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Bowl Projections, week 10 2011 (depressing loss to Louisville week)

A few more undefeated teams went down, Stanford suffered a near miss, Wisconsin lost a second time, and there was that horror show at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Nonetheless, the projections march on.

Bowl If the season ended today Projection
BCS Championship #1 LSU (SEC)  vs #2 Alabama (SEC/automatic at-large as #2)
LSU (SEC) vs. Boise State (MWC/top-non-AQ)
Rose #4 Stanford (P12) vs #10 Nebraska (B10)
Oregon (P12) vs Penn State (B10)
Fiesta #3 Oklahoma State (B12) vs #6 Oregon (P12/at-large)
Oklahoma (B12) vs Stanford (P12/at-large)
Sugar #6 Oklahoma (B10/at-large) vs #5 Boise State (MWC/top non-AQ) Alabama (SEC/at-large) vs Wisconsin (B10/at-large)
Orange #11 Clemson (ACC) vs #24 WVU  (Big East) Virginia Tech (ACC) vs WVU (Big East)

The "If the season ended today" projection is based on the current BCS standings, and my estimation of how bowl selection committees would react to the current standings if they were present at the end of the season.The 'projection' is how I think things will actually end up once the rest of the season is played, based on remaining schedule and my best guesses.

Unless it's extremely improbable (or impossible) that the highest-ranked team in the BCS standings can win a conference, the highest-ranked team in a conference is considered its projected champion for the purposes of the 'if the season ended today' projection.

Also worth noting, the selection order for the BCS bowls this year is Fiesta, Sugar, Orange.

BCS Championship: In this week's BCS standings, LSU and Alabama are #1 and #2, so they would meet in the BCS championship if the season ended today. Since they play each other next week and only one of them can win the SEC, it seems extremely likely the voters would deny a rematch even if they end up #1 and #2 in the computer rankings at the end of the season.

As for my projection - I'm a little more impressed by LSU so far, so I like them to beat Alabama even on the road. I don't trust Oklahoma State to get through the Big 12 and think Stanford will lose to Oregon. It's possible a one-loss team jumps Boise (Oklahoma, Oregon, and the LSU/Alabama loser would be in the running, especially Oklahoma), but for now I'm saying they'll get their shot.

Rose Bowl: Stanford and Nebraska are your current leaders in the Pac 12 and Big Ten, and with neither going to the BCS title game, that sets up the Rose Bowl.

In my projection, though, I don't have either of them. Penn State is the new projected winner of the Big 12, because they'd almost need to lose all three of their remaining games (quite possible, as they're Penn State's toughest Big Ten games) to not win their division. And as per above, I like Oregon to beat Stanford, and the only Pac 12 South team I'd give a good chance to beat either of them is post-season ineligible USC (see last week's game for why).

Fiesta Bowl: This week's B12 leader is Oklahoma State after Texas Tech pulled off a shocker in Norman yesterday. And given the set of available teams, I think the Fiesta almost has to go with the Ducks to face them.

In my projections, I have Stanford here, and Oklahoma winning the Big 12. It seems pretty clear to me that bizarre loss to Texas Tech notwithstanding, Oklahoma is the top team in the Big 12. It's possible Stanford is left out of the BCS entirely if they don't win the Pac 12 or finish in the top 4 due to a small fan base, but with Boise in the title game and the Big Ten teams gone there aren't a lot of great options for the second team in the Fiesta.

Sugar Bowl: 'If the season ended today', the Sugar needs a replacement for the BCS title game participant, and can't select an SEC team because two are in the title game. Oklahoma seems the obvious choice to anchor the Sugar given this week's top 14. Boise State goes here because with two losses, the 'eers are a bit less attractive to the BCS.

In my projections, the LSU/Alabama loser goes here. It seems unlikely another SEC team will catch up to the LSU/Alabama loser in the standings, and if it's close, the LSU/Alabama loser might get the nod anyway. I've got Wisconsin on the other side, since WVU will have two losses. Though I guess given a clear Superdome-filler in the LSU or Alabama on one side, Oklahoma State probably ought to be an option here, but I just kind of think two Big Ten teams in the BCS is an unofficial rule.

Orange Bowl: Clemson is still the ACC leader 'if the season ended today', but with the Hokies only one spot back after Clemson's loss, my default Virginia Tech wins the ACC projection is in play. WVU just barely stayed in the BCS top 25 (and no one else from the Big East did), and with only two conference games played by most Big East teams it's too early to jump the highest-ranked team due to conference tiebreakers. And since we lost to Louisville, and WVU still is better than anyone else in the conference, they're staying the projected champion

Non-BCS Big East bowls (projections for Big East schools only)

Champs Sports: Notre Dame. I don't see ND beating Stanford, and with WVU in the BCS they don't even think twice about it. ND should do pretty well save for losing to Stanford on their remaining schedule, so they go here.

Belk: Syracuse. It will take more than an illogical loss to Louisville to make me forget the WVU game happened; Pitt, UConn, and USF are eminently beatable, and Cinci is the most WVU-like team (in terms of scheme) left on the schedule.

Pinstripe: Rutgers. Cinci gets passed over by an inferior team here.

Liberty/Compass: Cinci. Actually second or third best team in the Big East, falls due to small fan base and inability to get TV ratings.

Beef: Louisville; WVU is the only game left they should lose.

No Bowl: Pitt, USF, UConn. It's hard to see any of them getting to bowl eligibility. Pitt without Graham will be an underdog in all remaining games. So will USF and UConn.

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