before they can secure their spot in the TicketCity Bowl.
Winner: Texas Tech
Eagle Bank Bowl (ACC vs. C-USA)
Week 12 projection: Clemson vs. SMU
Just think, if Clemson's kicker would have made his field goal in overtime against Auburn, the Tigers (the Auburn variety) probably wouldn't be in the National Championship picture.
The Clemson Tigers sit at 5-5 and 3-4 in the ACC. One more win and Dabo Sweeney will have to rent a pair of bowling shoes.
However, if the Tigers don't get it this week against Wake Forrest, they might not get it at all, as they close the season against South Carolina.
Like Clemson, SMU needs one more win to be bowl eligible, but it'll probably get it against Marshall this week. If the Mustangs beat Marshall and then East Carolina the last week of the season, they'll be representing the Western division in the C-USA Championship game.
Pinstripe Bowl (Big East vs. Big 12)
Week 12 projection: Notre Dame vs. Kansas St.
With the win over Utah, the Fighting Irish have put themselves right back in the mix for a bowl berth. Notre Dame can be considered for any bowl game with Big East tie-ins as well as the BCS games.
The Irish would be a perfect fit for the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, and with one more win that's where they might find themselves come November.
Kansas State is 6-4 right now and No. 7 in the Big 12. But with two very winnable games against Colorado and North Texas, the Wildcats could improve their bowl situation (no offense to the Pinstripe Bowl, but it's not the bowl Big 12 teams came into the season wanting to play in).
Winner: Kansas State
Liberty Bowl (SEC vs. C-USA)
Week 12 projection: Louisville vs. UCF
With two teams likely to play in BCS games, the SEC just doesn't have enough bowl-eligible teams to cover eight bowl tie-ins.
Therefore, by default, another team and conference will have to fill in for the SEC in the Liberty Bowl. Should Louisville become bowl eligible, they need one more win, it would make perfect sense for them to play in this bowl.
UCF will be representing C-USA in the Liberty Bowl as the conference's champion.
PapaJohns.com Bowl (Big East vs. SEC)
Week 12 projection: South Florida vs. Georgia
One more win and the Bulldogs are bowl eligible. With as much scrutiny as Georgia coach Mark Richt has faced this year, the Dawgs definitely need it.
USF is 6-3, already bowl eligible, but has a tough road ahead. The Bulls play Big East leading Pittsburgh, Miami (FL) and then UCONN to end the year.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (WAC vs. Pac-10)
Week 12 projection: Fresno State vs. Oregon State
The Beavers have been a bit of a disappointment this season. They had tons of talent returning, but they just haven't panned out.
Oregon State is 4-5, but they still can go bowling. It will be tough, as they finish the season with USC, Stanford and Oregon, but two wins and the Beavers are in. If they don't get it done, this Pac-10 spot will likely have to be filled by another conference.
Fresno State is No. 4 in the WAC, but they play Boise State this week and could really shake things up. Worst case scenario, they lose to the Broncos, beat Idaho, lose to Illinois and end up here.
Winner: Fresno State
Music City Bowl (ACC vs. SEC)
Week 12 projection: North Carolina vs. Kentucky
Amidst all the distractions and controversy, any bowl game is a good thing for the North Carolina Tar Heels.
At 6-4, they are eligible for a bowl game and could find themselves in Nashville playing Kentucky.
The Wildcats have been competitive all season long. They beat South Carolina, lost by only three to Auburn and by only seven to Mississippi State.
A matchup on the gridiron between traditional hardwood schools is intriguing.
Texas Bowl (Big Ten vs. Big 12)
Week 12 projection: Penn State vs. Baylor
Beating Texas and being ranked for the first time ever in the BCS standings are gigantic steps forward in Baylor's football program. Playing in a bowl game against an annual Big 10 title contender may be another.
This could be Joe Pa's last game on the sidelines. If he doesn't win and get carried off the field like Bobby Bowden did last year, the old man has got to come back. Go out the right way, Joe.
Winner: Penn State
Meineke Car Care Bowl (Big East vs. Acc)
Week 12 projection: West Virginia vs. Maryland
The Mountaineers are 6-3 with three games left, and if they win out, they could find themselves in a BCS game representing the Big East. They play Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Louisville. It will be some feat if they win out.
Maryland has flown under the radar a little bit this season. Its 7-3 and with a win over Florida State this week, it controls its own destiny in the ACC.
Holiday Bowl (Big 12 vs. Pac-10)
Week 12 projection: Texas A&M vs. Arizona
Upset Nebraska this week like they did Oklahoma two weeks ago, and the Aggies would drastically improve their bowl position. But for now, the Holiday Bowl is where they'll probably end up.
Arizona beat Iowa, but maybe that win was not as big a deal as it was originally perceived with Iowa losing again. The Wildcats play Oregon this week, and if they beat the Ducks, that will surely be a BIG win.
Aggies and Wildcats would be a good one.
Winner: Texas A&M
Sun Bowl (ACC vs. Pac-10)
Week 12 projection: NC State vs. Cal
California needs one more win to become bowl eligible. If they don't upset Stanford, they'll get it against Washington the last week of the season.
NC State holds the tiebreaker over Florida State in the Atlantic Division of the ACC. If the Wolf Pack win out, they'll be playing in the ACC Championship game.
Unfortunately for them, the two games remaining are on the road against North Carolina and Maryland.
Winner: NC State
Insight Bowl (Big Ten vs. Big 12)
Week 12 projection: Michigan vs. Oklahoma
What a tradition enriched game this would be. The Wolverines versus the Sooners.
Michigan has two incredibly tough games remaining on its schedule, vs. Wisconsin and at Ohio State. Without a win, the Wolverines won't improve their bowl position.
With help, Oklahoma could find its way back into the Big 12 Championship game, but as of now, it will have to settle for No. 4 in the Big 12.
Winner: Oklahoma (Michigan could put up 100 and lose, it can't stop anybody)
Alamo Bowl (Big 12 vs. Pac 10)
Week 12 projection: Stanford vs. Missouri
If the BCS Bowls decide that they want both non-AQ schools, the Cardinal could be the one to suffer. There may not be enough spots in REALLY good bowl games for REALLY good teams.
Missouri, on the hand, would probably be happy with this matchup. It would give the Tigers another chance to prove themselves after back-to-back losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech, following a huge win over Oklahoma.
Champ Sports Bowl (Big East vs. ACC)
Week 12 projection: Syracuse vs. Miami
Has there been a more disappointing team this season than the Hurricanes? This team had National Championship aspirations and Jacory Harris had Heisman hopes. Barring a total collapse by Virginia Tech, the 'Canes won't even be sniffing the ACC title.
Syracuse may be one of the biggest surprises this season. The Orange are 4-2 in the Big East with the best overall record of any Big East school at 7-3.
Chick-Fil-A Bowl (ACC vs. SEC)
Week 12 projection: Florida State vs. Mississippi State
Jimbo Fisher has done a good job in his first season after taking over for Bobby Bowden. If the Seminoles can't win the ACC and go to a BCS game, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl is a respectable place for Fisher and Florida State to be, especially after replacing a legend.
The Bulldogs, under Dan Mullen, have been a bit of a surprise this year. They currently sit at No. 5 in the SEC.
The 'Noles might want to ask their in-state rival Gators how tough the Bulldogs are this season.
Winner: Mississippi State
Outback Bowl (SEC vs. Big Ten)
Week 12 projection: South Carolina vs. Iowa
Losing to Northwestern took the Hawkeyes out of the Big Ten title race and landed them in the Outback Bowl. A loss to Ohio State could worsen their bowl position.
South Carolina clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game against Auburn by beating Florida, but if the Gamecocks don't beat Cam Newton and the Tigers, they probably won't get a marquee SEC Bowl Game. There are four teams in the West that have a better record than they do.
Winner: South Carolina
Capital One Bowl (Big Ten vs. SEC)
Week 12 projection: Michigan State vs. Alabama
A college football fan has to love the Big Ten-SEC matchups in bowl season.
Out of the title race, the Crimson Tide might face off against Nick Saban's former school, Michigan State.
Sparty should make it a close game, but in the end, the Tide will roll.
Gator Bowl (Big Ten vs. SEC)
Week 12 projection: Northwestern vs. Florida
Yet another SEC-Big Ten bowl match up.
Northwestern had a major win over Iowa last week, and Florida suffered a major loss to South Carolina. Now, they both could be headed to the Gator Bowl.
If the Wildcats were ever going to beat the Gators, this would be the year.
Cotton Bowl (SEC vs. Big 12)
Week 12 projection: Arkansas vs. Oklahoma State
The Cowboys, like Stanford, may be a victim of the not enough REALLY good bowls for REALLY good teams. The BCS may be too crowded for Oklahoma State, but the Cotton Bowl is no pushover.
Arkansas could wind up being the third or fourth best team in the SEC depending on how they finish the season. The Razorbacks finish up with Mississippi State and LSU.
Week 12 projection: Boise State vs. Wisconsin
The Badgers are ahead of the Buckeyes and the Spartans in this week's BCS standings and unless they lose, they probably won't drop below either one. The Iowa loss really hurt Ohio State's chances.
There is a weird stipulation in the BCS this year that states if the Rose Bowl loses a team to the BCS National Championship Game, the school from a non-AQ conference that qualifies for a BCS bid automatically goes to the Rose Bowl.
The ground that Boise State gained on TCU in the standings this week is pretty substantial, and with a decisive win over Nevada, the Broncos very well could pass the Horned Frogs and become that non-AQ, automatic qualifier.
Winner: Boise State
Week 12 projection: Nebraska vs. Pittsburgh
The Fiesta Bowl gets last pick of the BCS qualifying teams this year, and somebody has to take the Big East Champion.
The Big 12 Champion has ties to the Fiesta Bowl, so Nebraska would be playing the Big East Champion.
Right now, the Panthers are actually leading the Big East, although, they are currently not bowl eligible at 5-4. If they win out they'll be playing in the Fiesta Bowl in all likelihood.
Week 12 projection: TCU vs. Virgina Tech
The Orange Bowl gets the second pick of the BCS qualifying teams, and it will also feature the ACC Champion, Virginia Tech.
The fact that Boise State might jump TCU is interesting and may work out well for both schools. If TCU were to remain ahead of Boise State, and the Rose Bowl lost a team to the title game, the Horned Frogs would be going to Pasadena.
The Orange Bowl would then have the opportunity to choose Boise State as its at-large bid, but the Hokies and Broncos already played this season, and generally, the BCS bowls don't like to feature rematches. Boise State could wind up in the Humanitarian Bowl if TCU stays ahead of them.
Week 12 projection: Ohio State vs. LSU
If you're paying attention, the only two teams left are Auburn and Oregon (sorry to ruin the suspense of the next slide). That means that the Sugar Bowl, which has first pick of the at-large BCS qualifiers, gets the first two picks. Any bowl losing a team to the title game, automatically gets first dibs from the BCS qualifiers pool.
Naturally an SEC bowl, the Sugar Bowl would certainly select LSU with one loss as one of its picks. The second pick would likely be a team that would give the Tigers a good game and, maybe more importantly, travel well, really well. New Orleans is a busy, busy city.
The Ohio State Buckeyes fit that mold to a "T." Very few schools around the country travel as well as the Buckeyes do, and if Ohio State has only one loss, it's the logical choice for the Sugar Bowl.
Winner: Ohio State
BCS National Championship Game
Week 12 projection: Auburn vs. Oregon
Scandal or not, Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers will be taking on LaMichael James and the Oregon Ducks if the season ended today.
The two teams have been on the national radar all year long, and if they make it to the title game, it will be the game much of the country has been waiting to see.
Newton and Auburn's brute force against Oregon's blur offense should be a spectacular game.