The Big 12 was our most wide-open conference entering 2013. Five teams out of 10 looked like serious contenders for the league title, a far higher percentage than any other conference. With that number now thinned, the whole national picture becomes more clear.
Oklahoma at Baylor on Nov. 7 now projects to be the conference's closest thing to a championship game, assuming no major upsets along the way. (There will be major upsets along the way. All is meaningless.) The winner of that game should have an excellent shot at securing the conference's Fiesta Bowl tie, while the loser could still be in the running for a BCS at-large spot. I think that'll happen.
Elsewhere, Alabama put together its most complete win of the season, 25-0 over No. 21 Ole Miss, while Oregon did to Cal what it's done to everyone else. The updated bowl projections lineup:
|Bowl||Selection (not always official order)||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||Clemson||Oklahoma|
|1/2/2014||Sugar (New Orleans)||SEC 1 vs. At-large 2||Georgia||Florida State|
|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||Louisville|
|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||Vanderbilt||Cincinnati|
|1/3/2014||Cotton (Arlington)||Big 12 2 vs. SEC 3||Oklahoma State||LSU|
|1/1/2014||Capital One (Orlando)||Big Ten 2 vs. SEC 2||Northwestern||Texas A&M|
|1/1/2014||Gator (Jacksonville)||Big Ten 4 vs. SEC 6||Michigan||Ole Miss|
|1/1/2014||Heart of Dallas||Big Ten 7 vs. Big 12 8||Iowa||Notre Dame*|
|1/1/2014||Outback (Tampa)||Big Ten 3 vs. SEC 4||Wisconsin||South Carolina|
|12/31/2013||Chick-fil-A (Atlanta)||ACC 2 vs. SEC 5||Virginia Tech||Florida|
|12/31/2013||Independence (Shreveport)||SEC 10 vs. ACC 7||Toledo*||NC State|
|12/31/2013||Liberty (Memphis)||C-USA 1 vs. SEC 8||East Carolina||Missouri|
|12/31/2013||Sun (El Paso)||ACC 4 vs. Pac-12 4||Maryland||Wasington|
|12/30/2013||Alamo (San Antonio)||Big 12 3 vs. Pac-12 2||Texas Tech||UCLA|
|12/30/2013||Armed Forces (Ft. Worth)||MWC 3 vs. C-USA 3/Navy||Boise State||Navy|
|12/30/2013||Holiday (San Diego)||Pac-12 3 vs. Big 12 5||Arizona State||West Virginia|
|12/30/2013||Music City (Nashville)||ACC 6 vs. SEC 7||Pitt||Auburn|
|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||TCU||Nebraska|
|12/28/2013||Pinstripe (New York)||Big 12 7 vs. AAC 4||Buffalo*||Rutgers|
|12/28/2013||Russell Athletic (Orlando)||AAC 2 vs. ACC 3||UCF||Miami|
|12/27/2013||Kraft (San Francisco)||Pac-12 6 vs. BYU/ACC 9||Oregon State||BYU|
|12/27/2013||Military (Annapolis)||ACC 8 vs. C-USA 5||Ball State*||Middle Tennessee|
|12/27/2013||Texas (Houston)||Big 12 6 vs. Big Ten 6||Kansas State||Michigan State|
|12/26/2013||Little Caesars (Detroit)||MAC 1 vs. Big Ten 8||Northern Illinois||Texas State*|
|12/26/2013||Poinsettia (San Diego)||MWC 2 vs. Army||Fresno State||Rice*|
|12/24/2013||Hawaii||MWC 5 vs. C-USA 2||San Jose State||Marshall|
|12/23/2013||Beef O'Brady's (St. Pete.)||AAC 6 vs. C-USA 4||?||North Texas|
|12/21/2013||Idaho Potato (Boise)||MAC 3 vs. MWC 6||Ohio||Troy*|
|12/21/2013||Las Vegas||MWC 1 vs. Pac-12 5||Utah State||Arizona|
|12/21/2013||New Mexico (Albuquerque)||MWC 4 vs. Pac-12 7||Wyoming||Utah|
|12/21/2013||New Orleans||Sun Belt 1 vs. C-USA 6||Louisiana-Lafayette||Tulane|
*: Team taking bid from another conference that couldn't fill its spots. Notre Dame is included because it has no tie at all this year.
?: You tell me who else is getting six wins.
Bowl slots aren't always about conference standing. Bowls and conferences will choose the matchups they expect to bring in the most money, whether that means rewarding the team that finished with the better record or not.
Same story as last week. Both Alabama and Oregon look even more like national championship material, and the rest of the BCS picks play out similarly. The only question here is whether the Rose would go for a one-loss Oklahoma over its traditional conference ties to the Pac-12, for a matchup between two titanic fan bases and brand names, but let's say it sticks with Stanford for now.
On the move
Among other arrivals and exits and adjustments, USC and Texas are both out. USC for obvious reasons, and Texas because I don't really see a full six wins on that schedule. Oregon State and Utah are here to fortify the Pac-12, with West Virginia all of a sudden looking like a good bet for a bowl after its Oklahoma State takedown. Preseason Sun Belt favorite ULM is also out, replaced by the team it just lost to: Tulane.
The non-BCS big riser this week is Virginia Tech, which is up after showing its defense is good enough to beat anybody on its schedule. Miami swapping out of the Chick-fil-A also means a boost for Florida, since there's no Miami-Florida rematch to avoid. Hokies-Gators will amount to negative-300 points. Why did you do this to us, Virginia Tech?
Please help us figure this one out. Put me down for Wyoming-Utah in New Mexico, the best way I know of to honor the demise of Walter White's Southwestern meth empire.