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BCS and SEC Bowl Projections 2013: Final Post-Championship Game Cut

One last look at how the bowl picture is likely to shape up when it's announced Sunday night on ESPN

Wesley Hitt

So, that was an interesting Saturday, wasn't it? Interesting enough, in fact, that it shook up not just the BCS bowl lineup, but the opponents for other SEC bowl games as well. Things appear very different than they did earlier. Let's take a look, okay?

These, by the way, stand as my official bowl projections. They're the last ones I'll do before the full slate is revealed on ESPN on Sunday night.

(Before we get started: I do occasionally look at the work done by Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards at ESPN, who haven't updated their projections yet, and Jerry Palm at CBS, so there are some influences / confirmations I get from them, even if I don't agree with them on everything. Didn't want to go without citing that, though.)

BCS Bowls

BCS National Championship Game: Florida St. Seminoles vs. Auburn Tigers
Sugar Bowl: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Oklahoma Sooners
Rose Bowl: Stanford Cardinal vs. Michigan St. Spartans
Fiesta Bowl: Baylor Bears vs. Central Florida Knights
Orange Bowl: Ohio St. Buckeyes vs. Clemson Tigers

Barring something truly surprising, Auburn should pass Ohio State and claim the No. 2 spot in the BCS National Championship Game. That and the Rose Bowl -- where the Pac-12 champions in Stanford play the B1G champions in Michigan State -- are easy. After that, things get a bit more complicated. The Orange Bowl gets the first replacement pick but, because of a clause in the rule that was pointed out to me on Twitter, cannot take Alabama unless the Sugar Bowl approves. Which it will not. So the Orange Bowl takes either Ohio State or Clemson next, which is immaterial because the Sugar Bowl will use its replacement pick on Alabama.

After that, things go back to the Orange Bowl, which uses its at-large selection to take whichever of the Ohio State/Clemson pair it didn't select the first time around. Things go back to the Sugar, which is basically choosing between Oregon and Oklahoma. (To oversimplify things.) I think the distance and business relationships both go in favor of the Sooners, leaving Oregon out of the BCS entirely.

Non-BCS SEC Bowls

Capital One Bowl: South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Outback Bowl: LSU Tigers vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Cotton Bowl: Missouri Tigers vs. Oklahoma St. Cowboys
Chick-fil-A Bowl: Texas A&M Aggiess vs. Miami Hurricanes
Gator Bowl: Georgia Bulldogs vs. Michigan Wolverines
Music City Bowl: Mississippi Rebels vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Liberty Bowl: Mississippi St. Bulldogs vs. Rice Owls
BBVA Compass Bowl: Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Houston Cougars

I'd thought for a long time that the SEC Championship Game loser was headed to the Capital One Bowl no matter what. But the way in which Missouri got shredded by Auburn, and their subsequent likely drop in the polls, likely means that South Carolina ends up with the trip to Orlando. (Trust me, Mizzou fans, I'm hoping that I'm wrong about this just as much as you are. I'm sick of playing B1G teams in Florida.) Wisconsin ends up snagging the Up North Conference's spot in that bowl.

I still think the Outback and the Cotton arrange for a trade, I just think that it's LSU for Missouri in this case. And I'm still going with Nebraska as the oddball pick for the Outback Bowl, because it wouldn't be bowl season if the Outback didn't do something that made no sense. I think it's close between Texas and Oklahoma State for the other spot in the Cotton Bowl, but I think the fan discontent at Texas is enough to put OSU in the Jerry Jones Death Star.

Graduating Clemson into the BCS also shakes up the ACC order in the bowl games a bit; Miami gets the other spot in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to play Texas A&M. Georgia and Michigan are still set for the Gator Bowl, while Ole Miss and Georgia Tech are the selections for the Music City Bowl. No changes there.

I think it's ridiculous but also not a big deal that Mississippi State would get an invite over Vanderbilt to the Liberty Bowl, but it looks very much like that's what's going to happen. Rice's win Saturday puts them into the Liberty Bowl to face the Bulldogs, while Houston is the American Athletic team in the Compass Bowl.