The 2012 college football season did not disappoint on the field of play throughout the year as upsets kept fans hooked to the season’s storylines. All the regular season games and conference title game match-ups are completed. The only thing left is handing out the bowl invitations.
The following list is a prediction of which teams will go where and a few why’s for some of the picks at the end.
Note once the top two teams are placed in the BCS Championship Game the BCS pecking order is as follows: 1) Fiesta Bowl, 2) Sugar Bowl, and 3) Orange Bowl.
The highest ranked conference champion from a non-automatic qualifying school is guaranteed a BCS bowl game (NIU) if that school finishes in the Top 12 or Top 16 and ahead of an AQ-conference champion.
A bowl selection committee also does not have to take the exact school in said conference that is slotted at said position. In other terms the Capital One Bowl does not have to take the No. 2 Big Ten team, Nebraska, if they do not want to do so. They can opt for the No. 3 team, Michigan, instead and for whatever reason(s).
GoDaddy.com – January 6
Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State
This game is usually reserved for the No. 2 team out of the Sun Belt but the match-up screams for the Red Wolves to take on Northern Illinois if the Huskies are not given a BCS bowl game. If this happens Oklahoma gets bumped to the Cotton Bowl, NIU goes to the Orange Bowl and Louisville should move to the Sugar Bowl.
If NIU gets bypassed by not being ranked in the top 16, espionage by voters in favor of blue blood Oklahoma is the only reason. NIU deserves a shot to play with the big boys after posting a 12-1 record and winning the Mid-American Conference title over Kent State.
BBVA Compass Bowl – January 5
Big East vs. SEC No. 8, Pitt vs. Ole Miss
Ole Miss gets a bump up here with Alabama going to the National Championship game. Otherwise Vanderbilt would fall back into this spot.
Cotton Bowl – January 4
Big 12 No. 2 vs. SEC, Oklahoma vs. Georgia
Georgia may get pushed here instead of the Outback because of Nebraska’s loss. Conventional wisdom would have OU playing LSU here. This would make for a better regional match-up and higher TV ratings.
Gator Bowl – January 1
Big Ten No. 4 vs. SEC No. 6, Northwestern vs. South Carolina
The Gamecocks could be nudged into this spot because of Texas A&M’s strong finish to the season and Clemson getting the nod at the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Outback Bowl – January 1
Big Ten No. 3 vs. SEC, Michigan vs. LSU
The Tigers get a New Year’s Day bowl game and Les Miles goes up against his alma mater. LSU really should be in the Capital One Bowl but if this match-up is given few would be surprised.
Capital One Bowl – January 1
SEC No. 2 vs. Big Ten No. 2, Nebraska vs. Texas A&M
Again, LSU should be in this spot. Alabama is taken off the board making Florida the SEC’s No. 1 team but going to the Sugar Bowl. LSU or Georgia could end up here but TV ratings win out again and two former Big 12 teams will collide in Orlando.
Chik-fil-A Bowl – December 31
ACC No. 2 vs. SEC No. 5, Clemson vs. Vanderbilt
Clemson is locked in here. Vanderbilt should get the nod to keep them out of Nashville for the Music City Bowl pushing Mississippi State on down the line.
Music City Bowl – December 31
ACC No. 6 vs. SEC, N.C. State vs. Mississippi State
Nashville lucks out not having to take 6-7 Georgia Tech. MSU does not really luck out playing a lackluster 7-5 Wolfpack team.
Rose Bowl – January 1
Pac-12 No.1 vs. Big Ten No. 1, Stanford vs. Wisconsin
Two methodical rushing offenses with usually strong defenses both trying to control the clock… this one should be a barn burner. Final score prediction for this game should be on this side of a baseball score.
Orange – January 1
No. 1 ACC vs. No. 1 Big East, Florida State vs. Louisville or NIU
Crack on the Big East all you want but this game has some flavor to it. The BIG question is will Charlie Strong be there to coach the Cardinals come Jan. 1 or will he be off recruiting for a SEC team as their new head coach?
The other question is how voters treat NIU…
Sugar Bowl – January 2
BCS at-large vs. BCS at-large, Florida vs. Louisville or Oklahoma
The Sugar Bowl selection committee has to be hoping that NIU is not ranked in the Top 16. Florida verses OU may be a better match-up but Northern Illinois deserves a shot. I’m picking NIU in the Orange Bowl and OU left out to the Cotton Bowl.
Fiesta Bowl – January 3
Big 12 Champ vs. BCS at-large, Kansas State vs. Oregon
The top draw on the board regionally for the Fiesta Bowl is Oregon. Duck fans will travel to Glendale, Ariz. to cheer on their team. KSU fans will be excited to see their strong defense against Oregon’s potent offense.
BCS National Championship Game – January 7
Notre Dame vs. Alabama
Talk about a ratings bonanza for the BCS National Championship Game. Alabama vs. Notre Dame pits two of the more storied college football programs ever against each other. Both teams like to grind out their wins with ball controlled offenses and tough physical defenses. Unfortunately for the Fighting Irish the Tide has more talent on their side of the field.