Bowl Projections 2012: Predicting Who Plays on New Year's Day and Beyond
Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images
It will be a strange set of New Year's Day bowl games because they won't be played on New Year's day.
New Year's day falls on an NFL Sunday, which makes the slate of games for New Year's day fall in January 2nd.
Although a New Year's day bowl isn't quite what it used to be with the over saturation of bowls, it is still a great day for college football and signals the beginning of the BCS season.
With a lot to settle between now and the end of December, it is never too early to predict who will end up where.
The SEC has boasted the teams two best teams all year and the fact that most likely the two of them will end up in bowls, sets up a domino effect of some pretty good teams playing outside the BCS.
Fans, a disclaimer, please don't pack your bags and book your flights yet, but this is where I believe the teams who are slated to play on New Year's Day and beyond will end up...
January 2, 2012: Ticket City Bowl: SMU vs. Illinois
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
You can get your New Year's day bowl watching started at noon eastern with the TicketCity Bowl from Dallas, Texas.
The game will feature the Big Ten's No. 7 pick against a team from underrated Conference-USA.
Currently, Illinois sits at 2-3 in conference, but is bowl eligible with six wins. They will most likely be around for the TicketCity Bowl representatives. They would love to get Houston or SMU to play in this game, and I feel like they will end up with SMU.
January 2, 2012: Capital One Bowl: Georgia and Wisconsin
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
This is almost always a great team between two teams. It generally features teams that just missed out on the BCS because it is the top leftover team from two of the nation's premier conferences—the Big Ten and the SEC.
Assuming LSU and 'Bama play BCS games, Georgia and a team like Nebraska or Wisconsin should find themselves in this game. With Wisconsin's offense and travelling fanbase, the Capital One bowl reps would love to get them in this game.
January 2, 2012: The Outback Bowl: Kansas State vs. Michigan
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
This Big Ten vs. Big Ten No. 3 match-up will also feature a couple of exciting players and great offenses.
The Outback would love to get a star player and a fanbase that travels from the Big Ten. Enter Michigan—large fanbase, and Denard Robinson.
The Wolverines loss to Iowa all but ended their hopes of a Big Ten Championship Game appearance as they fell to 3-2 in conference play.
What a job by Bill Snyder. The legendary head coach had this team undefeated at 7-0, and nearly pulled off a shocker this week against No. 3 OK State.
Their consolation will be a New Year's Day bowl game.
January 2, 2012: The Gator Bowl: Florida vs. Ohio State
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
The Gator Bowl people would obviously love to get U. Florida who will be there for the taking, as they are out of conference championship contention.
They will benefit from the down year that they Big Ten is having.
With Nebraska's stunning loss to Northwestern, the Big Ten has a conglomerate of teams with a 3-2 record in that fourth, fifth, and sixth place in conference range.
Either team would work for the bowl, I believe Ohio State is the better fit.
January 6, 2012: The Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. South Carolina
Brett Deering/Getty Images
One of the classics, and a game that is sort of unofficially a part of the BCS, features teams from Big XII and the Sec.
If Oklahoma State runs the table, thus blocking Oklahoma from an at-large BCS bid, the Sooners would end up here.
As it stands, I don't think OK State has enough to get by Oklahoma in the season closer, and I believe the Cowboys, will go from flirting with the National Title to a disappointing consolation prize of the Cotton Bowl.
Their opponent will indeed come from the SEC, but it won't be LSU.
They will play South Carolina.
January 7, 2012: BBVA Compass: Mississippi State vs. Syracuse
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
As it stands, the SEC doesn't have enough bowl eligible teams to fill this spot.
By this game, I suspect that Mississippi State will get its sixth win by beating Ole Miss in the season's closing game.
The Bulldogs will take on a Big East team.
However, that conference doesn't have enough bowl eligible teams as well.
The Compass has the fifth pick, and will need CT, Pitt or 'Cuse to gain eligibility.
Syracuse will beat either USF or Pitt to get their sixth win and earn itself a 13th game.
January 8, 2012: GoDaddy.com Bowl: Ohio vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
The Bobcats should win the MAC led by their talented dual-threat quarterback Tyler Tettleton—son of former major league catcher, Mickey Tettleton.
Lafayette is sitting on eight wins, and currently sits behind Arkansas State in the Sun Belt.
January 2 2012: The Rose Bowl: PSU vs. Oregon
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
And now, the big ones.
The Rose traditionally features the Pac-12 and the Big Ten and this year won't be an exception.
Penn State is on its way to winning this conference and will get by MSU in the championship game.
Penn State will take on Oregon who gets slotted in this game as Stanford plays for the championship.
January 2, 2012: The Fiesta: Oklahoma vs. Arkansas
Brett Deering/Getty Images
The Fiesta will be a party for Big XII champion Oklahoma who will settle for this BCS game, after falling out of the national championship picture due to a shocking loss to Texas Tech.
The Sooners will be elated because they will have snatched the conference from in-state rival OK State, knocking their long-time rival out of National Championship contention.
The conference tie-ins is what messes OK State out of a BCS game, and Arkansas would get it were the two top teams in the nation weren't from the SEC.
The At-large will come from the Big Ten, though they are the least deserving, and it will most likely be Michigan State as they have the easiest route to nine wins with games remaining with Indiana, and Northwestern, and will most likely win the "Legends" side of the Big Ten.
January 3, 2012: The Sugar Bowl: Boise vs Alabama
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
This is where Alabama ends up as the losing team of the LSU - Bama matchup.
It would have figured to be a home game for LSU's fans in the Superdome had Alabama held serve at home.
As it stands, this is where Boise State is likely to land as they pick up the At-large bid and a fun showdown with Nick Saban and its defense.
Are the offensive schematics enough to score against the NFL-caliber talent of 'Bama's defense? How talented is Kellan Moore?
This would be a very interesting game.
January 4, 2012: Orange Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Clemson
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Clemson had a disappointing loss last weekend, but I believe still has enough to win the ACC. Cincy looks primed to win the Big East after sneaking past Pitt this weekend and remaining undefeated in conference play.
January 9, 2012: BCS National Championship: LSU vs. Stanford
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
LSU has some work to do to run the slate—namely a conference championship game against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The Tigers are still the nation's best team and if they could win in Tuscaloosa, they should be ready to deal with just about anyone.
Stanford's only test will be against Oregon. The Cardinal can't afford to come out flat against Oregon.
Stanford came out flat against Oregon State, and was able to pull away because OSU is just horrible this season.
Should Stanford get by Oregon, it should be in prime position to set up the "Andrew Luck vs. the vaunted LSU secondary" match-up for the championship.