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Bowl projections: Alabama-Stanford title game leads preseason picks

Photo: Al Tielemans/SI

Quarterback AJ McCarron and 'Bama will look to reach their third consecutive BCS title game this season.

This is the final season of the current postseason lineup. Come 2014, when the four-team playoff goes into effect, the Cotton and Chick-fil-A bowls will become part of the "New Year's Six" premium tier of bowls. The number of bowls will increase from 35 games to 38 (and counting), so get ready for college football, Boca Raton and the Bahamas. In addition, many of the current conference-bowl partnerships will change. For Big Ten fans, this season is the last chance to visit Tempe just before New Year's; for Big 12 fans, this season could bring one last trip to the Holiday Bowl.

In the new system, it will also be virtually impossible to make predictions like these in Week 14, much less before the season starts. So enjoy these, too, before everything changes.

College football preseason archive: Check out all of SI's 2013 preseason content

A quick refresher on how this all works:

• After the No. 1 and 2 teams are slotted and replaced, the BCS at-large selection order this year is: 1) Orange, 2) Sugar and 3) Fiesta. The highest-ranked champion from a non-automatic qualifier is guaranteed a BCS berth if it finishes in the top 12 or in the top 16 and ahead of an AQ-conference champion.

• Most bowls are not obligated -- I repeat, NOT OBLIGATED -- to choose in exact order of conference standings. For instance, "Big 12 No. 3" means "third selection of Big 12 teams," not "the Big 12's third-place team."

BCS bowls
DateBowlLocationPredicted matchup
Jan. 1RosePasadena, Calif.Ohio State (Big Ten champ) vs. Oregon (BCS at-large)
Jan. 1FiestaGlendale, Ariz.Texas (Big 12 champ) vs. Boise State (BCS at-large)
Jan. 2SugarNew OrleansSouth Carolina (BCS at-large) vs. Louisville (AAC champ)
Jan. 3OrangeMiamiFlorida State (ACC champ) vs. Notre Dame (BCS at-large)
Jan. 6BCS championshipPasadena, Calif.Alabama (BCS No. 1) vs. Stanford (BCS No. 2)

Other bowls
DateBowlLocationPredicted matchup
Dec. 21New MexicoAlbuquerque, N.M.San Jose State (MWC) vs. Louisiana-Monroe (Pac-12 No. 7*)
Dec. 21Las VegasLas VegasFresno State (MWC No. 1) vs. UCLA (Pac-12 No. 5)
Dec. 21 Idaho PotatoBoise, IdahoAir Force (MWC) vs. Ohio (MAC)
Dec. 21 New OrleansNew OrleansLouisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt No. 1) vs. Louisiana Tech (C-USA)
Dec. 23 Beef 'O' Brady'sSt. Petersburg, Fla.USF (AAC) vs. East Carolina (C-USA)
Dec. 24HawaiiHonoluluSan Diego State (MWC) vs. Rice (C-USA)
Dec. 26 Little CaesarsDetroitNorthern Illinois (MAC) vs. Indiana (Big Ten No. 8)
Dec. 26 Poinsettia San Diego Utah State (MWC No. 2) vs. West Virginia (Army*)
Dec. 27Military Annapolis, Md.Maryland (ACC No. 8) vs. Middle Tennessee State (C-USA)
Dec. 27 TexasHoustonWisconsin (Big Ten No. 6) vs. Kansas State (Big 12 No. 6)
Dec. 27Fight HungerSan Francisco USC (Pac-12 No. 6) vs. BYU (BYU)
Dec. 28 PinstripeBronx, N.Y.UCF (AAC No. 4) vs. Texas Tech (Big 12 No. 7)
Dec. 28 BelkCharlotteRutgers (AAC No. 3) vs. Georgia Tech (ACC No. 5)
Dec. 28Russell AthleticOrlandoCincinnati (AAC No. 2) vs. North Carolina (ACC No. 3)
Dec. 28Buffalo Wild WingsTempe, Ariz.Baylor (Big 12 No. 4) vs. Northwestern (Big Ten No. 4)
Dec. 30Armed ForcesFort Worth, TexasWyoming (MWC) vs. Navy (Navy)
Dec. 30Music CityNashvilleVirginia Tech (ACC No. 6) vs. Auburn (SEC)
Dec. 30AlamoSan AntonioArizona State (Pac-12 No. 2) vs. TCU (Big 12 No. 3)
Dec. 30Holiday San DiegoOregon State (Pac-12 No. 3) vs. Oklahoma State (Big 12 No. 5)
Dec. 31AdvoCareShreveport, La.NC State (ACC No. 7) vs. UAB (SEC*)
Dec. 31SunEl Paso, TexasMiami (ACC No. 4) vs. Washington (Pac-12 No. 4)
Dec. 31LibertyMemphisMarshall (C-USA No. 1) vs. Tennessee (SEC)
Dec. 31Chick-fil-AAtlantaClemson (ACC No. 2) vs. Florida (SEC)
Jan. 1Heart of DallasDallasMinnesota (Big Ten No. 7) vs. Tulsa (C-USA)
Jan. 1GatorJacksonvilleMichigan State (Big Ten No. 5) vs. Ole Miss (SEC)
Jan. 1OutbackTampaNebraska (Big Ten No. 3) vs. Georgia (SEC)
Jan. 1Capital OneOrlandoTexas A&M (SEC No. 2) vs. Michigan (Big Ten No. 2)
Jan. 3CottonArlington, TexasOklahoma (Big 12 No. 2) vs. LSU (SEC)
Jan. 4BBVA CompassBirmingham, Ala.Houston (AAC) vs. Vanderbilt (SEC)
Jan. 5GoDaddyMobile, Ala.Toledo (MAC) vs. Western Kentucky (Sun Belt)

* -- Replacement team for a conference without an eligible team

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