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Home | Sports |

Expert Analysis: College football bowl projections (UPDATED)


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Mike Huguenin is the epitome of a Gamedayr. He has spent over 28 years in sports journalism, with notable stints at Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com, The Sporting News and the Orlando Sentinel.  On Gamedayr, Mike provides expert analysis on Heisman updates, weekly game news, bowl projections and college basketball.

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Here are the latest bowl projections for the season. We know the matchup for the national title, but there remains some mystery for the other BCS games.

Alabama and Notre Dame will meet in the national championship game. Title games in the ACC (Florida State vs. Georgia Tech) and Big Ten (Nebraska vs. Wisconsin) will provide teams for the Orange and Rose bowls. Kansas State locks up a bid in the Fiesta if it beats Texas in its regular-season finale. Louisville (Big East) and Stanford (Pac-12) already have earned automatic BCS bids.

[2012 coaching carousel: All the coaches that have been fired thus far]

That covers the six conference champions and one of the at-large spots (Notre Dame). So what about the other three at-large spots? Florida basically locked up one when it won at Florida State last Saturday; the Gators seem a certainty for the Sugar Bowl. And Oregon looks good for a spot in the Fiesta. That leaves one open spot, and Oklahoma seems likely to get it.

BCS rules stipulate that if a team from a non-automatic qualifying conference (C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt and WAC) finishes in the top 16 of the final BCS standings and is ranked ahead of a league champ from an AQ conference, the non-AQ team is guaranteed a spot. Northern Illinois (12-1) won the MAC title and is 21stthis week. Boise State (10-2) is 20th in the BCS and also could be in play, though only one non-AQ team is guaranteed a spot. NIU seems a certainty to be higher than Boise, but will it be high enough?

[Related: Taking stock of Rivalry Week now that the dust has settled]

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: Stanford vs. Wisconsin
Note: Wisconsin must win the Big Ten championship game or risk falling to the Outback or even Gator Bowl. Stanford has nailed down its spot.

Orange Bowl
Site: Miami
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS vs. BCS
Projection: Florida State vs. Louisville
Note: If the ACC champ is not in the BCS championship game, it is contractually obligated to go to the Orange Bowl. As for Louisville, no BCS bowl really wants anything to do with any Big East team.

Sugar Bowl
Site: New Orleans
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS vs. BCS
Projection: Florida vs. Oklahoma
Note: Florida should be No. 3 in the BCS when the final standings are released Dec. 2. Oklahoma beat TCU on Saturday to stay in the hunt for a BCS at-large berth; if Texas beats Kansas State, the Sooners will be in the Fiesta Bowl as the Big 12 champ.

Fiesta Bowl
Site: Glendale, Ariz.
Date: Jan. 3
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS vs. BCS
Projection: Kansas State vs. Oregon
Note: The Big 12 champ is contractually obligated to the Fiesta if it is not in the national title game, which means Kansas State has to beat Texas to nail down this spot. K-State easily could fall out of the BCS if it loses to Texas. Oregon seems to be a lock to be the opponent for the Big 12 team.

National championship game
Site: Miami
Date: Jan. 7
Time/TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS No. 1 vs. BCS No. 2
Projection: Notre Dame vs. Alabama
Note: Notre Dame is the only unbeaten team that is eligible for the postseason. Alabama will be going for its second title in a row and third in four seasons.

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: Nevada vs. Arizona

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Site: Boise, Idaho
Date: Dec. 15
Time/TV: 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mid-American #3 vs. Western Athletic #1
Projection: Toledo vs. Utah State
Note: Utah State already has accepted a bid as the WAC champ.

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. San Diego State State
Note: BYU has nailed down its spot in this game. This would be a home game for San Diego State.

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: Ball State vs. UCF
Note: Projection is Big East won’t 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-Lafayette
Note: ULL, which won this bowl last season, already has accepted a bid as the Sun Belt’s representative despite not winning the league title.

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. Washington

Hawaii Bowl
Site: Honolulu
Date: Dec. 24
Time/TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Mountain West #4
Projection: SMU 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: Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois
Note: Projection is Big Ten won’t be able to fill its slot. Arkansas State won the Sun Belt title, and matching up the Red Wolves against a good NIU team would make for a good contest. The pick here is that NIU doesn’t make the BCS.

Military Bowl
Site: Washington, D.C.
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV: 3 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC #8 vs. Army if bowl-eligible
Projection: Ohio U. vs. San Jose State
Note: The ACC isn’t going to have enough bowl-eligible teams and Army did not qualify for the postseason. San Jose State has accepted a bid.

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

Independence Bowl
Site: Shreveport, La.
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV: 2 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC #7 vs. SEC #10
Projection: Louisiana-Monroe vs. Louisiana Tech
Note: Projection is that neither league will be able to fill its slot. And in that scenario, why wouldn’t bowl organizers try to sell as many tickets as possible with two in-state schools?

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

Texas Bowl
Site: Houston
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV: 9 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten #6 vs. Big 12 #6
Projection: Minnesota 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: Rice vs. Air Force
Note: Air Force already has accepted a bid.

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. West Virginia
Note: Pitt must win at USF this weekend to become bowl-eligible.

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: Arizona State vs. Navy
Note: Navy has locked up its spot.

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

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: Michigan State vs. TCU
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: Virginia Tech vs. Vanderbilt

Sun Bowl
Site: El Paso, Texas
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 2 p.m., CBS
Matchup: ACC #4 vs. Pac-12 #4
Projection: Georgia Tech vs. USC
Note: The Sun Bowl is contractually obligated to take the loser of the ACC championship game if the team falls this far in the pecking order. Tech would need an NCAA waiver to play in a bowl because it will be 6-7 if it loses in the league title game; the same type of waiver was given to UCLA last season when it lost in the Pac-12 title game.

Liberty Bowl
Site: Memphis
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA #1 vs. Big East #5 or SEC #9
Projection: Tulsa vs. Bowling Green
Note: Tulsa won the Conference USA title on Saturday. The projection is the SEC won’t be able to fill its slot.

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. Iowa State
Note: 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: Northwestern 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: Michigan vs. Texas A&M

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
Note: These teams met in a bowl last season, in Orlando in the Capital One. Nebraska plays Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game and obviously has a shot at the Rose Bowl.

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

BBVA Compass Bowl
Site: Birmingham, Ala.
Date: Jan. 5
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big East #5/6 vs. SEC #8
Projection: Syracuse vs. Ole Miss

GoDaddy.com Bowl
Site: Mobile, Ala.
Date: Jan. 6
Time/TV: 9 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mid-American #2 vs. Sun Belt #2
Projection: Kent State vs. Middle Tennessee State

2012 Coaching Carousel >> All the coaches that have been fired thus far

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