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Penn State, Boise State fall in latest bowl projections


A week ago, I had Penn State slotted for the Capital One Bowl, which has first choice of Big Ten teams outside of the BCS. This week the Nittany Lions fell all the way to the Meineke Bowl of Texas, not because they lost to Nebraska but because bowl committees will likely steer clear of Penn State in the wake of its ongoing scandal. Yes, their fans will travel, but it won't be worth the week of negative publicity.

In other news, Boise State falls from the BCS to the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas for a second straight year. The Vegas bowl has first choice of Mountain West teams but is not obligated to take likely champion TCU. Boise's strong showing for last year's bowl and a recent game at UNLV make it the preferred choice there.

A few reminders:

• After the No. 1 and 2 teams are slotted and replaced, the BCS at-large selection order this year is 1) Fiesta, 2) Sugar and 3) Orange. The highest-ranked (in this projection Houston) is guaranteed a BCS berth if it finishes in the Top 12.

• 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 five surplus eligible teams, and the number could rise. My projections include only five Big East teams, but all eight could conceivably get eligible, as could Navy (4-6) if it beats San Jose State and Army. That doesn't bode well for 6-6 teams hoping for at-large spots.

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

** -- The Champs Sports Bowl can pick Notre Dame instead of a Big East team once in the current four-year period (2010-13).