College football bowl season is rapidly closing in on us and the projections for who will play in what bowl are as rampant as they've ever been.
So much depends on the outcome of this week's final regular season and conference championship games. Unless chaos ensues this weekend, we have a pretty good idea of how the BCS bowls will take shape—once those are set, the other 33 bowls should fall into place.
Every year around this time, the winners and losers can be found not just by looking at the scoreboard but by evaluating which teams overachieved and got to a better bowl game than projected (and conversely which ones got snubbed), which coaches made a national name for themselves, and players that hurt or drastically improved their Heisman or NFL Draft stock for the following year.
Remember when Boise State made itself a national media darling with its upset of Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl?
Or Brian Kelly parlaying a successful Sugar Bowl run with the Cincinnati Bearcats into the head coaching job at Notre Dame?
And who could forget JaMarcus Russell's dominant play against Brady Quinn in the Sugar Bowl that ultimately led to the former getting selected with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft?
This year's crop of bowl games will go much farther than simply ending the season on a positive note or garnering some bragging rights. So who will be the biggest winners and losers of college football's postseason in 2010-11? Let's run through a few candidates...