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Bowl projections: Solving the BCS puzzle

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It was BCS shake-up week as title contenders Oklahoma State and Oregon got knocked off. That gives the Southeastern Conference a stranglehold on the title game, but it also opens the door for surprise teams in the BCS bowl lineup.

A few rules:

• The BCS games that lose their natural tie-ins get the first choices of at-large teams, and after that it goes Fiesta, Sugar, Orange in the selection process.


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• Notre Dame will have an automatic berth if it is in the top eight of the final BCS standings and can be selected as an at-large bid if it finishes in the top 14.

• Some bowls ignore the final standings as far as the seedings and pairings. Again, geography is a big deal.

So, here we go with our update Bowl Projections:

Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Dec. 17, Albuquerque, NM, 2 p.m. ET

Mountain West No. 5 vs. Pac-12
Projection: San Diego State vs. Northwestern*
*No Pac-12 team projected available

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Dec. 17, Boise, Idaho, 5:30 p.m.

Western Athletic Conference No. 1 or No. 2 vs. Mid-American Conference No. 3
Projection: Louisiana Tech vs. Toledo

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Dec. 17, New Orleans, 9 p.m.

Payout: $1 million
Sun Belt No. 1 vs. Conference USA No. 5
Projection: Louisiana-Lafayette vs. East Carolina

Beef 'O' Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl
Dec. 20, 2011 St. Petersburg, Fla., 8 p.m.

Payout: $1 million
Big East No. 5 vs. C-USA No. 2
Projection: Pittsburgh vs. Tulsa

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Dec. 21, San Diego, 8 p.m.

Payout: $1 million
Mountain West No. 2 vs. WAC
Projection: Boise State vs. Nevada

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl
Dec. 22, Las Vegas, Nev., 8 p.m.

Payout: $2.2 million
Mountain West No. 1 vs. Pac-12 No. 5
Projection: TCU vs. Washington

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Dec. 24, Honolulu, 8 p.m.

C-USA No. 6 vs. WAC (Hawaii, if eligible)
Projection: Temple* vs. Utah State
*-No Conference USA team projected available.

Advocare V100 Independence Bowl
Dec. 26, Shreveport, La., 5 p.m.

Payout: $2.3 million
Mountain West No. 3 vs. Atlantic Coast Conference No. 7
Projection: Wyoming vs. NC State

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Dec. 27, 2011 Detroit, 4:30 p.m.

MAC No. 1 vs. Big Ten No. 8 (or Sun Belt if no Big Ten)
Projection: Northern Illinois vs. Illinois

Belk Bowl
Dec. 27, Charlotte, NC, 8 p.m.

Payout: $3.4 million
Big East No. 3 vs. ACC No. 4
Projection: Louisville vs. Virginia

Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman
Dec. 28, Washington, DC, 4:30 p.m.

Payout: $1,725,000
ACC No. 8 vs. Navy (or C-USA if Navy not eligible)
Projection: North Carolina vs. Air Force
*-No Conference USA or Navy team projected available.

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
Dec. 28, San Diego, 8 p.m.

Payout: $4.3 million
Big 12 No. 5 vs. Pac-12 No. 3
Projection: Missouri vs. UCLA

Champs Sports Bowl
Dec. 29, Orlando, Fla, 5:30 p.m.

Payout: $4.65 million
ACC No. 3 vs. Big East No. 2
Projection: Florida State vs. Notre Dame

Valero Alamo Bowl
Dec. 29, San Antonio, Texas, 9 p.m.

Payout: $6.35 million
Big 12 No. 2 or 3 vs. Pac-12 No. 2
Projection: Baylor vs. Utah

Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl
Dec. 30, Fort Worth, Texas,  noon

Payout: $1.2 million
C-USA No. 3 vs. BYU
Projection: SMU vs. BYU*
*-BYU has accepted the bid.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Dec. 30, 2011, New York City, 3:20 p.m.

Payout: $3.6 million
Big East No. 4 vs. Big 12 No. 7
Projection: Rutgers vs. Texas

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Dec. 30, Nashville, Tenn., 6:40 p.m.

Payout: $3,675,000
ACC No. 6 vs. SEC No. 7
Projection: Wake Forest vs. Tennessee

Insight Bowl
Dec. 30, Tempe, Ariz., 10 p.m.

Payout: $6.7 million
Big Ten No. 4 or 5 vs. Big 12 No. 4
Projection: Ohio State vs. Oklahoma

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Dec. 31, Houston, noon

Payout: $3.4 million
Big Ten No. 6 vs. Big 12 No. 6
Projection: Iowa vs. Texas A&M

Hyundai Sun Bowl
Dec. 31, El Paso, Texas, 2 p.m.

Payout: $4 million
ACC No. 4 vs. Pac-12 No. 4
Projection: Georgia Tech vs. Arizona State

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Dec. 31, San Francisco, 3:30 p.m.

Payout: $1,675,000
Pac-12 No. 6 vs. Army (WAC if Army not available)
Projection: California vs. South Florida*
*-No WAC team or Army projected available.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Dec. 31, Memphis, Tenn,, 3:30 p.m.

C-USA No. 1 vs. SEC No. 6 or No. 7 (Big East if no SEC team)
Projection: Southern Miss vs. Vanderbilt

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Chick-fil-A Bowl
Dec. 31, Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.

Payout: $6.9 million
ACC No. 2 vs. SEC No. 3, 4 or 5
Projection: Virginia Tech vs. South Carolina

TicketCity Bowl
Jan. 2, Dallas, noon

Payout: $2.2 million
Big Ten No. 6 vs. C-USA
Projection: Purdue vs. Iowa State*
*-No Conference USA team projected available

Capital One Bowl
Jan. 2, Orlando, Fla., 1 p.m.

Payout: $9.2 million
Big Ten No. 2 vs. SEC No. 2
Projection: Michigan State vs. Arkansas

Gator Bowl
Jan. 2, 2011 Jacksonville, Fla., 1 p.m.

Payout: $5.4 million
Big Ten No. 4 or 5 vs. SEC No. 6
Projection: Nebraska vs. Florida

Outback Bowl
Jan. 2, Tampa, Fla., 1 p.m.

Payout: $7 million
Big Ten No. 3 vs. SEC No. 3, 4 or 5
Projection: Penn State vs. Georgia

AT&T Cotton Bowl
Jan. 6, Arlington, Texas, 8 p.m.

Payout: $7.25 million
Big 12 No. 2 vs. SEC No. 3, 4, or 5 (West)
Projection: Kansas State vs. Auburn

BBVA Compass Bank Bowl
Jan. 7, Birmingham, Ala., 1 p.m.

Payout: $1,925,000
Big East No. 4 vs. SEC (or MAC if no Big East or SEC)
Projection: Cincinnati vs. Mississippi State

GoDaddy.com Bowl
Jan. 8, Mobile, Ala. 9 p.m.

Payout: $1.5 million
MAC No. 2 vs. Sun Belt
Projection: Ohio vs. Arkansas State*
*-Arkansas State has accepted bid.

BCS BOWLS

Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO
Jan. 2, Pasadena, Calif., 5 p.m.

Payout: $36 million
Big Ten No. 1 vs. Pac-12 No. 1
Projection: Wisconsin vs. Oregon

Rationale: Wisconsin will be in for a battle against Penn State and Michigan State, but it should be solid enough in both games to get to a second straight Rose Bowl. Oregon's loss to USC doesn't matter. A win over Oregon State and in the Pac-12 title game will mean a second trip to Pasadena in three years.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 2, Glendale, Ariz., 8:30 p.m.

Big 12 No. 1 vs. BCS
Projection: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford

Rationale: The Fiesta will get the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State winner, and it will keep Andrew Luck and Stanford in Pac-12 territory. The future No. 1 draft pick will be an easy sell, and if it's Oklahoma instead of Oklahoma State, it could be a battle of the top two picks in the 2012 NFL draft, with Sooners quarterback Landry Jones possibly going No. 2.

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Jan. 3, New Orleans, 8:30 p.m.

SEC No. 1 vs. BCS at-large
Projection: Houston vs. Michigan

Rationale: There will be higher-ranked teams than Michigan, but if it's 10-2 with a win over Ohio State, it will be the most attractive at-large team on the lot. The Sugar would be happy to take on Houston and hope to get 2008 Utah rather than 2007 Hawaii.

Discover Orange Bowl
Jan. 4, Miami Gardens, Fla., 8 p.m.

ACC No. 1 vs. BCS at-large
Projection: Clemson vs. West Virginia

Rationale: Throw a dart at the Big East standings, and you probably will hit the champion. West Virginia needs to win out and needs a Louisville loss at South Florida to get into the BCS.

BCS Championship Game
Jan. 9, New Orleans, 9 p.m.

BCS No. 1 vs. BCS No. 2
Projection: LSU vs. Alabama

Rationale: Could there still be some crazy things waiting to happen? Even if LSU loses to Arkansas or Georgia, it still probably will play for the national title. It will be simple for Alabama: Beat Auburn, play for it all.

Tagged: Virginia, Illinois, Michigan, Penn State, Washington, Oregon, Navy, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Houston, Utah, Ohio, Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Stanford, Hawaii, Army, Kansas State

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