Bowl Projections, week 11 2011 (depressing loss to UConn week)

As projected, LSU won the game of the century of the week. What wasn't projected was them doing it in a game that no matter how much SEC types will tell you was a display of amazing defense, was really only slightly less ugly than the scene in Hartford. Chaos reigns in the Big Ten. Oklahoma State also managed to narrowly avoid being upset by Kansas State.

Bowl If the season ended today Projection
BCS Championship #1 LSU (SEC)  vs #2 Oklahoma State (Big 12)
LSU (SEC) vs. Oklahoma (B12)
Rose #4 Stanford (P12) vs #10 Penn State (B10)
Oregon (P12) vs Penn State (B10)
Fiesta #5 Oklahoma (B12/at-large) vs #7 Oregon (P12/at-large)
Oklahoma State (B12/at-large) vs Stanford (P12/at-large)
Sugar #3 Alabama (SEC/3-4 rule)  vs #5 Boise State (MWC/top non-AQ) Alabama (SEC/at-large) vs Boise State (MWC/top non-AQ)
Orange #9 Clemson (ACC) vs #23 Cinci (Big East) Virginia Tech (ACC) vs Cinci (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 Oklahoma State are #1 and #2,after LSU winning in overtime yesterday. So the current BCS rankings are no longer projecting the extremely unlikely rematch.

As for my projection - save for the Texas Tech game, Oklahoma has really looked better than Oklahoma Sate. And I still like Oregon over Stanford. Even with TCU moving up, I'm losing faith that an undefeated Boise can get to the title game ahead of a one-loss Oklahoma, Oregon, or even 'Bama take 2. I'm hoping if this seems even remotely possible, the pollsters will get some sense and start voting 'Bama 5th or 10th or something like that despite the ESPN 'analysts' on BCS countdown arguing against it. The BCS isn't a playoff; so if we only have one game, let's give us one we haven't already seen.

Rose Bowl: Stanford and Penn State 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 still don't like the Cardinal to win the Pac 12 (if I did, I'd project them all the way to the BCS title game), and have the Lions as Big Ten champions mostly by default. I'm not entirely sure anyone wants to win the Big Ten, but Penn State is up two games with three to play in their division; it's still possible for something other than Sparty vs. Penn State for the Big Ten title, but good teams need to lose two games in a row.

Fiesta Bowl: This week's B12 leader is still Oklahoma State with no upsets among the Big 12 leaders (Oklahoma was favored despite being ranked lower), but Oklahoma State is now in the BCS title game, so the Sooners are in the Fiesta. 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 playing Oklahoma State (with Oklahoma in the title game). Oklahoma State fills in for the top team in the Big 12 (or really, just lost the head to head tiebreaker). 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: The LSU/Alabama loser always figured as the likely team here, and now that the BCS rankings don't have them as 1/2 anymore, Alabama is slotted here if the season ended today. My projections go that way as well, though other scenarios are at least possible (LSU, Arkansas, Georgia, and South Carolina are still possible at least in theory).

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. With WVU losing to the 'ville (huh?), Cinci is now pretty much in the driver's seat in the Big East and the highest ranked team. They'd clearly be picked last, so they go to the Orange.

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

Champs Sports: Notre Dame. I don't see ND beating Stanford, but should win their other remaining games. WVU could get a look here, but probably not.

Belk:West Virginia. That one is easy.

Pinstripe: Rutgers. Mostly for variety. Will not sell as many tickets as we did.

Liberty/Compass: Louisville.

Beef: Syracuse. We can win one more game, right?

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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