BCS Bowl Projections Week 15: Which Teams Play In Top 10 Bowl Games?

Nathaniel UyFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2010

BCS Bowl Projections Week 15: Which Teams Play In Top 10 Bowl Games?

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    Now that some Saturday football games are underway, we're starting to get a much better idea of which teams are looking like a lock for some of the most important Bowl games this season.

    As of this afternoon, the Tigers are making it look easy against the Gamecocks for the SEC title, while the Oregon Ducks have locked up the Pac-10 crown.  It's almost official that the Tigers and the Ducks are going to play for the national title. 

    But, where else will everyone play?  Let's take a look and see!

10. Gator Bowl: Penn State Vs. Florida

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    Projection: Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Florida Gators

    In an ideal scenario, Joe Paterno will head down to Florida for the Gator Bowl and call it a career; but that's never going to happen.  JoePa will probably keep coaching into his 90's.

    So much for the draw of seeing Paterno's last game as a head coach.

    The Gators and the Nittany Lions are both going through a rebuilding season, which makes this possible matchup pretty evenly matched.

    Both teams started the year in the nation's Top 25 and have since fallen out.  Each team has had to deal with ineffective play from their starting quarterbacks and have struggled at times to keep up with ranked teams.

    A bowl game win will give the winning team something to build upon in the offseason.

    Prediction: Florida 27, Penn State 21

9. Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Florida State Vs. Mississippi State

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    Projection: Florida State Seminoles vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs

    This bowl bid goes to the number two team out of the ACC.  Barring an upset, Virginia Tech should walk away with the ACC title and will be headed to the Orange Bowl.

    Who will go up against them?  An SEC team most likely to be Mississippi State.

    The Bulldogs are 8-4 this season with all four of their losses coming against top-ranked teams in-conference.

    Mississippi State's only win against a ranked team this year came when they defeated the Florida Gators, 10-7—who were ranked No. 22 on the AP poll at the time they faced them.

    Interestingly, it was the same Gators team that the Seminoles demolished 31-7, on November 27.

    Prediction: Florida State 24, Mississippi State 20

8. Outback Bowl: Iowa Vs. South Carolina

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    Projection: Iowa Hawkeyes vs. South Carolina Gamecocks

    The Big Ten's Iowa Hawkeyes will likely be the next Big Ten team left available once co-champions Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin all get their BCS invitations. 

    OSU and Wisconsin are both projected to make BCS bowl appearances, while the Spartans will likely get snatched up for the Capital One Bowl.

    After showing a lot of early season promise, the Hawkeyes have sputtered in the second half of the season and have dropped their last three games.  They'll need to rely on their top-ranked defense to stand a chance.

    South Carolina has just been dismantled by Auburn during the SEC title game and will look to regroup against Iowa.  They've been somewhat inconsistent this year, looking great at times during their takedown of defending national champs Alabama, and have also looked horrible in their loss against unranked Kentucky and in their most recent game against Auburn.

    Prediction: South Carolina 17, Iowa 13

7. Cotton Bowl: LSU Vs. Texas A&M

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    Projection: Texas A&M Aggies vs. LSU Tigers

    The Tigers were probably Sugar Bowl bound until the Razorbacks swooped right in and took it away from them when they defeated them last weekend.

    Now that the Texas A&M Aggies have been knocked out of contention for the Big 12 title, they've been offered and accepted a bid to the Cotton bowl

    This should be an interesting game that will see the streaking Aggies, who have won their last six games, go up against Les Miles' defense.

    It will be in that SEC defense that the Tigers will need to rely on in order to slow down local favorites Texas A&M.

    Prediction: LSU 28, Texas A&M 24

6. Capital One Bowl: Michigan State Vs. Alabama

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    Projection: Michigan State Spartans vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

    Sadly, the Spartans will likely be left out of the top BCS Bowl games, even though they own a share of the Big Ten title and have only one loss this season.

    Their consolation prize will be an appearance in the Capital One Bowl where they can go head-to-head with an SEC opponent.

    The Spartans have had an arguably soft schedule this season, as they hosted most of their top Big Ten opponents on their home field, so this bowl game will be a true test for this upstart squad. 

    It's really hard to repeat a perfect season like the Tide went through last season when they won the national title.  They were a three loss team this year falling against the Gamecocks, LSU and Auburn. 

    Now it's time for them to prove that SEC is a much tougher division than the Big Ten. 

    Prediction: Alabama 27, Michigan State 24

5. Rose Bowl: Wisconsin Vs. TCU

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    Projection: Wisconsin Badgers vs. TCU Horned Frogs

    Unless something outrageous happens this weekend in college football—such as an Oregon State upset of Oregon—there will be no Pac-10 representative in the Rose Bowl.

    The bid will go to a top ranked non-BCS football team, namely TCU.

    Wisconsin has a very good offense led by running back John Clay, capable of scoring with the best of them, including TCU.

    TCU has a defensive minded head coach in Gary Patterson and will be one win away from going through their season undefeated.

    More importantly, they should be set to prove that they truly belong among college football's best, while the Badgers will need to show that a non-BCS team has no right crashing into the Rose Bowl.

    Prediction: Wisconsin 35, TCU 31

4. Fiesta Bowl: Nebraska Vs. Stanford

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    Projection: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Stanford Cardinal

    Nebraska should finally come away with the Big 12 title this season after coming oh-so-close last year against the Texas Longhorns.

    Once they lock up their Fiesta Bowl bid, their most likely opponent would be Stanford.  The Cardinal are currently the No. 4 team in the BCS rankings and will probably earn the at-large bid.

    This battle between the Big 12 and the Pac-10 could turn into a high-scoring affair.  Both squads boast very high-powered offenses.  Stanford has a very capable pass thrower in Andrew Luck and the 'Huskers have a great runner in Roy Helu Jr. and a mobile quarterback in Taylor Martinez.

    Nebraska should have the advantage on the defensive side given their history of being a very solid team defending the football.

    Prediction: Nebraska 34, Stanford 27

3. Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech Vs. West Virginia

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    Projection: Virginia Tech Hokies vs. West Virginia Mountaineers

    The Hokies have a perfect 8-0 record in the ACC and can clinch their birth with a win in the ACC title game.

    If all goes according to plan, the Hokies will earn the bid to play in the Orange bowl.

    With the other bid most likely going to the winner of the Big East—although WVU and Pitt now own a share of the conference title—the West Virginia Mountaineers will surely earn this bid since they're ranked in the BCS and the Panthers are not, but UConn will get the nod if they beat USF by virtue of a tie-breaker.

    This would definitely be a much more interesting game instead of an earlier projected VaTech matchup with UConn.  There's obvious history between the two teams, which means a lot more interest among their fanbases.

    Prediction: Virginia Tech 24, West Virginia 17

2. Sugar Bowl: Arkansas Vs. Ohio State

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    Projection: Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

    The Arkansas Razorbacks played their way into this BCS bowl bid after defeating LSU in their last game of the regular season. 

    With the Auburn Tigers expected to make an appearance in the national title game, the Sugar Bowl will probably have room for Arkansas.

    For their at-large bid, expect it to go to Big Ten co-champion—the Ohio State Buckeyes.

    Outside of Iowa and Wisconsin, the Buckeyes have hardly been tested this season, while Arkansas has done battle with many top ranked teams in the SEC.

    But don't expect OSU to be overmatched; they're fighting for bragging rights here and looking to prove that the SEC is not that much better than the Big Ten.

    Prediction: Arkansas 21, Ohio State 17

1. BCS Championship: Oregon Vs. Auburn

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    Projection: Oregon Ducks vs. Auburn Tigers

    What's the difference between these two schools? 

    On paper, their perfect records are similar.  But there's one big difference—the Tigers have had to play through a much tougher schedule than the Oregon Ducks.

    Yes, Oregon has defeated Stanford and Arizona.  However, Auburn has had to play through some of the nation's best by playing in the SEC, and they have a perfect record to show for it.

    That said, Auburn is much more battle tested than the Ducks.  They've taken plenty of hits and have bounced back, including the Cam Newton NCAA investigation, while the Ducks had one close-call against Cal.

    The Tigers looked proved to be the undisputed best team out of the SEC—quite possibly the best in the country—as they handily defeated Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks for the conference title. 

    Auburn is the team that should come out on top of this championship, while the Ducks will be sent flying home with a loss.

    Prediction: Auburn 31, Oregon 27