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
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.
Teams in bold have accepted bowl invitation