First, I'm picking Alabama vs. Oregon for the last-ever non-playoff title game. Last year I picked LSU vs. Oregon, and the year before that, Alabama vs. Oregon. Can just keep picking it until it's right.
Each has significant losses, but everyone has losses. Each has arguably the easiest schedule in its conference, stability and stars at critical positions, and years of championship experience. We can admit this is the game we would've rather gotten last year, but second chances are beautiful.
The full slate of bowl projections as we near fall camp -- let's talk about it in the comments:
|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. BCS at-large 1||Clemson||Louisville*|
|1/2/2014||Sugar (New Orleans)||SEC 1 vs. BCS at-large 2||Georgia*||Oklahoma State*|
|1/1/2014||Rose (Pasadena)||Pac-12 1 vs. Big Ten 1||Ohio State||Stanford*|
|1/1/2014||Fiesta (Glendale, AZ)||Big 12 1 vs. Last BCS at-large||Texas||Boise 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||Vanderbilt||UConn|
|1/3/2014||Cotton (Arlington)||Big 12 2 vs. SEC 3||TCU||Texas A&M|
|1/1/2014||Capital One (Orlando)||Big Ten 2 vs. SEC 2||Wisconsin||LSU|
|1/1/2014||Gator (Jacksonville)||Big Ten 5 vs. SEC 6||Michigan State||Ole Miss|
|1/1/2014||Heart of Dallas||Big Ten 7 vs. Big 12 8||Indiana||Toledo**|
|1/1/2014||Outback (Tampa)||Big Ten 3 vs. SEC 4||Michigan||Florida|
|12/31/2013||Chick-fil-A (Atlanta)||ACC 2 vs. SEC 5||Miami||South Carolina|
|12/31/2013||Independence (Shreveport)||SEC 10 vs. ACC 7||Louisiana-Lafayette**||N.C. State|
|12/31/2013||Liberty (Memphis)||C-USA 1 vs. SEC 8||Tulsa||Auburn|
|12/31/2013||Sun (El Paso)||ACC 4 vs. Pac-12 4||North Carolina||UCLA|
|12/30/2013||Alamo (San Antonio)||Big 12 3 vs. Pac-12 2||Oklahoma||USC|
|12/30/2013||Armed Forces (Ft. Worth)||MWC 3 vs. C-USA 3/Navy||Utah State||Marshall|
|12/30/2013||Holiday (San Diego)||Pac-12 3 vs. Big 12 5||Arizona||Kansas State|
|12/30/2013||Music City (Nashville)||ACC 6 vs. SEC 7||Virginia Tech||Missouri|
|12/28/2013||Belk (Charlotte)||AAC 3 vs. ACC 5||UCF||Georgia Tech|
|12/28/2013||Buffalo Wild Wings (PHX)||Big 12 4 vs. Big Ten 4||Baylor||Nebraska|
|12/28/2013||Pinstripe (New York)||Big 12 7 vs. AAC 4||Notre Dame**||Rutgers|
|12/28/2013||Russell Athletic (Orlando)||AAC 2 vs. ACC 3||Cincinnati||Florida State|
|12/27/2013||Kraft (San Francisco)||Pac-12 6 vs. BYU/ACC 9||Arizona State||BYU|
|12/27/2013||Military (Annapolis)||ACC 8 vs. C-USA 5||Pitt||Rice|
|12/27/2013||Texas (Houston)||Big 12 6 vs. Big Ten 6||Texas Tech||Northwestern|
|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||San Diego State||Ball State**|
|12/24/2013||Hawaii||MWC 5 vs. C-USA 2||Air Force||East Carolina|
|12/23/2013||Beef O'Brady's (St. Pete.)||AAC 6 vs. C-USA 4||Houston||Louisiana Tech|
|12/21/2013||Idaho Potato (Boise)||MAC 3 vs. MWC 6||Ohio||Wyoming|
|12/21/2013||Las Vegas||MWC 1 vs. Pac-12 5||Fresno State||Oregon State|
|12/21/2013||New Mexico (Albuquerque)||MWC 4 vs. Pac-12 7||San Jose State||Washington|
|12/21/2013||New Orleans||Sun Belt 1 vs. C-USA 6||ULM||Middle Tennessee|
* BCS at-larges
In this scenario, only three teams would be locked into BCS spots (ACC champion Clemson, Big Ten champ Ohio State, and Big 12 champ Texas). The Sugar and Rose would get the first two at-large picks, due to having given up the SEC and Pac-12 winners, respectively, to the title game.
Sugar: If the SEC goes first (since Alabama will be No. 1, won't it, comrade?), the Sugar will likely roll with an SEC team, as it takes its Southern ties seriously. And has a College Football Playoff partner to keep happy. Good luck agreeing on one name here, but if Georgia has one or two losses, let's say it takes the spot after being passed over (fairly, perhaps) the year before.
Rose: A one-loss Stanford could be a worthy choice to replace Oregon. It would also preserve traditional league ties. Plus, Cardinal fans bought up last season's Rose Bowl ticket allotment almost a full month in advance and increased their 2013 season ticket numbers, meaning Stanford's even more appealing now.
Orange: After picking last seemingly every year ever, the Orange gets to go next. Finally, the chance to have something besides ACC-Big East! Except ACC-former Big East might be the pick (the AAC champion is promised a BCS spot, for one more year). That's especially if Teddy Bridgewater's a Heisman finalist and in line to be the No. 1 NFL Draft pick. And since the ACC will soon hold even more sway over the Orange, it could push to feature two eventual ACC teams. Guaranteed win, sort of.
Sugar: Up again, and it could keep its other future Playoff buddy happy by taking a Big 12 team, unless a can't-misser from elsewhere presents itself. I'd love to have TCU here, but Oklahoma State has a significantly friendlier schedule. Dawgs-Pokes could pair two of the country's five or so most explosive offenses. TV's satisfied.
Fiesta: If a Mountain West-champion Boise State finishes in the BCS' top 12 or in the top 16 and above any AQ champ, it's guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl. (Look at Boise State's schedule; odds are pretty good.) In this scenario, anyone besides Boise State to the Sugar would nail down Texas vs. the Broncos. Bryan Harsin's former teams meeting at last isn't much of a storyline. Every Oklahoma fan's watching, though.
** Fill-in teams
You know, just Notre Dame and Arkansas State being associates and contemporaries, as they often do.
The Irish are in double-asterisk world because they can't use their ACC bowl ties yet and their Big East ones just ran out. That means if they don't make a BCS game, they're stuck hoping some conference can't fill all its spots or an independent with a tie (Army, BYU, or Navy) isn't eligible. The lesser bowls are also hoping this.
The Big 12's Pinstripe slot makes sense for the Irish, since the conference is sending two to the BCS here and I don't have West Virginia, Iowa State, or Kansas making six wins. Bob Costas is standing at your doorstep right now with a carol he wrote about Notre Dame playing in Yankee Stadium again. Answer him or not, he'll remain.
After that, it's less political. We'll keep MAC teams from playing MAC teams, send the Louisiana team to the available Louisiana bowl (imagine that!), try to line up the other couple according to bowl payouts and team name brands, and that's that.
Other than that
Everything else more or less lines up according to my projected standings, except for a few complications. We can talk about all that in the comments.