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2012 bowl projections, Week 9: Alabama, Oregon to title game, but O, for a playoff

College football's 2012 season is shaping to be one of those that could really, really benefit from a playoff, with at least five teams very much in line to play for the BCS National Championship. Projections for all 35 bowls herein.

Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

We're getting a playoff in college football. But if Iowa State hadn't already done its part to ruin the BCS, 2012 might be the year that would've finally done it. At this point, Alabama, Florida, Oregon, Kansas State, Oregon State and Notre Dame all have perfect cases to play for the national title, but only two teams can. Things will straighten themselves out somewhat (or only get muddier) over the next few weeks, of course, but teams will be screwed by the current system.

BCS standings projection: Kansas State likely to jump Oregon at No. 3

However, the system is the system, so let's take a look at where we're headed:

Bowl Date Matchup Team Team

BCS National Championship 1/7/2013 BCS 1 vs. BCS 2 Alabama Oregon

Fiesta 1/3/2013 Big 12 1 vs. At-large 1 Kansas State Notre Dame

Sugar 1/2/2013 SEC 1 vs. At-large 2 Florida Oklahoma

Orange 1/1/2013 ACC 1 vs. At-large 3 Florida State Rutgers

Rose 1/1/2013 Pac-12 1 vs. Big Ten 1 USC Michigan

GoDaddy 1/6/2013 MAC vs. Sun Belt 2 Toledo Western Kentucky

BBVA Compass 1/5/2013 SEC 8/9 vs. Big East 5/C-USA Utah State* Ball State*

Cotton 1/4/2013 Big 12 2 vs. SEC Texas Tech South Carolina

Heart of Dallas 1/1/2013 Big Ten 7 vs. C-USA Iowa UCF

Outback 1/1/2013 Big Ten 3 vs. SEC Nebraska Georgia

Gator 1/1/2013 Big Ten 4/5 vs. SEC 6 Northwestern Mississippi State

Capital One 1/1/2013 Big Ten 2 vs. SEC 2 Wisconsin LSU

Sun 12/31/2012 ACC 4 vs. Pac-12 4 UCLA Duke

Music City 12/31/2012 ACC 6 vs. SEC 7 Ole Miss Virginia Tech

Liberty 12/31/2012 C-USA 1 vs. Big East/SEC 8/9 Tulsa Tennessee

Chick-fil-A 12/31/2012 ACC 2 vs. SEC 5 Miami Texas A&M

Pinstripe 12/29/2012 Big 12 7 vs. Big East 4 Iowa State Temple

Kraft Fight Hunger 12/29/2012 Pac-12 6 vs. Navy Arizona Navy

Buffalo Wild Wings 12/29/2012 Big 12 4 vs. Big Ten 4/5 Texas Michigan State

Armed Forces 12/29/2012 MWC vs. C-USA Air Force Bowling Green*

Alamo 12/29/2012 Big 12 3 vs. Pac-12 2 Oregon State West Virginia

Russell Athletic 12/28/2012 Big East 2 vs. ACC 3 Louisville Clemson

Meineke Car Care 12/28/2012 Big 12 6 vs. Big Ten 6 TCU Purdue

Independence 12/28/2012 SEC 10 vs. ACC 7 Maryland ULL*

Military 12/27/2012 ACC 8 vs. Army Wake Forest MTSU*

Holiday 12/27/2012 Pac-12 3 vs. Big 12 5 Stanford Oklahoma State

Belk 12/27/2012 Big East 3 vs. ACC 5 Cincinnati N.C. State

Little Caesars 12/26/2012 MAC vs. Big Ten 8 NIU Troy*

Hawaii 12/24/2012 MWC/WAC vs. C-USA Fresno State ECU

New Orleans 12/22/2012 Sun Belt 1 vs. C-USA ULM Houston

Las Vegas 12/22/2012 MWC 1 vs. Pac-12 5 Boise State Arizona State

Beef O'Brady's 12/21/2012 Big East 6 vs. C-USA Arkansas State* Kent State*

Poinsettia 12/20/2012 MWC 2 vs. BYU Nevada BYU

New Mexico 12/15/2012 MWC 4/5 vs. Pac-12 7/WAC San Diego State San Jose State

Famous Idaho Potato 12/15/2012 MAC 3 vs. WAC Ohio Louisiana Tech

Alabama vs. Oregon

Even if Kansas State overtakes Oregon in the BCS standings, I don't see the Wildcats finishing perfect. Florida will also lose to Alabama in the SEC title game, and even the stoutest of rematchologists aren't going to turn the Gators right back around and give them another shot. I have the Irish losing to Oklahoma at least, meaning an unbeaten Oregon gets another crack at a school from Alabama.

For a little preview, check this out.

BCS games

I admit it: I underestimated K-State for the 11 millionth time, but don't make that face. Everybody underestimates them at all times. My projections have been amended, and now I've got the Wildcats making the Fiesta, as I do think they'll drop a game later in the year.

The Fiesta also gets first AQ pick, and if Notre Dame's around, you take Notre Dame. The Irish will lose to Oklahoma next week and might lose to USC, but should otherwise sail.

The SEC runner-up gets a 2008 title game rematch against the Big 12 runner-up, and both conferences are so tough at the top we might end up wishing each could put more than two into the BCS.

The Orange Bowl's left with another ACC-Big East matchup. The Orange could hope for Boise State to keep clawing its way back and for Big East carnage. Or at least for Louisville to win that conference. Or for Michigan to not win the Big Ten, so that it could take Michigan. But with the weakest AQ bid and the worst non-AQ pick, the Orange will again have the least notable BCS game. (That's not a "SHOTS AT THE BIG EAST" thing. That's a "Rutgers is unpopular" thing.)

The Rose gets Michigan and USC and a lot of money. Lots of people watch it.

The undercard

We'll keep UCF on here as long as we can, even though the Knights are sure to end up with a bowl ban. The thing is, Conference USA is really, really bad this year. The Big East is top-heavy (I have Temple as the only team besides Rutgers, Louisville and Cincinnati making it in, and that's being kind to the Owls), and the Big Ten and ACC each has bowl-banned teams that would otherwise make it in, but C-USA is just awful. Other than Tulsa, ECU and UCF, we're reaching.

But the littlest guys finally work the system to their advantage: the Sun Belt, WAC and MAC fill the gaps, with each taking spots the other conferences couldn't fill. We got you touchdowns for the holidays!

Boise State-Arizona State is indeed a rematch, but I don't think that game would have doubts about bringing back ASU, which looked miserable last year. Sun Devils fans are much more hopeful about their program, and would be more likely to show up this time. I actually thought about Nevada winning that conference, but then we're looking at a Boise State-BYU rematch minus Taysom Hill and NO GOD NOBODY WANTS TO SEE THAT.

Non-BCS games I'd be especially pumped about: Toledo-Western Kentucky, Miami-Texas A&M, Ohio-LA Tech, Arizona-Navy, UCLA-Duke and Texas-Michigan State, if only because that's the most confusing thing on this whole board.

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