Final Projected 2014 BCS Bowls — December 8

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The BCS — at least the part that everyone hated with an undying passion — ends Sunday. But the bowl games, which could range anywhere from epic showdowns to embarrassing blowouts, will stretch into January.

BCS Bowl Projections
Bowl Matchup
Title Game Florida State vs. Auburn
Rose Bowl Stanford vs. Michigan State
Sugar Bowl Alabama vs. Oklahoma
Orange Bowl Clemson vs. Ohio State
Fiesta Bowl Baylor vs. UCF
Scroll down for more

When a BCS season ends like this one did, though, there isn’t much to say other than to just try as best as you can to relive the great games that filled the final week of the season.

It’s clear now that Auburn’s victory in the SEC championship game added to Ohio State’s loss to Michigan State will send the Tigers to the BCS title game. But where is everyone else headed? We project here:

BCS National Championship Game: Florida State Seminoles (BCS No. 1) vs. Auburn Tigers (BCS No. 2)

Comment: Auburn waited all day to see if they’d either have to bite their fingernails or be a little less frazzled come Sunday when it came to their national title hopes. It turned out that Michigan State was ready to help the Tigers out, so Auburn will be walking into Pasadena with a chance to close out the BCS era with another SEC national championship. They’ll meet No. 1 Florida State, the only team to finish the year undefeated in regular season play.

Rose Bowl: Stanford Cardinal (Pac-12 champion) vs. Michigan State Spartans (Big Ten champion)

Comment: Stanford certainly looked the part of Pac-12 champion against Arizona State in the conference title game, and for that the Cardinal will be on their way to the Rose Bowl as Pac-12 champs. They’ll get the chance to take on Big Ten champions Michigan State, who closed out its season with a huge victory over Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, clinching their spot here.

Sugar Bowl: Alabama Crimson Tide (At-large selection) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (At-large selection)

Comment: Alabama will get the first look from the Sugar Bowl when it tries to replace its lost SEC champion in Auburn. Sure, the Orange Bowl will have a first shot to replace Florida State, but knowing the way the BCS bowls work, the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl are sure to work out a way to share the responsibility of getting their fans what they want. Oklahoma would be a nice pairing for the Sugar Bowl’s final BCS bow.

Orange Bowl: Clemson Tigers (At-large selection) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (At-large selection)

Comment: Clemson will be the first place the Orange Bowl will look when trying to replace Florida State, but the real question and big story here will be how the bowls treat Ohio State. The once-beaten Buckeyes looked ready for a trip to the BCS title game, but instead will be missing out on the chance to close out the BCS with a title. Instead, the Orange Bowl will have a chance to pick first and third, and could pick a variety of teams to square off with Clemson, but Ohio State looks like the pick.

Fiesta Bowl: Baylor Bears (Big 12 champion) vs. UCF Knights (AAC champion)

Comment: A final weekend of classic BCS football played right into Baylor hands. First, Northern Illinois dropped its final chance to secure a BCS bowl bid, opening up the door slightly for the Bears to get an at-large bid. But come Saturday night, Baylor was playing for it all — a Big 12 title opportunity after Oklahoma State faltered. And with a victory over Texas, Baylor is BCS bowl bound. They’ll likely get AAC champion UCF as the Fiesta Bowl will be saddled with the last pool choice pick, which in all likelihood will be the Knights.

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Projected 2014 BCS Bowls — December 1

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The BCS always did cause lively debates, most of which were reliant upon projections. That’s why a site like this could even exist. What would happen if a team won out? Or if a top team lost?

BCS Bowl Projections
Bowl Matchup
Title Game Florida State vs. Ohio State
Rose Bowl Stanford vs. Michigan State
Sugar Bowl Auburn vs. UCF
Orange Bowl Clemson vs. Alabama
Fiesta Bowl Oklahoma State vs. NIU
Scroll down for more

As the season comes to an end and the unexpected does happen — Florida State is the No. 1 team in the country, Auburn beats Alabama on a returned field goal with no time remaining — things begin to become less about the projection and more about the on-field performance.

Prove your team is better. The BCS bowls give teams the last chance to do that. Where do these great squads belong when the season ends?

BCS National Championship Game: Florida State Seminoles (BCS No. 1) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (BCS No. 2)

Comment: When the season plays out like it has, traditional powers like Ohio State and Florida State seem to often take advantage. Sure, if Auburn is to win the SEC next weekend they’ll feel like the BCS was created specifically to leave the Tigers out, having already been left cold in 2004. For now it seems like these two teams — save for the conference title games they’re still yet to play — have done all they can to earn these spots.

Rose Bowl: Stanford Cardinal (Pac-12 champion) vs. Michigan State Spartans (At-large selection)

Comment: With Ohio State BCS title game bound, the Rose Bowl would normally look to the Big Ten’s roster of highly ranked teams for a replacement. The problem, especially after Wisconsin dropped its best shot at securing a at-large bid against Penn State, is that there aren’t many of those around this year. Michigan State has a shot to remain in at-large contention, but they’ll have to make a strong statement against Ohio State in the conference title game to keep these hopes alive and stay in the top 14 at season’s end if they lose.

Sugar Bowl: Auburn Tigers (SEC champion) vs. UCF Knights (AAC champion)

Comment: Amazing to see the ‘SEC champ’ title go next to the Sugar Bowl selection, isn’t it? For years we’ve seen the SEC champion head straight to the BCS title game, no questions asked. Of course, the Sugar Bowl turned around each year and took a replacement pick from the conference to fulfill its regional preference. But if Auburn misses out on the title game, they’re slotted here automatically. And with the second ‘draft’ pick among at-large picks, the Sugar will have to give AAC champ UCF a serious look so as to not select Northern Illinois.

Orange Bowl: Clemson Tigers (At-large selection) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (At-large selection)

Comment: Does the Orange Bowl actually have the guts to bypass the ACC? Clemson’s loss to South Carolina might allow the bowl to do that, and select somewhat underwhelming, but powerful, Oregon. The chance to pair the Ducks with Alabama might present itself if ACC champ Florida State is title game bound as expected. But can the Orange Bowl really afford it? For now, a two-loss Tigers team probably gets the choice over two-loss Oregon and once-beaten Baylor.

Fiesta Bowl: Northern Illinois Huskies (At-large selection) vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (Big 12 champion)

Comment: A Big 12 that has been unpredictable and a whole lot of fun to watch is finally winding down with Oklahoma State holding poll position. All the Cowboys need to do is top Oklahoma in Bedlam next weekend to grab this spot. Though facing Northern Illinois might not be the reward the Cowboys are looking for, the Huskies have played a strong followup season after making a BCS bowl last year and a win next week all but assures them of a return trip.

Projected 2014 BCS Bowls — October 27

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A first set of BCS rankings does have the tendency to crystallize a few things about the chase for BCS bowl bids when the season is out. Who deserves any of the 10 slots available? But more importantly, who is in best shape to grab them?

BCS Bowl Projections
Bowl Matchup
Title Game Alabama vs. Oregon
Rose Bowl Stanford vs. Ohio State
Sugar Bowl Missouri vs. Clemson
Orange Bowl Florida State vs. Louisville
Fiesta Bowl Baylor vs. Northern Illinois
Scroll down for more

A first BCS rankings might not answer all these questions, but it at least gives a good sense of where the conversation is headed. And, certainly, another weekend of games will have lots to say about the next step in this chat.

BCS National Championship Game: Alabama Crimson Tide (BCS No. 1) vs. Oregon Ducks (BCS No. 2)

Comment: When conference foes prove little to no obstacle to two of the best teams in the country, we can feel relatively confident that there’s not much wrong with the Crimson Tide and Ducks. Is there any one in the country who could pose a threat to this potential title game meeting? Sure, Florida State is sitting right there, but if these two win out, it seems like a foregone conclusion that this is our national title tandem.

Rose Bowl: Stanford Cardinal (At-large selection) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten champion)

Comment: Escaping with a victory over Oregon State might have been more important than it seemed on the surface to the Cardinal, given the precarious place they find themselves in. With a home game against Oregon looming and a Pac-12 full of potential upsets, the victory gave Stanford a much needed steadying victory and possible helped the Cardinal on its way to a Rose Bowl. For Ohio State, the name of the game is win out and hope out to not land in the Rose Bowl, but in the title game.

Sugar Bowl: Missouri Tigers (At-large selection) vs. Clemson Tigers (At-large selection)

Comment: A loss decimates Missouri’s hopes at a national title game bid, but could they still land in the Sugar Bowl? It’s possible. Especially with Auburn’s tough schedule upcoming and the bevy of current and upcoming two-loss teams in the SEC, the Tigers might still have the best shot at not only a bid in the SEC title game, but also a bid in a potential BCS bowl as a two-loss, 11-win SEC team. Clemson would play a nice counterpart to Missouri in a Sugar Bowl.

Orange Bowl: Florida State Seminoles (ACC champion) vs. Louisville Cardinals (AAC champion)

Comment: Florida State cruised to victory, as did Louisville, but one team’s fight to get to a BCS bowl is the more difficult, while the other’s is a fight to hope that things fall their way and they don’t land here at all. After suffering the first loss of their season, Louisville must hope that UCF stumbles badly along the way, and the Cardinals can sneak by for a BCS title game bid. Florida State is hoping that a national title game is in their future.

Fiesta Bowl: Northern Illinois Huskies (At-large selection) vs. Baylor Bears (Big 12 champion)

Comment: All Baylor does is score points and win these days, as does Northern Illinois recently. Both teams are undefeated and loving life on the loss-less side of things. As the AAC’s eventual conference champ is likely to be underwhelingly ranked in the BCS standings, things look bright for a potential BCS buster, and Northern Illinois seems to fit the billing just right. The Huskies’ competition will come from Fresno State, but expect Northern Illinois to prevail in the BCS standings when it counts even if the Bulldogs run the table. Baylor will hope to find its way into a BCS title game bid, but if not, the Fiesta Bowl is the landing spot as a host.

Projected 2014 BCS Bowls — October 20

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One final time in college football we get to decide who plays for a national title on a set of five bowl games whose purpose is stated simply — match the two best teams at the end of the season for the national title. Do we know who those teams are yet?

BCS Bowl Projections
Bowl Matchup
Title Game Alabama vs. Oregon
Rose Bowl Stanford vs. Ohio State
Sugar Bowl Missouri vs. Clemson
Orange Bowl Florida State vs. Louisville
Fiesta Bowl Baylor vs. Northern Illinois
Scroll down for more

And better yet, do we know where eight other teams constrained to playing somewhat of a second fiddle to those national title contenders would land if the season ended today? What about in a few weeks? The beauty of the BCS was always the drama it engendered by simply existing. This year will be no different.

BCS National Championship Game: Alabama Crimson Tide (BCS No. 1) vs. Oregon Ducks (BCS No. 2)

Comment: Oregon has its chance to make the kind of national statement it needs against Stanford. A team like Florida State, however, just got its chance. And it took full advantage, but until that time comes for Oregon, it had better look in its rearview (or front-view, depending on how tomorrow plays out) mirror and watch carefully as the rest of the pack chases this bid.

Rose Bowl: Stanford Cardinal (At-large selection) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten champion)

Comment: Stanford did exactly what it needed to do against UCLA — bounce back from a disheartening loss to underrated (and truthfully underperforming) Utah with a big win over a top-10 team. Beyond the mental and psychological impact such bounce-back can have, the Cardinal are against clearly in the running for a bid to a BCS bowl. Lost in all this conversation is undefeated Ohio State, which might miss the title game by the skin of their teeth

Sugar Bowl: Missouri Tigers (At-large selection) vs. Clemson Tigers (At-large selection)

Comment: Tigers have been something to behold this season — the up-and-down of LSU, the early dominance of Clemson and Missouri’s resurgence as a dominant national power. At least that’s what’s transpired thus far in the college football year. Missouri has been great up and down the field and has run off an undefeated start to their season. Could they pull off the undefeated SEC regular season and show down with the likes of someone like Alabama for a shot at a title game bid?

Orange Bowl: Florida State Seminoles (ACC champion) vs. Louisville Cardinals (AAC champion)

Comment: Even with their victory over Clemson, nothing is guaranteed for Florida State. Even a No. 2 in tomorrow’s BCS rankings wouldn’t be enough to secure anything. Most teams know that as the BCS era comes to an end. The shock of Louisville’s Friday night loss shouldn’t come as a season-ending blow to the Cardinals, which remain very much alive in the AAC chase for a BCS bowl bid, which comes automatically to the conference’s champion, and could land the conference in the Orange Bowl.

Fiesta Bowl: Northern Illinois Huskies (At-large selection) vs. Baylor Bears (Big 12 champion)

Comment: Name recognition goes a long way in the BCS, as does recency of success. Northern Illinois was the BCS buster du jour of 2012. Now with an undefeated start to the 2013 season, the Huskies could very much be back in the BCS hunt. The Huskies will have some competition from Fresno State this season, but when push comes to shove, knowing the Huskies will benefit the Huskies. The Fiesta Bowl will then pair the at-large selection up with the host team, the Big 12’s champion Baylor.

Projected 2014 BCS Bowls — October 13

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Upsets — love ’em or hate ’em, they’re as much a part of college football as is Saturday morning fogginess during “College GameDay.” For the first time in 2013, really, during week seven, we got a handful of truly important ones. And though their outcomes might not have set things in stone, they certainly shuffled things up a bit when it comes to the BCS.

BCS Bowl Projections
Bowl Matchup
Title Game Alabama vs. Oregon
Rose Bowl Stanford vs. Ohio State
Sugar Bowl LSU vs. Florida State
Orange Bowl Clemson vs. Oklahoma
Fiesta Bowl Baylor vs. Louisville
Scroll down for more

So what’s next for the likes of Georgia and Stanford? What becomes of two teams who were looking fondly toward a BCS berth during the final season of this era? We can only guess, but the outlook for now shifts somewhat dramatically for these teams.

BCS National Championship Game: Alabama Crimson Tide (BCS No. 1) vs. Oregon Ducks (BCS No. 2)

Comment: There’s no denying it, Alabama, for all its faults this season, still seems to be the best equipped and ready for a title game run in 2013. Who else can challenge the Tide? Could it be that now, with Stanford out of the way, the best chance at knocking off the reign of the SEC lies in Eugene? Perhaps, and Oregon went about proving their Pac-12 dominance in a victory over Washington.

Rose Bowl: Stanford Cardinal (At-large selection) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten champion)

Comment: The loss to Utah hurts Stanford, it hurts the Cardinal bad. But there is plenty of hope left in Palo Alto for a BCS bowl berth. Even if Stanford is unable to resurrect its title game ambitions with a victory over Oregon later this year, it could be headed to the Rose Bowl if it can solidify itself as a 10-win club in the Pac-12. There will be plenty to deal with, mostly likely UCLA’s resurgence and the possibility of Washington’s continued success, but for now, the Cardinal seem like a strong possibility here.

Sugar Bowl: LSU Tigers (At-large selection) vs. Florida State Seminoles (At-large selection)

Comment: One loss does not a season make. Two losses? Perhaps. The second loss of the season for Georgia could end up being killer, as the Bulldogs might miss an opportunity at a BCS bowl in the era’s last year. LSU’s important win over Florida strengthens the guys from Baton Rouge’s case for a BCS at-large bid to replace the SEC bid in the Sugar Bowl. As for Florida State, the looming battle with Clemson will be telling, but even a loss there would not be world-ending.

Orange Bowl: Clemson Tigers (ACC champion) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (At-large selection)

Comment: Clemson has made its name this season as a team led by offensive strikers from around the field. It was no different on Saturday against Boston College, though those strikes were somewhat less often. For Oklahoma, however, the offensive strikes barely came against Texas. Does that mean that the Sooners are down for the count on BCS terms? Not quite yet, but Oklahoma will have to show a bit of resolve to get to another BCS bid, as the trips to Baylor and Oklahoma State laid out in front of the Sooners don’t seem to spell positive things quite yet.

Fiesta Bowl: Louisville Cardinals (AAC champion) vs. Baylor Bears (Big 12 champion)

Comment: Louisville continues its romp though its AAC schedule but must continue to ponder the question whether an undefeated run thought their schedule would spell more than a bid to one of the four non-title game BCS bowls. For Baylor, however, Oklahoma’s loss to Texas sets them up nicely for a Big 12 title, with the opportunity to play all the remaining contenders in the Big 12 chase, including undefeated in conference play Texas and Texas Tech and a showdown with Oklahoma State. Wins could spell a big fiesta for the Bears.

Projected 2014 BCS Bowls — October 6

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The BCS has always had trouble with too many teams finishing the season undefeated. It’s seasons like 2004 that have brought the BCS to its knees and foretold the end of this era. But how fitting would it be for the BCS, in its final year, to bow out with one last blowout controversy with a handful of undefeated teams and no true way to differentiate them?

BCS Bowl Projections
Bowl Matchup
Title Game Alabama vs. Stanford
Rose Bowl Oregon vs. Ohio State
Sugar Bowl Georgia vs. Florida State
Orange Bowl Clemson vs. Michigan
Fiesta Bowl Oklahoma vs. Louisville
Scroll down for more

With Stanford’s big win over Washington and Ohio State’s big win over Northwestern, we might just be headed for a season’s end with bevy of deserving teams with spotless records. Though it seems pretty assured an undefeated SEC team would make the title game, who would get the nod to play that SEC squad in the title game?

BCS National Championship Game: Alabama Crimson Tide (BCS No. 1) vs. Stanford Cardinal (BCS No. 2)

Comment: An impressive and tight victory over a very good Washington team was among the best wins of the weekend among title contenders, and with Oregon in Palo Alto facing the Cardinal squarely down the road, things could be coming up Cardinal in the last BCS title game. Alabama, for their part, has had little trouble starting their season with another undefeated run through early opponents.

Rose Bowl: Oregon Ducks (At-large selection) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten champion)

Comment: Ohio State’s strong victory over Northwestern was as important as Stanford’s Washington victory, but with only a game against Michigan during the final Big Ten regular season week left as far as tough games, is there enough to push Ohio State past a potential Pac-12 undefeated team? As for Oregon, if they come up short of a Pac-12 title and an undefeated run through their season, they’d land softly in the Rose Bowl.

Sugar Bowl: Georgia Bulldogs (At-large selection) vs. Florida State Seminoles (At-large selection)

Comment: Georgia continues to keep their national title and BCS hopes alive with impressive victories in nationally televised games with Aaron Murray at the helm. Sure, the Bulldogs’ loss to Clemson was crushing to open the season, but it seems all the more likely that Georgia belongs in the upper echelon of teams in the country. With that in mind, the Sugar Bowl would likely want to take the Bulldogs as a replacement and pair them with the ACC’s second-best team, Florida State.

Orange Bowl: Clemson Tigers (ACC champion) vs. Michigan Wolverines (At-large selection)

Comment: After two weeks of struggling against lesser foes, Michigan showed their strength against Minnesota for a much-needed easy victory in Big Ten play. Though it hasn’t been impressive, Michigan has won five games to open the season, and even if they are unable to top Ohio State at the end of this year, a one-loss Big Ten team will be hard to pass up for an at-large BCS bid. As for the Tigers, will a victory over Georgia and a potential victory over Florida State be enough to push them into the national title game or will they have to settle for an Orange Bowl bid as simply the ACC’s champion?

Fiesta Bowl: Louisville Cardinals (AAC champion) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (Big 12 champion)

Comment: Louisville might be at the very bottom of the totem pole when it comes to teams with the chance to capitalize on an undefeated season. Mostly, that’s a result of the schedule laid in front of them in the all-new AAC. But that’s not to say that things couldn’t fall in their favor, there’s just a lot that has to happen. As for Oklahoma, the Sooners will be tested against a Baylor team that seems unstoppable, but if they are able to triumph there, they’d be favored to make the Fiesta Bowl as the Big 12’s champion and host.

Projected 2014 BCS Bowls — September 29

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The ACC, long a secondary consideration in the BCS era (a 3-13 record in BCS bowls doesn’t help) is having a 2013 to remember thus far. And when some teams expected to thrive in the early going fall apart unexpectedly, it’s the ACC that’s there to pick up the pieces.

BCS Bowl Projections
Bowl Matchup
Title Game Alabama vs. Stanford
Rose Bowl Oregon vs. Ohio State
Sugar Bowl Georgia vs. Florida State
Orange Bowl Clemson vs. Michigan
Fiesta Bowl Oklahoma vs. Louisville
Scroll down for more

With Oklahoma State’s surprising loss to West Virginia exposing some very important flaws in the Cowboys’ attack, the Big 12 looks like Oklahoma’s to lose, and perhaps a one-BCS-bid conference in 2013. That’ll happen in a 10-team conference and unexpected early losses.

BCS National Championship Game: Alabama Crimson Tide (BCS No. 1) vs. Stanford Cardinal (BCS No. 2)

Comment: Alabama finally flexed the defensive muscle against Ole Miss that had been so integral to its back-to-back runs to national titles these last two years. And with that reassurance, it looks even more like the Crimson Tide can make a return trip to the title game. Stanford started a bit slow against Washington State, but had little trouble dispatching of the Cougars by the end of the night.

Rose Bowl: Oregon Ducks (At-large selection) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten champion)

Comment: Oregon again put up wild offensive numbers, this time destroying California in Autzen with ease. Ohio State had a little more trouble with Wisconsin, but was able to take advantage of a rowdy crowd at the Horseshoe to put up another win. Do either of these teams have losses in their future? Looking at their schedules and how they’ve played thus far, perhaps not. Would that be enough for Ohio State to get to the title game? It’s an important question, but it more than likely would for Oregon.

Sugar Bowl: Georgia Bulldogs (At-large selection) vs. Florida State Seminoles (At-large selection)

Comment: Georgia might have been the first team with a legit national title chance to stumble out of the gate in 2013, but since losing to Clemson, the Bulldogs have looked every bit their preseason hype. Especially in their all-important victory over LSU on Saturday, the Bulldogs showed why they should not yet be counted out of the title race. But if they fall short, the Sugar Bowl could be waiting. If Florida State, clearly among the best of a revived ACC conference, finishes the season with just a loss to Clemson, they’d be well deserving of this bid as well.

Orange Bowl: Clemson Tigers (ACC champion) vs. Michigan Wolverines (At-large selection)

Comment: Clemson has led the charge of resurgence in the ACC, and spent little time toying around this week with Wake Forest. Another convincing victory for the Tigers makes it look all the more likely that they’ll be the eventual ACC champs, and if they can capture the conference title without making the title game, they’ll land in the Orange Bowl. Michigan should call for at least a look as far as at-large bids go, and have been able to stay undefeated despite some troubles.

Fiesta Bowl: Louisville Cardinals (AAC champion) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (Big 12 champion)

Comment: Louisville had the week off to watch from a distance as the previous Big 12 favorite Oklahoma State fell hard against West Virginia. It was Oklahoma, instead, that looked like the class of the conference by beating Notre Dame on the road. If the Sooners can match that kind of performance in conference play, they’ll be set for a Big 12 title and the Fiesta Bowl bid that comes with.