It's mid-October, and that can mean only one thing: time for the first round of BCS rankings.
We're going to get our first glimpse at the BCS rankings this Sunday and there are sure to be some surprises and disappointments.
It's still early, and a lot can happen between now and bowl selection time, but we thought it's about time to re-release our BCS projections for the 2012 Rose Bowl, 2012 Sugar Bowl, 2012 Fiesta Bowl and 2012 Orange Bowl—not to mention the 2012 BCS Championship Game.
So here are the updated predictions for the major bowls.
Typically, we're treated to a Rose Bowl featuring the Big Ten champs and Pac-12 champs, and this season won't be any different.
Oregon suffered an early setback against now-No. 1 LSU, and with the way some other teams have been playing this season, that one loss is the only reason pollsters need to keep the Ducks sufficiently low enough in the polls to keep their BCS title hopes on ice.
Still, Oregon is the odds-on favorite to win the first-ever Pac-12 Championship game this season, which will guarantee them a BCS trip. They'll be headed back to Pasadena for the second time in three years.
Wisconsin looks awfully impressive so far this season after dispatching Nebraska with relative ease in Madison a couple of weeks ago.
The Badgers still have some obstacles in the road—mainly Michigan State—but the Badgers' offense looks nearly unstoppable this season. Even though MSU sports the nation's top defense, it's doubtful anyone will be able to stop the Badger juggernaut this season.
Look for Wisconsin to finish the regular season undefeated and capture the first ever Big Ten Championship game trophy. Fans in Madison will be a bit disappointed that their team won't get a shot at their first ever national championship. But as it stands now, the Badgers just need too much help to reach New Orleans.
The Orange Bowl—“Home of the ACC Champions”—will feature an at-large opponent and the ACC champs in 2012.
Clemson has been playing absolutely inspired football this season. After impressive wins against Auburn, Florida State and Virginia Tech, the Tigers are odds-on favorites to tear through the rest of the conference—even Georgia Tech—and finally break through to the BCS this season.
Tiger fans have always been wary about a late season letdown, but this season just seems somehow different. Even a slip up at some point won't keep Clemson from the BCS this season. But even an undefeated Clemson squad won't be able to overcome the handicap of starting the season unranked in most polls.
West Virginia will make a trip to Miami this January as the champion of the Big East. Even though the Mountaineers weren't able to get past LSU, and clearly aren't a national championship-caliber team, they're still the best of the bunch in the Big East this season.
Dana Holgorsen will lead his team back to the BCS in his first year as head coach at WVU. Mountaineer fans will quickly forgive and forget his comments earlier this season about their less-than-elite-program fan support in Morgantown.
Although we usually see the SEC Champion take on an at-large BCS team in the sugar bowl, it's fairly likely that we'll see the SEC return yet another team to the BCS title game this season. That won't leave the Southeastern Conference out of the Sugar Bowl, though.
Alabama will make a return trip to New Orleans, but it won't be for the game they're hoping. A lot will be decided in the Alabama-LSU game this season, not the least of which is the team that will represent the SEC West in the SEC Championship Game.
Although Alabama is unquestionably a good team, it is questionable whether or not they have the horses to run with LSU this season.
Boise State has long been frustrated by the BCS's unwillingness to put the undefeated Broncos in the BCS Championship Game. This year, unfortunately, won't be any different. Love 'em or hate 'em, it's about time Boise State gets their shot. If they lose, fine. They had their shot and we can be done with it. If they win, well, that's a whole new can of worms we won't open here. But at least give them a shot already.
Alas, the Broncos will be headed to New Orleans, but a week early. Kellen Moore will lead the undefeated and likely No. 3 Broncos into the Superdome for one last hurrah against a giant from the SEC. If Boise State can get past Alabama, they have a legit argument for national championship claims. SEC fans will be forced to give the Broncos a modicum of respect for once.
The Fiesta Bowl is the destination for the Big 12 Champions, but this season that team will likely have an alternate destination. Still, we're going to see a Big 12 representative in this game take on another at-large BCS team.
Oklahoma State will still be left looking for a championship after this season as the Cowboys will come up just a touch short against Oklahoma in the Bedlam game this year.
The Cowboys are still ranked sufficiently high enough that the loss to Oklahoma will still mean a BCS trip at season's end.
Michigan State was left out of the BCS last season, despite capturing a share of the Big Ten title and beating Wisconsin in the regular season. While MSU does field the nation's top defense, it's doubtful anyone can stop the Wisconsin offense this season.
For some reason, Sparty just can't seem to get much love in the polls so far this season. As the season wears on, wins against other ranked opponents like Michigan and Nebraska will help their case in a major way. Mark Dantonio and company will be rewarded in the end by earning a BCS trip in Janurary—barely.
Ever since the BCS was created way back in the late 1990s, the college football world has had their own little version of the Super Bowl.
While it may not attract the hundreds of millions of world-wide viewers, or be treated like a national holiday here in the U.S. like the Super Bowl, it's the greatest thing to happen to college football—so far (we'll leave our pining for a playoff for a different day).
This season, the top two teams at the end of the season won't be a whole lot different from what they are now, or were a few weeks ago.
LSU simply looks like a top-to-bottom complete team. While Tigers fans will be all too happy to tell you about which players they consider superstars, from a national standpoint that's simply not true.
There really isn't a realistic Heisman contender on the team. While there may be a few standouts, they're definitely made better by those around them. Should that detract from LSU at all? Absolutely not. In fact, it probably makes their case all the stronger.
LSU isn't a team pulled along by a Cam Newton or Tim Tebow. They're a team that wins as a whole or loses as a whole—and this season, there won't be a whole lot of losing for LSU.
Oklahoma started the 2011 season as the No. 1 team in the land in most polls, but were supplanted by LSU a few weeks back. While that may annoy some Sooners, at the end of the season it doesn't really matter if you're No. 1 or No. 2, as long as you're in that top two.
OU will certainly be in the top two, capturing the Big 12 title after snaking past a very good Oklahoma State squad. Unlike LSU, OU does have some individual standouts and a bona fide Heisman contender in quarterback Landry Jones.
At the beginning of the season, Oklahoma looked to be the “chosen ones,” and no one could envision a BCS title game without the Sooners. That may still be the case, but for some reason the focus has shifted to LSU. If anything, that will only make OU all the hungrier for that elusive BCS Championship.