Bowl Projections 2012: Non Top-10 Teams That Could Crash BCS Party
The Bowl Championship Series always has some surprises, and there are four non-Top 10 BCS teams that could crash the party come season's end.
The current Top 10 has teams like the Clemson Tigers and the Arkansas Razorbacks who have tough games and might fall out of their coveted positions.
These four non-Top 10 teams could grab those spots because they might have easier schedules or can gain some ground with wins over difficult opponents.
Who are these dark horses? Read on to find out.
No. 11 Houston Cougars
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The No. 11 Houston Cougars have the best chance of jumping into the BCS Top 10 by season's end.
Led by Heisman Trophy candidate Case Keenum, the Cougars (10-0, 6-0 Conference USA) have the nation's top offense. Houston has the top scoring (54.7 points a game) and passing offense (455.7 yards a game) in the nation, while boasting a solid running attack with 173.1 yards a game (44th).
Houston has easy games against the SMU Mustangs (6-4, 4-2 USA) and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (7-3, 6-0 USA).
After that, they will most likely face the No. 20 Southern Miss Golden Eagles (9-1, 5-1 USA) for the Conference USA Championship Game.
If the Cougars run the table, they should be heading for a BCS Bowl game since the No. 10 Boise State Broncos (8-1, 3-1 Mountain West) lost 36-35 to the No. 19 TCU Horned Frogs (8-2, 5-0 Mountain West).
No. 14 Georgia Bulldogs
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The No. 14 Georgia Bulldogs have the defense and the schedule to possibly propel them into the Top 10 after the season ends.
After losing their first two games in 2011, the Bulldogs (8-2, 6-1 SEC) have won eight straight and now lead the SEC East over the No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks (8-2, 6-2 SEC).
Georgia has the Kentucky Wildcats (4-6, 1-5 SEC) and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-3, 4-3 ACC) on their schedule.
If Georgia wins out, they will most likely face the No. 1 LSU Tigers (10-0, 6-0 SEC) or No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1, 6-1 SEC) for the conference championship game.
Defensively, the Bulldogs are stacked and can slow down Alabama or LSU's offense.
Overall, Georgia gives up 18.6 points (12th), 87.1 rushing yards (third) and 186.2 passing yards (15th) a game. The unit led by junior safety Bacarri Rambo, who leads the SEC with seven interceptions.
No. 15 Michigan State Spartans
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The No. 15 Michigan State Spartans could be a big BCS Bowl contender.
The Spartans (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) are currently leading the Legends standings and are primed to play in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game.
Michigan State will play struggling teams in the Indiana Hoosiers (1-9, 0-6 Big Ten) and the Northwestern Wildcats (5-5, 2-4 Big Ten) before the championship game.
In the Big Ten Championship game, the Spartans will most likely face the No. 21 Penn State Nittany Lions (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) or the No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten).
The Spartans beat the Badgers 37-31 earlier this year, and they have the defense (eighth with 16.5 points a game) to slow down Wisconsin.
The Nittany Lions lost a 17-14 heartbreaker at home to the No. 16 Nebraska Cornhuskers and are scrambling for normalcy after dealing with the child sexual abuse scandal.
Winning the Big Ten championship will get the Spartans a Top-10 seed and a Rose Bowl berth.
No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers
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Even though the No. 17 Wisconsin Badgers lost to the No. 15 Michigan State Spartans and Ohio State Buckeyes, they still have a chance for a Top-10 BCS ranking.
The Badgers (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) will fight with all their power to salvage a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl berth after losing a chance to play in the BCS National Championship game.
Wisconsin has a struggling Illinois Fighting Illini team (6-4, 2-4 Big Ten) on the road and should dispose Illinois for their fifth straight loss.
The Badgers will then host the No. 21 Penn State Nittany Lions (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) for a chance to win the Leaders Division title for a berth in the Big Ten Championship game.
Wisconsin's powerful offense scores 46.4 points a game (fourth) and is led by junior running back Montee Ball (1,242 yards, 23 touchdowns). The Badgers have the tools to overpower the Nittany Lions' tough defense (third with 12.9 points allowed a game).
The Badgers will then most likely play the Spartans for the league championship game. Wisconsin will have revenge on its mind as its top defense (sixth with 15.8 points allowed a game) will make adjustments.