College Football Bowl Projections for Week 11: A Fresh Look at Oregon and TCU

Puppet MasterCorrespondent INovember 15, 2010

College Football Bowl Projections for Week 11: A Fresh Look at Oregon and TCU

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    Welcome to the 11th installment of the weekly Bleacher Report Bowl Projection series.

    In the following pages, readers will find a projection of participants in all 35 postseason college bowl games.

    Summary and analysis are presented for each event, detailing how the teams will be chosen and who are currently the most likely contenders for the contests.

    The choices presented in this Bleacher Report series are updated on a weekly basis. They include the outcome of past games as well as the upcoming schedule.

    The order of bowl presentation in this article reflects the amount of money paid to schools for playing in the event. This will prevent any false emphasis on a contest due simply to what day the game is played.

    Reader participation is strongly encouraged; please feel free to leave comments regarding your impression of the matchups as well as your own bowl projections. This allows the weekly predictions to be a combination of the readers' suggestions and the writer's opinion. 

    Information concerning conference affiliations to specific bowl games is part of each breakdown. In order to project a specific team for a bowl game, simply follow the conference tie-ins for the postseason contest.

    The past weekend brought a fresh perspective on determining who are the strongest teams in the nation and which teams have depended upon weak schedules to qualify for a BCS bowl.

    The view from Eugene, Oregon, and Fort Worth, Texas, has been consistent all season regarding their hometown teams. Followers have maintained they cannot be beaten.

    Saturday gave observers on the outside reason to doubt if the Ducks and Frogs are actually unbeatable.

    The Ducks' two point victory over a California team that was slaughtered by Nevada certainly gives one reason for pause.

    TCU stumbled out of the gate against San Diego State and finished poorly, leaving much concern over the Horned Frogs' ability to compete week in and week out against upper-level competition.

    It is conceivable the results of Oregon and TCU this season have been enhanced by audiences who wish to see a new group of teams competing for the BCS title.

    Let us hope a more sinister motive does not lurk in the shadows: one born of envy with the desire only to end the monopoly of SEC schools winning every BCS title game since the 2006 season.

10 Bowl Games Paying $750,000 or Less to Particpants

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    We begin the process by turning to the 10 lowest-paying bowls.

    Because some conferences will not produce enough teams to be available for selection, several tie-ins may need to be filled with qualifying schools from other leagues.

    An example would be the New Mexico Bowl, where the WAC is not likely to produce a candidate to face a fast-closing BYU team. That void could be filled by Iowa State of the Big 12.

    The Texas Bowl could face the prospect of not having an available Big Ten contestant. If this is the case, word may be sent to the Big East, where media-friendly UConn may be squeezed out of the conference selection process.

    The Armed Forces Bowl is slated to have a Mountain West Conference representative as well. The word may go out to send in a qualified squad from West Point to face the local Mustangs of SMU.

    The New Orleans Bowl features the Sun Belt champion against a Conference USA representative. The Florida International Panthers appear to be in the best position to capture the Sun Belt title.

    In the C-USA pecking order, the Hawaii Bowl has a high priority and could choose powerful Tulsa, leaving Houston to make the trip over to the Crescent City.

    There is a chance the Cougars will not qualify for a bowl, as they have yet to post their sixth win of the season.

    If this happens, the word can be sent across state to the already qualified UTEP to move into the New Orleans Bowl.

     

    Bowl  Name                  Date        Venue              Payout       Conf. Tie-Ins       Projected Matchup

    No.35: New Orleans       Dec. 18  New Orleans $325,000   Sun Belt, CUSA  Fla. Int'l vs. Houston

    No.34: Texas                 Dec. 29  Houston        $612,500   Big Ten, Big 12   UConn* vs. Texas Tech

    No.33: New Mexico        Dec. 18  Albuquerque  $750,000   MWC, WAC       BYU vs. Iowa State**

    No.32: Armed Forces     Dec. 30  Dallas           $750,000   CUSA, MWC      SMU vs. Army***

    No.31: Hawaii                Dec. 24  Honolulu        $750,000   CUSA, WAC      Tulsa vs. Hawaii

    No.30: Poinsettia           Dec. 23  San Diego     $750,000   MWC, Navy        San Diego St. vs. Navy

    No.29: Kraft                    Jan. 9   San Fran.      $750,000    WAC, Pac-10     Nevada vs. UCLA

    No.28: GoDaddy.Com     Jan. 6    Mobile          $750,000    MAC, Sun Belt   Temple vs. Troy

    No.27: Humanitarian        Dec. 18  Boise          $750,000    WAC, MAC        Fresno St.. vs. Ohio U.

    No.26: Little Caesars       Dec. 26  Detroit         $750,000   MAC, Big Ten     N. Illinois vs. Illinois

     

    The selection process is more clear in the Kraft Bowl, where Nevada of the WAC is anxious to travel over to San Francisco to face a Pac-10 foe. With a late upswing in performance, the UCLA Bruins may be in position to provide the competition.

    The Poinsettia appears set with San Diego State and Navy.

    The Humanitarian should extend an invitation to Fresno State to represent the WAC, as they are very familiar with the circumstances in Boise after making the journey to face the hometown Broncos every other season.

    The MAC selection for the Humanitarian appears to be the Ohio Bobcats of coach Frank Solich.

    The Little Caesar's Bowl invites the MAC champion, and that should be Northern Illinois. The apparent Big Ten opponent may produce the usually dreaded rematch but, that is not necessarily the case here.

    Illinois will face Northern Illinois according to the conference selection order. UNI will gleefully seek the rematch, while Illini coach Ron Zook may need another local victory to put some ice on the hot seat he is occupying once again.

    The GoDaddy.Com (old GMAC bowl) needs Troy to continue to win in order to qualify as the Sun Belt entry.

    The Temple Owls will head to the GoDaddy.Com if they do not end up in the Little Caesar's Bowl.

No. 25: The BBVA Compass Bowl

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    Date: January 8, 2011

    Place: Birmingham, Alabama

    Payout: $900,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 8 vs. Big East No. 7 

    Note: Banking giant BBVA Compass announced on November 4, 2010, it will become the title sponsor of the Birmingham Bowl.

    Projected Matchup: *Boston College vs. Louisville

    The good news for the BBVA Compass Bowl is they now have a sponsor.

    The bad news is no SEC team is likely to be available.

    Tennessee is a possibility. A distant possibility.

    So at this time, we should move on and find an adequate replacement.

    The Sun Belt is the backup conference for this bowl, and they could be extended beyond the limit to provide a a qualified representative.

    The ACC has provided a backup in the past for this event, and the ancient rival of the SEC may be asked once again by their sister conference to offer a solution for the SEC's dilemma.

    Boston College could reach six wins, and if the Eagles can pull that off, they should be invited to face Louisville of the Big East Conference.

     

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No. 24: The Beef O' Brady Bowl

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    Date: December 21, 2010

    Place: St. Petersburg, Florida

    Payout: $1 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: Big East No. 6 vs. Conference USA No. 4

    Note: Formerly known as the St. Petersburg Bowl.

    Projected Matchup: South Florida vs. Southern Mississippi

    Coach Skip Holtz is working wonders at South Florida.

    The Bulls are performing extremely well despite having tremendous distances to travel in the Big East Conference.

    Southern Mississippi is well known for providing stiff competition for anyone. 

    Due to the circumstances of travel, bowl availability and selection position inside the two conferences, this one has a real possibility of happening.

No. 23: The Military Bowl

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    Date: December 29, 2010

    Place: Washington, D.C.

    Payout: $1 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: ACC No. 8 vs. CUSA No. 6

    Note: Formerly known as the Eagle Bank Bowl.

    Projected Matchup: Georgia Tech vs. East Carolina

    Here are two of the most inconsistent teams in the nation.

    The opportunity to match these two mad-cap squads should not be ignored.

    It's a short flight from Atlanta, and close enough to the Pirate home base for fans of these two institutions to come out in record numbers.

No. 22: The Meineke Bowl

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    Date: December 31, 2010

    Place: Charlotte, North Carolina

    Payout: $1 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: Big East No. 3 vs. ACC No. 5

    Projected Matchup: West Virginia vs. UNC 

    With the arrival of the dynamic new Pinstripe Bowl in New York City, and the possibility of USF staying in St. Petersburg, the field narrows concerning available Big East participants for the Meineke Bowl.

    West Virginia is hoping to finish strong for Coach Bill Stewart.

    UNC, while still attempting to stave off the long arm of the NCAA's John Law, looks to be the most reasonable choice from the ACC.

    In this rematch of a previous Meienke Bowl, the prospect of ticket sales will be the major factor. 

No. 21: The MAACO Bowl

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    Date: December 22, 2010

    Place: Las Vegas, Nevada

    Payout: $1 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: Mountain West No. 1 vs. Pac-10 No. 5

    Projected Matchup: Utah vs. Oregon State

    Utah has the opportunity to finish the season strong and qualify for the top bowl destination available to the Mountain West—the MAACO Bowl.

    The Pac-10 opponent could be Oregon State based on recent events.

    The Beavers are a rugged bunch, however, they have suffered various injuries that have resulted in a free-fall in conference standings.

    This will be a preview of future Pac-10 rivals, as the Utes join the conference next season. 

No. 20: The Independence Bowl

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    Date: December 27, 2010

    Place: Shreveport, Louisiana

    Payout: $1.1 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: Mountain West No. 3 vs. ACC No. 7

    Projected Matchup: Air Force vs. Clemson

    Air Force has suffered setbacks only to top-of-the-line opponents this season.

    The Clemson fan base travels well to bowl locations and will support their exciting and talented Tiger football team.

    Since the ACC and Mountain West have a new contract with the Independence Bowl, they each want to present well-known and exciting teams.

    This seems to be a good offering for the folks in Shreveport.

No. 19: The Ticket City Bowl

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    Date: January 1, 2011

    Place: Dallas, Texas

    Payout: $1.2 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 7 vs. Big 12 No. 8

    Note: Formerly known as the Dallas Football Classic.

    Projected Matchup: Northwestern vs. Baylor

    In this inaugural bowl game, played at the site of the Cotton Bowl Stadium, local fans would welcome these two schools as the projected contestants.

    The Wildcats are very well coached and offer an exciting brand of Big Ten football.

    Baylor has come back this season to prove they still play rugged football in Waco.

    These two teams fit in the first-ever Ticket City Bowl.

No. 18: The Music City Bowl

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    Date: December 30, 2010

    Place: Nashville, Tennessee

    Payout: $1.6 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 7 vs. ACC No. 6

    Projected Matchup: Georgia vs. Maryland

    Another fascinating SEC vs. ACC bowl matchup.

    The Bulldogs of Athens have an opportunity to secure a position in the Music City Bowl with a season-ending victory over Georgia Tech.

    The Terrapins are in the battle for the ACC championship. If they do not end up in Florida or Atlanta, Nashville is an exciting place to spend the postseason.

No. 17: The Liberty Bowl

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    Date: December 31, 2010

    Place: Memphis, Tennessee

    Payout: $1.7 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: Conference USA No. 1 vs. SEC No. 8

    Projected Matchup: Central Florida vs. Kentucky

    The Wildcats from Kentucky have an opportunity to secure a position in the legendary Liberty Bowl opposite the Conference USA champion.

    Central Florida is in a battle for the C-USA championship.

    With continued hard work, the Knights should be able to secure a bid to face coach Joker Phillips' Wildcats.

No.16: The Sun Bowl

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    Date: December 31, 2010

    Place: El Paso, Texas

    Payout: $1.9 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: ACC No. 4 vs. Pac-10 No. 4

    Projected Matchup: NC State vs. California

    The new contract between the ACC and the Sun Bowl will present a stage for continued football excitement in the city of the Sun Carnival.

    For over 75 years, the venerable old Sun Bowl has been providing unforgettable entertainment, and a matchup between California and NC State should provide a high-scoring contest.

    With its high selection order, the Sun Bowl has the opportunity to secure each of these squads.

No. 15: The Pinstripe Bowl

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    Date: December 30, 2010

    Place: New York City, New York

    Payout: $2 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: Big East No. 4 vs. Big 12 No. 7

    Projected Matchup: Notre Dame vs. Kansas State

    In the inaugural Yankee Stadium bowl game, football fans throughout the Big Apple called for Notre Dame to be invited.

    The Irish could come as a Big East representative or as the backup team for the Big 12.

    With the Irish upset of Utah last week, Notre Dame needs only one victory to qualify for the postseason.

    Kansas State has put together a fine season and will make a formidable opponent during the rumble in the Bronx. The Wildcats are led by the outstanding veteran coach Bill Snyder.

    This contest is exactly what Big Apple boosters were hoping for when they formed the committee to set up this bowl game.

The Champs Sports Bowl

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    Date: December 28, 2010

    Place: Orlando, Florida

    Payout: $2,130,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: Big East No. 2 vs. ACC No. 3

    Projected Matchup: Syracuse vs. Florida State

    The glorious history of Orange football has been reborn in the year 2010.

    With a break here or there, Syracuse may end up in a BCS bowl.

    Florida State has a golden opportunity to swipe the ACC championship. If the Seminoles fall short, Orlando is where they will land.

No. 13: The Holiday Bowl

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    Date: December 30, 2010

    Place: San Diego, California

    Payout: $2.2 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: Pac-10 No. 3 vs. Big 12 No. 5

    Projected Matchup: Arizona vs. Oklahoma

    Battle of the Stoops brothers.

    Arizona was a legitimate threat to win the Pac-10, but a series of injuries have left the Wildcats limping into the bowl season.

    Wildcat coach Mike Stoops has done his best to compete with his walking wounded.

    Oklahoma is very young, but coach Bob Stoops is known to demand excellence and intensity from his teams.

    The Sooners look unable to stop Oklahoma State, leaving OU out of the running for the Big 12 conference title.

    A trip to the Holiday Bowl appears to be the correct destination for these two schools.

No. 12: The Alamo Bowl

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    Date: December 29, 2010

    Place: San Antonio, Texas

    Payout: $2,225,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: Big 12 No. 3 vs. Pac-10 No. 2

    Projected Matchup: Stanford vs. Missouri

    The new Alamo contract calls for the San Antonio event  to have the No.2 choice among PAC 10 teams.

    With Oregon the likely champion of the PAC 10, Stanford becomes the obvious No.2 choice among conference schools available this season.

    The Cardinal have a possibility of receiving a BCS invitation. If that is not forthcoming, then a visit to the city of San Antonio is a wonderful alternative.

    Awaiting the Cardinal should be Missouri.

    The Big 12 will be interested in sending quality competition to combat an opponent as powerful as Stanford to avoid a league mismatch embarrassment.

    The Tigers would appear to be up to the task and available at this point. 

No. 11: The Gator Bowl

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    Date: January 1, 2011

    Place: Jacksonville, Florida

    Payout: $2,750,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 6 vs. Big Ten No. 4

    Projected Matchup: Florida vs. Penn State

    The Gator Bowl has a new tie-in with the SEC and Big Ten, so there is no reason audiences cannot be treated to the coaching spectacle of Joe Paterno vs. Urban Meyer.

    This clash will sell out the Gator Bowl and attract national attention.

    It was the Gator Bowl where coach Paterno took his first postseason squad in 1967.

    The Gators, having been swamped at home by coach Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks, are in the unfamiliar situation of having lost a number of contests this year.

    With a journey to the Gator Bowl, Florida should be in comfortable surroundings. 

    Using the conference selection order as our guide, there is no reason this match cannot be made.

No. 10: The Chick-Fil-A Bowl

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    Date: December 31, 2010

    Place: Atlanta, Georgia

    Payout: $3.25 Million to ACC, $2.4 Million to SEC

    Conference Tie-Ins: ACC No. 2 vs. SEC No. 5

    Projected Matchup: Miami vs. Mississippi State

    In one of the most competitive matchups of each bowl season, the always spectacular Chick-Fil-A prides itself on delivering the goods to players, fans and viewers.

    The Hurricanes had a real shot at winning the ACC this season, but for one reason or another it seems just out of reach.

    The maroon Bulldogs from Starkville have staked their claim for a top bowl in the SEC pecking order.

    Miami may eschew the Champs Sports Bowl this season after being clobbered there by Wisconsin in 2009.

    If Mississippi State is the competition in this Atlanta house of thrills, "the U" will find the going just as tough. 

No. 9: The Outback Bowl

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    Date: January 1, 2011

    Place: Tampa, Florida

    Payout: $3,100,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 4 vs. Big Ten No.3

    Projected Matchup: South Carolina vs. Iowa

    If South Carolina is unable to defeat Auburn in the SEC title game (Carolina had a 20-7 lead at Auburn earlier this season) then Tampa looks to be the destination for the Gamecocks.

    Iowa had a variety of opportunities to move into the BCS conversation but has been unpredictable.

    This one looks like a natural clash of heavyweights from the SEC and Big Ten.

No. 8: The Insight Bowl

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    Date: December 28, 2010

    Place: Tempe, Arizona

    Payout: $3,325,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 4 vs. Big 12 No. 4

    Projected Matchup: Michigan vs. Texas A&M

    There is big money to be made in the desert with the new bankroll ESPN gave the Insight Bowl.

    $3,325,000 is enough to turn any athletic director's head, making the Insight the third-highest-paying non-BCS contest.

    Chasing the big bucks in the sand will be two exciting teams—Michigan and Texas A&M. They'll be chosen because neither is going to win their conference, yet both will bring a large traveling fan base and plenty of media interest.

No. 7: The Cotton Bowl

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    Date: January 7, 2011

    Place: Arlington, Texas

    Payout: $3,575,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 3 vs. Big 12 No. 2

    Projected Matchup: Arkansas vs. Oklahoma State

    Oklahoma State has one of the most powerful offenses in the country.

    The Cowboys appear too strong for anyone in the Big 12 South, and are likely headed for a rematch with Nebraska for the Big 12 title.

    Arkansas has a high-octane offense, one that can stand up to the scoring machine out of Stillwater.

    The great Cotton Bowl will be played on the first Friday night of 2011 and is the only college football game played on that date.

    There is every reason for the Razorbacks and Cowboys to be selected by the Cotton Bowl.

No. 6: The Capital One Bowl

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    Date: January 1, 2011

    Place: Orlando, Florida

    Payout: $4.25 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 2 vs. Big Ten No. 2

    Projected Matchup: Alabama vs. Michigan State

    Unless Ohio State tumbles at Iowa, the Buckeyes should obtain a BCS invitation. This situation could leave Michigan State outside the BCS scenario.

    Michigan State may not end the regular season in the position the Spartans desire, but they still qualify for the highest-paying non-BCS bowl game.

    Alabama has already lost twice and still has to face Auburn. The Crimson Tide appear to be Orlando-bound.

    The pieces are in place for this match to be made.

No. 5: The Fiesta Bowl

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    Date: January 1,2011

    Place: Glendale, Arizona

    Payout: $17 Million

    Conference Tie-In: Big 12 No.1 vs. BCS At-Large Selection

    Projected Matchup: Nebraska vs. Pittsburgh

    Nebraska handed Oklahoma State, Missouri and Kansas State their first losses this season.

    The powerful Cornhuskers are headed for the Big 12 title in their final year of membership.

    The Big Red are young but have great talent, are well balanced, and possess fine coaching. 

    If the bowl selections mirror what we have offered in this article, there is only one possible opponent for Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl: the Big East Conference Champion.

    At this time, Pittsburgh is first among equals.

No. 4: The Orange Bowl

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    Date: January 3, 2011

    Place: Miami, Florida

    Payout: $17 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: ACC No.1 vs. BCS At-Large Selection

    Projected Matchup: Virginia Tech vs. Texas Christian University

    If  Virginia Tech runs the table and wins the ACC it will automatically receive an invitation to the Orange Bowl due to the conference tie-in.

    The Orange will then be left with the option of taking the Big East champion (likely Pitt), Stanford or TCU.

    Stanford provides little in the way of national exposure or following. The fact the Cardinal are a continent away does not work in their favor.

    As winner of the Big East Conference, Pittsburgh would provide an unspectacular opponent in the Orange Bowl.

    Because of these circumstances, this is where TCU will find a home in the BCS selection process.

    This confrontation immediately improves the attractiveness of the Orange Bowl this season.

No. 3: The Sugar Bowl

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    Date: January 4, 2011

    Place: New Orleans, Louisiana

    Payout: $17 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 1 vs. BCS At-Large Selection

    Projected Matchup: LSU vs. Ohio State

    LSU should be the choice as an at-large entry for the Sugar Bowl, provided Auburn is selected for the BCS title game. The Sugar will take the Tigers to replace their SEC tie-in champion.

    The picking order will allow for the Sugar Bowl to make an at-large selection from qualified and available teams.

    While undefeated TCU may well be available at this juncture, the Sugar Bowl has recently had a run of competitive squads without massive media and fan support.

    What Crescent City football fans will lobby for this year is an attractive candidate to be selected with a fantastic traveling fan base and huge media following.

    That candidate is the Ohio State Buckeyes. 

    The Buckeyes and the Tigers would meet every requirement to be chosen for the Sugar Bowl.

No. 2: The Rose Bowl

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    Date: January 1, 2011

    Place: Pasadena, California

    Payout: $17 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 1 vs. Pac-10 No. 1* (see explanation below)

    Projected Matchup: Wisconsin vs. Boise State

    With Oregon as the likely Pac-10 champion, if the Ducks are plucked for the BCS title contest there is the opportunity to make history in Rose Bowl.

    A new rule concerning the Rose Bowl allows the Pasadena committee to select a high-ranking team from a non-BCS conference provided it meets certain poll criteria.

    The rule may come into play this season as TCU and Boise State are highly ranked teams who can meet the Rose Bowl requirements.

    To the Broncos' advantage, TCU is sliding backward in the polls while Boise State still has big games with Nevada and Fresno State remaining on the schedule.

    If Boise State remains unbeaten, and continues their upward movement among voters, they will be chosen to play in the Rose Bowl over TCU.

    With Wisconsin being the highest-ranked Big Ten squad, the Badgers seem to be the front-runner for the Big Ten invitation.

No. 1: The BCS Title Game

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    Date: January 10, 2011

    Place: Glendale, Arizona

    Payout: $17 Million

    Conference Tie-Ins: None, BCS Final Regular Season Poll No. 1 vs.No. 2

    Projected Matchup: Auburn vs. Oregon

    With these two squads currently sitting in the top two positions in the BCS poll, they should be  projected as the teams who will be invited to play for the national title until circumstances dictate otherwise.

The Cool Down Lap: The Readers Take Over

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    Many thanks to Carl Stine, Tim Croley, Dan Boone, Brandon Hamblen, Kevin McGrady, Alex Balderee, Tom Ormbrek, Alabama Voodoo, Ravenous Ute, Luke McConnell, Casey Robbins, Terry Alstedt, Donny Pennington, Zodiac, and many others for taking the time to provide insight into specific bowl games.

    Because of input from the readers, the Bleacher Report weekly projection series has become a source of information and entertainment for sports fans.

    The regional advice provided by readers is what has made this weekly series so consistent in projecting where the teams will receive bowl invitations.

    As we do each week, a tally of the "Big Seven" bowl games is in order. The comments of readers from last week's article reveals a consensus of the following:

     

    BCS National Championship Game: Oregon vs. TCU 

    Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Stanford 

    Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs. Michigan State

    Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Pittsburgh

    Fiesta Bowl: Nebraska vs. Boise State

    Capital One Bowl: Alabama vs. Wisconsin

    Cotton Bowl: LSU vs. Oklahoma State

    If two or more teams from non-automatic qualifier (non-BCS) conferences satisfy the provisions for an automatic berth, then the team with the highest finish in the final BCS standings will receive the automatic berth, and the remaining team will be considered for at-large selection if it meets the criteria.