2011 Bowl Projections, Week 14: LSU-Alabama Rematch And The Rest

PASADENA CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Case Keenum #7 of the Houston Cougars signals in the game against the UCLA Bruins in the second quarter at the Rose Bowl on September 18 2010 in Pasadena California. UCLA won 31-13. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

We project not only the winners of this Saturday's conference title games, but also every college football bowl game including the six BCS matchups. LSU-Alabama seem destined for a rematch, but there's much BCS madness to be decided.

Championship Week is upon us! Let's hop right to the bowl projections. As always, the results below are based on this week's Momentum Rankings.

New Bids

In accepting a bid to the Poinsettia Bowl, Louisiana Tech joins BYU, UL-Lafayette and Arkansas State in securing their bids.

Key Projections

Here are some key projections for this coming weekend's games:

West Virginia beats South Florida (by 0.1)
Cincinnati beats UConn
Kansas State beats Iowa State
Boise State beats New Mexico
Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma (by 0.7)
ACC Championship: Virginia Tech beats Clemson
Big Ten Championship: Wisconsin beats Michigan State
Conference USA Championship: Houston beats Southern Miss
MAC Championship: Northern Illinois beats Ohio
Pac-12 Championship: Oregon beats UCLA
SEC Championship: LSU beats Georgia

The Big East Bid

The Big East title scenario is as follows:

-- If UConn beats Cincinnati, Louisville is Big East champion.
-- If Cincinnati beats UConn and USF beats West Virginia, Cincinnati is Big East champion.
-- If Cincinnati beats UConn and West Virginia beats USF, West Virginia is (probably) Big East champion. At this point, BCS ranking is the tie-breaker, and WVU is currently the only Big East team ranked in the BCS Top 25.

In the above scenario, West Virginia takes the title, but WVU-USF is a complete and total tossup. Cincy is projected to comfortably beat UConn, but that projection does not take into account the fact that, even with his good performance last weekend, Munchie Legaux's Cincy offense is not at the same level as the Cincy offense led by injured quarterback Zach Collaros.

Filling In The BCS

Barring an unexpected result this Saturday, it is pretty easy to see how the BCS bowls will take shape at this point:

1. LSU and Alabama go to the BCS championship.

2. Wisconsin/Michigan State (Rose), Oregon (Rose), Oklahoma State (Fiesta) and Virginia Tech (ACC) assume their automatic bids, while Houston and the Big East champion (whoever it is) take two of the four remaining spots. Stanford, currently 11-1 and fourth in the BCS, automatically gets one of those two spots.

3. That leaves one remaining bid for the following pool of teams: 11-1 Boise State (currently seventh in the BCS rankings), 10-2 Kansas State (currently 11th) and possibly either 10-2 Michigan (currently 16th) or a 9-3 Oklahoma team. You must be ranked in the BCS Top 14 to qualify; Michigan is 16th, but they should leap both Georgia (if they lose to LSU) and the Michigan State/Wisconsin loser to get to 14th. Meanwhile, Oklahoma is currently 10th, and it is difficult to determine how far they will fall if they lose to Oklahoma State. (Oklahoma State obviously joins this pool if they lose to Oklahoma and fall to 11-2 and around sixth to eighth in the BCS standings.)

With the projections taking shape above, I think Michigan gets to 14th and gets the 10th bowl slot.

4. The Sugar Bowl gets the first selection from the Houston/WVU/Stanford/Michigan pool (since they lost their automatic bid to the BCS championship) and picks the team with the biggest, most-likely-to-travel fanbase: Michigan.

5. The Fiesta Bowl is up next and takes the westernmost team: Stanford.

6. The Sugar Bowl then has to choose between West Virginia and Houston. Houston is almost next door, but WVU has a much larger fanbase than the commuter school. I'm going with Houston below, but it isn't a given.

7. The Orange Bowl takes whoever is left; in this case, that is West Virginia.

One Extra Team

It appears Hawaii (losing to BYU) and UCLA (losing to Oregon) are both projected to finish 6-7, and with USC and Miami ineligible for bowl bids, that means there will be 71 teams eligible for 70 bowl slots. There is no way we end up with 69 at this point, but this cuts it awfully close. Only one bowl eligible team will go without a bid; most likely that will be either Toledo, Air Force, Wyoming, Western Michigan, Western Kentucky or Ball State. (As it stands, 6-6 Marshall is likely safe, as they will get one of the slots allotted to Conference USA.)  In the below projections, Ball State drew the short straw and missed out.

Fun In The Big 12

The scenario I discussed last week still exists. There are three available Big 12 slots for four Big 12 teams -- 7-5 Missouri, 7-5 Texas, 6-6 Texas A&M and 6-6 Iowa State. The Holiday chooses first (assuming 9-3 Baylor goes to the Insight Bowl ... and let's be honest: there's always a chance Texas jumps up and steals that spot ... and they will absolutely take that spot if Texas beats Baylor this weekend); if head-to-head results matter, then Missouri takes the bid, as they went 3-0 versus the other teams on the list. But if it doesn't, then one of the better-traveling Texas schools (probably Texas) might take that spot, with the other Texas school getting the Texas Bowl. That leaves the Pinstripe Bowl to choose between Iowa State and probably one of the two departing Big 12 schools, Missouri or Texas A&M. I still think there's a very good possibility that the Pinstripe gets a subtle nudge to go with Iowa State (just like the Insight Bowl was allegedly nudged to take Missouri over departing Nebraska). In the example below, Mizzou goes to San Diego, but you could very easily flip the Tigers and Aggies.

To the bowls!

Date Bowl Team Team
17-Dec Gildan New Mexico Air Force (7-5) Western Kentucky (7-5)
17-Dec Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Toledo (8-4) Utah State (7-5)
17-Dec R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Western Michigan (7-5) UL-Lafayette (8-4)
20-Dec Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl Pittsburgh (6-6) Florida International (8-4)
21-Dec SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl San Diego State (8-4) Louisiana Tech (8-4)
22-Dec Maaco Bowl Las Vegas Boise State (11-1) Arizona State (6-6)
24-Dec Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl Nevada (7-5) Tulsa (8-4)
26-Dec Advocare Independence Bowl TCU (10-2) N.C. State (7-5)
27-Dec Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Northwestern (6-6) Ohio (9-4)
27-Dec Belk Bowl Virginia (8-4) Cincinnati (9-3)
28-Dec Military Bowl Wake Forest (6-6) Temple (8-4)
28-Dec Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl Missouri (7-5) California (7-5)
29-Dec Champs Sports Bowl Florida State (8-4) Notre Dame (8-4)
29-Dec Valero Alamo Bowl Oklahoma (9-3) Utah (7-5)
30-Dec Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl BYU (9-3) Marshall (6-6)
30-Dec New Era Pinstripe Bowl Iowa State (6-6) Rutgers (8-4)
30-Dec Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl North Carolina (7-5) Vanderbilt (6-6)
30-Dec Insight Bowl Baylor (9-3) Penn State (9-3)
31-Dec Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas Texas (7-5) Iowa (7-5)
31-Dec Hyundai Sun Bowl Georgia Tech (8-4) Washington (7-5)
31-Dec AutoZone Liberty Bowl Southern Miss (10-3) Texas A&M (6-6)
31-Dec Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Illinois (6-6) Wyoming (7-5)
31-Dec Chick-fil-A Bowl Auburn (7-5) Clemson (9-4)
2-Jan TicketCity Bowl Purdue (6-6) SMU (7-5)
2-Jan Outback Bowl Michigan State (10-3) South Carolina (10-2)
2-Jan Capital One Bowl Nebraska (9-3) Georgia (10-3)
2-Jan Progressive Gator Bowl Ohio State (6-6) Florida (6-6)
6-Jan AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Kansas State (10-2) Arkansas (10-2)
7-Jan BBVA Compass Bowl Louisville (7-5) Mississippi State (6-6)
8-Jan GoDaddy.com Bowl Northern Illinois (10-3) Arkansas State (10-2)
2-Jan Rose Bowl Wisconsin (11-2) Oregon (11-2)
2-Jan Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Oklahoma State (11-1) Stanford (11-1)
3-Jan Allstate Sugar Bowl Michigan (10-2) Houston (13-0)
4-Jan Discover Orange Bowl Virginia Tech (12-1) West Virginia (9-3)
9-Jan Allstate BCS National Championship Game LSU (13-0) Alabama (11-1)
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