NCF Nation: bowl look 112512
The SEC is headed back to the national championship. With Alabama and Georgia both winning on Saturday, the winner of the SEC championship game is headed to Miami for the Discover BCS National Championship.
And now that the regular season is over, we also know the SEC has nine teams that are bowl eligible.
Florida's win against Florida State means the Gators (fourth in the BCS standings) finished the season 11-1 and will be ranked within the top four of the BCS standings after the SEC championship. With the SEC champ heading to South Beach, the Gators will be heading to New Orleans for the Allstate Sugar Bowl, unless the loser in Atlanta somehow doesn't drop below the Gators. But it'll be hard for a one-loss Florida team with four wins over top-10 opponents to stay behind a two-loss SEC runner-up.
With the SEC having two BCS-bound teams and only one team available for BBVA Compass Bowl and AutoZone Liberty Bowl spots, the Compass Bowl will get the remaining SEC team, meaning the Liberty Bowl will get to make an at-large selection.
When it comes to the last few bowls, Vanderbilt becomes an interesting team. The Commodores are one of the hottest teams in the SEC and they could be up for the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Why? Well, the Chick-fil-A Bowl might not want another South Carolina-Clemson matchup. That means the Gamecocks could slip to the Gator Bowl. Also, could the Music City Bowl find itself in a position to take a 6-6 Ole Miss team over an 8-4 Mississippi State team after the Rebels blew the Bulldogs out? It's possible. …
The bowl picture is still cloudy, but here's our best shot:
- Discover BCS National Championship Game, Jan. 7: Alabama
- Allstate Sugar Bowl, Jan. 2: Florida
- Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Georgia
- AT&T Cotton Bowl, Jan. 4: Texas A&M
- Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: LSU
- Chick-fil-A Bowl, Dec. 31: Vanderbilt
- Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: South Carolina
- Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Dec. 31: Mississippi State
- BBVA Compass Bowl, Jan. 5: Ole Miss
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State vs. BCS at-large
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma vs. BCS at-large
AT&T Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. SEC No. 3/4
Valero Alamo Bowl: Texas vs. Pac-12 No. 2
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: TCU vs. Big Ten No. 4/5
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl: Texas Tech vs. Pac-12 No. 3
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: West Virginia vs. Big Ten No. 6
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Baylor vs. Big East No. 4
Heart of Dallas Bowl: Iowa State vs. Big Ten No. 7
From here on out, it's just a matter of sorting out the conference champion and then establishing the pecking order.
Either Stanford or UCLA will be in the Rose Bowl -- pending the outcome of the Pac-12 championship game at Stanford Stadium on Friday. That team will face the winner of Nebraska-Wisconsin.
If Saturday night was any indication, the Cardinal will be in a BCS bowl game for the third consecutive year. But as the old adage goes, it's tough to beat a team twice. We're expecting a more competitive game this time around. (But there will be plenty about that coming up this week.)
If Stanford wins, the Alamo Bowl will have a coin-flip decision between Oregon State and UCLA -- both with matching 6-3 records. (The outcome of the conference championship game doesn't impact conference record, only overall record, and the pecking order is based on conference records.) Whichever team doesn't go to the Alamo will head to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl. You'd have to think the Holiday Bowl would prefer Oregon State because the Beavers' fans will fill hotel rooms. UCLA fans might buy more tickets, but there would be a lot of day-trippers who would drive down and back rather than staying for three or four days' worth of festivities.
With USC's loss to Notre Dame, the Ducks are on the outside of the national championship picture -- but they'll be an at-large selection for a BCS game.
If UCLA beats Stanford, the Alamo Bowl has to take Stanford based on its 8-1 conference record. By rule, it can't take a team that has more than one loss below Stanford -- which would be Oregon State at 6-3 (since Oregon is elevated to a BCS game).
After Stanford, Oregon, UCLA and Oregon State have been determined, it's a question of which teams are the most attractive and which fan base will fill hotel rooms. With three 5-4 teams, much of it will come down to economics.
Rose Bowl Game, Jan. 1: Stanford vs. Big Ten
Tostitos Fiesta, Jan. 3: Oregon vs. BCS
Valero Alamo, Dec. 29: UCLA vs. Big 12
Bridgepoint Education Holiday, Dec. 27: Oregon State vs. Big 12
Hyundai Sun, Dec. 31: USC vs. ACC
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, Dec. 22: Washington vs. MWC
Kraft Fight Hunger, Dec. 29: Arizona State vs. Navy
Gildan New Mexico, Dec. 15: Arizona vs. MWC
BCS, Orange, Jan. 1 -- Rutgers versus ACC. So this means I am picking the Scarlet Knights to beat Louisville on Thursday night.
Russell Athletic, Dec. 28 -- Louisville versus ACC. Why am I going with Rutgers? Teddy Bridgewater is extremely banged up, the Cardinals suddenly have no running game and the defense is just so-so.
Belk, Dec. 27 -- Cincinnati versus ACC. Still alive for at least a share of the Big East title.
New Era Pinstripe, Dec. 29 -- Syracuse versus Big 12. The Orange close the season at 7-5 and still have a shot for at least a share of a Big East title. There is a caveat here, though. If Pitt is bowl eligible AND West Virginia is available, there is the very real possibility this game could feature the two rivals playing the Backyard Brawl once again.
BBVA Compass, Jan. 5 -- Pitt versus SEC. The Panthers have made this bowl their second home. Will they get bumped up to the Pinstripe for a tantalizing matchup against the Mountaineers? I could easily see Pitt and Syracuse swapping these spots.
Beef 'O' Brady's, Dec. 21 -- No team eligible.
All the Big Ten regular-season games are done, so we know exactly which teams are going bowling and which teams are not. And unless Wisconsin pulls an upset in the Big Ten championship game, the slotting looks fairly clear as well.
We know this much: If Nebraska wins, it will obviously go to the Rose Bowl. There will definitely be no at-large BCS bid in that scenario. The Capital One Bowl would then likely take Michigan with its No. 2 pick. Northwestern would go to the Outback, while Wisconsin would go to the Gator. Michigan State is a near-lock for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, with Minnesota going to the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas and Purdue joining the Gophers in the Lone Star State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
The monkey wrench comes in if Wisconsin were to win Saturday in Indianapolis. Nebraska could still be in range for an at-large BCS bid with a loss, but a potential 10-3 Huskers team would probably need some help -- and for a big bowl to be enamored with the Big Red fan base.
If the Huskers were to sneak into an at-large BCS game, everyone but Michigan would then likely just move up a spot. If Nebraska misses out on the BCS party, the Capital One Bowl says it still can select Michigan ahead of Nebraska despite a 2-win differential. The Cap One would like to avoid a Nebraska repeat, but it also doesn't want a Michigan-Alabama rematch if it comes to that.
But for now, we're sticking with our projection of Nebraska as Big Ten champion, though we reserve the right to change our mind before our official Big Ten title game picks later this week. So the bowl lineup looks like this:
Rose Bowl, Jan. 1: Nebraska
Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Michigan
Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Northwestern
Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 29: Michigan State
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, Dec. 28: Minnesota
Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1: Purdue
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26: At large (will not filled by Big Ten)
- Discover Orange Bowl, Jan. 1: Florida State
- Chick-fil-A Bowl, Dec. 31: Clemson
- Russell Athletic Bowl, Dec. 28: Virginia Tech
- Hyundai Sun Bowl, Dec. 31: Georgia Tech
- Belk Bowl, Dec. 27: Duke
- Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Dec. 31: NC State
- AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl, Dec. 28: N/A
- Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman, Dec. 27: N/A