Notre Dame will have a partner in the BCS Championship Game. We'll see if Kent State (or Boise State, or Northern Illinois) officially finishes in the top 16 of the BCS standings and gets a coveted spot in a BCS game. Everyone will be able to make travel plans and study their team's bowl opponent.
Until then, we have the last bowl projections. And the most interesting case with the bowl projections is Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets are 6-6 and can remove any drama by beating Florida State in the ACC Championship Game and getting the league's automatic BCS berth, but that's not the most likely outcome. Georgia Tech is a two-touchdown underdog and has already prepared in case it loses, filing a waiver to the NCAA to get a bowl-eligibility waiver if it finishes 6-7. Somebody will be very upset at the final outcome of that decision.
Right now, we have 71 teams projected to be eligible for 70 spots (sorry to Central Michigan, which was the odd team out at 6-6). That includes a projection that 5-6 Pitt wins at South Florida on Saturday and becomes eligible, while 5-6 UConn loses to Cincinnati and stays home. The bowl bubble teams will be watching the Big East closely this weekend.
Those bubble teams will also be very interested in Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets' case for the waiver makes sense: The only reason they are playing in the ACC title game is that Miami and North Carolina are ineligible. Miami declared last week that it wouldn't accept a bid to the conference championship game if it earned one, as it prepares for NCAA sanctions. Without the ACC title game, Georgia Tech would be 6-6 and going to a bowl game. A 6-7 UCLA team was allowed in a bowl last year after it lost the Pac-12 Championship Game. Punishing the Yellow Jackets for being a replacement in a conference championship game doesn't seem quite right.
It also doesn't seem right that a bowl eligible team gets left out of the postseason for a 6-7 team that had plenty of chances to get a seventh win. And, it's probably safe to say that the team that gets dumped off the bowl bubble won't come from one of the major conferences. A team like Western Kentucky or maybe another MAC team might get left out. The college football system typically favors the larger teams from the larger conferences. Georgia Tech seems confident, as do representatives from the Music City Bowl, who are already assuming its bowl will have an ACC team (which would require Georgia Tech being eligible).
We have Georgia Tech out in our final projections. Although, the way college football works, it's probably unlikely the NCAA would show favor to a MAC or Sun Belt team over one from the ACC. We shall see.
There are already some teams that have officially accepted bids. Here's the list:
• Navy, Fight Hunger Bowl
• Air Force, Armed Forces Bowl
• SMU, Hawaii Bowl
• Louisiana-Lafayette, New Orleans Bowl
• San Diego State and BYU, Poinsettia Bowl
• Utah State, Potato Bowl
• Nevada, New Mexico Bowl
With those bids included, here are the final bowl projections before the bowl schedule is set. Asterisks are for replacement teams for conferences that couldn't fill their tie-ins:
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