Projected 2013 BCS Bowls — Preseason
You know the story. The Southeastern Conference — the once, current, future, and perhaps last king of the Bowl Championship Series — has won six straight crystal footballs and is looking to close out the BCS era with two more.
|BCS Bowl Projections|
|Title Game||USC vs. LSU|
|Rose Bowl||Oregon vs. Wisconsin|
|Orange Bowl||Florida St. vs. Louisville|
|Fiesta Bowl||Oklahoma vs. Michigan|
|Sugar Bowl||Alabama vs. West Virginia|
|Scroll down for more.|
The 2012 season opens with the conference as strong as ever. But whereas the SEC might have seemed in a different category all together these last few years, the competition has slowly but surely crept up.
Could another conference find itself holding the crystal ball at the end of this season for the first time since Texas and Vince Young captured it?
And beyond that — just two sets of BCS bowl games separate us from the coming four-team playoff system. Who will fill the ten BCS slots in this next to the last season of the much derided Bowl Championship Series?
Let’s dive into our first set of projections, which will be available by 1 a.m. PST every Saturday night from here until the end of the season. These projections draw on our BCS conference profile series and reflect those projections.
BCS National Championship Game: LSU Tigers (BCS No. 1) vs. USC Trojans (BCS No. 2)
Comment: LSU has seen unfortunate circumstances arise in the lead up to its season openers each of the last two seasons. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson brawled before the 2011 campaign, and Tyrann Mathieu found himself kicked off the team before the 2012 season. Despite Jefferson’s suspension and the distraction, the Tigers made an undefeated run through the SEC and secure a title game bid. Expect the loss of Mathieu to prove a minimal blow to another strong-at-all-spots Tiger team.
USC sees the weight of the bowl ban lifted off its shoulders at just the right moment — as many expect the Trojans to return to the glory of the pre-NCAA sanctions years. With quarterback Matt Barkley, wide receiver duo Marquise Lee and Robert Woods and running back tandem Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal leading the way, don’t be surprised to the see the Trojans back in the title game after a seven-year absence.
Rose Bowl: Oregon Ducks (At-large selection) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (Big Ten Champion)
Comment: Though it is a rematch of last year’s Rose Bowl, who wouldn’t want to see another edition of that offensive fireworks display from Jan. 2? Oregon might not capture a fourth straight Pac-12 title with USC standing in its way, but keeping up with the Trojans and the rest of the nation’s best would likely mean a repeat trip to the BCS as an at-large selection, and where better than a replacement for the title game-bound Trojans.
Wisconsin could easily rejoin the Ducks here in Pasadena on New Year’s Day, as they enter the season with a chance for a third-straight Rose Bowl appearance, though the Badgers have dropped both games. Faced with a tough Big Ten schedule and rising challenges from around the league, it is no easy proposition for the Badgers to return to the Rose Bowl, but they look as equipped as any.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama Crimson Tide (At-large selection) vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (At-large selection)
Comment: The Sugar Bowl was unable to invite a SEC team to New Orleans last season as the conference sent both its BCS combatants to the title game. Baring a repeat of that history-making event, the Sugar Bowl would likely love the chance to revive its SEC affiliation in the 2013 set of BCS bowl games, and who better to invite than Alabama, which has appeared 13 times before.
West Virginia provides an interesting case study on conference expansion and realignment, moving to the Big 12 just when they seemed back in the national conversation. The Mountaineers will likely not only compete for an at-large BCS bowl bid in 2012, but also could vie for the Big 12 crown itself. If they do fall short, the Mountaineers could give an attractive option for a bowl selection committee such as the Sugar Bowl’s, which would be silly to pass up a matchup like this.
Orange Bowl: Florida State Seminoles (ACC Champion) vs. Louisville Cardinals (Big East Champion)
Comment: A return to former BCS glory might be in the cards for Florida State in 2012, after a few years of preseason hype went unmatched in regular season play. Led by quarterback EJ Manuel, the Seminoles look ready to return to the BCS for the first time in seven years. If Florida State can make it through the ACC, the Orange Bowl will be happy to welcome them back to the BCS.
Louisville has quietly built its way to the preseason Big East favorite in 2012, largely on the strength of a strong returning starters corp. Capturing a share of the Big East regular season crown last season wasn’t enough to get them to a BCS bowl, but expect the Cardinals to land here in 2013.
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma Sooners (Big 12 Champion) vs. Michigan Wolverines (At-large selection)
Comment: Once again, Oklahoma rides into the season on a wave of hype. Quarterback Landry Jones and the Sooners would sooner forget their fall from the top of the preseason polls in 2011. This season could spell the return of Bob Stoops’ squad to national prominence, but they have to fight through the Big 12 first. If they capture another conference crown but fall short of the title game, the Fiesta Bowl is always here to catch the Sooners.
The adage going into the year about Michigan is that it’s a better team than it was in 2011 that’s about to have a worse record in 2012. While this might be true — especially with the schedule the Wolverines are looking at — a strong Michigan team that’s BCS eligible is about as good an option as an at-large selection as any. Again, the Fiesta Bowl would be silly to pass up on this potential meeting.
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