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Posted: Monday November 10, 2008 1:21PM; Updated: Monday November 10, 2008 5:31PM
Stewart Mandel Stewart Mandel >
INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Bowl Projections

Story Highlights

With the season wrapping, we're projecting the BCS and non-BCS bowl matchups

Beating OU and 'Bama, respectively, will send Texas Tech and Florida to Miami

Bowling Green's the only team projected to finish over .500 and not make a bowl

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An SEC title-game win over Alabama will likely send Tim Tebow and Florida to Miami.
An SEC title-game win over Alabama will likely send Tim Tebow and Florida to Miami.
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Before you can project the matchups for 34 different bowl games, you have to start at the top and predict which two teams will play for the national championship. In order to do that, you have to predict which team will win the Big 12 South.

Call me crazy, but I think Texas Tech can pull it off.

For 11 months, I've maintained there was no way the Red Raiders could win at Oklahoma on Nov. 22, but I've changed my mind after watching Tech's performances the past two weeks (and after watching the Sooners' atrocious defense).

On the other side, I see Florida topping No. 1 Alabama in the SEC title game and edging past Texas for the other spot in Miami.

Some other admittedly wild assumptions I made for the purposes of these projections:

• The Fiesta Bowl will select 11-1 Texas to replace Texas Tech and, with the first at-large choice, take 10-2 Ohio State as the Longhorns' opponent.

• The Sugar Bowl will take 12-1 Alabama to replace Florida and, with the second at-large choice, select 12-0 Utah over the Big East champ (which I'm projecting to be 10-3 Cincinnati).

• USC will win out, while Oregon State will stumble once, sending the Trojans to the Rose Bowl where they will meet Big Ten champ Penn State.

• North Carolina will beat Wake Forest in the ACC title game. (To find out how I reached this conclusion, send me a self-addressed stamped envelope and I will send you back a 36-page flow chart in which the league's top six teams all finish either 9-3 or 8-4.)

• Finally, the WAC will free up 12-0 Boise State from its own bowl lineup (just as it did in 2004, when an 11-0 Boise team went to the Liberty Bowl) so that the Broncos can take the Pac-10's vacant spot in the Poinsettia Bowl and face 10-2 BYU.

Here are a few other tidbits to keep in mind while perusing the projections:

• With the addition of the St. Petersburg and EagleBank (Washington, D.C.), bowls this season, there are now 68 bowl berths. As of Sunday, there were 72 teams with .500 records or better, but I projected three of them (Auburn, Colorado and Stanford) to finish 5-7. Thus, Bowling Green will be the only team to finish above .500 and not get a bowl bid.

• Bowls are not obligated to choose their teams in exact order of conference standings. For instance, "ACC No. 3" means "third choice of ACC teams" -- not "the ACC's third-place team."

• Finally, a bowl can only select a 6-6 team from a conference if no 7-5 team from that league is still available.

Similarly, bowls seeking an "at-large" team to replace a conference that did not produce enough eligible teams cannot choose a 6-6 team if there is a 7-5 team available.

BCS Bowls
Date Predicted Matchup
Jan. 1 Orange: North Carolina (ACC champ) vs. Cincinnati (Big East champ)
Jan. 1 Rose: Penn State (Big Ten champ) vs. USC (Pac-10 champ)
Jan. 2 Sugar: Alabama (BCS at-large) vs. Utah (BCS at-large)
Jan. 5 Fiesta: Texas (BCS at-large) vs. Ohio State (BCS at-large)
Jan. 8 BCS Championship (Miami): Texas Tech (BCS No. 1) vs. Florida (BCS No. 2)

Non-BCS Bowls
Date Predicted Matchup
Dec. 20 New Mexico: Northern Illinois* (MWC) vs. Nevada (WAC)
Dec. 20 EagleBank: Virginia (ACC No. 9) vs. Navy (Navy/at-large)
Dec. 20 St. Petersburg: USF (Big East) vs. Fresno State* (C-USA)
Dec. 20 Las Vegas: Arizona (Pac-10 No. 5) vs. TCU (MWC No. 1)
Dec. 21 New Orleans: La.-Lafayette (Sun Belt No. 1) vs. Memphis (C-USA)
Dec. 23 Poinsettia: BYU (MWC) vs. Boise State* (Pac-10 No. 7)
Dec. 24 Hawaii: Hawaii (WAC) vs. Buffalo* (Pac-10 No. 6)
Dec. 26 Motor City: Illinois (Big Ten No. 7) vs. Central Michigan (MAC)
Dec. 27 Meineke Car Care: Wake Forest (ACC) vs. Pittsburgh (Big East No. 3)
Dec. 27 Champs Sports: Miami (ACC No. 4) vs. Northwestern (Big Ten No. 4)
Dec. 27 Emerald: Oregon (Pac-10 No. 4) vs. Boston College (ACC)
Dec. 28 Independence: Akron* (Big 12 No. 7) vs. Louisiana Tech* (SEC)
Dec. 29 PapaJohns.com: West Virginia (Big East) vs. Troy* (SEC)
Dec. 29 Alamo: Missouri (Big 12 No. 4) vs. Minnesota (Big Ten No. 5)
Dec. 30 Humanitarian: San Jose State (WAC) vs. Maryland (ACC No. 8)
Dec. 30 Holiday: Oregon State (Pac-10 No. 2) vs. Oklahoma State (Big 12 No. 3)
Dec. 30 Texas: Louisville* (Big 12 No. 8) vs. Houston (C-USA)
Dec. 31 Armed Forces: Air Force (MWC) vs. Rice (C-USA)
Dec. 31 Sun: Cal (Pac-10 No. 3) vs. Nebraska (Big 12 No. 5)
Dec. 31 Music City: Virginia Tech (ACC) vs. Vanderbilt (SEC)
Dec. 31 Insight: Wisconsin (Big Ten No. 6) vs. Kansas (Big 12 No. 6)
Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A: Georgia Tech (ACC No. 2) vs. Kentucky (SEC)
Jan. 1 Outback: South Carolina (SEC) vs. Iowa (Big Ten No. 3)
Jan. 1 Gator: Notre Dame (Big East No. 2**) vs. Florida State (ACC No. 3)
Jan. 1 Capital One: Georgia (SEC) vs. Michigan State (Big Ten No. 2)
Jan. 2 Cotton: Oklahoma (Big 12 No. 2) vs. LSU (SEC)
Jan. 2 Liberty: Ole Miss (SEC) vs. Tulsa (C-USA No. 1)
Jan. 3 International: Connecticut (Big East) vs. Western Michigan (MAC)
Jan. 6 GMAC: East Carolina (C-USA No. 2) vs. Ball State (MAC)

Teams in bold have accepted bowl invitation
* Replacement team for conference without enough eligible teams
** Notre Dame is eligible for all Big East bowls.

 
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