Each week, Covers Expert Matt Fargo will give his projected matchups and spreads for the five BCS Bowls. Auburn and Michigan State enter the picture and with some huge matchups this week, big changes could be coming if any upsets take place:
BCS Championship: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Oregon Ducks
Projected line: Alabama -3
Alabama has seen its margin shrinking but should it run the table, the Tide will be guaranteed its third straight BCS Championship invite. A visit from LSU will tell us a lot this coming Saturday.
Florida State is actually in the No. 2 spot right now but that won't last after this week, should Oregon win at Stanford Thursday. Unfortunately for Florida State, the remaining schedule is not strong enough to jump back over Oregon. An undefeated season would still keep it out of the BCS Championship.
Oregon has relatively tough games remaining against Arizona and Oregon State plus the Pac-12 Championship after its game against the Cardinal. It’s hard to see the Ducks losing but we said the same thing last year and they lost after a 10-0 start to Stanford at home.
Fiesta Bowl: Baylor Bears vs. Fresno State Bulldogs
Projected line: Baylor -19
There’s no change here. Baylor has been close to untouchable but it has still yet to play anyone. That changes shortly. The Bears close the season against Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and TCU but they are still the team to make the biggest run at this point.
Fresno State was projected by many to be a BCS buster and, so far, the Bulldogs are holding up their end of the bargain. While a couple tests remain, they should be able to win out. Fresno State has to finish ahead of at least one conference champion which comes from an AQ conference and right now that looks like the AAC. Should the Bulldogs lose, Northern Illinois would sneak in here. Should the Huskies falter as well, Central Florida will be coming.
Orange Bowl: Florida State Seminoles vs. Michigan State Spartans
Projected line: Florida State -13
While the Seminoles currently sit in the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings, it’s by a very slim margin and it won’t last should Oregon win Thursday. So for the sake of not making another shuffle, Florida State will be going to the Orange Bowl as the ACC Champion.
The Orange Bowl gets the first at-large selection after the other bowls make their replacement conference affiliation choices and right now that looks like Michigan State. The Spartans are undefeated in the Big Ten and are likely to play Ohio State in the championship game. If the Spartans lose to the Buckeyes and Wisconsin wins out, the Badgers could be in line for this spot so the Orange Bowl would have to decide which team is more attractive.
Rose Bowl: Stanford Cardinal vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Projected line: Stanford -1
The Rose Bowl matchup remains the same as Stanford would be chosen over a higher-ranked team based on the affiliation with the Pac-12. The Cardinal have a home date with Oregon Thursday and a win there will restructure everything. That may be too much to ask though.
The Buckeyes’ lone roadblocks to an undefeated season are a game at Michigan and the Big Ten Championship, which looks to be against Michigan State. The only way Ohio State can get to the BCS Championship is if Oregon and Florida State both lose. The Buckeyes could be the first team ever from a BCS conference to go undefeated two straight seasons and not have a shot at the BCS Championship either time.
Sugar Bowl: Auburn Tigers vs. Central Florida Knights
Projected line: Auburn -6
The Sugar Bowl would get Central Florida because, as an AQ, it has to go somewhere and the Sugar would likely grab the Knights over Fresno State or Northern Illinois. But if the Bulldogs and Huskies don’t make it into the Top 12, a more attractive option would be taken. Clemson and UCF would end up in the Fiesta Bowl, which has the fourth at-large spot.
Last week, we had Texas A&M here but Auburn made a solid jump up this week as it continues to win and win big. The Tigers would have to beat both Tennessee and Georgia as a loss to Alabama will likely not take them out of the Sugar as long as they win those prior two games.