And now we've got a shakeup in our BCS bowl projections. Alabama losing to Texas A&M scatters effects up and down the slate, as it gives the Rose Bowl an open pick and one less to the Sugar Bowl. And there are a lot of other things that are messed up. Thanks, A&M.
Remember, this is an attempt to project how the bowls would end up if the season ended today; other than assuming that the highest-ranked team will win its conference and/or division, we try to keep everything else as is. Teams that have an automatic bid to a certain game are italicized.
BCS National Championship Game: Kansas State vs. Oregon
Fiesta: Notre Dame vs. LSU
Orange: Florida State vs. Louisville
Rose: Stanford vs. Nebraska
Sugar: Oklahoma vs. Alabama
You'll notice that looks markedly different from our previous efforts, except for the Orange Bowl (sorry, Orange Bowl), so let's take a minute to go through the procedures.
If Kansas State remains first in the BCS, which is not a given, then the Fiesta Bowl gets the first pick and snaps up Notre Dame. (This makes little practical difference as long as there's a Pac-12 team in the Top 14, as the Rose Bowl officials and fans would rather see Pac-12 vs. B1G than good football.) At the moment, Stanford is at No. 13 -- just two spots from leaving the Top 14 bereft of a second Pac-12 team for the Rose Bowl to select. Oh, and who does Stanford play this weekend? Right. Oregon State, UCLA and Southern Cal all have a chance to get back into the Top 14 if Stanford falls, but it'll be close.
Now we go to the at-large picks, with the first selection going to the Fiesta. Oklahoma is out as a regular-season rematch for the Irish. With Louisville having not just lost, but lost to Syracuse, I would think that the Fiesta will not go with the rumored Notre Dame-Louisville match. Who knows what goes through the minds of those who don the colored blazers? The choices at that point are basically either Clemson or one of the SEC teams. I picked LSU because I think they're the sexier match-up, but Texas A&M as a new SEC team and former Big 12 team could be a dark horse. Clemson's not entirely out of the conversation, and neither is Georgia, but it's hard to assess how excited their fan bases will be given the outcome of division and conference races.
Things go back to the Sugar Bowl, which wastes no time in sitting up a ratings and tickets juggernaut: One of the most storied programs in the Big 12 against one of the most storied programs in the SEC, and both of them among the most storied programs in the country. And, of course, the Orange Bowl gets Florida State and Louisville. Why the Orange Bowl has ended up with one of the worst deals in college football, I don't know.
Obviously, all of that reshuffles the board for the SEC bowls, but only a little bit. It now goes:
Capital One: Georgia
Cotton: Texas A&M
Chick-fil-A: South Carolina
Gator: Mississippi State
Music City: Missouri
BBVA Compass: None eligible
Independence: None eligible
The changes are Georgia at the Capital One Bowl -- because I think the Fiesta is more likely to go with LSU than the Sugar Bowl would have been, for a variety of reasons -- Missouri in the Music City Bowl based on defeating Tennessee and the long odds for the Vols to make a bowl at this point, and Vanderbilt to the Liberty Bowl because I think Ole Miss's bowl hopes are in trouble as well.