College Football Bowl Projections: Will Stanford and Alabama Join the BCS Field?

Puppet MasterCorrespondent INovember 22, 2010

College Football Bowl Projections: Will Stanford and Alabama Join the BCS Field?

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 06:  Quarterback Jarrett Lee #12 of the Louisiana State University Tigers is sacked by Josh Chapman #99 of the Alabama Crimson Tide  at Tiger Stadium on November 6, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Welcome to the 12th installment of the 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 which ones are currently the most likely contenders for the contests.

    The choices presented in this series have been updated on a weekly basis during the past three months, including the results of past games as well taking into consideration 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.

    The Bleacher Report Bowl Projection Series is 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.

    Join us now for the latest journey into the Bleacher Report Bowl Projection Series.

The 10 Bowl Games Paying $750,000 or Less to Participants

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23:  Patrick Mealy #5 of the Navy Midshipmen rushes against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 23, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    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 Texas Bowl, in which the Big 10 appears unlikely to produce a candidate to face the much improved Baylor Bears of the Big 12.

    If this dilemma comes about, word may be sent to the Big East. Louisville could qualify for a postseason invitation by accumulating six victories, but it could be squeezed out of the selection process.

    The Armed Forces Bowl is slated to have a Mountain West Conference representative. The signal may go out to send in a qualified squad from West Point to face powerful Tulsa of Conference USA.

    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 former Warriors head coach June Jones, now leader of the SMU Mustangs.

    The C-USA opening in the Crescent City game could be filled by Texas El Paso, which has already qualified with six wins.

    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. UTEP

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

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

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

    No.31: Hawaii                Dec. 24  Honolulu        $750,000   CUSA, WAC      SMU 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. BC***

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

    No.27: Humanitarian        Dec. 18  Boise          $750,000    WAC, MAC        Idaho. vs. Temple

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

    The selection process is unclear concerning the Kraft Bowl, in which Nevada of the WAC is anxious to travel over to San Francisco to face a Pac-10 foe.

    This is the first year of the WAC tie-in, which had previously belonged to the ACC.

    Without an eligible Pac-10 opponent to face the Wolfpack, a return adventure to San Francisco could be offered to Boston College as a replacement selection, even though the ACC no longer has a conference contract with the bowl game.

    The Poinsettia appears set with San Diego State and Navy.

    The New Mexico Bowl has the opportunity to match Fresno State against BYU in the opening event of the postseason.

    The Humanitarian should extend an invitation to Idaho of the WAC if the Vandals can secure one more victory to reach the qualification of six wins. The MAC selection may go to the Temple Owls.

    The Little Caesar's Bowl invites the MAC champion, and that should be Northern Illinois. The apparent Big Ten opponent appears to be Northwestern, creating a Chicago-area showdown in Detroit.

    The (old GMAC bowl) needs Troy to continue to win in order to qualify as the Sun Belt entry, simply from the fan attendance angle.

    Coach Frank Solich and Ohio U. seems headed for the MAC invitation to the southern Alabama event.

    It would make for a curious circle of events for the former Nebraska Cornhusker great, who lost his final game as a player to the University of Alabama during the battle for the 1965 national championship.

No. 25: The BBVA Compass Bowl

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    COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 30:  Head coach Derek Dooley of the Tennessee Volunteers watches on against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 30, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Im
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Date: January 8, 2011

    Place: Birmingham, Alabama

    Payout: $900,000

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

    Formerly known as the Birmingham Bowl.

    Projected Matchup: Tennessee vs. Syracuse

    The BBVA Compass Bowl now has the security of a being a sponsored event.

    Tennessee is a possibility for this SEC invitation if the Volunteers can pull out a win in their final game of the regular season against Kentucky.

    With this in mind, and for the sake of local interest, let us position the Vols in this slot as the result of an upset special.

    Syracuse, one of the great comeback stories of the season, would create a big-name atmosphere with national audience appeal.

    Orange vs. Big Orange is only one sidebar to this potential contest.

No. 24: The Beef O' Brady Bowl

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    NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 21:  Head coach Larry Fedora of the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles celebrates after defeating the Troy Trojans in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on December 21, 2008 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Eagles defe
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

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

    Southern Mississippi is well known for providing solid competition on the big stage. 

    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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    BLACKSBURG, VA - SEPTEMBER 18: The East Carolina Pirates mascot performs against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Blacksburg, Virginia.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    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

    The opportunity to match these exciting offenses should not be ignored.

    The Yellow Jackets have failed to repeat as ACC champions in 2010.

    The Pirates are masters of the upset special but are very inconsistent.

    The weaknesses of each team will prevent them from climbing higher in the bowl-selection process.

No.22: The Meineke 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

    Date: December 31, 2010

    Place: Charlotte, North Carolina

    Payout: $1 Million

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

    Projected Matchup: Pittsburgh 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.

    When in doubt, call for a rematch!

    Pittsburgh has failed to live up to expectations all season. It may be just a matter of time before the Panthers' once-iron grip on the Big East BCS slot disappears.

    UNC, while still attempting to stave off the long arm of the NCAA's John Law, will be delighted to receive any postseason invitation after yet another year of inconsistent performances on the gridiron.

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

No.21: The MAACO Bowl

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    SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 20:  The Utah Utes get ready to take the field for the game with the San Diego State Aztecs at Qualcomm Stadium on November 20, 2010 in San Diego, California.  Utah won 38-34.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    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. Kansas 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 position seems likely to be unfilled, partially due to USC's probation and partially due to an injury-riddled season for West Coast schools.

    Because of the unusually-high stature of the Las Vegas event in the scope of the Mountain West Conference, a distress signal should be sent out for one of the most respected coaches and his team, Bill Snyder and his Kansas State Wildcats, to report as a replacement for the vacant Pac-10 slot.

    K-State is heading toward being squeezed out of the Big 12 selection process and possesses the ability to put on a great show in a city of high-level entertainment. 

No.20: The Independence Bowl

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    LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 18:  The Air Force Falcons mascot The Bird performs with cheerleaders during the team's game against the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium November 18, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Air Force won 35-20.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    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

    We now enter the world of bowl games paying over $1 million to the teams involved. The increased reward builds excitement and interest among the public.

    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 the 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 Shreveport gala event.

No.19: The Ticket City Bowl

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    CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 20: Mikel Leshoure #5 of the Illinois Fighting Illini runs past Bryce McNaul #51 of the Northwestern Wildcats on his way to a 339 yard rushing performance during a game played at Wrigley Field on November 20, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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: Illinois vs. Texas Tech

    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 Fighting Illini, of coach Ron Zook, offer media-market interest and the Red Raiders, of coach Tommy Tuberville, offer interest to in-state fans.

    These two teams would be delighted to play on New Year's Day in the first-ever Ticket City Bowl.

No.18: The Music City Bowl

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    COLLEGE PARK, MD - SEPTEMBER 10:  Head coach Ralph Friedgen of the Maryland Terrapins removes his headset as he watched his team loose their lead over the Clemson Tigers as the Tigers defeated the Terps 28-24 at Byrd Stadium on September 10, 2005 in Colle
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    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

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

    Maryland has the opportunity to whistle past the Meineke trip to Charlotte in order to obtain the more interesting, and profitable, invitation from Nashville to face an SEC opponent.

    An extremely interesting clash between two teams of equal size and ability.

No.17: The Liberty Bowl

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    ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 20:  Coach George O'Leary of the University of Central Florida Golden Knights directs play against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Bright House Stadium on October 20, 2007 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    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.

    This should be a fantastic matchup of skill and coaching.

    Coach George O'Leary (see picture) has his Central Florida squad in a battle for the C-USA championship.

    The Knights will be challenged by some of the better teams in the South in order to secure the C-USA title.

    That experience will help UCF in a meeting with coach Joker Phillips' Wildcats

No.16: The Sun Bowl

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    MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 9: LaRon Byrd #47 of the Miami Hurricanes runs with the ball while being chased by Nick Moody #10 of the Florida State Seminoles on October 9, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Seminoles defeated the Hurricanes 45-17. (Ph
    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    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: Miami 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 Miami should provide a high-scoring contest.

    Why should these two teams be given the opportunity to visit the Sun Bowl?

    With its high selection order, the Sun Bowl has the opportunity to secure each of these squads from the conference tie-in.

    The ACC wishes to present a quality product for its first offering under the conference contract with the Sun Bowl.

    Expect the drama and action each fan craves when the Hurricanes and Bears tangle out in the west Texas town of El Paso.

No.15: The Pinstripe Bowl

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    LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 16: Quarterback Garrett Gilbert #7 of the Texas Longhorns hand the ball to teammate running back Cody Johnson #31 during second half action of their game at Memorial Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Texas Defeated Ne
    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    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: UConn vs. Texas

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

    With Notre Dame playing as well as it has been the past two games, the Irish have their eyes on a warmer climate. How well have they played? No touchdowns allowed in the past 11 quarters.

    Provided UConn can pin down Cincinnati this week, the Huskies will cross the state line and provide a formidable opponent during the first postseason rumble in the Bronx.

    The Huskies are now performing up to the level expected prior to the season-opening loss at Michigan.

    Their opponent from the Big 12?

    This is where a little human intuition separates man from machine.

    Lets say we take the Longhorns of Texas to upset Texas A&M (sorry, Dad) this week and finish with six wins, allowing the legendary football powerhouse to visit New York City?

    Now, that's entertainment !

No.14: The Champs Sports Bowl

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    NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 20: Robert Hughes #33 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates his touchdown with teammates agianst the Army Black Knights at Yankee Stadium on November 20, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Ima
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Date: December 28, 2010

    Place: Orlando, Florida

    Payout: $2,130,000

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

    Projected Matchup: Notre Dame vs. Florida State

    Florida State has a golden opportunity to swipe the ACC championship if the Seminoles can get some help from Maryland this weekend.

    If FSU falls short, Orlando is where it will land.

    In virtually any other season, a 6-6 or 7-5 Notre Dame would have no intention of ending up with the No. 2 slot in the Big East bowl-selection procedure.

    But this is not any other season.

    A .500 Irish squad will be considered preferable to any Big East team that does not win the conference title.

    Although Notre Dame is an independent, it is eligible for the Big East bowl tie-ins as well as being the backup for the Big 12 in the Pinstripe Bowl.

    This contest has the big-name recognition every bowl wants to have.

No.13: The Holiday Bowl

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    COLUMBIA, MO - NOVEMBER 13:  Quarterback Blaine Gabbert #11 of the Missouri Tigers carries the ball into the endzone for a touchdown during the game against the Kansas State Wildcats on November 13, 2010 at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Misso
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    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. Missouri

    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 with what he has left.

    Missouri has the offense to compete with a healthy Arizona and is eager to demonstrate its all-around talent.

    Looks like these two schools will fall right in to the outstretched arms of the Holiday Bowl.

No.12: The Alamo Bowl

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    COLUMBIA, MO - OCTOBER 23: Head coach Bob Stoops of the Oklahoma Sooners looks on against the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Columbia, Missouri.  The Tigers beat the Sooners 36-27.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    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: Oklahoma vs. Stanford 

    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.

    Awaiting the Cardinal in San Antonio should be the Oklahoma Sooners.

    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 Sooners appear up to the task.

No.11: The Gator Bowl

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    COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 13:  Quarterback Matt McGloin #11 of the Penn State Nittany Lions takes the snap against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Date: January 1, 2011

    Place: Jacksonville, Florida

    Payout: $2,750,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 6 vs. Big Ten No. 4/5.

    Projected Matchup: Florida vs. Penn State

    The Gator Bowl has a new tie-in with the SEC and Big Ten.

    Audiences can be treated to the coaching spectacle of Joe Paterno vs. Urban Meyer.

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

    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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    RALEIGH, NC - OCTOBER 28:  A fan of the North Carolina State Wolfpack watches on against the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Carter-Finley Stadium on October 28, 2010 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    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: N.C. State vs. Mississippi State

    In one of the most competitive matchups of each bowl season, the always spectacular Chick-Fil-A prides itself on providing outstanding football entertainment.

    The Wolfpack has a real shot at winning the ACC this season but first must advance past Maryland and then Virginia Tech.

    Mississippi State has played well all year and has confirmed the belief the right person in the job can turn around a football program faster than having highly-recruited players.

    With the selection order in place, Miss. St. vs. N.C. State looks solid. 

No.9: The Outback Bowl

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    IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 20:  Quarterback Ricky Stanzi #12 of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes throws down field to running back Adam Robinson #32 during the second half of play against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Kinnick Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Iow
    David Purdy/Getty Images

    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, then Tampa looks to be the destination for the Gamecocks.

    Iowa had a variety of opportunities to move into the BCS conversation but has lost four games by small margins.

    Following the selection order, the Outback should end up with these two teams.

No.8: The Insight Bowl

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    COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 26:  Right tackle Lee Grimes #74 of the Texas A&M Aggies confronts defensive end Sergio Kindle #2 of the Texas Longhorns in the first half at Kyle Field on November 26, 2009 in College Station, Texas. The Longhorns defeated
    Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images

    Date: December 28, 2010

    Place: Tempe, Arizona

    Payout: $3,325,000

    Conference Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 4 vs. Big 12 No. 4/5.

    Projected Matchup: Michigan vs. Texas A&M

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

    $3,325,000 in prize money makes the Insight the third-highest-paying of all non-BCS contests.

    Chasing the big bucks in the sand will be two exciting teams—Michigan and Texas A&M. They will be chosen because of large fan bases and media interest.

    For years an afterthought, the newly-funded Insight Bowl now lets the money do the talking.

No.7: The Cotton Bowl

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    LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 13: Rex Burkhead #22 leaps over teammate Keith Williams #68 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers during their game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Memorial Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska Defeated Kansas 20-3. (Pho
    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    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. Nebraska

    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.

    The Cornhuskers could end up on the losing side of the Big 12 championship game, dropping them from the BCS to the Cotton Bowl (that's what one calls a soft landing).

    Arkansas just might end up in the BCS selection process provided the Razorbacks take down LSU this weekend.

    Stranger things have happened.

No.6: The Capital One Bowl

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    TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 13: Wide receiver Marquis Maze #4  of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes upfield against the Mississippi State Bulldogs November 13, 2010 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    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

    The Spartans are ranked lower than Wisconsin and Ohio State. If a three-way tie for first place results, the Big Ten situation could leave Michigan State outside the BCS scenario.

    The Big Ten will use the BCS rankings to determine the conference champion and Wisconsin is ranked highest in the league at this point in time.

    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. Although favored over the Tigers, the Crimson Tide appear to be Orlando-bound, win or lose.

    The pieces are in place for this match to be made using the order of selection.

No.5: The Fiesta Bowl

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    LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 20:  Running back Kendall Hunter #24 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys carries the ball during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on November 20, 2010 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Date: January 1, 2011

    Place: Glendale, Arizona

    Payout: $17 Million

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

    Projected Matchup: Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia

    The Cowboys will have to take out Oklahoma and Nebraska back-to-back in order to capture their first-ever Big 12 title.

    That is menacing enough, but Okie State has the offense to complete the sweep.

    West Virginia. Almost heaven.

    The Mountaineers fooled around most of the middle of the season but now have their eyes fixed on the prize of the Big East championship.

    Let's say West Virginia pulls out the Big East title because the players want to protect Bill Stewart from outside agitators who disagree with his coaching style and philosophy. 

No.4: The Orange Bowl

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    BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 04:  Running back David Wilson #4 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

    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, Stanford or TCU.

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

    The winner of the Big East Conference 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.

    There is talk in the Crescent City that TCU could make a more desirable opponent among BCS at-Large teams. If that is the case, Ohio State will provide the competition for the Hokies.

No.3: The Sugar Bowl

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 20:  Stevan Ridley #34 of the Louisiana State University Tigers reacts after scoring the go-ahead toucdown in the final minutes of the fourth quarter against the Ole Miss Rebels at Tiger Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Baton Rou
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    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

    This is where the battle for a BCS invitation can get unpredictable.

    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 teams.

    While undefeated TCU may well be available at this juncture, the Sugar Bowl could select a team with a more more widely-known profile and reputation than the Horned Frogs.

    That team just might be the Ohio State Buckeyes. 

    The Buckeyes and the Tigers would provide a great deal of excitement and entertainment for fans and viewers alike.

    If the Tigers slip up against Arkansas, the chances of a two-loss SEC team in the BCS could be diminished greatly.

    In that case, TCU may be selected by the Sugar Bowl as the host team to face Ohio State.

No.2: The Rose Bowl

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    MADISON, WI - OCTOBER 16: J.J. Watt #99 of the Wisconsin Badgers encourages the crowd during a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Camp Randall Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin defeated Ohio State 31-18. (Photo by Jonathan
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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

    If the Oregon Ducks are plucked for the BCS title contest, there is the opportunity to make history in the 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 that can meet the Rose Bowl requirements.

    To the Broncos' advantage, TCU is sliding backward in the polls while Boise State still has a big game at Nevada remaining on the schedule.

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

    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 Championship Game

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    BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  Darron Thomas #1 of the Oregon Ducks talks on the phone during their game against the California Golden Bears  at California Memorial Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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 that 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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    November 22 marks the 47th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy at the hands of a madman in Dallas, Texas.

    President Kennedy (pictured, with First Lady) was quite an athlete as a young man and never lost his love for football, specifically college football.

    Somehow, there is just a feeling he would approve of the developments in the game and the effort to determine a champion. 

    Many thanks to Carl Stine, Tim Croley, Dan Boone, Brandon Hamblen, Kevin McGrady, Alex Balderee, Tom Ormbrek, Alabama Voodoo, Donny Pennington, Richard Steffens, Ken Hammerick, Dave Gross, Bronco Dad, Brad Howard, Gregory Thimmig, Zodiac and so many others for taking the time to provide insight into specific bowl games for our Bleacher Report series.

    Because of input from the readers, the Bleacher Report Bowl 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. Auburn

    Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Stanford 

    Sugar Bowl: TCU vs. Boise State

    Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Michigan State

    Fiesta Bowl: Nebraska vs. Pittsburgh

    Capital One Bowl: Alabama vs. Ohio State

    Cotton Bowl: LSU vs. Oklahoma State