Notre Dame claims 11 national championships; Alabama claims anywhere from 14 to untold thousands. One of them will get to count even higher very soon. The Irish will play Alabama for the national title, and with Stanford, Wisconsin, Florida State, Kansas State and Louisville winning AQ spots, we know how just about the entire BCS will shake out.
The big question: can No. 20 Boise State or No. 21 Northern Illinois rise to that No. 16 spot in Sunday night's BCS rankings, which would guarantee one of them a cut and likely squeeze out Oklahoma? After losses by No. 16 UCLA, No. 17 Kent State, and No. 18 Texas plus a humiliating loss by No. 12 Nebraska, it's going to be very close. Very close.
Projections for all 35 2012-2013 bowl games, with bold teams already in and asterisks for teams claiming the spots of conferences that couldn't fill theirs:
NIU vs. Oklahoma
If voters filled out their ballots in a bubble, unaware of the significance of that No. 16 spot, I think Northern Illinois would make it. Their one loss was forever ago, very close and away from home; they blasted their way through most of their schedule; and they have maybe the second most exciting player in the country in Jordan Lynch.
But voters know full well what they're doing if they put the Huskies, a team that just gave up its head coach to N.C. State, at No. 16. Putting direct matchmaking power in the hands of humans could mean Nebraska somehow doesn't fall past 16 despite getting shanked by Wisconsin. It could mean Michigan hangs on in the way despite not even playing. It could mean something even dumber happens. But even though the computers already like NIU (No. 23 last week) and will like them even more Sunday night (they beat computer No. 18 Kent State), the humans have the two-thirds majority.
I think they'll go brand name, even though I don't think they should. Oklahoma's probably the better team, and I don't know if NIU's deserving of a spot in the BCS, but it deserves to be ranked No. 16, along with all the things that come with being ranked No. 16. And speaking of, if they do go mid-major, I think they'll go brand-name there and give an extremely undeserving Boise State team the spot.
Sugar Bowl pick No. 1: Can Georgia steal?
The Sugar gets first pick, due to having lost SEC champ Alabama to the title game. Florida looked to be a lock for a BCS spot, with a No. 3 ranking, but now we have to wonder whether Georgia hangs on and swipes the BCS spot from its archrival, a team it's beaten. Only two teams per conference can go, so if the Dawgs do stay ahead, it's no BCS for Florida.
Florida has the better list of wins, but that Florida State win looks a little less impressive now that Georgia Tech took the 'Noles to the limit and we all just saw the Dawgs come within five yards of a national title shot. The Gators will still have the computer edge, but this will be much closer than we'd thought.
Either way, there's almost no chance the Sugar discards its SEC tie, especially not with future playoff partner Mike Slive to keep happy.
Fiesta Bowl: Easy choice
The Fiesta goes second, and needs only someone to pair with Big 12 champion Kansas State. Oregon should be ranked in the top five, is a national presence, is a west-coast team, offers the possibility of Chip Kelly's last college game and, you know, uniforms and offense. Having four of the top five teams in two bowls also teases the coming playoff setup.
Sugar Bowl pick No. 2: The point of controversy
Next is the Sugar again, which will be free to take Oklahoma as long as Northern Illinois or Boise State doesn't finish No. 16 or better.
Orange Bowl: Poor Orange Bowl
This would leave the Orange with Florida State vs. Big East champion Louisville, and no choice in the matter.
Rose Bowl: It's the Rose Bowl
Oh, and the Rose Bowl, which is as set as set can be.
What do you think?
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