Posted: Monday November 12, 2012 11:21AM ; Updated: Monday November 12, 2012 11:21AM
Stewart Mandel

Bowl projections: Fighting Irish could be Rose Bowl bound

Story Highlights

If Oregon and K-State make the title game, Rose and Fiesta will both want ND

Texas A&M looks poised to earn a BCS at-large bid after upsetting Alabama

Despite being a weak conference, the ACC could land two BCS bowl berths

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If Brian Kelly's Notre Dame team gets shut out of the BCS title game, it could find itself playing in the Rose Bowl.
If Brian Kelly's Notre Dame team gets shut out of the BCS title game, it could find itself playing in the Rose Bowl.
Robin Alam/Icon SMI

Obviously, No. 3 Notre Dame has its sights set on the BCS championship game. However, should Kansas State and Oregon reach Miami instead, the Fiesta (Big 12) and Rose (Pac-12) would have the first shot to replace those teams -- and that would mean a race to claim the Irish.

For the Fiesta, replacing K-State with Notre Dame would be a no-brainer. With the Big 12 taking its future business to the Sugar Bowl, there would be no need to appease that conference and take one of its teams. But if Oregon wins out, it will likely rise to No. 1 in the BCS standings, giving the Rose Bowl first dibs. While that game is incredibly loyal to its partners, its lone Pac-12 options would likely be a three-loss Stanford or UCLA team. While it would not be an easy decision to buck tradition, the Tournament of Roses folks may ultimately not be able to pass up 12-0 or even 11-1 Notre Dame.

Should that happen, the BCS at-large spot that would have gone to a second Pac-12 team may wind up in the hands of ... the ACC. After the Fiesta Bowl takes Oklahoma to replace K-State and taps red-hot Texas A&M as its opponent, the Sugar Bowl's most appealing option would be 11-1 or 10-2 Clemson. Because the ACC is so mediocre, its next-best team won't finish better than 7-5. In my latest projections, the Chick-fil-A Bowl has to pit BCS Top 10 team South Carolina against 7-5 NC State. Yuck.

A couple of smaller notes:

• This week, I actually had one surplus eligible team for the first time. Central Michigan was the unlucky one left out.

• Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Missouri and SMU moved in. Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Western Michigan moved out.

• Last week I incorrectly listed the Heart of Dallas (formerly TicketCity) Bowl as a Conference USA partner. It is a Big 12 game this year. Either way the spot will likely be open.

As always, please remember:

• 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 champion from a non-automatic qualifier is guaranteed a BCS berth if it finishes in the top 12 or in the top 16 and ahead of an AQ-conference 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." Bowls often pick a team with an inferior record due to geography, anticipated fan travel, the need to avoid a regular-season rematch, or just plain politics.

BCS bowls
Jan. 1 Rose: Nebraska (Big Ten champ) vs. Notre Dame (BCS at-large)
Jan. 1 Orange: Florida State (ACC champ) vs. Louisville (Big East champ)
Jan. 2 Sugar: Alabama (SEC champ) vs. Clemson (BCS at-large)
Jan. 3 Fiesta: Oklahoma (BCS at-large) vs. Texas A&M (BCS at-large)
Jan. 7 BCS championship: Oregon (BCS No. 1) vs. Kansas State (BCS No. 2)
Other bowls
Dec. 15 New Mexico: Nevada (MWC No. 4) vs. Arizona (Pac-12 No. 7)
Dec. 15 Idaho Potato: Utah State (WAC) vs. Toledo (MAC No. 3)
Dec. 20 Poinsettia: San Diego State (MWC No. 2) vs. BYU (BYU)
Dec. 21 Beef 'O' Brady's: UCF (C-USA) vs. Bowling Green (Big East*)
Dec. 22 New Orleans: Arkansas State (Sun Belt No. 1) vs. East Carolina (C-USA)
Dec. 22 Maaco: Boise State (MWC No. 1) vs. Stanford (Pac-12 No. 5)
Dec. 24 Hawaii: Fresno State (MWC) vs. SMU (C-USA)
Dec. 26 Little Caesars: Northern Illinois (MAC) vs. San Jose State (Big Ten No. 8*)
Dec. 27 Belk: Cincinnati (Big East No. 3) vs. Georgia Tech (ACC No. 5)
Dec. 27 Military: Arizona State (ACC No. 8*) vs. Middle Tennessee (Army*)
Dec. 27 Holiday: USC (Pac-12 No. 3) vs. West Virginia (Big 12 No. 5)
Dec. 28 Independence: Louisiana Tech (ACC No. 7*) vs. Ohio (SEC No. 10*)
Dec. 28 Meineke Texas: Minnesota (Big Ten No. 6) vs. TCU (Big 12 No. 6)
Dec. 28 Russell Athletic: Rutgers (Big East No. 2) vs. Miami (ACC No. 3)
Dec. 29 Pinstripe: Syracuse (Big East No. 4) vs. Iowa State (Big 12 No. 7)
Dec. 29 Buffalo Wild Wings: Texas Tech (Big 12 No. 4) vs. Northwestern (Big Ten No. 5)
Dec. 29 Alamo: UCLA (Pac-12 No. 2) vs. Oklahoma State (Big 12 No. 3)
Dec. 29 Armed Forces: Marshall (C-USA) vs. Air Force (MWC)
Dec. 29 Kraft Fight Hunger: Washington (Pac-12 No. 6) vs. Navy (Navy)
Dec. 31 Music City: Virginia Tech (ACC No. 6) vs. Vanderbilt (SEC)
Dec. 31 Sun: Duke (ACC No. 4) vs. Oregon State (Pac-12 No. 4)
Dec. 31 Liberty: Tulsa (C-USA No. 1) vs. Ole Miss (SEC No. 8/9)
Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A: NC State (ACC No. 2) vs. South Carolina (SEC No. 5)
Jan. 1 Heart of Dallas: Ball State (Big Ten No. 7*) vs. Western Kentucky (Big 12 No. 8*)
Jan. 1 Capital One: Florida (SEC No. 2) vs. Michigan (Big Ten No. 2)
Jan. 1 Outback: Wisconsin (Big Ten No. 3) vs. Georgia (SEC)
Jan. 1 Gator: Michigan State (Big Ten No. 4) vs. Mississippi State (SEC No. 6)
Jan. 4 Cotton: Texas (Big 12 No. 2) vs. LSU (SEC)
Jan. 5 BBVA Compass: Louisiana-Lafayette (Big East*) vs. Missouri (SEC No. 8/9)
Jan. 6 Kent State (MAC) vs. Louisiana-Monroe (Sun Belt No. 2)

Teams in bold have accepted a bid.
* -- Replacement team for a conference without an eligible team.
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