Oregon's in line to get another shot at a team from the state of Alabama in a BCS National Championship, with the Ducks and the Tide still looking like the country's best two national title candidates.
This week's complete bowl projections (asterisks for teams filling the spots of conferences that couldn't fill all of their own), with my explanation below:
Conference tie-ins via Jerry Palm.
BCS conference champs
I have Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Louisville, Michigan and Oklahoma. Feeling pretty good about all but those last two, obviously. I have Oklahoma topping Kansas State for the Big 12 even though K-State's beaten the Sooners, as I think OU is the conference's most complete team moving forward. As for the Big Ten ... the other options are Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin. Help me out here.
Despite a blowout loss to Texas Tech, I still have West Virginia making a BCS bowl as an at-large pick. Of the remaining BIg 12 contenders, WVU has the most manageable schedule (their three toughest opponents all visit distant Morgantown), and one must be careful not to overreact to a road loss to a squirrelly coach with a knack for upsets out of nowhere. But with K-State up next, we'll soon find out for sure how WVU handles squirrelly coaches with a knack for upsets out of nowhere.
Notre Dame gets what would be a rematch with Oklahoma, as the Fiesta gets first at-large pick this year. If Notre Dame's available and has a convincing record, you take Notre Dame, whether you're setting up a rematch (of what could be a great regular season game) or not.
For the final at-large spot, the Orange continues its ACC-Big East thing one more time, picking Louisville and making for a good, if lightly watched, game.
The New Orleans and New Mexico end up with rematches here as well, but each has the chance to pick a nearby team, and for bowls on the edge of the postseason, that's about the best those games can hope for.
Boise State and Utah, despite upgrading their conference standing, find themselves pretty much right where they always were for one more year.
Speaking of Utah, I have a really optimistic number of Pac-12 teams making bowls. Seeing some late-season surges there!
The Big East can't come close to filling all its slots (look at the Big East standings and marvel), so the mighty Sun Belt and MAC gorge themselves on postseason exposure.
Check out the Hokies and Aggies getting a matchup, finally pairing two similar school cultures and also setting up the sheer wonder of Bud Foster trying to contain Johnny Manziel. Wisconsin and LSU make for this year's best battle of the bands and this year's rowdiest tailgating, while Arizona State vs. Navy makes for the season's most fascinating cross-cultural exchange. Tulsa-Ole Miss might be one of my favorite undercard games here.
And, shame of all shames, a LA Tech team that came within a returned extra point of having as many BCS conference wins right now as Oregon does still ends up in a lowly bowl that few will watch. Well, besides you and me.
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