College Football Bowl Projections: BCS Rankings Week 10 Edition

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistOctober 30, 2011

College Football Bowl Projections: BCS Rankings Week 10 Edition

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    The BCS rankings have been released for Week 10 of the 2011 college football season.

    The top-five remains untouched. However, many teams continue to jockey for position for BCS bowl bids and beyond.

    Thirty-five bowl games. Seventy teams. Conference champions and at-large bids. Confusion, hysteria and questionable selections.

    It's all part of the madness surrounding bowl projections late in the college football season.

    With five weeks remaining in the season, there is still much to be decided.

    Here is how the postseason bowl matchups could look once the season is over:

New Mexico Bowl: Colorado State vs. Toledo

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    Colorado State' Week 9 loss to UNLV pushes the Rams lower in the Mountain West standings. Now at 3-5, the Rams will need to go 2-2 through their final four games to remain bowl eligible.

    TCU, Air Force and Wyoming will all pose reasonable threats to the Rams' bowl hopes.

    The Toledo Rockets will wind up playing the New Mexico Bowl after losing to Temple in the MAC championship.

    Normally, the Pac-12's No. 7 team would be slotted here. However, the Pac-12 will struggle to have seven bowl-eligible teams.

    Toledo is having a solid season behind running back Morgan Williams. This matchup would lean toward the Rockets if it comes to fruition.

New Orleans Bowl: UTEP vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

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    Louisiana-Lafayette must defeat Arkansas State in their Week 11 matchup if they want to win the Sun Belt Conference. The Ragin Cajuns must also get past Arizona in their final week of the season.

    Arizona has struggled all season long. The improvement of Blaine Gautier behind center has the Cajuns primed to find their way into postseason football.

    UTEP must win two of their next four games to remain bowl eligible. Games against East Carolina, UCF and Tulsa will all test the Miner mettle.

    Two or three victories for the Miners should allow them to keep pace in the Conference USA's West Division.

    Neither team will excite the average viewer. But a bowl is a bowl is a bowl.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Ohio vs. Fresno State

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    The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl pits the third-place team in the MAC against a team from the WAC.

    Ohio has a third-place finish in sight. Their Week 10 matchup against Temple is the last major obstacle the Bobcats face.

    If Ohio can finish the season 9-3, or 8-4, they will be in firm position for bowl season.

    Fresno State must win three of their next five to remain bowl eligible. Tough matchups with Hawaii and Louisiana Tech loom large on the Bulldog schedule.

    The Bulldogs will win the required games to play an extra game.

Beef O' Brady's Bowl: USF vs. Marshall

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    The Beef O' Brady's Bowl goes to the sixth-best Big East team and a Conference USA bowl-eligible team.

    If South Florida can knock off Syracuse in Week 11 and find a way to defeat either Miami or West Virginia as well, they should be in good shape.

    The Bulls have lost three in a row. If they can return to early-season form they will find themselves playing in a December bowl game.

    Marshall will need to beat two out of their next three opponents. East Carolina and Tulsa will each provide tests. The Thundering Herd will beat one of the two, along with Memphis, and earn a bowl berth.

Poinsettia Bowl: Air Force vs. Hawaii

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    Air Force currently stands at 4-4. Because of their relatively-easy final four games, the Falcons will find themselves representing the MWC in the Poinsettia Bowl.

    The Poinsettia Bowl is normally for the MWC's No. 2 team. However, Boise State will be in the BCS. This forces TCU to fill their designated spot in the Maaco Bowl, bumping Air Force into the second slot.

    Air Force's ground attack will earn them four victories to close the season.

    Hawaii is 5-3 behind quarterback Bryant Moniz. Hawaii still faces tests against Fresno State and BYU before their season comes to a close.

    Barring a late collapse, Hawaii should be in position to head to San Diego at the end of the year.

Maaco Bowl: TCU vs. Utah

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    TCU will represent the MWC in the Maaco Bowl. The matchup goes to the Horned Frogs because Boise State earns a BCS bid.

    The Horned Frogs are pretty much a lock for a second-place finish in the conference. Boise State is still ahead on the schedule, but no other real threat should be posed to TCU's Maaco Bowl hopes.

    Utah has a chance to win out and finish the season 8-4. UCLA poses the last threat on the Utes' conference schedule.

    An 8-4 record will have Utah in the mix for fifth place in the Pac-12. With a little luck, Utah could face old MWC-foe TCU for another chance at bragging rights.

Hawaii Bowl: Nevada vs. Southern Miss

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    The Nevada Wolfpack will lose their Week 10 matchup with Hawaii. Hawaii will win the WAC and play in the Poinsettia Bowl. This will keep them from playing in front of a home crowd.

    Nevada will finish the year with three wins. This puts them at 8-4 and sets up a matchup with Southern Miss in Honolulu.

    Southern Miss will not win the Conference USA because of Case Keenum's arm for Houston.

    Houston and Southern Miss will both run the table from here on out. However, the Golden Eagles already have one loss.

    This loss will send Houston to the Liberty Bowl and send Southern Miss a long ways from home.

Independence Bowl: North Carolina vs. San Diego State

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    The Independence Bowl is given to the MWC's No. 3 team and the ACC's No. 7 team. San Diego State and North Carolina will both be in line to meet these requirements by season's end.

    The Aztecs finish the season with four winnable games and Boise State. Assuming the Aztecs lose to the Broncos, their 8-4 record should put them right behind Air Force in the MWC bowl-pecking order.

    North Carolina should win two of their last three, with a possible loss to Virginia Tech. N.C. State and Duke should be two victories for the Tar Heels.

    A 4-4 ACC record will have the Tar Heels in the sixth or seventh range in the ACC standings.

    If the Tar Heels fall to seventh, expect to see them in the Independence Bowl.

Belk Bowl: Rutgers vs. Virginia

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    The Belk Bowl matches the third best Big East team against the fifth best squad from the ACC. This season that will be Rutgers and Virginia.

    Virginia is 5-3. They will need to beat either Florida State or Virginia Tech for a higher finish in the ACC. Both will be steep climbs for the Cavaliers.

    Rutgers faces Cincinatti, South Florida and UConn in three of their final four games. The Big East is currently a mess.

    If Rutgers wins out, they could certainly be sitting in the third spot in the Big East.

    This matchup isn't that exciting despite featuring two teams from power conferences.

Little Caesars' Bowl: Western Michigan vs. Iowa

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    Iowa and Western Michigan could play each other in the Little Caesars' Bowl. Assuming Iowa plays well enough to be the No. 8 team in the Big Ten.

    Western Michigan must beat Toledo, Miami (OH) and Akron to finish the season. Beating these three teams will shoot the Broncos up the MAC leaderboard very quickly. A second-place finish is very reasonable.

    Iowa still faces Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska. Three ranked teams but three mortal teams. Iowa must beat at least one of these teams if they want the eighth-place finish in the Big Ten.

    At this point, the Big Ten must worry about fulfilling their bid for this bowl.

Military Bowl: Miami (FL) vs. Texas Tech

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    The Miami Hurricanes will ride a rocky season into the Military Bowl. The Hurricanes will finish eighth in the ACC because of the legs of running back Lamar Miller.

    Miami must face tough competition to finish the season, including a matchup with Florida State. Even if Florida State defeats the Hurricanes, they should be able to secure a bowl bid.

    Texas Tech did beat Oklahoma but still faces tests in the Big 12 schedule.

    Their surprising season will result in a chance to beat a major national name in Miami.

Champs Sports Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Georgia Tech

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    Georgia Tech is back in the mix to finish third in the ACC. Clemson and Virginia Tech could both receive BCS bids, forcing Florida State to move up the ACC-bowl ladder.

    The Yellow Jackets need to beat two of their final three opponents to face Notre Dame in the postseason. Two of these matchups are against Virginia Tech and Georgia.

    Notre Dame was a BCS threat before their loss to USC. Now, the Irish are looking at an 8-4 finish if they lose to Stanford in the final week of the season.

    The Fighting Irish and the Yellow Jackets would create a very intriguing matchup.

Holiday Bowl: Texas vs. Washington

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    Texas will go to the Holiday Bowl if they win three of their final five games. The Longhorns will face the Washington Huskies, who finish third in the Pac-12.

    Texas needs to win games against the likes of Texas Tech, Missouri and Baylor. Texas A&M and Kansas State will provide stiffer competition.

    The Huskies still face Oregon and USC, but if they win two of their final four games, they should be sitting pretty in a jumbled Pac-12.

Armed Forces Bowl: Brigham Young vs. Tulsa

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    BYU receives an automatic bid to the Armed Forces Bowl when bowl eligible.

    The Cougars should finish 9-3 this season. BYU is a very solid team and will probably be the better of the two teams in this matchup.

    Facing BYU will be Tulsa. Tulsa must face UCF, Houston, Marshall and UTEP in their final four games. If they win two of four, that will make them 6-2 in the Conference USA.

    Tulsa's conference record will certainly be good enough to receive a bid to the Armed Forces Bowl. If they get there, they will be overmatched against the Cougars.

Pinstripe Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Missouri

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    Cincinnati and Missouri could provide some fireworks in the Pinstripe Bowl. Two great offenses and two overachieving teams.

    Cincinnati needs to win three of their last five to remain in the mix for fourth place in the Big East. Those three wins could give them a higher finish, but fourth is a reasonable destination for the Bearcats.

    Missouri needs to beat Texas Tech to finish 4-4 in the Big 12. A 5-3 record should be good enough for a seventh place in the Big 12. If the Tigers can defeat Texas Tech, they could be sitting in sixth.

    Whether it is Texas Tech or Missouri in this game, expect high-octane offenses in the cold New York City weather.

Alamo Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Arizona State

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    Texas A&M has a tough road ahead to finish third in the Big 12. Expect the Aggies to fall to Oklahoma. After that, the Aggies will defeat Kansas State, Texas and Kansas to finish the season.

    The Aggies will face Arizona State. Because of Stanford's national title bid Oregon must play in the Rose Bowl. That means the Sun Devils finish second in the Pac-12 when it comes to bowl bids.

    Arizona State should win their final four games against weaker opponents.

    This matchup could be a lot of fun. Two good quarterbacks and two competent defenses.

Music City Bowl: N.C. State vs. Tennessee

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    The Music City Bowl will match N.C. State against Tennessee. Tennessee will finish seventh in the SEC, and N.C. State will find a way to finish sixth in the ACC.

    Tennessee will need to win three of their last four to remain bowl eligible. Arkansas should be the Volunteers' lone loss in the final four weeks of the season. These wins will allow Tennessee to sneak into the bowl picture.

    N.C. State will sneak in as well. Games against North Carolina and Clemson will provide stiff competition in the final part of the season. The Wolfpack will need to win two out of four to finish the season and remain bowl eligible.

    The Music City Bowl is going to pit two teams on the fringe of power conferences, against each other.

Insight Bowl: Penn State vs. Kansas State

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    Kansas State will face Penn State in the Insight Bowl. Both teams will finish fourth in their respective conferences.

    Kansas State started the year strong, but their tough end of the season schedule will force them to drop out of the BCS race. Oklahoma State and Texas A&M will make things very difficult on the Wildcat pass defense.

    Penn State is also off to a great start. However, games against Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin could spell a fast crash in Happy Valley.

    Expect a ground-oriented, defensive game in this one. Also, Bill Snyder and Joe Paterno are not young.

Meineke Car Care Bowl: Baylor vs. Ohio State

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    Ohio State is not the same Ohio State, but they are still a bowl-talented team. The Buckeyes are playing better, but Penn State and Michigan will give two tough final games.

    Baylor figures to win at least three of their final games. Oklahoma will be a stretch and Texas will provide stiff competition as well.

    If each of these teams fall to sixth in their conferences, making for an intriguing matchup. Robert Griffin III will see a tough test against a daunting Buckeye defense.

Sun Bowl: Wake Forest vs. UCLA

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    Wake Forest will finish fourth in the ACC. UCLA will make a run and finish fourth in the Pac-12. Both will meet in the Sun Bowl.

    Wake Forest still faces tests in Notre Dame and Clemson to finish the season. The Demon Deacons could sneak by one of them and vie for a third seed in the ACC.

    UCLA is currently 4-4. They must still face USC and Arizona State. Expect the Bruins to upset one of these teams and earn a surprising No. 4 spot in the Pac-12.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: California vs. Temple

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    California will lose their final two games against Stanford and Arizona State and will barely sneak into the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Temple will make it the MAC championship but will lose to an upstart Eastern Michigan squad.

    Temple and Cal have both done enough to squeeze their way into the postseason. Cal's two Pac-12 victories before their two losses will put them at 3-6 in the Pac-12.

    This isn't admirable, but in a weak Pac-12, it will be just enough to let them continue playing one more game.

Liberty Bowl: Houston vs. Mississippi State

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    Houston is going to skate their way to a Conference USA title behind the arm of quarterback Case Keenum.

    Mississippi State will finish near the bottom of the SEC, but because of the SEC's depth, they will still play in a bowl matchup.

    Look for the Bulldogs to fall to Alabama and Arkansas, but their 6-6 record will be just enough to earn them a Liberty Bowl berth.

    Houston will have a chance to put themselves on the national scene against an SEC team.

Chick-Fil-a Bowl: Florida State vs. Auburn

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    Florida State got off to a disappointing start this season. However, the Seminoles will rebound with victories over Miami and Florida to finish the season. These victories will float the Seminoles to third in the ACC.

    The Seminoles receive the Chick-Fil-A bowl berth because Virginia Tech and Clemson both earn BCS bowl berths.

    Auburn will probably need to beat Georgia in Week 10 because their last game of the season is against Alabama.

    If the Tigers can beat Georgia and Samford, the Crimson Tide loss should not keep them from facing off against Florida State.

TicketCity Bowl: Illinois vs. SMU

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    Illinois will face SMU in the TicketCity Bowl. Illinois' hot start will continue to fizzle with pending matchups against Michigan and Wisconsin resulting in losses.

    Despite their recent slide, Illinois will finish seventh in the Big Ten.

    The SMU Mustangs still must face Houston on their Conference USA schedule. Other than that, the Mustangs should win out.

    Illinois should be advised not to overlook SMU's high-powered offense.

Capital One Bowl: Arkansas vs. Wisconsin

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    Arkansas gets a major bowl boost because of LSU and Alabama's dominance. The Razorbacks will face LSU in the final week of the season and lose. Two losses will still give the Razorbacks the nod here.

    Assuming Arkansas defeats South Carolina in Week 10, they will be a shoo-in for the Capital One Bowl.

    Wisconsin was on top of the world two weeks ago. Two Hail Marys later, and the Badgers are on the outside looking in.

    Wisconsin will win out but lose in the Big Ten title game. Their second-place finish pits them in a very tough matchup against the Razorback aerial attack.

Gator Bowl: Michigan vs. Florida

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    Michigan has had a surprising season under new coach Brady Hoke. However, the Wolverines still face two tough matchups with Nebraska and Ohio State to finish the season.

    If Michigan loses both of these games, they will face the Gators in the Gator Bowl.

    Florida is currently 4-4. South Carolina and Florida State will make the Gators work for a .500 record.

    If the Gators can split their remaining four matchups, they will have to contain Denard Robinson in the Gator Bowl to end the season on a high note.

Outback Bowl: Michigan State vs. Georgia

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    Michigan State has gotten through the tough part of their Big Ten schedule. However, the Spartans will slip up against either Northwestern or Iowa in the final four weeks.

    One of these losses will force the Spartans into a third-place finish in the Big Ten.

    Georgia should finish the season at 8-4. That is the worst-case scenario. If the Bulldogs can beat Auburn or Georgia Tech, they will cement their spot in the Outback Bowl.

    This matchup between two hard-nosed teams will be very intriguing among non-BCS bowls.

Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. South Carolina

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    Oklahoma State is currently No. 3 in the BCS standings. They will remain there until they fall to in-state rival Oklahoma in the final week of the season.

    Their one loss, because of its timing, will leave Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl. A solid bowl despite not being part of the BCS picture.

    South Carolina should win the SEC East. The Gamecocks' depleted offense will need to beat Clemson to finish the season, but that still may not matter in the SEC standings.

    Because of LSU and Alabama being in the BCS, teams like Georgia, South Carolina and Arkansas will benefit.

BBVA Compass Bowl: Syracuse vs. Vanderbilt

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    The BBVA Compass Bowl will not be watched by many. However, two great quarterbacks will take the field.

    Ryan Nassib will lead his surprising Syracuse team into a bowl berth. An altogether-unworthy Big East allows Syracuse to finish the year strong. The Orangemen will win at least two of their final games.

    Vanderbilt will get a bowl berth as well. Coach James Franklin will not have to fight for it either. The Commodores are 4-4 but should beat Kentucky and Tennessee to remain bowl eligible. Bowl: Eastern Michigan vs. Florida International

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    Eastern Michigan will make a Cinderella-MAC championship run. Winning the MAC will earn them a bowl berth.

    The Eagles have faced the toughest part of their schedule. A win over Northern Illinois to finish the year will provide icing on the cake heading into the MAC championship against Temple.

    Florida International must simply remain bowl eligible to find a spot in the postseason. With four favorable matchups to finish the year, their bowl dreams will be realized this season.

Rose Bowl: Nebraska vs. Oregon

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    Oklahoma State's late-season loss will push the undefeated Stanford Cardinal into the BCS national championship game. That leaves Oregon as the default Pac-12 champion.

    Oregon will have two losses by season's end. One to LSU in Week 1 and also against the Cardinal when the two teams meet.

    Nebraska will find their way into a Big Ten championship. Michigan State will falter one more time down the stretch, and the Cornhuskers will exact revenge against Wisconsin the Big Ten title game.

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Virginia Tech

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    Oklahoma will find their way back to the BCS picture once again, despite their disappointing Texas Tech loss. A win over Oklahoma State in the final week will vault the Sooners into the Fiesta Bowl.

    A one-loss Sooner team certainly deserves the nod in this game. They will face an at-large team, in this case Virginia Tech.

    Virginia Tech will win out but lose the ACC championship game. In a watered down BCS scenario, this will give the Hokies a last minute at-large bid.

    Oklahoma is known to falter in the postseason. Will the Hokies find a way to win despite their so-so resume?

Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. Boise State

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    LSU should be in the national championship game based on their talent and resume. However, their Week 10 loss to Alabama will force the Tigers to the Sugar Bowl.

    Facing LSU will be everyone's BCS darling, Boise State.

    Boise State faces next-to-no one to finish the season. Assuming the Broncos beat TCU, they are a lock for the Sugar Bowl.

    LSU is a common favorite this season as the nation's top team. If Boise can knock off the Tigers, they will be undeniably in the national picture.

Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. West Virginia

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    Clemson will triumph over the last part of their schedule to win the ACC and earn a bid to the Orange Bowl.

    South Carolina provides a possible stumbling block, but the in-state matchup is not a conference matchup. Either way, the Tigers will be playing for a chance to carry the ACC crown into the postseason.

    Facing Clemson will be eventual Big East champion West Virginia.

    West Virginia is more talented than the final part of their schedule, but the Big East is tough to predict. Syracuse's victory over the Mountaineers this season is a prime example.

BCS National Championship Game: Alabama vs. Stanford

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    Alabama will defeat LSU in Week 10, and win the SEC title matchup over South Carolina.

    Their undefeated record will punch the Tide's ticket to the national championship game. This will provide a rare, unquestioned BCS championship selection.

    Testing the Tide will be another undefeated team. The Stanford Cardinal will defeat Oregon in a rematch from last season and earn a shot at a national title.

    Two teams with zero losses. Two superstars in Alabama running back Trent Richardson and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

    That sounds like a national championship.