Changes are abounding in this week’s BCS bowl projections. Losses by Oregon and Baylor shook up the entire picture with more huge games to come this week.
Forget predictions on games. We are going to keep this simple. Whatever Vegas says is going to happen this week, we’re going to say happens this week. We’ll deal with the rest in the aftermath.
That means we are making some assumptions this week. Here are the most important: Alabama (10-point favorite) beats Auburn; Missouri (4.5-point favorite) beats Texas A&M; South Carolina (5-point favorite) beats Clemson.
Once again, the biggest decision will come from the Orange Bowlr Vegas says is going to happen this week, we’stration doesn’team, which can now choose between Oregon, Baylor, Clemson and Wisconsin or Michigan State. What a great position.
Of course, if those teams don’t go to the Orange Bowl, they’re not going to the BCS. Fresno State and Northern Illinois continue to win, meaning one of them will earn an automatic berth as long as UCF is ranked lower in the BCS standings.
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 (projected Big Ten champ) vs. Stanford (projected Pac-12 champ)
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. Last week we projected that team to be Auburn. This week, given that we are going to assume favorites win out, it gets more interesting.
Auburn certainly still has a chance to get selected by the Sugar Bowl, even if it loses to Alabama this week. But it’s no guarantee. The situation for Auburn fans to monitor is in the SEC East race. If Missouri and South Carolina both win this week – and both are projected to do so – it would likely create a 2-loss logjam.
South Carolina, with the star power in DE Jadeveon Clowney, would be an intriguing option for the Sugar Bowl if the Gamecocks beat Clemson. The regular season would end for South Carolina if Missouri beats Texas A&M.
Since Vegas picks both South Carolina and Missouri to win, let’s work on that assumption. That would lead to a projection of South Carolina, if not for the fact that the Gamecocks have already played UCF.
If the Sugar Bowl has already decided it would rather have UCF than either Northern Illinois or Fresno State, it almost certainly won’t take South Carolina for a rematch of a game earlier this season. That would tilt in Auburn’s favor.
That is the most likely scenario for Auburn to be left out of the Sugar Bowl and BCS altogether.
Texas A&M has virtually no chance at the Sugar Bowl after losing to LSU this week.
Missouri’s best chance at the Sugar Bowl seems to be winning the SEC championship. A two-loss Missouri team doesn’t seem likely to draw the nod over two-loss South Carolina or two-loss Auburn even if Gary Pinkel’s team takes its second loss in the SEC Championship Game.
If Auburn beats Alabama and then loses in the SEC Championship Game, it would almost certainly fall to at least the Capital One Bowl.
The Sugar Bowl could throw a curveball by picking 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.
Thus begins the most interesting selection(s). The Orange Bowl really can’t go wrong with what it selects. Baylor and Oregon are now likely to be in play for the game, as are Wisconsin, Michigan State and Clemson.
If Clemson beats South Carolina, you can book the Tigers to be Miami-bound. It’s that simple.
If Clemson loses to its rival, everything changes and the Tigers could easily find themselves out of the BCS yet again.
Getting inside the minds of the folks at the Orange Bowl is a tricky situation. With so many high-powered offenses from which to choose, though, it’s hard for the bowl to make a mistake
Let’s give it a shot:
Oregon (at-large) vs. Baylor (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.
Both face conference championship games, meaning they each could slip up against a formidable foe. However, both will be favored to win the remainder of their games.
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 it might well avoid the non-AQ conference teams.
Because of that hunch, Auburn would be the pick instead of even a 2-loss South Carolina.
Here’s the Sugar Bowl projection:
Auburn (at-large) vs. UCF (projected American champ)
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 won over the computers. NIU has an average computer rank of 12th, better than Fresno State’s average rank of 16th.
The human polls, so far, make up the difference. The Bulldogs rank 14th in the Harris Poll and 16th in the Coaches Poll. Northern Illinois, on the other hand, ranks 18th and 21st in the polls, respectively.
Fresno State holds a fairly comfortable lead of nearly half a point in the BCS standings. Both teams rank far enough ahead of UCF to feel comfortable if they continue winning.
So the final projection:
Oklahoma State (projected Big 12 champ) vs. Fresno State (at-large, automatic bid)
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