In an ideal world ...

Originally Published: December 4, 2012
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

Northern Illinois in the Discover Orange Bowl?

Five-loss Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio?

Georgia, LSU and Oklahoma left out of the BCS?

If you think the 2012 bowl lineup is as messed up as I do, here is what the postseason would like if I were named college football's czar. Gone are bowl tie-ins, silly BCS rules that limit the number of teams from one conference and 6-7 teams playing in bowl games.

Say hello to 9-3 Louisiana Tech and 8-4 Middle Tennessee State, which were inexplicably left out of bowl games, and goodbye to 6-7 Georgia Tech.

Here's how my bowl lineup would look:

Discover BCS National Championship Game: No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Alabama
It's the game most of America wanted to see: The undefeated Fighting Irish will try to prevent the Crimson Tide from winning back-to-back national championships.

[+] EnlargeKenjon Barner
Kevin Casey/Getty ImagesWho wouldn't want to see Florida's defense try to stop Oregon's Kenjon Barner?

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: No. 3 Florida vs. No. 4 Oregon
It would be a classic matchup of the No. 3 Gators' stingy defense against No. 4 Oregon's high-flying offense.

Discover Orange Bowl: No. 12 Florida State vs. No. 7 Georgia
After losing to Alabama 32-28 in the SEC championship game, the Bulldogs would get a shot against FSU, where UGA coach Mark Richt worked as former Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden's longtime offensive coordinator.

Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 8 LSU vs. No. 11 Oklahoma
The Tigers' only losses came against No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Florida; the Sooners' only defeats were against No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 5 Kansas State.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio: No. 6 Stanford vs. No. 5 Kansas State
With undefeated Ohio State ineligible for the postseason because of NCAA sanctions, there isn't a Big Ten team worthy of playing in the Rose Bowl this season.

GoDaddy.com Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Rice
The Bulldogs were ranked in the top 10 at one point this season before finishing flat.

BBVA Compass Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Purdue
Which direction will Cincinnati coach Butch Jones go? Will he remain with the Bearcats or replace fired Boilermakers coach Danny Hope (or fired Colorado coach Jon Embree?)

Capital One Bowl: No. 16 Nebraska vs. No. 23 Texas
The former Big 12 rivals suffered deflating losses at the end of the regular season. The Longhorns have defeated the Cornhuskers in 10 of 14 games.

Outback Bowl: No. 18 Michigan vs. No. 10 South Carolina
Unlike a lot of other Big Ten teams, the Wolverines have fared well against SEC foes, with a 23-7-1 record against them, including 7-4 in bowl games.

AT&T Cotton Bowl: No. 9 Texas A&M vs. No. 14 Clemson
It would be difficult to find two more athletic quarterbacks than Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Clemson's Tajh Boyd.

Heart of Dallas Bowl: TCU vs. No. 15 Northern Illinois
The Huskies can prove they belong in a BCS bowl game by defeating the Horned Frogs, who were among the first teams from a non-BCS league to crack the BCS ceiling.

TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl: No. 21 Louisville vs. Wisconsin
Two champions of highly scrutinized conferences would square off in Jacksonville, Fla. If only the winner could advance to play the MAC champion.

[+] EnlargeVenric Mark
Jesse Johnson/US PRESSWIREIn addition to high SATs, Northwestern and Vanderbilt would bring prolific running backs.

Chick-fil-A Bowl: Vanderbilt vs. No. 20 Northwestern
The Commodores and Wildcats are not only smart teams, but they're pretty darn good, too. Northwestern hasn't won a bowl game since 1949; the Commodores have won one since 1955.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Tulsa vs. Arkansas State
The Golden Hurricane went 10-3 and beat Central Florida 33-27 in overtime in Saturday's Conference USA championship game. The Red Wolves went 9-3 in coach Gus Malzahn's first season and won their last seven games.

Hyundai Sun Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. No. 17 UCLA
Each team lost its last two games to spoil surprising seasons. The Pokes rank in the top 10 in scoring (44.7 points) and passing (333.4 yards).

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Duke vs. Michigan State
The Blue Devils and Spartans are Final Four staples, combining to make 23 appearances, but they've never played each other in football.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss
Red Raiders coach Tommy Tuberville faces his old school, which was a surprise in the SEC under first-year coach Hugh Freeze.

Valero Alamo Bowl: Baylor vs. Louisiana Tech
The Bulldogs wouldn't have passed up a chance to play Baylor, which closed the season with three straight victories over then-No. 1 Kansas State, Texas Tech and No. 23 Oklahoma State. The Alamodome would need a triple-digit scoreboard; the Bears and Bulldogs combined to score 95.6 points per game.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: BYU vs. Washington
The Cougars have won their past three games against the Huskies, each of which was decided by less than a touchdown.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia
Who wouldn't want to watch the Backyard Brawl again at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx?

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force vs. Fresno State
The Falcons would face former defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, who guided the Bulldogs to a 9-3 record and a share of the Mountain West Conference championship in his first season as a head coach.

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: Virginia Tech vs. Southern California
Each of these disappointments showed there's some work to be done under the hood this offseason. USC quarterback Matt Barkley plays his final college game.

Russell Athletic Bowl: NC State vs. Syracuse
The Orange join the ACC next season, but they'd get a sneak peek at the Wolfpack in a bowl game.

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl: Louisiana-Monroe vs. Toledo
Each of the upstarts pulled off big upsets this season. The War Hawks stunned then No. 9 Arkansas 34-31 in overtime on Sept. 8; the Rockets upset No. 21 Cincinnati 29-23 on Oct. 20.

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl: No. 13 Oregon State vs. San Diego State
Beavers coach Mike Riley would return to San Diego, where he once coached the NFL's Chargers. The Aztecs won their last six games, including a 21-19 upset of then-No. 19 Boise State on Nov. 3.

[+] EnlargeWillie Taggart
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesIf Willie Taggart keeps winning, he'll be a hot coaching commodity.

Belk Bowl: No. 25 Kent State vs. Western Kentucky
Both schools might be shopping for a new coach in the next couple of seasons if Willie Taggart and Darrell Hazell keep winning.

Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman: Navy vs. Ohio
Bobcats coach Frank Solich ran the triple-option offense at Nebraska; the Midshipmen are still using it and finished No. 6 in rushing with 285.5 yards per game.

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Rutgers vs. Minnesota
The Scarlet Knights are probably hoping Detroit doesn't become their regular postseason home after they leave the Big East for the Big Ten.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: SMU vs. East Carolina
Mustangs coach June Jones returns to the islands, where he guided Hawaii to a 76-41 record from 1999 to 2007.

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas: No. 19 Boise State vs. No. 22 Utah State
The Broncos won eight WAC championships from 2002 to 2010 before leaving for the Mountain West (and now the Big East); the Aggies won their first WAC title this season.

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette vs. San Jose State
Call it the Rebuilding Bowl. Mark Hudspeth guided the Ragin' Cajuns to a 9-4 record and their first bowl game in 41 years in 2011. The Spartans improved from 1-12 in coach Mike MacIntyre's first season in 2010 to 10-2 this season.

Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl: Central Florida vs. Bowling Green
The Golden Knights lost to Tulsa 33-27 in overtime in Saturday's Conference USA championship game. The Falcons finished second behind Kent State in the MAC East.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: Arizona vs. Arizona State
The regular-season game between the in-state rivals was so good -- the Sun Devils scored 24 points in the fourth quarter to rally for a 41-34 victory -- that we'd just let them play again in San Diego.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Nevada vs. Ball State
The Wolf Pack lost four of their last five games after a 6-1 start; the Cardinals won their last six games after a 3-3 start.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Iowa State vs. Middle Tennessee State
Paul Rhoads has guided the Cyclones to bowl games in three of his first four seasons as a coach. The Blue Raiders won 49-28 at Georgia Tech this season.

Mark Schlabach | email

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