Most would agree the Pac-12 is, at worst, the second-best conference this season. But USC's upset of Stanford likely cost the league a second BCS berth, since the Fiesta Bowl is not an option this year. That pushes all of the Pac-12's other teams down a rung and could leave two or more eligible teams without a guaranteed spot. They could land anywhere from Dallas to Detroit to Shreveport.
(NOTE: A previous version of this column included the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego as an option, but that game has a secondary agreement with the MAC. The table has been updated accordingly.)
RICKMAN: Orgeron, USC keep rolling with upset of Stanford
Elsewhere, my dream of a Northern Illinois-Notre Dame Pizza Bowl is likely no more -- the Fighting Irish have a lot of fans in New York and the Big 12 will not be able to fill its spot in the Pinstripe Bowl. Also, two unforeseen subplots emerged after I was done moving around this week's pieces. The Chick-fil-A Bowl could become the Steve Spurrier Bowl by pitting Duke against South Carolina, while the Outback Bowl could reunite old Big 8 rivals Nebraska and Missouri in a Big Ten-SEC matchup.
By the way, I'm currently projecting 76 eligible teams for 70 spots. The MAC and Sun Belt will each likely have multiple teams left out.
A quick refresher on how all this 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." Bowls often pick a team with an inferior record due to its location, the propensity of its fans to travel, the need to avoid a regular-season rematch or good old backroom politicking.
|Dec. 21||New Mexico||Albuquerque, N.M.||San Diego State (MWC) vs. Washington State (Pac-12 No. 7)|
|Dec. 21||Las Vegas||Las Vegas||Boise State (MWC No. 1) vs. USC (Pac-12 No. 5)|
|Dec. 21 ||Idaho Potato||Boise, Idaho||San Jose State (MWC) vs. Ball State (MAC)|
|Dec. 21 ||New Orleans||New Orleans||Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt No. 1) vs. Tulane (C-USA)|
|Dec. 23 ||Beef 'O' Brady's||St. Petersburg, Fla.||Toledo (AAC*) vs. Marshall (C-USA)|
|Dec. 24||Hawaii||Honolulu||UNLV (MWC) vs. Rice (C-USA)|
|Dec. 26 ||Little Caesars||Detroit||Northern Illinois (MAC) vs. Syracuse (Big Ten No. 8*)|
|Dec. 26 ||Poinsettia ||San Diego ||Utah State (MWC No. 2) vs. Buffalo (Army*)|
|Dec. 27||Military ||Annapolis, Md.||Maryland (ACC No. 8) vs. Middle Tennessee State (C-USA)|
|Dec. 27 ||Texas||Houston||Iowa (Big Ten No. 6) vs. Texas Tech (Big 12 No. 6)|
|Dec. 27||Fight Hunger||San Francisco ||Washington (Pac-12 No. 6) vs. BYU (BYU)|
|Dec. 28 ||Pinstripe||Bronx, N.Y.||Rutgers (AAC No. 4) vs. Notre Dame (Big 12 No. 7*)|
|Dec. 28 ||Belk||Charlotte||Houston (AAC No. 3) vs. Georgia Tech (ACC No. 5)|
|Dec. 28||Russell Athletic||Orlando||Louisville (AAC No. 2) vs. Miami (ACC No. 3) |
|Dec. 28||Buffalo Wild Wings||Tempe, Ariz.||Oklahoma (Big 12 No. 4) vs. Michigan (Big Ten No. 4)|
|Dec. 30||Armed Forces||Fort Worth, Texas||Colorado State (MWC) vs. Navy (Navy) |
|Dec. 30||Music City||Nashville||Boston College (ACC No. 6) vs. Georgia (SEC)|
|Dec. 30||Alamo||San Antonio||Stanford (Pac-12 No. 2) vs. Oklahoma State (Big 12 No. 3)|
|Dec. 30||Holiday ||San Diego||UCLA (Pac-12 No. 3) vs. Kansas State (Big 12 No. 5)|
|Dec. 31||AdvoCare||Shreveport, La.||North Carolina (ACC No. 7) vs. Arizona (SEC*)|
|Dec. 31||Sun||El Paso, Texas||Virginia Tech (ACC No. 4) vs. Arizona State (Pac-12 No. 4) |
|Dec. 31||Liberty||Memphis||East Carolina (C-USA No. 1) vs. Tennessee (SEC)|
|Dec. 31||Chick-fil-A||Atlanta||Duke (ACC No. 2) vs. South Carolina (SEC)|
|Jan. 1||Heart of Dallas||Dallas||Oregon State (Big Ten No. 7*) vs. North Texas (C-USA)|
|Jan. 1||Gator||Jacksonville||Minnesota (Big Ten No. 5) vs. Ole Miss (SEC)|
|Jan. 1||Outback||Tampa||Nebraska (Big Ten No. 3) vs. Missouri (SEC)|
|Jan. 1||Capital One||Orlando||Texas A&M (SEC No. 2) vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten No. 2)|
|Jan. 3||Cotton||Arlington, Texas||Texas (Big 12 No. 2) vs. LSU (SEC)|
|Jan. 4||BBVA Compass||Birmingham, Ala.||Cincinnati (AAC) vs. Vanderbilt (SEC)|
|Jan. 5||GoDaddy||Mobile, Ala.||Bowling Green (MAC) vs. Arkansas State (Sun Belt)|
Teams in bold have accepted a bid.
* -- Replacement team for a conference without an eligible team
MANDEL: College Football Overtime: Baylor, Duke go from worst to first; more Overtime