Bowl projections: Final day drama boosts some

This final weekend of the regular season was supposed to be nothing more than an anticlimax that led to Sunday’s inevitable announcement of an Alabama-LSU rematch in the BCS championship game.

Joseph Randle and Oklahoma State did all they could to impress the BCS voters.
(US Presswire)

Instead, we suddenly have plenty of suspense. Oklahoma State made sure of it.

We know LSU is playing for the national title Jan. 9 at New Orleans. But who’s going to face the Tigers: Alabama or Oklahoma State?

Oklahoma State needed to blow out Oklahoma to have any shot at finishing ahead of Alabama in the BCS standings. The Cowboys obliged with a 44-10 thumping of their longtime nemesis.

Alabama was second and Oklahoma State third in last week’s BCS standings, but the Cowboys’ position in the human polls used by the BCS is the key. While Oklahoma State’s average computer ranking last week was third, one spot behind the Tide, the Cowboys were fifth in both polls. Can the Cowboys make up enough ground to pass Alabama, which was second in both polls?

[Wetzel: SEC reaps reward of rejected playoff plan]

The uncertainty isn’t limited to the second and third spots in the BCS standings. The final placement of Michigan and TCU also bears watching.

Houston’s 49-28 loss to Southern Miss in the Conference USA championship game opened up a potential automatic BCS bid for TCU if it finishes in the top 16 of the BCS standings.

The champion of Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West, the Sun Belt or the Western Athletic Conference automatically qualifies for a BCS game if it’s ranked in the top 12 of the BCS standings or if it’s in the top 16 of the BCS standings and is ranked ahead of the champion of one of the six major conferences. The highest-ranked Big East team currently is No. 23 West Virginia.

TCU was 18th in the BCS standings Saturday before beating UNLV 56-9 in its regular-season finale, but that might not be enough to get the Horned Frogs to the top 16. TCU must hope that losses Saturday by No. 6 Houston, No. 9 Oklahoma, No. 13 Michigan State and No. 14 Georgia allow the Frogs to move up a couple of spots. But TCU could get passed by No. 20 Clemson, which hammered No. 5 Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game.

Michigan, which was idle Saturday, entered the weekend 16th in the BCS standings and must move into the top 14 to qualify for a BCS bid. If Michigan cracks the top 14, the Wolverines’ large fan base and drawing power would make them a shoo-in for a BCS invitation.

Boise State (11-1) and Kansas State (10-2) will be interested observers. Both will be in the at-large mix if Michigan and/or TCU don’t get into the top 16.

[Wetzel: Flawed BCS process must be scrapped]

Here are our latest bowl projections. A few notes:

• There again are 35 bowls, though there have been some name changes.

• A bowl’s tie-in with a league doesn’t necessarily mean it will get the third-, fourth-, fifth-, etc., place team from the league; rather, it means it gets the third, fourth, fifth, etc., selection from that league.

*—denotes a team that will be in the bowl because a league will not be able to fulfill its obligation. In some situations, other conferences have deals to provide teams if the “original” conference can’t fill its spots; in those instances, the fill-in conference first fills it own bowl slots. If the fill-in conference doesn’t have enough bowl-eligible teams, the bowl then is allowed to pick an at-large team that is bowl eligible.

†—denotes a team that already has accepted a bid.

BCS MATCHUPS
ROSE
Site: Pasadena, Calif.
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV: 5 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: BCS vs. BCS
Projection: Oregon† vs. Wisconsin†
FIESTA
Site: Glendale, Ariz.
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: BCS vs. BCS
Projection: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford
SUGAR
Site: New Orleans
Date: Jan. 3
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: BCS vs. BCS
Projection: Kansas State vs. Michigan
ORANGE
Site: Miami
Date: Jan. 4
Time/TV: 8 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: BCS vs. BCS
Projection: Clemson† vs. West Virginia
BCS TITLE GAME
Site: New Orleans
Date: Jan. 9
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: BCS #1 vs. BCS #2
Projection: LSU vs. Alabama
OTHER BOWL GAMES
NEW MEXICO
Site: Albuquerque
Date: Dec. 17
Time/TV: 2 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Mountain West vs. Pac-12 #7
Projection: Wyoming vs. Temple*
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO
Site: Boise, Idaho
Date: Dec. 17
Time/TV: 5:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: MAC #3 vs. WAC
Projection: Ohio vs. Utah State
NEW ORLEANS
Site: New Orleans
Date: Dec. 17
Time/TV: 9 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: C-USA vs. Sun Belt
Projection: Tulsa vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
BEEF ‘O’BRADY’S
Site: St. Petersburg, Fla.
Date: Dec. 20
Time/TV: 8 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big East #6 vs. C-USA
Projection: Florida International*† vs. Marshall
POINSETTIA
Site: San Diego
Date: Dec. 21
Time/TV: 8 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Mountain West vs. WAC
Projection: TCU vs. Louisiana Tech
LAS VEGAS
Site: Las Vegas
Date: Dec. 22
Time/TV: 8 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Mountain West vs. Pac-12 #5
Projection: Boise State vs. Arizona State
HAWAII
Site: Honolulu
Date: Dec. 24
Time/TV: 8 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: C-USA vs. WAC
Projection: SMU vs. Nevada
INDEPENDENCE
Site: Shreveport, La.
Date: Dec. 26
Time/TV: 5 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: ACC #7 vs. Mtn. West #3
Projection: Wake Forest vs. Air Force
LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA
Site: Detroit
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV: 4:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten #8 vs. MAC #2
Projection: Northwestern vs. Toledo
BELK
Site: Charlotte, N.C.
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV: 8 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: ACC #5 vs. Big East #3
Projection: N.C. State vs. Louisville
MILITARY
Site: Washington
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV: 4:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: ACC #8 vs. Navy/open
Projection: North Carolina vs. Illinois*
HOLIDAY
Site: San Diego
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV: 8 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big 12 #5 vs. Pac-12 #3
Projection: Missouri vs. California
CHAMPS SPORTS
Site: Orlando, Fla.
Date: Dec. 29
Time/TV: 5:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: ACC #3 vs. Big East #2/Notre Dame
Projection: Florida State vs. Notre Dame
ALAMO
Site: San Antonio
Date: Dec. 29
Time/TV: 9 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big 12 #3 vs. Pac-12 #2
Projection: Oklahoma vs. Washington
ARMED FORCES
Site: Dallas
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV: Noon/ESPN
Matchup: C-USA vs. BYU/open
Projection: Southern Miss vs. BYU†
PINSTRIPE
Site: New York
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV: 3:20 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big East #4 vs. Big 12 #7
Projection: Rutgers vs. Iowa State
MUSIC CITY
Site: Nashville, Tenn.
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV: 6:40 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: ACC #6 vs. SEC #7
Projection: Virginia vs. Mississippi State
INSIGHT
Site: Tempe, Ariz.
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV: 10 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten #4 vs. Big 12 #4
Projection: Penn State vs. Texas
TEXAS
Site: Houston
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: Noon/ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten #6 vs. Big 12 #6
Projection: Iowa vs. Texas A&M
SUN
Site: El Paso, Texas
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 2 p.m./CBS
Matchup: ACC #4 vs. Pac-12 #4
Projection: Georgia Tech vs. Utah
LIBERTY
Site: Memphis, Tenn.
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m./ABC
Matchup: C-USA #1 vs. SEC #8
Projection: Cincinnati* vs. Vanderbilt
KRAFT FIGHT HUNGER
Site: San Francisco
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Pac-12 #6 vs. Army/open
Projection: UCLA vs. San Diego State*
CHICK-FIL-A
Site: Atlanta
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 7:30 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: ACC #2 vs. SEC #5
Projection: Virginia Tech vs. Auburn
TICKETCITY
Site: Dallas
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV: Noon/ESPNU
Matchup: Big Ten #7 vs. C-USA
Projection: Purdue vs. Houston
CAPITAL ONE
Site: Orlando, Fla.
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV: 1 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten #2 vs. SEC #2
Projection: Nebraska vs. South Carolina
GATOR
Site: Jacksonville, Fla.
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV: 1 p.m./ESPN2
Matchup: Big Ten #5 vs. SEC #6
Projection: Ohio State vs. Florida
OUTBACK
Site: Tampa, Fla.
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV: 1 p.m./ABC
Matchup: Big Ten #3 vs. SEC #3
Projection: Michigan State vs. Georgia
COTTON
Site: Arlington, Texas
Date: Jan. 6
Time/TV: 8 p.m./Fox
Matchup: Big 12 #2 vs. SEC #4
Projection: Baylor vs. Arkansas
BBVA COMPASS
Site: Birmingham, Ala.
Date: Jan. 7
Time/TV: 1 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: Big East #5 vs. SEC #9
Projection: Pittsburgh vs. Western Michigan*
GoDADDY.COM
Site: Mobile, Ala.
Date: Jan. 8
Time/TV: 9 p.m./ESPN
Matchup: MAC #1 vs. Sun Belt
Projection: Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State

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