So you're trying to figure out where your team might be spending the holidays (or Jan. 9, as it may be)? Do you find it difficult navigating a lineup of 35 bowl games that often place more importance on number of alumni than number of wins when choosing their teams? No worries -- I'm here to do it for you.
First, a quick refresher and primer on changes to the 2010-11 lineup.
• After the No. 1 and 2 teams are slotted and replaced, the BCS at-large selection order this year is 1) Sugar, 2) Orange and 3) Fiesta. Also, this year only, the Rose Bowl is obligated to take the highest-ranked non-AQ team (currently TCU) if it loses one of its champions (currently projected to be Oregon).
• This season marks the start of a new four-year cycle of contracts, and many bowls have changed conference partners. Pac-10 fans: You're in the Alamo Bowl now. ACC fans: No more Gator Bowl. Big Ten fans: You can now play on New Year's Day even if you're the eighth-best team. Big 12 fans: Ever been to the Bronx in December?
• There are two new games, the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium (Big 12 vs. Big East) and the Dallas Football Classic at the Cotton Bowl (Big Ten vs. Big 12). Meanwhile, several have changed names. The Las Vegas Bowl is now the Maaco Bowl. The former EagleBank Bowl is now the Military Bowl. The former PapaJohns.com Bowl is now the BBVA Compass Bowl (???). And, yes, the GMAC Bowl is now the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Fast forward through the game to get to the commercials.
• As always, it's important to remember that most bowls are not obligated to choose their teams in exact order of conference standings. For instance, "ACC No. 3" means "third choice of ACC teams" -- not "the ACC's third-place team."
• As of now, I'm projecting 71 eligible teams for 70 spots. Texas is not one of them.
Teams in bold have accepted bowl invitation
* -- replacement team for conference without enough eligible teams