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Expert Analysis: Bold College Football Bowl Projections


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Here are the first bowl projections for the season.

For now, the prediction is the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC will have two teams apiece in the BCS. Notre Dame looks like a lock right now, and it’s unfathomable to expect two teams from the ACC, Big East or Big Ten.

The only non-Big Six schools with a shot at a BCS berth are unbeaten Ohio and once-beaten Boise State. Remember that BCS rules stipulate that a non-automatic qualifying conference team gets an automatic spot if it is ranked in the top 12 or is in the top 16 of the final standings and is ranked higher than a conference champ from an AQ conference.

[Related: An early look at next weekend’s college football games]

This week, Boise State is 21st and Ohio 24th. Ohio must remain unbeaten to have a shot, while Boise almost certainly cannot lose again. The highest-ranked team this week from the Big Ten is Michigan, at 22nd. The highest-ranked team from the Big East is Rutgers, at 15th.

A few notes about these projections: Once again, there are 35 bowls, though there have been some name changes from last season. And a bowl’s tie-in with a league doesn’t necessarily mean it will get the third- or fourth-, etc., place team from the league; instead, it means it gets the third or fourth, etc., selection from that league.

BCS MATCHUPS

Rose Bowl
Site:
Pasadena, Calif.
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 5 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS vs. BCS (Big Ten vs. Pac-12)
Projection: Michigan vs. Oregon State
Note: The Big Ten race is a mess, but the projection here is the Wolverines win the league title game. As for Oregon State, a 10-2 record is the prediction, with losses to USC and Oregon. But USC already has a loss and also has two more potential losses to Oregon to go.

Orange Bowl
Site:
Miami
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS vs. BCS
Projection: Florida State vs. Louisville
Note: The ACC champ is contractually obligated to the Orange Bowl unless it is in the title game. As for the other half of this matchup, the Orange has the last pick among the at-large teams, which leaves it with the Big East champ.

Sugar Bowl
Site:
New Orleans
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS vs. BCS
Projection: Florida vs. Oklahoma
Note: This would be the No. 2 teams from the Big 12 and SEC.

Fiesta Bowl
Site:
Glendale, Ariz.
Date: Jan. 3
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS vs. BCS
Projection: Kansas State vs. Notre Dame
Note: K-State’s win over Oklahoma looms large, as the Fiesta is contractually obligated to take the Big 12 winner unless it is in the national title game. Notre Dame is on the other side because the Fiesta gets the first at-large pick.

National championship game
Site:
Miami
Date: Jan. 7
Time/TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS No. 1 vs. BCS No. 2
Projection: Alabama vs. Oregon
Note: Oregon would play another team from Alabama in this go-round. Auburn beat the Ducks in the title game after the 2010 season.

THE OTHER BOWLS

New Mexico Bowl
Site:
Albuquerque
Date: Dec. 15
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mountain West #5 vs. Pac-12 #7
Projection: Arizona State vs. San Diego State

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Site:
Boise, Idaho
Date: Dec. 15
Time/TV: 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mid-American No. 3 vs. Western Athletic #1
Projection: Northern Illinois vs. Utah State
Note: Projection is that WAC champ Louisiana Tech will fill an open bowl slot more geographically suitable.

Poinsettia Bowl
Site:
San Diego
Date: Dec. 20
Time/TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BYU if bowl-eligible vs. Mountain West #2
Projection: BYU vs. Nevada

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl
Site:
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Date: Dec. 21
Time/TV: 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big East #6 vs. Conference USA
Projection: Kent State vs. Marshall
Note: Projection is Big East will not be able to fill its slot.

New Orleans Bowl
Site:
New Orleans
Date: Dec. 22
Time/TV: Noon, ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Sun Belt #1
Projection: East Carolina vs. Louisiana-Monroe

Las Vegas Bowl
Site:
Las Vegas
Date: Dec. 22
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mountain West #1 vs. Pac-12 #5
Projection: Boise State vs. Arizona

Hawaii Bowl
Site:
Honolulu
Date: Dec. 24
Time/TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Mountain West #4
Projection: Tulsa vs. Fresno State

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Site:
Detroit
Date: Dec. 26
Time/TV: 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten #8 vs. Mid-American #1
Projection: Middle Tennessee State vs. Ohio
Note: Projection is Big Ten won’t be able to fill its slot.

Military Bowl
Site:
Washington, D.C.
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV: 3 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC #8 vs. Army if bowl-eligible
Projection: Arkansas State vs. Bowling Green
Note: Projection is both slots will be filled by at-large teams.

Belk Bowl
Site:
Charlotte, N.C.
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV: 6:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC #5 vs. Big East #3
Projection: Georgia Tech vs. Cincinnati

Holiday Bowl
Site:
San Diego
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV: 9:45 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big 12 #5 vs. Pac-12 #3
Projection: West Virginia vs. Stanford

Independence Bowl
Site:
Shreveport, La.
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV: 2 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC #7 vs. SEC #10
Projection: Duke vs. Troy
Note: Projection is SEC won’t be able to fill its slot.

Russell Athletic Bowl
Site:
Orlando
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV: 5:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC #3 vs. Big East #2
Projection: NC State vs. Rutgers
Note: This had been known as the Champs Sports Bowl

Texas Bowl
Site:
Houston
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV: 9 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten #6 vs. Big 12 #6
Projection: Iowa vs. Baylor

Armed Forces Bowl
Site:
Fort Worth, Texas
Date: Dec. 29
Time/TV: 11:45 a.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Mountain West #3
Projection: SMU vs. Air Force

Pinstripe Bowl
Site:
New York
Date: Dec. 29
Time/TV: 3:15 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big East #4 vs. Big 12 #7
Projection: Pittsburgh vs. TCU

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Site:
San Francisco
Date: Dec. 29
Time/TV: 4 p.m., ESPN2
Matchup: Pac-12 #6 vs. Navy if bowl-eligible
Projection: Utah vs. Navy

Alamo Bowl
Site:
San Antonio
Date: Dec. 29
Time/TV: 6:45 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big 12 #3 vs. Pac-12 #2
Projection: Texas Tech vs. USC

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Site:
Tempe, Ariz.
Date: Dec. 29
Time/TV: 10:15 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten #5 vs. Big 12 #4
Projection: Northwestern vs. Oklahoma State
Note: This previously was known as the Insight Bowl.

Music City Bowl
Site:
Nashville
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: Noon, ESPN
Matchup: ACC #6 vs. SEC #7
Projection: Miami vs. Missouri

Sun Bowl
Site:
El Paso, Texas
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 2 p.m., CBS
Matchup: ACC #4 vs. Pac-12 #4
Projection: Virginia Tech vs. UCLA

Liberty Bowl
Site:
Memphis
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA #1 vs. Big East #5 or SEC#8
Projection: UCF vs. Tennessee

Chick-fil-A Bowl
Site:
Atlanta
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC #2 vs. SEC #5
Projection: Clemson vs. Georgia

Heart of Dallas Bowl
Site:
Dallas
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: Noon, ESPNU
Matchup: Big Ten #7 vs. Big 12 #8
Projection: Purdue vs. Houston
Note: Projection is Big 12 won’t be able to fill its slot. This contest formerly was known as the TicketCity Bowl.

Gator Bowl
Site:
Jacksonville
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: Noon, ESPN2
Matchup: Big Ten #4 vs. SEC #6
Projection: Michigan State vs. Mississippi State

Capital One Bowl
Site:
Orlando
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ABC
Matchup: Big Ten #2 vs. SEC #2
Projection: Wisconsin vs. LSU

Outback Bowl
Site:
Tampa
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten #3 vs. SEC #3
Projection: Nebraska vs. South Carolina

Cotton Bowl
Site:
Arlington, Texas
Date: Jan. 4
Time/TV: 8 p.m., Fox
Matchup: Big 12 #2 vs. SEC #4
Projection: Texas vs. Texas A&M

BBVA Compass Bowl
Site:
Birmingham, Ala.
Date: Jan. 5
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big East #5/6 vs. SEC #9
Projection: Louisiana Tech vs. Vanderbilt
Note: Projection is Big East won’t be able to fill its slot.

GoDaddy.com Bowl
Site:
Mobile, Ala.
Date: Jan. 6
Time/TV: 9 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mid-American #2 vs. Sun Belt No. 2
Projection: Toledo vs. Western Kentucky

More from Mike Huguenin >> An early look at next weekend’s college football games

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