Bowl season begins to take shape as BCS stands pat in projections
Things are starting to become pretty clear, and I only made a few changes from last week, none in the BCS bowls. The ACC lineup shuffled considerably, with Florida State moving up to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, sending Clemson to the Champs Sports Bowl. The Orlando game really wants to match FSU and Notre Dame, but the Atlanta game would have to either pass on 7-5 Auburn for 6-6 Florida or voluntarily take a Clemson team that would have lost three straight games.
In the SEC, Arkansas appears locked in to the Capital One Bowl. Assuming a Georgia loss this weekend, it's unclear whether the Outback Bowl would prefer the 10-3 Dawgs or 10-2 South Carolina. I gave it the Gamecocks, sending Georgia to the Cotton Bowl. Vanderbilt became bowl eligible, and while the hometown Music City Bowl will have first choice over the Liberty Bowl, the Commodores may opt for Memphis instead, sending Mississippi State to Nashville.
And the Pac-12 is a mess, as no team besides Oregon or Stanford (both BCS bound) finished better than 7-5. The Alamo Bowl will have first choice of the leftovers, and the guess is it takes Washington, sending Cal to the Holiday Bowl. If UCLA receives a waiver to participate at 6-7, its likely destination is San Francisco.
A few reminders:
• After the No. 1 and 2 teams are slotted and replaced, the BCS at-large selection order this year is Fiesta-Sugar-Orange. The highest-ranked non-automatic qualifier (in this projection Houston) is guaranteed a BCS berth if it finishes in the Top 12 or in the Top 16 and ahead of the Big East 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."
• I'm currently projecting only two surplus eligible teams (Western Kentucky and Ball State), though Hawaii could become eligible if it beats BYU.