Clemson’s dominant 55-31 win over Georgia Tech leaves the Tigers in line to stake its claim for a BCS at-large bid.
Barring something completely unforeseen, Clemson’s ACC rival, Florida State will easily punch a ticket to the BCS National Championship Game. Alabama is its assumed opponent, though the Crimson Tide faces a tougher road with an away test at Auburn and the SEC Championship Game against Missouri, South Carolina or Georgia.
Of the 10 BCS spots, only one doesn’t have a clear favorite. That spot belongs to the No. 2 team from the SEC. Texas A&M and Auburn are the wild cards. The Aggies play two tough road games – at LSU and at Missouri – at the end of the season. Winning both gives them a chance to claim the Sugar Bowl spot.
South Carolina and Missouri also have good chances to claim a Sugar Bowl bid.
For Missouri and South Carolina, earning the spot in the Sugar Bowl would mark a first trip to a BCS bowl. Texas A&M hasn’t made an appearance in the BCS since 1998, the first year of its existence.
Auburn appeared in the BCS twice – 2004 in the Sugar Bowl and 2010 in the BCS National Championship Game.
Here is how we project this year’s BCS bowl projections:
BCS Championship Game
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Florida State
Further automatic bids would go as follow:
Pac-12 champion goes to the Rose Bowl
Big Ten champion goes to the Rose Bowl
Big 12 champion goes to the Fiesta Bowl
So we have another game set:
Ohio State (Big Ten) vs. Stanford (Pac-12)
By virtue of losing the No. 1 team in the BCS standings, the Sugar Bowl would get the first choice of at-large teams. The bowl’s relationship with the SEC would likely create an automatic acceptance of the second-ranked SEC team. At this time, Blitz is not prepared to call the SEC No. 2 race. Cop out? Of course. Simply not ready to call it and we’ve already identified the top four candidates (though LSU and Georgia still have shots).
The Sugar Bowl could throw a curveball by picking Oregon or Clemson, but seems most likely to stay in the SEC.
The second at-large selection goes to the Orange Bowl because it would lose the No. 2 team in the BCS standings. That selection would almost certainly be Oregon at this time.
Per BCS selection order, the Orange Bowl would get a second consecutive at-large pick. The most logical selection would be Clemson, though one-loss Baylor or Ohio State teams that don’t win their conference(s) would be tremendous options as well.
In a “season-ends-today” vacuum, though, the Orange Bowl is set:
Oregon (at-large) vs. Clemson (at-large)
So the Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl get the final two at-large picks. One will have to take the American Athletic Conference champion (projected as UCF). The other selection will have to be Fresno State or Northern Illinois if the two of those teams continue winning.
The Sugar Bowl gets the next pick. UCF at least has a win over Louisville, perhaps making it slightly more attractive. The Sugar Bowl got burnt badly by Hawaii several years back, so look for it to avoid the non-AQ conference teams.
Here’s the Sugar Bowl projection:
SEC team TBD (at-large) vs. UCF (American)
That leaves Fiesta Bowl with the highest-ranked non-AQ conference team. Northern Illinois scored a big win over Ball State on national television this week, which could win over the computers. Will it make up the considerable gap between NIU and Fresno State? For now, we say no.
So the final projection:
Baylor (Big 12) vs. Fresno State (at-large, automatic bid)
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