BCS Standings 2013: Week 12 BCS Rankings and Bowl Game Projections

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistNovember 11, 2013

BCS Standings 2013: Week 12 BCS Rankings and Bowl Game Projections

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    There was a whole lotta shakin' going on at the top of the Week 12 BCS standings, helping to (at least temporarily) clear up the picture of who will face Alabama in the championship game.

    But it's only mid-November. There are still four weeks worth of games (and, likely, upsets) remaining to provide further shakeups and continued murkiness as far as predictions are concerned.

    If you haven't seen the latest standings, here's how they look:

    1. Alabama
    2. Florida State
    3. Ohio State
    4. Stanford
    5. Baylor
    6. Oregon
    7. Auburn
    8. Clemson
    9. Missouri
    10. South Carolina
    11. Texas A&M
    12. Oklahoma State
    13. UCLA
    14. Fresno State
    15. Northern Illinois
    16. Michigan State
    17. UCF
    18. Oklahoma
    19. Arizona State
    20. Louisville
    21. LSU
    22. Wisconsin
    23. Miami (Fla.)
    24. Texas
    25. Georgia

    A total of 58 teams have reached bowl eligibility so far, but other than BYU's already-accepted invitation to the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, almost nothing is certain.

    But that doesn't mean we won't try to look like bowl-game psychics.

    Check out the slideshow of our projections for all 35 bowl matchups, then fire away with your thoughts in the comments section.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl

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    Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

    Washington vs. San Diego State

    When: Dec. 21, 2 p.m. ET

    Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico

    TV: ESPN

    Washington (6-3) gets the unenviable task of opening the bowl season as a BCS-level team in a game far below the expectations it had for 2013. The Huskies have rebounded from their three-game midseason losing streak, and with games against UCLA and Oregon State still to go there's hope for a better destination than the Land of Enchantment.

    San Jose State (5-4) suffered a blow to its bowl situation with a home loss to San Diego State, though the Spartans can clinch eligibility with a win at struggling Nevada or home against Navy in the next two weeks. If those don't work out, though, they'd have to knock off unbeaten Fresno State in the regular season finale.

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl

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    Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    Arizona vs. Boise State

    When: Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m. ET

    Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

    TV: ABC

    Arizona (6-3) had a shot at playing in a better bowl before losing at home to UCLA over the weekend, so now the Wildcats' main goal is to try and avoid falling so far down the Pac-12's list that they end up in Albuquerque for a second straight season. 

    Boise State (6-3) will play Fresno State in the Mountain West title game unless it loses one of its last three games. Assuming that doesn't happen, and the Broncos are unable to knock off the unbeaten Bulldogs, they'd probably end up in Las Vegas.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Colorado State vs. Ball State

    When: Dec. 21, 5:30 p.m. ET

    Where: Boise, Idaho

    TV: ESPN

    Colorado State (5-5) has to win twice more because the Rams play a 13-game schedule. Good thing for them they visit New Mexico and still have Air Force at home on the schedule to get them to the seven victories needed to get to play on the blue turf.

    Ball State (9-1) won't be playing in Boise if it can knock off unbeaten Northern Illinois this week on the road. But until that happens, the Cardinals will be no better than the third option from the Mid-American Conference, and thus have to head west.

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

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    Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

    Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

    When: Dec. 21, 9 p.m. ET

    Where: New Orleans, La.

    TV: ESPN

    Tulane (6-4) has looked really bad since becoming bowl eligible, all but knocking them out of a shot for one of Conference USA's better bowl games. No bother, the best spot for the Green Wave to make its first postseason appearance in 11 years than its home turf. 

    Louisiana-Lafayette (7-2) is close to clinching yet another Sun Belt title, which comes with yet another trip to New Orleans. Fine by the Ragin' Cajuns, who have won there the last two seasons.

Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl

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    Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

    Middle Tennessee vs. Toledo

    When: Dec. 23, 2 p.m. ET

    Where: St. Petersburg, Fla.

    TV: ESPN

    Middle Tennessee (6-4) is almost assuredly going to end the regular season on a five-game win streak, a huge accomplishment in the Blue Raiders' first season in Conference USA. Some early losses shut them out of contention for the C-USA title, but they're apt to be riding a huge wave of momentum come bowl season.

    Toledo (6-3) is not going to make the Mid-American title game, which puts the Rockets in a situation where they might have to hope another league doesn't fill all its blow slots. Enter the super-weak American Athletic Conference, which most likely won't have six bowl-eligible teams, leaving this spot open for Toledo.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    North Texas vs. San Jose State

    When: Dec. 24, 8 p.m. ET

    Where: Honolulu, Hawaii

    TV: ESPN

    North Texas (7-3) is two very winnable games away from making the Conference USA title game in its first year in the league, which would give the Mean Green a chance to play in the Liberty Bowl with a win or this game with a loss. Hmm, Christmas in Hawaii or Christmas in Shreveport?

    San Diego State (5-4) picked up a huge bowl eligibility-helping win by going to San Jose State and getting the W on Saturday, leaving the Aztecs needing just one victory away from getting into the postseason. Ironically, SDSU is at Hawaii next, with a win there earning it a return trip five weeks later. 

Little Caesars' Pizza Bowl

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    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

    Buffalo vs. UNLV

    When: Dec. 26, 6 p.m. ET

    Where: Detroit, Mich.

    TV: ESPN

    Buffalo (7-2) is leading its division in the Mid-American, which would get them a chance to knock Northern Illinois out of BCS contention next month. But the Bulls have work to do for that to happen, though, as they still have games with Toledo and Bowling Green that could put them in jeopardy of even getting a bowl invitation.

    UNLV (5-5) has come up short in back-to-back chances to become bowl-eligible at home, losing to San Jose State and then Utah State in consecutive weeks. The Runnin' Rebels' next chance to go bowling for the first time since 2000 comes with a trip Nov. 21 to 2-8 Air Force, and that victory would give them the slot the Big Ten will likely forfeit because of not enough bowl-eligible members.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

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    Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

    Utah State vs. Bowling Green

    When: Dec. 26, 9:30 p.m. ET

    Where: San Diego, Calif.

    TV: ESPN

    Utah State (6-4) has played its best ball in the last month, and very likely will enter the postseason on a five-game win streak. The Aggies could still make the Mountain West title game, but that will require Boise State to lose. More likely is a post-Christmas visit to San Diego.

    Bowling Green (6-3) is our pick to fill the spot that's officially open for the taking now that Army picked up its seventh loss. The Falcons might not have to worry about being an at-large pick, though, if they win out, because that would mean knocking off division leader Buffalo and playing in the Mid-American championship game. 

Northrop Grunman Military Bowl

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    Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

    North Carolina vs. Notre Dame

    When: Dec. 27, 2:30 p.m. ET

    Where: Annapolis, Md.

    TV: ESPN

    North Carolina (4-5) is rolling after a horrendous start to the season, but the Tar Heels still need to win twice to get into a bowl. One of those will come against Old Dominion, the other from either this week's trip to Pittsburgh or the Nov. 30 finale against Duke. If that happens, it's the turnaround of the season.

    Notre Dame (7-3) lost its shot of getting into the BCS by mistaking itself into a loss at Pittsburgh, so now the Fighting Irish are on the hunt for an unfilled bowl slot. This is supposed to go to a Conference USA team, but odds are bowl officials will convince (ahem) the C-USA to give up this spot in order to draw a team with a national following to a game close to several major TV markets.

Texas Bowl

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    Iowa vs. Texas Tech

    When: Dec. 27, 6 p.m. ET

    Where: Houston, Tex.

    TV: ESPN

    Iowa (6-4) has a lot to say about where other Big Ten teams end up playing their bowls, with games left against Michigan and Nebraska. The Hawkeyes' situation is less fluid, as it's very likely they'll end up in Texas for this one. 

    Texas Tech (7-3) would probably rather play in any other Lone Star State bowl than this one, because it means the Red Raiders have fallen so hard, so fast that finishing fifth in the Big 12 is looking very likely after a 7-0 start.

Fight Hunger Bowl

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    BYU vs. Oregon State

    When: Dec. 27, 9:30 p.m. ET

    Where: San Francisco, Calif.

    TV: ESPN

    BYU (6-3) is playing the most stress-free football of any bowl-eligible team, a byproduct of already having accepted a bid to play in this game even before the season began. Whether that contributed to Saturday's loss at Wisconsin or will affect how the Cougars play Nov. 23 at Notre Dame is uncertain. What is certain is that BYU can't help or hurt its situation no matter what it does. 

    Oregon State (6-3) has seen its stock drop sharply thanks to back-to-back home losses, and the schedule doesn't get much easier. After a trip to Arizona State this weekend the Beavers host Washington and then finish at Oregon. Win them all, and better bowl options will be there; lose them all and it's conceivable OSU could get shut out of the bowl season.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

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    Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

    West Virginia vs. Cincinnati

    When: Dec. 28, 12 p.m. ET

    Where: Bronx, NY

    TV: ESPN

    West Virginia (4-6) fell short in its upset bid against Texas, which would have helped its bowl prospects significantly. But as rough as the season has been for the Moutaineers, they get some good fortune by ending the season at Kansas and home for Iowa State (teams with a combined 0-12 mark in the Big 12) needing to beat both league doormats to go bowling for a 12th straight season. 

    Cincinnati (7-2) is still in the AAC title race, though it has yet to face any of the league's top teams. The Bearcats are at Rutgers and Houston the next two weeks, then host Louisville in early December, all of which means their bowl situation is very uncertain. We rolled a 12-sided die and this is the destination that came out. 

Belk Bowl

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    Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

    Duke vs. Houston

    When: Dec. 21, 9 p.m. ET

    Where: Charlotte, NC

    TV: ESPN

    Duke (7-2) is still in the hunt for an ACC title game berth, but that would require it to win and get some help from others. More likely the Blue Devils will finish second or third in the Coastal Division, which would still mean a chance to play close to home for the second straight year.

    Houston (7-2) dropped out of the AAC championship hunt with its 19-14 loss at UCF, and the Cougars have to rebound quickly with a trip this weekend to Louisville. The Cougars can still finish second in the league, and play in the Russell Athletic Bowl, but losing at Louisville will knock them down a peg.

Russell Athletic Bowl

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    Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

    Miami (Fla.) vs. Louisville

    When: Dec. 28, 6:45 p.m. ET

    Where: Orlando, Fla.

    TV: ESPN

    Miami (7-2) isn't the same team without Duke Johnson, and therefore aren't going to be the kind of team that gets to play in a top-tier bowl. The Hurricanes could easily lose twice more, knocking them further down the ACC's pecking order and putting into what would be a very unfavorable matchup for their remaining personnel.

    Louisville (8-1) saw its dim hopes of still winning the AAC fade away when UCF downed Houston over the weekend, so now the goal is to try and lock up the league's second spot. It's unlikely that will be good enough to get a BCS at-large slot, so instead the Cardinals would play in Orlando with a good shot at a 12-win season. 

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Nebraska vs. Oklahoma

    When: Dec. 28, 10:15 p.m. ET

    Where: Tempe, Ariz.

    TV: ESPN

    Nebraska (7-2) can take over control of the Big Ten's Legends Division if it beats visiting Michigan State on Saturday, but the Cornhuskers' season has been so full of uncertainty that's not a wise bet to make. Without winning out they are likely to be the odd team out when it comes to allocating Big Ten participants in Jan. 1 bowls, which instead means getting to play an old Big 12 rival. 

    Oklahoma (7-2) will have at least nine wins, but a season finale at Oklahoma State is the ultimate determinant of the Sooners' bowl destination. As bad as they looked against Texas and Baylor, it's very likely they will finish no better than fourth in the Big 12.

Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl

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    Rice vs. Navy

    When: Dec. 30, 11:45 a.m. ET

    Where: Fort Worth, Texas

    TV: ESPN

    Rice (6-3) needs to win out, and get some help, to get into the Conference USA title game. More likely is the Owls will finish with at least eight victories and end up getting to stay relatively close to their Houston campus and fan base.

    Navy (5-4) should get bowl eligible—and meet its commitment to play in this game—on Saturday at home against South Alabama. If the Midshipmen were the fall, though, they'd have to try and get that sixth win at San Jose State or wait until the Dec. 14 showdown with Army. And no one wants to have to wait that long to paint the entire bowl picture.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

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    Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

    Ole Miss vs. Syracuse

    When: Dec. 30, 3:15 p.m. ET

    Where: Nashville, Tenn.

    TV: ESPN

    Ole Miss (6-3) has already clinched its fourth bowl game in five seasons, but the Rebels can achieve much more with additional victories beyond a likely win Saturday against nonconference foe Troy. Taking out Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl will factor heavily in the Rebels' bowl destination. 

    Syracuse (5-4) has used a suddenly ironclad defense to get within a victory of bowl eligibility in its first season in the ACC. That won't happen this week at Florida State, but could against either Pittsburgh or Boston College (both at home) to end the season.

Valero Alamo Bowl

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    Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

    Oklahoma State vs. Arizona State

    When: Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m. ET

    Where: San Antonio, Tex.

    TV: ESPN

    Oklahoma State (8-1) is very much in the Big 12 title hunt, which would bring with it a trip to Glendale for the Fiesta Bowl. But with Baylor still slotted in that spot (and the teams yet to play), the smart money is on having the Cowboys head to the Alamodome for the second time this year. OSU beat host UTSA there in September.

    Arizona State (7-2) squeaked out a win at Utah on Saturday, keeping itself alive for a shot at the Pac-12 South title that could lead to much greener pastures. But with all signs pointing to the league's BCS rep coming from the North Division, the Sun Devils would then end up in the next best spot.

National University Holiday Bowl

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    Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    Kansas State vs. UCLA

    When: Dec. 30, 10:15 p.m. ET

    Where: San Diego, Calif.

    TV: ESPN

    Kansas State (5-4) has gone on a surge in the second half of the season, capped by Saturday's win at Texas Tech, and now need to beat only TCU this week or Kansas in the finale to get into a bowl. Victories against both will lock up the Big 12's fifth spot and a vacation on the beach.

    UCLA (7-2) kept itself in line for a Pac-12 title game berth with Saturday's win at Arizona, setting up a Nov. 23 showdown with Arizona State at home to get the South Division title. While that means the BCS is still in play, more likely is the Bruins will get asked to represent southern California.

AdvoCare V100 Bowl

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    Ohio vs. Boston College 

    When: Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. ET

    Where: Shreveport, La.

    TV: ESPN

    Ohio (6-3) fell out of the Mid-American title race with a loss at Buffalo last week, but the Bobcats should still finish with eight victories and be a viable candidate to fill this slot that should be open and available because the SEC isn't expected to meet all of its bowl commitments.

    Boston College (5-4) needs to beat any combination of North Carolina State, Maryland or Syracuse to get into a bowl, with just one victory sending the Eagles into a much less-glamorous matchup than when this game was supposed to have an SEC opponent. 

Hyundai Sun Bowl

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    Georgia Tech vs. USC

    When: Dec. 31, 2 p.m. ET

    Where: El Paso, Texas

    TV: CBS

    Georgia Tech (6-3) can still win the ACC's Coastal Division in some scenarios, but more likely the tiebreakers will send the Yellowjackets back to El Paso to finish up a season that currently has seen them win three, lose three and now win the last three. 

    USC (7-3) lost this game last season in one of the most unspirited performances in bowl history. But this year's Trojans team would look at the rematch with Georgia Tech with a much better outlook, especially considering they were left for dead in late September after Lane Kiffin was fired. Since then, USC is 4-1 and is very much still alive for the Pac-12 title game. 

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Vanderbilt vs. East Carolina

    When: Dec. 31, 4 p.m. ET

    Where: Memphis, Tenn.

    TV: ESPN

    Vanderbilt (5-4) took a huge load of pressure off the end of the regular season with its historic win at Florida, making it so the Commodores need just one victory against a slate of Kentucky and Wake Forest at home and at Tennessee to get into a bowl game. Vandy has never made three straight bowl games before.

    East Carolina (7-2) has been the most consistent team in Conference USA, but the Pirates also haven't played anyone decent lately. Still, with a win over Marshall in the season finale they would host the Conference USA title game. The C-USA's top team heads to Memphis.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl

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    Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

    Georgia vs. Virginia Tech

    When: Dec. 31, 8 p.m. ET

    Where: Atlanta, Ga.

    TV: ESPN

    Georgia (6-3) has two games left that will make or break its bowl location: Saturday at Auburn and the Nov. 30 finale with Georgia Tech. A nine-win Bulldogs team will find themselves playing in January, but the safer bet is to slot them in this psuedo-home game.

    Virginia Tech (7-3) reversed its recent befuddling streak of bad play with a solid upset at Miami (Fla.), thrusting the Hokies into the conversation for the ACC's Coastal Division. But even with an appearance against Florida State, the best the Hokies can probably do is returning to the site of their season-opening loss to Alabama, which didn't seem possible the last few weeks.

TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl

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    LSU vs. Minnesota

    When: Jan 1, 12 p.m. ET

    Where: Jacksonville, Fla.

    TV: ESPN2

    LSU (7-3) was officially (at least by our take) eliminated from BCS contention with its loss at Alabama. And with so many other strong SEC teams to contend with for bowl slots, the Tigers could find themselves relatively far down the pecking order by their standards. But that is a fluid situation, one that can change drastically if it beats visiting Texas A&M this weekend.

    Minnesota (8-2) would need to beat Michigan State and have the Spartans and Nebraska each lose once more to get into the Big Ten final. More probable is the Golden Gophers will be among the top non-BCS teams from their league, which could result in its first January bowl game since the 1962 Rose Bowl. 

Heart of Dallas Bowl

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Michigan vs. Marshall

    When: Jan 1, 12 p.m. ET

    Where: Dallas, Tex.


    Michigan (6-3) has dropped to fifth in its Big Ten division, with at least two more losses possible on the schedule. The Wolverines' bowl picture keeps deteriorating, now falling to a nice locale and time slot, but a less-than-desired matchup with a Conference USA foes.

    Marshall (6-3) won't be as unhappy with this pairing, not with only one of its previous five bowl games occurring after Christmas. The Thundering Herd should be 8-3 going into its season finale at home against division leader East Carolina with a C-USA title game berth on the line, so they could end up with an even better destination. 

Capital One Bowl

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Missouri vs. Michigan State

    When: Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET

    Where: Orlando, Fla.

    TV: ABC

    Missouri (9-1) is visit to Ole Miss and a home game against Johnny Football U. away from reaching the SEC title game in its second season as a member. A strong showing could still lead to a BCS bid, but for now the Tigers are slated to play in the leagues' top non-BCS bowl slot, an amazing achievement in its own right. 

    Michigan State (8-1) has a tenuous hold on the Big Ten Legends division, which would give it a shot at taking down Ohio State and going to the BCS. But with a visit to Nebraska on the board for this weekend, the Spartans could lose the division lead and fall into the league's other bowl scenarios. A meeting with Missouri would provide one of the more defensive-minded matchups in the bowl season.

Outback Bowl

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    South Carolina vs. Wisconsin

    When: Jan. 1, 11 p.m. ET

    Where: Tampa, Fla.

    TV: ESPN

    South Carolina (7-2) gets Clemson at home to end the regular season, a game that could boost the Gamecocks into a BCS bid depending on how things pan out elsewhere. But if that doesn't happen then expect the Head Ball Coach and his gang of garnet and gray to return to the site of Jadeveon Clowney's You Tube hit. 

    Wisconsin (7-2) is stuck behind Ohio State in the Big Ten, so unless a lot of higher-ranked teams fall, the Badgers aren't going to the BCS. Winning out would probably send them to a Florida Bowl for the first time since December 2009. Not as swanky as three straight Rose Bowls, but still a great destination under first-year coach Gary Andersen.

AT&T Cotton Bowl

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    Auburn vs. Texas

    When: Jan 3, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Where: Arlington, Tex.

    TV: FOX

    Auburn (9-1) is still a strong contender for a BCS berth, and the Tigers get both Georgia and Alabama at home to end the season. It's unlikely they'd get an at-large bid with another loss, though, so with the assumption they fall to 'Bama in the Iron Bowl they'd still get to top off their amazing turnaround with a upper-tier bowl.

    Texas (7-2) is still atop the Big 12, and unbeaten in league play, but the Longhorns haven't faced the three toughest foes on its schedule. With equally hot Oklahoma State coming to Austin this week, and a December trip to Baylor still looming, odds are Texas drops one but still gets to play what will basically be a home game for its postseason appearance.

BBVA Compass Bowl

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    Mississippi State vs. Rutgers

    When: Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET

    Where: Birmingham, Ala.

    TV: ESPN

    Mississippi State (4-5) has a very tough road ahead just to get into a bowl, but it's doable. After hosting (and losing to) Alabama this week the Bulldogs would need to win at Arkansas, then end the regular season with an Egg Bowl win at home against Ole Miss. 

    Rutgers (5-3) has struggled in every AAC game its played, barely beating SMU and Temple while getting downed handily by Louisville and Houston. The Scarlet Knights still have to play UCF and Cincinnati, but all they need is one win to get this bid, and they finish with Connecticut and South Florida.

GoDaddy Bowl

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State

    When: Jan. 5, 9 p.m. ET

    Where: Mobile, Ala.

    TV: ESPN

    Northern Illinois (9-0) is the loser right now in the BCS-buster battle with Fresno State, which means the Huskies would end up in this third-tier bowl against the runner-up of FBS' worst league. It's not the way the college career of such a talent like Jordan Lynch should end, but so are the pitfalls of the bowl systems.

    Arkansas State (5-4) takes its turn in the rotating wheel of Sun Belt teams that are battling for second place behind clear league leader Louisiana-Lafayette. The Red Wolves must beat Western Kentucky on the road to end the season to keep this spot, though. 

Vizio Rose Bowl

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    Ohio State vs. Stanford

    When: Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET

    Where: Pasadena, Calif.

    TV: ESPN

    Ohio State (9-0) isn't out of the national title hunt, though the way Florida State has looked of late it will take a lot for the Buckeyes not to end up in the standard Big Ten champion's role in Pasadena. OSU's schedule keeps looking less impressive, with Illinois, Indiana and a fading Michigan remaining before getting a late resume-builder in the conference championship game. 

    Stanford (8-1) now is in control of where it ends up after dumping Oregon on Thursday, but the Cardinal aren't completely out of the running for the championship if strange things were to happen. As the top-rated one-loss team and with the highest-valued victory of all the contenders, Stanford still has a shot but also has a tough road that includes a visit to USC, the annual game with Notre Dame and (as of now) the Pac-12 final.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Baylor vs. Fresno State

    When: Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET

    Where: Glendale, Ariz.

    TV: ESPN

    Baylor (8-0) still feels it deserves a spot in the title game, and it does. Provided Florida State, Ohio State and, possibly, Stanford all lose over the next four weeks. Considering the unlikelihood of that series of events, the Bears are going to end up in Arizona, though they still have to visit Oklahoma State and host Texas before the Big 12 bid is locked up. 

    Fresno State (9-0) has padded its lead over Northern Illinois in the "which team the big conferences don't want in there" sweepstakes. The Bulldogs have two hurdles to that goal still left to overcome: the Nov. 29 regular season finale at San Jose State and then the Mountain West title game, at home against either Boise State or Utah State.

Alltate Sugar Bowl

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    Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

    Oregon vs. Texas A&M

    When: Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET

    Where: New Orleans, La.

    TV: ESPN

    Oregon (8-1) fell out of the national title picture with its dismal showing at Stanford, so the Ducks are now hoping just to hold onto an at-large slot—though Stanford's trip to USC next weekend could change the Pac-12 North's dynamics. It would be the fifth straight BCS bowl for Oregon, but the first time it ever got sent to New Orleans.

    Texas A&M (8-2) remains in this at-large spot both because of its record and because the undeniable belief the BCS will do whatever it can to make sure Johnny Manziel gets into this otherwise meaningless game. The Aggies still have to go to LSU and Missouri, though, which is no short order.

Discover Orange Bowl

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    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Clemson vs. Central Florida

    When: Jan. 3, time TBD

    Where: Miami, Fla.

    TV: ESPN

    Clemson (8-1) still have some work to do to hold onto this BCS at-large bid, especially Nov. 30 at South Carolina, but the Tigers aren't likely to get leapfrogged by enough teams to lose this spot if they win out. Watch out for the potential trap game this weekend against Georgia Tech, the kind of game Clemson has lost in the past.

    Central Florida (7-1) has all but locked up the AAC's automatic bid after holding off Houston on Saturday. Combined with the win at Louisville, the Knights are 2-0 against the three teams that sit behind them with one league loss. And they don't face Cincinnati, so even if they were to lose once—the toughest remaining games are home vs. Rutgers and the finale at SMU—the Knights would likely get the bid via tiebreaker.

Vizio BCS National Championship

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    Alabama vs. Florida State

    When: Jan. 6, 8:30 p.m. ET

    Where: Pasadena, Calif.

    TV: ESPN

    Alabama (9-0) maintained its stranglehold on a spot in this game with a convincing win over LSU, its first challenge in two months. Say what you want about the schedule, the lack of pizazz or any of that, the Crimson Tide have every reason to deserve to be in the championship game, and will continue to unless they lose. The visit to Auburn or a potential matchup with Missouri or South Carolina in the SEC title game are the only opportunities for that to happen.

    Florida State (9-0) benefited the most from Oregon's collapse against Stanford, and now are in control of its own destiny without having to worry about how others fare. The Seminoles just have to avoid a major letdown—the remaining regular season foes are a combined 10-18—or stumbling in the ACC title game against who knows who, and they'll get to face 'Bama for the championship.