Posted: Monday November 21, 2011 12:52AM ; Updated: Monday November 21, 2011 2:02PM
Stewart Mandel
Stewart Mandel>INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL

LSU-'Bama play for the title, Hokies reach BCS in new bowl projections

Story Highlights

After last week's upsets, I'm projecting an LSU-Alabama rematch in the title game

Virginia Tech jumps all the way to the Orange Bowl in this week's new projections

With Penn State's future up in the air, it's difficult to project the rest of the Big Ten

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Tom Bradley
Penn State's postseason future is up in the air and will have a big impact on the Big Ten, which could have 10 eligible teams.
Greg Bartram/US PRESSWIRE

First of all, read this week's College Football Overtime for how I arrived at my revised BCS lineup.

It's still unclear what will become of scandal-stigmatized Penn State, which is now assured of finishing no worse than 9-3. If it beats Wisconsin this week and reaches the Big Ten title game it can fall no lower than the Insight Bowl. And the Capital One Bowl cannot pass up the Nittany Lions for a team with two fewer wins or two more losses. But I'm not projecting either of those scenarios, and I would not put it past the Gator Bowl to take 6-6 Ohio State over the Nittany Lions, which leaves Penn State slipping to the Meineke Bowl of Texas' sixth pick.

Miami's decision to remove itself from bowl consideration did not impact my ACC lineup, because NC State also became a surprise entrant with its upset of Clemson. If the Tigers lose to South Carolina and lose in the conference championship game, they could fall as low as the Sun Bowl (the No. 4 ACC bowl), because the Chick-fil-A Bowl is almost certainly going to host Auburn, which Clemson played this season and faces again in next year's Atlanta opener. Florida State is a shoo-in for the Champs Sports Bowl at No. 3.

The Big Ten may have 10 eligible teams for eight spots. Michigan grabbing a second BCS berth accounts for one of the extras, but one of Purdue, Northwestern or Illinois will be left out. Even if the Illini snap a five-game losing streak this week and finish 7-5, my guess is they'll be the ones left out.

A few reminders:

• After the No. 1 and 2 teams are slotted and placed, the BCS at-large selection order this year is 1) Fiesta, 2) Sugar and 3) Orange. The highest-ranked non-automatic qualifier (in this projection Houston) is guaranteed a BCS berth if it finishes in the Top 12 or in the Top 16 and ahead of the Big East champion.

• Most bowls are not obligated -- I repeat, NOT OBLIGATED -- to choose in exact order of conference standings. For instance, "Big 12 No. 3" means "third selection of Big 12 teams," not "the Big 12's third-place team."

• I'm currently projecting four surplus eligible teams, including one from the Big East (Syracuse).

BCS Bowls
Date Predicted matchup
Jan. 2 Rose: Wisconsin (Big Ten champ) vs. Oregon (Pac-12 champ)
Jan. 2 Fiesta: Oklahoma St (Big 12 champ) vs. Stanford (BCS at-large)
Jan. 3 Sugar: Michigan (BCS at-large) vs. Houston (BCS at-large)
Jan. 4 Orange: Virginia Tech (ACC champ) vs. West Virginia (Big East champ)
Jan. 9 BCS Championship: LSU (BCS No. 1) vs. Alabama (BCS No. 2)
Other Bowls
Date Predicted matchup
Dec. 17 New Mexico: San Diego St. (MWC No. 4) vs. Temple (Pac-12 No. 7*)
Dec. 17 Idaho Potato: Louisiana Tech (WAC) vs. Toledo (MAC No. 3)
Dec. 18 New Orleans: Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt No. 1) vs. Illinois (C-USA*)
Dec. 20 Beef 'O'Brady's: Marshall (C-USA) vs. Pittsburgh (Big East)
Dec. 22 Maaco: Boise State (MWC No. 1) vs. Arizona State (Pac-12 No. 5)
Dec. 23 Poinsettia: TCU (MWC No. 2) vs. Nevada (WAC)
Dec. 24 Hawaii: Utah State (WAC) vs. SMU (C-USA) 
Dec. 26 Independence: Wyoming (MWC No. 3) vs. Wake Forest (ACC No. 7)
Dec. 27 Little Caesars: Ohio (MAC No. 2) vs. Northwestern (Big Ten No. 8)
Dec. 27 Belk: Rutgers (Big East No. 3) vs. Georgia Tech (ACC No. 5)
Dec. 28 Military: North Carolina (ACC No. 8) vs. Air Force (Navy*)
Dec. 28 Holiday: Utah (Pac-12 No. 3) vs. Texas (Big 12 No. 5)
Dec. 29 Champs Sports: Notre Dame (Big East No. 2**) vs. Florida State (ACC No. 3)
Dec. 29 Alamo: Washington (Pac-12 No. 2) vs. Oklahoma (Big 12 No. 3)
Dec. 30 Armed Forces: Tulsa (C-USA) vs. BYU (BYU)
Dec. 30 Pinstripe: Louisville (Big East No. 4) vs. Missouri (Big 12 No. 7)
Dec. 30 Music City: NC State (ACC No. 6) vs. Tennessee (SEC No. 7)
Dec. 30 Insight: Baylor (Big 12 No. 4) vs. Iowa (Big Ten No. 4)
Dec. 31 Meineke Texas: Penn State (Big Ten No. 6) vs. Texas A&M (Big 12 No. 6)
Dec. 31 Kraft Fight Hunger: Cal (Pac-12 No. 6) vs. Western Michigan (Army*)
Dec. 31 Sun: Clemson (ACC No. 4) vs. UCLA (Pac-12 No. 4)
Dec. 31 Liberty: Southern Miss (C-USA No. 1) vs. Mississippi State (SEC No. 8)
Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A: Virginia (ACC No. 2) vs. Auburn (SEC No. 5)
Jan. 2 TicketCity: Purdue (Big Ten No. 7) vs. Iowa State (C-USA*)
Jan. 2 Capital One: Georgia (SEC No. 2) vs. Nebraska (Big Ten No. 2)
Jan. 2 Outback: Michigan State (Big Ten No. 3) vs. South Carolina (SEC)
Jan. 2 Gator: Ohio State (Big Ten No. 5) vs. Florida (SEC No. 6)
Jan. 6 Cotton: Kansas State (Big 12 No. 2) vs. Arkansas (SEC)
Jan. 7 BBVA Compass: Cincinnati (Big East) vs. FIU (SEC No. 9*)
Jan. 8 GoDaddy.com: Northern Illinois (MAC No. 1) vs. Arkansas State (Sun Belt No. 2)

Teams in bold have accepted an invitation.

* -- replacement team for a conference without an eligible team.

** -- the Champs Sports Bowl can pick Notre Dame instead of a Big East team once in the current four-year period (2010-13).

 
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