Did Stanford just fall from the doorstep of the national championship game to out of the BCS entirely? After Saturday's 20-17 upset at the paws of USC and Ed Orgeron, the Cardinal are no longer in line for even the Rose Bowl consolation prize and will now have to scrap with teams like Arizona State, UCLA, and those same Trojans for bowl positioning. That's life.
Elsewhere, the Big Ten gets a boost across the board, while the Pac-12 fallout jams up everything for just about the whole West Coast. Explanations to follow, and let's talk about these things in the comments.
Updated bowl projections after Week 12:
|Bowl||Matchup (Not always tied to conference standings)||Team||Team|
|1/6/2014||BCS National Championship (Pasadena)||BCS 1 vs. BCS 2||Alabama||Florida State|
|1/3/2014||Orange (Miami)||Florida State replacement vs. At-large 1||Clemson||Wisconsin|
|1/2/2014||Sugar (New Orleans)||Alabama replacement vs. At-large 2||Auburn||UCF|
|1/1/2014||Rose (Pasadena)||Pac-12 1 vs. Big Ten 1 (At-large 3)||Ohio State||Oregon|
|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||Ball State||Western Kentucky|
|1/4/2014||BBVA Compass (B'ham)||SEC 9 vs. AAC 5||Vanderbilt||Rutgers|
|1/3/2014||Cotton (Arlington)||Big 12 2 vs. SEC 3||Oklahoma State||Missouri|
|1/1/2014||Capital One (Orlando)||Big Ten 2 vs. SEC 2||Michigan State||Texas A&M|
|1/1/2014||Gator (Jacksonville)||Big Ten 4 vs. SEC 6||Minnesota||Ole Miss|
|1/1/2014||Heart of Dallas||Big Ten 7 vs. Big 12 8||Arizona*||Maryland*|
|1/1/2014||Outback (Tampa)||Big Ten 3 vs. SEC 4||Nebraska||LSU|
|12/31/2013||Chick-fil-A (Atlanta)||ACC 2 vs. SEC 5||Virginia Tech||South Carolina|
|12/31/2013||Independence (Shreveport)||SEC 10 vs. ACC 7||Utah*||Pitt|
|12/31/2013||Liberty (Memphis)||C-USA 1 vs. SEC 8||North Texas||Tennessee|
|12/31/2013||Sun (El Paso)||ACC 4 vs. Pac-12 4||Miami||Stanford|
|12/30/2013||Alamo (San Antonio)||Big 12 3 vs. Pac-12 2||Oklahoma||Arizona State|
|12/30/2013||Armed Forces (Ft. Worth)||MWC 3 vs. C-USA 3/Navy||San Diego State||Navy**|
|12/30/2013||Holiday (San Diego)||Pac-12 3 vs. Big 12 5||USC||Texas Tech|
|12/30/2013||Music City (Nashville)||ACC 6 vs. SEC 7||Boston College||Georgia|
|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||Texas||Michigan|
|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||Duke|
|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||North Carolina||East Carolina|
|12/27/2013||Texas (Houston)||Big 12 6 vs. Big Ten 6||Kansas State||Iowa|
|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||Utah State||Bowling Green*|
|12/24/2013||Hawaii||MWC 5 vs. C-USA 2||San Jose State||Rice|
|12/23/2013||Beef O'Brady's (St. Pete.)||AAC 6 vs. C-USA 4||Texas State*||Marshall|
|12/21/2013||Idaho Potato (Boise)||MAC 3 vs. MWC 6||Buffalo||Colorado State|
|12/21/2013||Las Vegas||MWC 1 vs. Pac-12 5||Boise State||UCLA|
|12/21/2013||New Mexico (Albuquerque)||MWC 4 vs. Pac-12 7||UNLV||Oregon State|
|12/21/2013||New Orleans||Sun Belt 1 vs. C-USA 6||UL Lafayette||Tulane|
*: Taking another conference's unfilled slot.
**: Already accepted bid.
Bold: Moving up, so to speak.
Italics: Moving down, so to speak.
If No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Florida State keep their rankings until bowl season, the Sugar Bowl gets the first at-large pick. It will stick to the SEC, meaning the choice will likely be Auburn, Missouri, South Carolina, or Texas A&M.
Since Mizzou or Carolina will likely have just lost a postseason game away from home to Alabama, that means Auburn or A&M. Do you take a shockingly 10-win Tigers team that will buy up every Superdome seat in an instant, or do you take the Aggies, who'll also load up New Orleans and can offer Johnny Manziel's (probable) last game as a college football player? Right now, Auburn's the better bet to finish within the top-14 threshold, but keep an eye on A&M.
The Orange then gets the next two picks, by virtue of having the first at-large slot this year. Clemson's one obvious choice, since the Orange's ACC ties are only strengthening heading into the College Football Playoff, but the other isn't so easy. Since only two teams per conference can go to the BCS, it's looking like it should come down to Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Stanford, UCLA, or Wisconsin.
Even though the underrated No. 22 Badgers [update: now No. 19 and with a potential win against new No. 25 Minnesota up next] have a long way to go to reach No. 14, they'd provide a huge fanbase and an exciting offense, plus their fans would have an easier time getting to Miami than any Pac-12 team would.
The rest of the slots would be locked in. Conference champions would take most of the spots, and UCF would likely be the more desirable pick than Fresno State -- both of those teams are on course to be guaranteed a spot.
However, I'm starting to wonder whether Fresno's tendency toward high-scoring thrillers and its passionate fanbase could make it a better choice than UCF, even though UCF's a better team. What do you think? Especially if it ends up being Auburn, which would give us the nation's best rushing team against one of the best passing teams?
Thoughts? Concerns? Ideas? Anything look especially intriguing to you here?
Two things I'll apologize for right away:
First, UCLA's slotting. I'm not happy with it, but the Pac-12 is heavy at the top, and I think the Bruins lose to Arizona State and at USC to finish out the season.
Also, some teams will likely finish the year bowl-eligible and be left out. There are only 70 bowl slots to go around, and 65 teams are already eligible with three weeks still to go.