Updated 2013 bowl projections: Florida State or Oregon to play Alabama?

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, we've got intrigue at the top, where the Seminoles have demanded to be taken seriously as a national championship contender.

After No. 5 Florida State stormed Death Valley and humbled No. 3 Clemson, 51-14, the Ducks and Noles should be neck-and-neck behind Alabama in the BCS standings for most of the rest of the year. That's assuming neither loses. But Oregon's schedule, its advantage the rest of the way as far as the BCS is concerned, also provides an opportunity for Florida State.

You can imagine Oregon tripping up against Stanford, UCLA, or Oregon State or in the Pac-12 championship against, say, Arizona State. It doesn't seem likely, but you can see it. But Florida State's toughest remaining games are Miami at home, Florida, and the ACC title game, maybe against Virginia Tech. If either of these teams is losing, it's more likely to be Oregon, simply based on opponents. Now that I've said that, everyone in the top five will lose two games.

At the moment, the Ducks have looked dominant enough that I don't see them dropping one. But after a full offseason (and seven full weeks) of looking more or less like a two-team race, it's up to three right now.

Bowl Matchup (Won't necessarily match standings) Team Team
1/6/2014 BCS National Championship (Pasadena) BCS 1 vs. BCS 2 Alabama Oregon
1/3/2014 Orange (Miami) ACC 1 vs. At-large 1 Florida State Wisconsin
1/2/2014 Sugar (New Orleans) SEC 1 vs. At-large 2 Missouri UCF
1/1/2014 Rose (Pasadena) Pac-12 1 vs. Big Ten 1 (At-large 3) Ohio State Stanford
1/1/2014 Fiesta (Glendale, AZ) Big 12 1 vs. At-large 4 Baylor Fresno State
1/5/2014 GoDaddy (Mobile, AL) MAC 2 vs. Sun Belt 2 Bowling Green Western Kentucky
1/4/2014 BBVA Compass (B'ham) SEC 9 vs. AAC 5 Tennessee Rutgers
1/3/2014 Cotton (Arlington) Big 12 2 vs. SEC 3 Oklahoma LSU
1/1/2014 Capital One (Orlando) Big Ten 2 vs. SEC 2 Nebraska Texas A&M
1/1/2014 Gator (Jacksonville) Big Ten 4 vs. SEC 6 Michigan Georgia
1/1/2014 Heart of Dallas Big Ten 7 vs. Big 12 8 Northwestern Utah*
1/1/2014 Outback (Tampa) Big Ten 3 vs. SEC 4 Michigan State Auburn
12/31/2013 Chick-fil-A (Atlanta) ACC 2 vs. SEC 5 Clemson Ole Miss
12/31/2013 Independence (Shreveport) SEC 10 vs. ACC 7 Vanderbilt Boston College
12/31/2013 Liberty (Memphis) C-USA 1 vs. SEC 8 East Carolina Florida
12/31/2013 Sun (El Paso) ACC 4 vs. Pac-12 4 Virginia Tech Oregon State
12/30/2013 Alamo (San Antonio) Big 12 3 vs. Pac-12 2 Texas Tech Arizona State
12/30/2013 Armed Forces (Ft. Worth) MWC 3 vs. C-USA 3/Navy Utah State Navy
12/30/2013 Holiday (San Diego) Pac-12 3 vs. Big 12 5 UCLA Texas
12/30/2013 Music City (Nashville) ACC 6 vs. SEC 7 Pitt South Carolina
12/28/2013 Belk (Charlotte) AAC 3 vs. ACC 5 Houston Georgia Tech
12/28/2013 Buffalo Wild Wings (PHX) Big 12 4 vs. Big Ten 5 Oklahoma State Iowa
12/28/2013 Pinstripe (New York) Big 12 7 vs. AAC 4 Notre Dame* Cincinnati
12/28/2013 Russell Athletic (Orlando) AAC 2 vs. ACC 3 Louisville Miami
12/27/2013 Kraft (San Francisco) Pac-12 6 vs. BYU/ACC 9 Washington BYU
12/27/2013 Military (Annapolis) ACC 8 vs. C-USA 5 Duke Rice
12/27/2013 Texas (Houston) Big 12 6 vs. Big Ten 6 West Virginia Minnesota
12/26/2013 Little Caesars (Detroit) MAC 1 vs. Big Ten 8 Northern Illinois Arkansas State*
12/26/2013 Poinsettia (San Diego) MWC 2 vs. Army Wyoming Toledo*
12/24/2013 Hawaii MWC 5 vs. C-USA 2 Ohio* Marshall
12/23/2013 Beef O'Brady's (St. Pete.) AAC 6 vs. C-USA 4 Buffalo* North Texas
12/21/2013 Idaho Potato (Boise) MAC 3 vs. MWC 6 Ball State Troy*
12/21/2013 Las Vegas MWC 1 vs. Pac-12 5 Boise State Arizona
12/21/2013 New Mexico (Albuquerque) MWC 4 vs. Pac-12 7 San Jose State USC
12/21/2013 New Orleans Sun Belt 1 vs. C-USA 6 Louisiana-Lafayette Tulane

* Filling in for another conference that couldn't meet all its tie-ins.

BCS bowls

The Sugar gets first pick if Alabama's No. 1, since it will have given up a team to the national title game. It will prefer to stick to its SEC ties, and odds are good a one-loss (or two-loss) Mizzou will be the obvious pick. No one woke up yesterday thinking Mizzou would be the obvious anything, but here we are.

The Rose would go next, and while Arizona State, UCLA, and Notre Dame make for potential Oregon replacements, I'm not convinced any of those teams will win out. Stanford still looks like the safest bet to finish with the record and ranking most worthy of the 100th Rose Bowl.

If Fresno State or Northern Illinois go unbeaten from here on out, one of them will be in. Each already ranks very well in the projected BCS standings, and Sunday night we could see one of them (likely Fresno) already within a spot or two of the No. 16 spot. If either can reach that ranking without being passed by an AQ-conference champion, it's in. Otherwise, No. 12 is the goal, which is also within reach.

Let's say Fresno State does go undefeated, which now looks more likely, with Wyoming struggling and both Boise State and Utah State losing their starting quarterbacks. That plus the American champion (which looks to be UCF) means the Orange gets the last remaining shot to bring in a big-name school with a national following. It can't take from the Pac-12 or SEC, though, since each will already have two BCS teams, and it likely won't take another ACC team.

While Notre Dame will be the pick if the Irish finish 10-2, the Irish still have tough games to go and haven't beaten anyone besides Temple by more than a single score. Wisconsin looks like a better bet at the moment to win out, especially when we remember it played well enough to beat Arizona State in Tempe. The Badgers have a huge fan base, and nothing sells better than offense. Florida State vs. Wisconsin pairs two of the country's highest-scoring teams. Oklahoma, Nebraska, Michigan State, or maybe even Texas Tech could be other potential picks.

After that, it's UCF or Fresno State for the Sugar, which means we get a rematch of 2012's Missouri-UCF thriller. No one remembers it.

Your turn

What do you think we do with this mess? Anything we should discuss? What am I flagrantly, flagrantly wrong about?

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