At this point in the season, anyone who is being intellectually serious about projecting bowl match ups can’t just fill in the blanks based on a general sense of where they think the teams will end up ranked. Instead, you need to actually play out the rest of the season in your mind and then let the chips fall where they may. So here are some of the outcomes on which I’m basing my projections. Also, this gives me an opportunity to be intellectually un-serious and make fun of Georgia Tech and the Big 10.
The key outcomes this weekend:
SEC East winner Georgia beats ACC Coastal "winner" Georgia Tech.
Alabama does to Auburn exactly what everyone is expecting.
Florida State beats Florida.
South Carolina beats Clemson.
Stanford beats UCLA.
Notre Dame beats USC on the basis of an unlikely play or bizarre turn of events. God may have recently converted to Catholicism.
On Dec. 1:
Texas beats Kansas State (making Oklahoma Big 12 champ.)
Leader and/or Legend Nebraska beats Legend and/or Leader Wisconsin to win the Big 10 Title Game (It used to be that winning the Big 10 meant you were better than the nine other teams. This year, "winning" the Big "10" means you are worse than 1 team but better than 11.)
Florida State beats ACC Coastal "winner" Georgia Tech to make the Wreck 6-7 and in need of a Papal dispensation to be eligible for the Belk bowl.
UCLA upsets Stanford in PAC-12 Title Game.
The rest of the relevant outcomes will be apparent from my bowl selections.
BCS Championship Game – Notre Dame vs. Alabama
I just don’t think Georgia is as good as Alabama. I hope I’m wrong. Maybe our defense keeps up the tenacious hitting, so the Bama running game never gets on track. Maybe our offensive line holds off the Bama blitz, and Murray stretches the field. Maybe we play mistake free on special teams. All these things could happen. But if history is any indication they won’t all three happen. And we may need all three to happen. Because you can bet the Tide will be focused, disciplined and fierce. We will have our moments against them in the Dome, but at the end of 60 minutes, Bama will have done more of what needed to be done. Please let me be wrong about this.
Sugar Bowl – LSU vs. Texas
The key to this outcome is Florida losing to Florida State. If the Gators beat the Seminoles, they are a lock to be in a BCS bowl. But I think Florida loses to FSU. This leaves LSU as the natural choice among the two-loss SEC teams. Texas is a bit of a surprise here. But with a win over Kansas State, the Longhorns will have clawed their way into the top 14 of the BCS. With only two SEC teams allowed in the BCS, Texas will be one of the few eligible teams left.
Fiesta Bowl – Oklahoma vs. Oregon
Oklahoma is here as Big 12 champ. Oregon will be the obvious at-large choice.
Rose Bowl – Nebraska vs. UCLA
The underwhelming Big 10 champ takes on the surprising PAC 12 champ. I just don’t see Stanford beating UCLA two weeks in a row. The Bruins will have the edge in the rematch in the title game.
Orange Bowl – Florida State vs. Louisville
Usually, BCS bowls don’t like to pair two teams from the same conference, but these ACC foes will go at it in the Orange Bowl…. wait… that’s not right… well it’s only a matter of time.
Capital One Bowl – Georgia vs. Wisconsin
I know, I know. This is not what you want to see. Bulldog nation is thinking National Championship. But as I said last week, if we don’t win in Atlanta we won’t be a BCS at-large, even if we lose a close one to Alabama. The fact is, unless we topple the Crimson Tide we will have exactly ONE impressive win this entire season.
Cotton Bowl – Texas A&M vs. Kansas State
My Aggie friends are going to be annoyed as all hell if Texas ends up in a BCS bowl instead of facing A&M in the Cotton Bowl. This bowl will feature two Heisman finalists.
Outback Bowl – Florida vs. Michigan
While it’s not in my constitution to underestimate Florida, the truth is their offense has been woeful, and FSU has some real firepower that should challenge the Gator D. That’s why I think they fall to Florida State. But my gut still worries that somehow this all works out for Florida, and they end up in the BCS, and we end up here, and I have to go on anti-depressants.
Chick-fil-A Bowl – South Carolina vs. NC State
Gator Bowl – Mississippi State vs. Northwestern
Liberty Bowl - Vanderbilt vs. UCF
Music City Bowl – Ole Miss vs. Duke
I think the Ole Miss Running Rebel Admiral Black Bears (or whatever they are calling themselves) will pull the upset over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl to become bowl eligible. This will set up what is sure to be called the Cutcliffe Bowl.
Compass Bowl and Independence Bowl – No SEC teams
Tennessee missed out on a bowl because Derek Dooley just can’t coach. Mizzu screwed it up when they lost to Syracuse in the last minute. And the rest of the SEC teams have been out of bowl contention for weeks. Kentucky is bad even by Kentucky standards. As for Auburn and Arkansas, they are learning the hard way that deals with the devil come due.