College Bowl Projections: Which Teams Could Pull the Biggest Bowl Upsets?

Pat Mixon@patmixonSenior Analyst INovember 29, 2010

College Bowl Projections: Which Teams Could Pull the Biggest Bowl Upsets?

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    BCS Bowl Projections are flying as fans speculate where their teams may be playing.

    So, with a big weekend of games behind us in college football and one week left before the final BCS rankings, let’s look at the projected college bowl matchups if the season ended today. Based on this week’s BCS, I’ll predict not only each bowl matchup and the projected winner, but how I think it will go. 

    And, don’t think it will go as you plan. There are some wild cards, diamonds in the rough, and underestimated teams lurking to pull off some major upsets. Just because teams come from great conferences doesn’t guarantee a bowl victory. Neither does a high ranking or reputation. 

    So, here are the top eight college bowl games and which teams could pull the biggest upsets.

Cotton Bowl, Irving, Texas, Jan. 7: Texas A&M vs. LSU

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Cotton Bowl, Big 12 No. 2 vs. SEC No. 3/4, Irving, Texas, Jan. 7 


    Predicted Pairing: Texas A&M vs. LSU


    How it Will Go:

    Texas A&M will have a serious home-field advantage with this bowl game being played in Cowboys Stadium. And, while it appears that the Aggies will pull off the upset of a strong SEC school, it won’t happen. It could, but it won’t.

    The LSU Tigers have too much big-game experience and an explosive offense. The loss to Arkansas notwithstanding, LSU will be prepared on both sides of the ball. This one will be a LSU win by more than 10 points.

Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 1: Penn State Vs. Florida

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    Gator Bowl, Big Ten No. 4/5 vs. SEC No. 6, Jacksonville, Jan. 1 


    Predicted Pairing: Penn State vs. Florida


    How it Will Go:

    Florida will have the home-field advantage in this one. I mean, the Florida Gators will play in the Gator Bowl. Is that even fair? 

    Well, Penn State won’t think so. But, they’ll overcome the lopsided disadvantage. After a terribly close loss at home to Michigan State 28-22 this past weekend, look for the Nittany Lions' to rebound in the bowl game.

    They will pull off the upset versus Florida. Penn State is a quality team, battle tested and has one last advantage: Joe Paterno. Don’t count him out or the motivating effect he’ll have on his players to win what could be his last bowl game.

Capital One Bowl, Orlando, Fla., Jan. 1: Michigan State Vs. Alabama

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Capital One Bowl, SEC No. 2  vs. Big Ten No. 2, Orlando, Jan. 1 


    Predicted Pairing: Michigan State vs. Alabama


    How it Will Go:

    This will be an upset by Michigan State, if you can call this quality Big Ten school an underdog. But against a powerful SEC opponent, everyone will count the Spartans out. You shouldn’t.

    'Bama is suspect on both sides of the ball, and while they have had high points and some almosts (i.e.. Auburn), the Tide can be rolled. This isn’t the same team as last year’s championship squad.

    And, Michigan State shared the Big Ten title this year based on the big win against Penn State. They hadn’t ever beaten Joe Paterno on his home turf. The Spartans can play under the most hostile conditions.

    Expect this to be a close game with Michigan State holding on by less than a TD.

Allstate Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, La., Jan. 4: Arkansas Vs. Ohio State

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Allstate Sugar Bowl, BCS vs. BCS, New Orleans, Louisiana, Jan. 4


    Predicted Pairing: Arkansas v. Ohio State


    How it Will Go:

    Look for Arkansas to upset the powerhouse Buckeyes down in the Sugar Bowl. Arkansas is hot and playing on near-home turf, down in the New Orleans Superdome.

    And, has Ohio State ever played well in the Bayou? 

    Won’t happen this year, either. Arkansas will pound Ohio State. While the Razorbacks will be making their first appearance in a BCS bowl since the system was created, they will shake off any jitters and beat Ohio State.

    That’s because Arkansas is a seasoned team, carved by battle in the SEC. The win last week over LSU showed this team’s true essence. Expect another Razorback upset.

Discover Orange Bowl, Miami, Fla., Jan. 3: Connecticut Vs. Virginia Tech

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    Discover Orange, BCS vs. BCS, Miami, Sun Life Stadium, Jan. 3


    Predicted Pairing: Connecticut vs. Virginia Tech


    How it Will Go:

    UConn looked like its season was over after its dismantling mid-season at the hands of Louisville, 27-0.

    But this Big East team turned things around and got hot, winning four in a row. Now, the Huskies are in the driver’s seat to take the Big East title and guarantee themselves a spot in a BCS bowl. They will.

    And, they’ll pull another turnaround out of their hat and beat Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. No team outside of Auburn is overrated like Virginia Tech. The ACC conference winner is on a 10-game win streak but it will end in Miami on January 3rd. Look for one of the biggest upsets of the bowl season to occur here.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz., Jan. 1: Stanford vs. Oklahoma

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    Tostitos Fiesta, BCS vs. BCS, Glendale, Ariz., Jan. 1


    Predicted Pairing: Stanford vs. Oklahoma


    This week, Stanford moved up to No. 4 in the BCS and if they remain in this spot (the Cardinal is done playing this year), Stanford is guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl game.

    I predict they’ll play Wisconsin, who moved up to No. 5 in the BCS, ahead of Ohio State at No. 6. If these teams remain in the same spots next week, the Badgers will receive the Big Ten’s automatic bid to the BCS by virtue of a league tiebreaker over both Ohio State and Michigan State.

    While Oklahoma made a late-season push, it won’t matter because they don’t have Luck on their side. While Stanford beating Oklahoma might not be considered a massive upset, most of the nation still expects the Sooners to win the Fiesta Bowl.

    Not going to happen.

    That’s because Stanford operates a pro-style offense with the best quarterback in the nation behind center. QB Andrew Luck will be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft. And, he’ll show Oklahoma why.

    This will be a blowout, with Stanford winning by more than 10.

Rose Bowl Game, Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 1: TCU vs. Wisconsin

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    George Frey/Getty Images

    Rose Bowl Game, BCS vs. BCS, Pasadena, Calif.,Rose Bowl Stadium, Jan. 1

    Predicted Pairing: TCU vs. Wisconsin. 


    How it Will Go:

    Unless something weird happens, this will the matchup in the Grandaddy of Them All. And, guess what, TCU will pull off the biggest upset of the bowl series, but only if starting QB Andy Dalton can come back from the elbow injury he sustained during the win against New Mexico this past week. Expect him to be fine by New Year’s Day. 

    Sure, Wisconsin got hot to end the season and surpassed both Ohio State and Michigan State to take the Big Ten crown, but it won’t matter. That’s because the independent (until they join the Big East after 2011-12 season) TCU is a powerhouse and underrated.

    This will be a high-scoring affair but TCU will pull off the upset.

Tostitos BCS National Championship Game, Glendale, AZ, Jan. 10: Oregon v. Auburn

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    Tostitos BCS National Championship Game, BCS No. 1 vs. BCS No. 2, Glendale, Ariz., Jan. 10


    Predicted Pairing: Oregon vs. Auburn. 


    How it will Go:

    Watch out SEC!

    While it might not be considered a true upset, Oregon will beat Auburn to take the national title. That is a surprise because the Ducks have been discounted all year, not coming from the strongest conference in the country.

    But while it is true the SEC remains at the top of conference power, Oregon is a real team, on both sides of the ball.

    Unless either Oregon or Auburn lose next week, this will be the BCS title game. Auburn getting into the title game will run the SEC’s streak to five straight National Championship Game appearances.

    But the title run will end this year. Not only will Auburn have to deal with the constant distractions off the field with whether starting QB Cam Newton did or didn’t take money before arriving at Auburn, Oregon will give the Tigers more than they can handle on the field, as well.

    Don’t expect a blowout, and seriously—Oregon will beat Auburn by more than a touchdown.