Ironically, it took a little muddying of the waters to actually make the BCS picture a bit clearer. Despite the top two teams in the BCS standings losing on the same Saturday for the first time in 5 years last weekend, the BCS bowl games are one big step closer to actually sorting out who's playing who and where.
With one week left in the regular season, I took a little look-see at the reality of which teams will be going to which BCS bowl. Based on the now-narrowed possibilities, here are the matchups that I'd like to see come the beginning of 2013; hopefully the football gods are reading this.
BCS National Championship: Notre Dame vs. Alabama. Two strong defenses, two offenses that can make the occasional big play to win games. On paper, this game looks very similar to last year's game between LSU and Alabama – and once again, I'd give the edge to the Crimson Tide. Still, it would be fun for all the Irish haters out there to see how they'd stack up against the best team from the best conference … and the one team that beat 'Bama this year had a dual-threat QB, just like ND.
Rose Bowl: Nebraska vs. UCLA. This matchup would be determined by two things: Stanford beating the Bruins in the regular-season finale, then UCLA avenging that loss in the Pac-12 title game. Nebraska has to get by Iowa and then beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten title tilt; I like the Cornhuskers' chances. What would make a Rose Bowl game between the Huskers and Bruins so interesting is the offenses are basically carbon copies of each other: dual-threat QBs, strong running games, and defenses who can come up with big plays.
Sugar Bowl: Georgia vs. Oklahoma/Clemson. I think the Bulldogs have a very good chance to play in the Superdome, and I think the Sooners or Tigers would be sexy picks for the folks in New Orleans. Georgia would be the replacement pick for Alabama, which the Sugar Bowl will lose to the title game; it only makes sense that a bowl with an affiliation to the SEC champion would take the loser of the conference's title game. That leaves an at-large pick, and it can't be the Big 12 or ACC champ (those two conferences are prime targets for the Sugar Bowl due to their proximity to the Big Easy) … so why not the second-best team from one of those two leagues? Either way, there would be two explosive offenses against two athletic defenses.
Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State vs. Oregon. This matchup which everyone thought a week ago would be for the national championship is a no-brainer for the Fiesta Bowl, which gets the first at-large pick this year. It's predicated on the Ducks not making it into the Pac-12 title game (which they won't if Stanford beats UCLA this weekend), and the Wildcats taking care of Texas in a home game in their regular-season finale next week (they have a bye this weekend). Should this come to fruition, it'll be Collin Klein and the physical K-State attack against the fast-paced, athletic Ducks. The stakes won't be as high as they could've been, but it would make for some fun football.
Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Louisville. Sorry, Miami, but you're last in the pecking order for at-large teams this year, and none of the other bowls are going to take the Big East-champion Cardinals. (Louisville hasn't won the Big East yet, but I think they'll bounce back from last Saturday's loss to Syracuse and win out to take the title). With the Seminoles locked into the bowl after they win the the ACC title game, they get a spot in what would probably be the most-ignored of the Big 5 Bowls. But upsets tend to happen when teams feel like they're the overwhelming favorite, and Louisville won't just roll over for FSU.
So there you have it, games which I not only believe have a good chance of going down, but whose matchups I would be intrigued to see. Needless to say, with the way things have been going in college football the last couple of weekends, there could be a lot more upheaval to this BCS slate in the next 2 weeks of regular-season finales and conference championship games.
All I can say is, stay tuned. The end of the season is going to be just as much fun as the bowl season.
No. 19 Michigan at Ohio State
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Ohio Stadium
Line: Ohio State by 4
What's up: The Game this year should be another knock-down, drag-out. The Buckeyes are trying to go undefeated in a season where that's their lone goal to shoot for, and the Wolverines still have a chance to win the Legends Division.
My pick: Ohio State 31-24
Georgia Tech at No. 3 Georgia
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Sanford Stadium
Line: Georgia by 14
What's up: The Bulldogs are the better team on paper coming into this version of the Clean, Old Fashioned Hate game, but the Yellow Jackets' physical triple-option attack will be a challenge for the speedy, athletic Georgia defense.
My pick: Georgia 38-14
Baylor vs. Texas Tech
When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
Line: Baylor by 3˝
What's up: This will most likely be a back-and-forth game, with both offenses far better than either defense. Look for a lot of points and some video game-like stats.
My pick: Baylor 59-52
No. 4 Florida at No. 10 Florida State
When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium
Line: Florida State by 7
What's up: The Gators would love to improve their at-large chances for a BCS bowl with a win in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, seeing as how they won't play for the SEC title. The Seminoles would love to do the same, as well as get some momentum heading into the ACC championship.
My pick: Florida State 27-21
No. 21 Oklahoma State at No. 13 Oklahoma
When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Gaylord-Memorial Stadium
Line: Oklahoma by 6˝
What's up: This Bedlam game should be very evenly matched. The difference will come down to whichever offense runs its wide-open attack better.
My pick: Oklahoma 45-42
No. 12 South Carolina at No. 11 Clemson
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium
Line: Clemson by 3˝
What's up: Another rivalry game with very even teams, the Battle of the Palmetto State features a potent Tiger offense against a stout Gamecock defense. Whoever wins that battle within the battle will have the edge.
My pick: Clemson 24-14
No. 1 Notre Dame at USC
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Coliseum
Line: Notre Dame by 5˝
What's up: It's very simple for the Irish here: win and they play for the BCS national championship. USC's best hope to spoil its old rival's chances would have been a big game from Matt Barkley – but he's out with a sprained shoulder.
My pick: Notre Dame 31-14