Posted: Thursday December 1, 2011 6:27PM ; Updated: Friday December 2, 2011 12:32AM
Stewart Mandel

BCS pairings hold, but lower-tier bowl projections full of shakeup

Story Highlights

UCLA has received an NCAA waiver, will play in Las Vegas or Fight Hunger bowls

Air Force wants to fill Army's spot in the Military Bowl, but it's not that simple

Western Kentucky, at 7-5, is campaigning vigorously for an at-large bowl spot

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The fate of Tim Jefferson's Air Force squad is causing a massive bowl ripple effect.
The fate of Tim Jefferson's Air Force squad is causing a massive bowl ripple effect.

None of my projections for the major bowls have changed since Sunday. This update is an attempt to provide a more accurate picture of where many lower-level teams stand, though it's impossible to predict completely because bowls and conferences are actively involved in fluid discussions.

The NCAA granted UCLA a waiver to play in a bowl at 6-7 assuming it loses Friday's Pac-12 title game at Oregon. The Bruins will play in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas or the Kraft Fight Hunger in San Francisco.

It's looking more certain that 9-3 Penn State will slip to the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, the Big Ten's No. 6 bowl. Provided Michigan gets a BCS berth, the Capital One and Outback bowls will snatch Nebraska and the Big Ten title loser, while the Insight is keen on Iowa and the Gator has said publicly it wants to stage a Florida-Ohio State matchup (the Urban Bowl).

Of the Big Ten's three 6-6 teams, Purdue seems headed to the TicketCity Bowl and Northwestern to Detroit (I had it the other way on Sunday), while Illinois will fall to an at-large spot, most likely the New Orleans, Kraft Fight Hunger or Military bowls.

In an unusual arrangement, the Liberty Bowl, which normally has top choice of Conference USA teams, will instead get the Big East team that would have gone to the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham because the SEC does not have an eligible team for that game. This stipulation went into effect last year but hasn't been used yet.

The Mountain West has an extra team, and Air Force's fate is causing a massive ripple effect. The school wants to fill Navy's spot in the Military Bowl, but that would require all four MWC bowls passing on the Falcons, and the Independence Bowl definitely wants them. If it takes them, the odd man out would be San Diego State, but it may find a nice landing spot in San Francisco.

The Little Caesars Bowl, which has second choice of MAC teams, would love to host home-state Western Michigan despite its 7-5 record. That would likely put Northern Illinois in Mobile and Ohio in Boise, with Toledo and Temple scrambling. Toledo would likely go to New Mexico. Temple might head back to D.C. for the second time in three seasons.

Western Kentucky, at 7-5, is campaigning vigorously for an at-large spot, but it would require a bowl passing on 8-4 FIU from the same conference.

As a reminder:

• After the No. 1 and 2 teams are slotted and replaced, 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."

BCS Bowls
Date Predicted matchup
Jan. 2 Rose: Wisconsin (Big Ten champ) vs. Oregon (Pac-12 champ)
Jan. 2 Fiesta: Oklahoma State (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: Wyoming (MWC No. 4) vs. Toledo (Pac-12 No. 7*)
Dec. 17 Idaho Potato: Utah State (WAC) vs. Ohio (MAC No. 3)
Dec. 17 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. Louisiana Tech (WAC)
Dec. 24 Hawaii: Nevada (WAC) vs. SMU (C-USA)
Dec. 26 Independence: Air Force (MWC No. 3) vs. Wake Forest (ACC No. 7)
Dec. 27 Little Caesars: Western Michigan (MAC No. 2) vs. Northwestern (Big Ten No. 8)
Dec. 27 Belk: Louisville (Big East No. 3) vs. NC State (ACC No. 5)
Dec. 28 Military: North Carolina (ACC No. 8) vs. Temple (Navy*)
Dec. 28 Holiday: Cal (Pac-12 No. 3) vs. Texas (Big 12 No. 5)
Dec. 29 Champs Sports: Notre Dame (Big East No. 2**) vs. Clemson (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: Rutgers (Big East No. 4) vs. Missouri (Big 12 No. 7)
Dec. 30 Music City: Virginia (ACC No. 6) vs. Mississippi State (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: UCLA (Pac-12 No. 6) vs. San Diego State (Army*)
Dec. 31 Sun: Georgia Tech (ACC No. 4) vs. Utah (Pac-12 No. 4)
Dec. 31 Liberty: Cincinnati (C-USA***) vs. Vanderbilt (SEC No. 8)
Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A: Florida State (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: Arkansas (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. Georgia (SEC)
Jan. 7 BBVA Compass: Southern Miss (Big East***) vs. FIU (SEC No. 9*)
Jan. 8 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).
***The Liberty Bowl and BBVA Compass Bowl swap their Big East and Conference USA picks.
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