Because we know that some teams are likely to lose and the rankings are almost certain to change, making BCS projections this early out is about as close as you can get to a fool's errand -- so let's get to it. We moderate the possibility for foolishness here by basing the projections on the BCS as it stands today, which makes this more of a dynamic exercise than most of the predictions you'll see.
First, a quick note on who isn't in line to go just yet. Given the standings, some people might initially look at No. 17 Fresno State or No. 18 Northern Illinois and think that they're in as long as they stay ahead of Louisville and/or UCF. But that's not the case. The actual clause dealing with this situation in the rules for selection is a bit more complicated than that.
Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls. [Emphasis added]
The two teams are also not eligible to be an at-large selection yet. That means that neither Fresno or NIU is in the BCS yet. If either one keeps winning, it can probably stay ahead of the American Athletics Conference champion and get into one of the big-money bowls. But it's not a done deal yet.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way: The rules I've used on these for the last few years apply. Unless there's a compelling reason not to, I'm going to assume that the highest-ranked team from a conference is its champion. The only one that I'm a bit shaky on right now is Louisville, given that Central Florida has the tiebreaker, but it's too early at this point to assume that both of them are going to win out.
BCS National Championship Game: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Florida St. Seminoles
Sugar Bowl: Missouri Tigers vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Rose Bowl: Oregon Ducks vs. Ohio St. Buckeyes
Fiesta Bowl: Baylor Bears vs. Louisville Cardinals
Orange Bowl: Miami Hurricanes vs. Stanford Cardinal
If you want to blame someone for this mess, blame the B1G. By not having a second team eligible, they're screwing up the whole system and essentially requiring two teams from the Big 12, ACC and Pac-12 to get in. So we get this rather lackluster set of games.
It's not all bad, though. The national championship game and the Rose Bowl are both looking like marquee match-ups, and the Orange Bowl could be good. The Fiesta Bowl will resemble the sack of Rome, but someone ends up getting stuck with the AAC champion, and the Fiesta gets the last at-large pick this year.
The logic: With Alabama headed to the title game, the Sugar Bowl gets the first replacement pick and goes to Missouri, which also happens to be the highest remaining pick on the board, with the Rose Bowl automatically getting Oregon and Ohio State. The Orange Bowl decides to take the hometown team and selects Miami to fill in for Florida State. The Orange now gets another pick, because it gets the first at-large selection. It takes Stanford, and is grateful that it doesn't get stuck with the final pick, as it has for the last two years.
Things move to the Sugar Bowl now, which has a dwindling list of options. Clemson, Auburn, UCLA, LSU and Virginia Tech are all out because of the two team rule. The rules say that before you can break the "barrier" that exists at No. 14, all eligible teams above No. 14 have to be selected. The only one left is Texas Tech, so the Red Raiders default into a bowl. (I do not expect this to ultimately happen, but that's where we are right now.) It's Texas Tech or Louisville for the Sugar Bowl, which decides to cut its losses and go with the Raiders. That sends Louisville to the desert. And death.
Again, these are very early editions of the standings and very much subject to change. For one thing, I would expect either Fresno State or Northern Illinois to get into the Top 16 before this is over, which could prompt the Sugar Bowl to take Louisville for a second straight year. That would send Fresno State into the Fiesta Bowl against Baylor, whi-- HIDE THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN! WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!