Bowl scenarios after Week 11's BCS shake-up
Following Oregon's 26-20 loss at Stanford on Thursday night, No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Florida State are now on a collision course to play in the Jan. 6 VIZIO BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl.
With less than a month to go in the regular season, the Ducks' loss also reshaped what the rest of the BCS bowl lineup might look like. Besides Florida State, No. 8 Clemson might end up being the biggest winner at Oregon's expense. The Tigers seemed like a BCS afterthought after their ugly 51-14 loss to the Seminoles on Oct. 19, but now they might end up replacing FSU in the Orange Bowl (if the Noles reach the BCS title game).
Here's a closer look at the teams in contention for BCS bowl games:
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO
Jan. 1 (ESPN, 5 p.m. ET) at the Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
Projected matchup: No. 3 Ohio State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) versus No. 4 Stanford (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12)
Obviously, Ohio State is rooting for either Alabama or FSU to lose so it might have a chance to play in the title game. Otherwise, the Buckeyes are probably headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009, giving the Rose Bowl its traditional (and preferred) Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup. OSU will probably be heavily favored in its last three regular-season contests, but No. 16 Michigan State would potentially be its most difficult test of the season if those teams meet in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis on Dec. 7. Stanford must still win its final two Pac-12 regular-season contests -- USC (road) and California (home) -- to win the Pac-12 North (assuming No. 6 Oregon doesn't lose again) and then win the Pac-12 championship game.
Michigan State (8-1, 5-0 Big Ten): The Spartans play consecutive road games at Nebraska and Northwestern and a home game against Minnesota, so they'll have to earn a Legends Division title to get a shot at Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.
Nebraska (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten): As bad as this season has gone for the Cornhuskers, they're still in position to win the Legends Division and play for a Big Ten title.
Oregon (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12): The Ducks need the Cardinal to lose one of their final two Pac-12 games to get to the Pac-12 championship game, but Oregon would also be a very attractive BCS at-large candidate with an 11-1 record.
Arizona State (7-2, 5-1 Pac-12): ASU has won its last four games heading into Saturday's home contest against Oregon State, followed by a big road game at UCLA on Nov. 23 and home game against Arizona on Nov. 30.
UCLA (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12): The Bruins face probably the most difficult three-game stretch to close the season of any of the Pac-12 South contenders. They still play Washington (home), Arizona State (home) and USC (road).
USC (7-3, 4-2): To win the division, the Trojans have to hope ASU loses twice, due to their earlier loss in Tempe, Ariz.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 1 (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET) at University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)
Projected matchup: No. 5 Baylor (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) versus No. 14 Fresno State (9-0, 6-0 MWC)
Baylor passed a major hurdle by knocking off then-No. 10 Oklahoma 41-12 at home on Thursday night, but the Bears are far from out of the woods. They're tied with No. 24 Texas in the loss column in the Big 12 standings and still play four league games: Texas Tech (Dallas), No. 12 Oklahoma State (road), TCU (road) and Texas (home). Fresno State plays two more regular-season games -- New Mexico (home) and San Jose State (road) -- before playing probably either Boise State or Utah State in the inaugural Mountain West championship game on Dec. 7. The Bulldogs must finish in the top 12 of the final BCS standings or in the top 16 and ahead of a champion of the six AQ leagues (American, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) to qualify for a BCS at-large bid.
Northern Illinois (9-0, 5-0 MAC): If Fresno State loses -- or if the No. 15 Huskies move ahead of the Bulldogs in the final BCS standings -- Northern Illinois would be in position to reach its second consecutive BCS bowl game.
Oklahoma State (8-1, 5-1 Big 12): The Cowboys were kind of forgotten after their surprising 30-21 loss at West Virginia on Sept. 28, but they've rallied to win five games in a row to stay one game behind Baylor and Texas in the loss column of the Big 12 standings.
Texas (7-2, 6-0 Big 12): The Longhorns kept their Big 12 title hopes alive with a 47-40 overtime win at West Virginia on Saturday night. They'll have to play much better to win out; after hosting OSU they play Texas Tech at home and Baylor on the road.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Jan. 2 (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET) at Mercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans)
Projected matchup: No. 7 Auburn (9-1, 5-1 SEC) versus No. 17 UCF (7-1, 4-0 American)
As long as Auburn beats No. 25 Georgia at home on Saturday, it should be in the mix to earn a BCS at-large berth, assuming it loses to Alabama in the Nov. 30 Iron Bowl (which isn't a foregone conclusion). Even if the Tigers don't beat the Tide, they might be hard to pass up with a 10-2 record (and seven wins in their last eight games) under first-year coach Gus Malzahn. UCF took control of the American race by beating Houston 19-14 on Saturday night. The Knights also defeated No. 20 Louisville and play only one team with a winning record (Rutgers) in their remaining four games.
Missouri (9-1, 5-1 SEC): What would be more enticing for the Sugar Bowl? A 10-2 Auburn team or a 11-2 Missouri team that reached the SEC championship game in only its second season in the league?
South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 SEC): The No. 10 Gamecocks need to win their final three games, including a Nov. 30 home game against Clemson, and probably hope that Auburn and Missouri drop at least one game.
Texas A&M (8-2, 4-2 SEC): If Auburn loses to either Georgia or Alabama (or both), and the Aggies defeat No. 21 LSU and Missouri to close the regular season, would the Sugar Bowl pass up a chance to have reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel in what might be his final college game?
Discover Orange Bowl
Jan. 3 (ESPN, Time TBD) at Sun Life Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
Projected matchup: Oregon versus Clemson
If Alabama and FSU play in the national championship, the Orange Bowl would be in a really envious position. After respective conference champions are placed in their contractual BCS bowls (i.e. Big 12 champ to Fiesta, Big Ten and Pac-12 champs to Rose, etc.), the Orange Bowl would have back-to-back choices after the Sugar Bowl replaced No. 1 Alabama, which would undoubtedly be another SEC team. We're guessing the Orange Bowl would go with the high-flying Ducks and Tigers, which would be a track meet in South Florida. Obviously, Clemson and Oregon would have to win the rest of their games.
UCF: The Knights might also be an attractive choice for Orange Bowl officials because of their proximity, but we're guessing higher-ranked teams would get the nod.
Wisconsin (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten): The No. 22 Badgers won't play in the Big Ten championship game unless Ohio State loses twice, so the best they can hope for is a BCS at-large spot. But they must finish in the top 14 of the final BCS standings to be considered, which might be a stretch at this point. Wisconsin would probably be in the mix for the Sugar and Fiesta bowls, too, if Fresno State or Northern Illinois doesn't automatically qualify for a BCS at-large bid.
On the Mark
If you haven't noticed, there's something special going on at Minnesota. The Gophers lost 42-13 at Michigan on Oct. 5, their second straight Big Ten loss to open conference play. Worse, the Gophers lost coach Jerry Kill, who missed the game after suffering an epileptic seizure.
Since then, acting coach/defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys has helped guide Minnesota to its first four-game winning streak in Big Ten play since 1973, including a 24-10 win over Penn State on Saturday. The Gophers (8-2, 4-2) haven't won this many games in a season since going 10-3 in 2003. They close the regular season at home against Wisconsin on Nov. 23 and at Michigan State the next week.
Kill has watched the past four games from the coaches' box.
"Coach Kill means so much to us and he's that guy that we can go to off the field when we have issues and everything," Gophers punter Peter Mortell said. "And to see him come back and you know how much he loves the game, he rallies behind us just as we rally behind him."
Off the Mark
Bo Schembechler must be turning in his grave. Michigan, which has built its storied tradition on being physical, had a combined minus-69 rushing yards in its last two games. A week after running for minus-48 yards in a 29-6 loss at Michigan State, the Wolverines were held to minus-21 yards in a 17-13 loss to Nebraska on Saturday.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, Michigan had just one game with negative rushing yardage (minus-5 against Oregon in 2003) from 2000 to 2012. And in the past five seasons, the only FBS team to go consecutive games with negative rushing yardage was Washington State, which did it last year en route to a 3-9 record. The Wolverines are the only FBS team in the past decade to record consecutive games of minus-20 yards or fewer.
"Whoever questions our toughness, they can shove it," Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner said. "I look in those guys' eyes in the huddle and they're tough guys and they're going out and fighting for me, so I don't care what any of you or whoever said that says."
On the Mark
If Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel did indeed play his final game at Kyle Field on Saturday -- and all signs point to him turning pro after this season -- he certainly left his mark on the place in the Aggies' 51-41 win over Mississippi State.
Manziel threw for 446 yards and tied a career high with five touchdown passes. He set a school record for total offense with 9,040 yards and became the first A&M quarterback to have two 3,000-yard passing seasons.
"Everybody would love to see him back here again," Aggies receiver Malcome Kennedy said. "But you have to make some decisions in life, and it was fun playing with him."
Off the Mark
How costly was Notre Dame's 28-21 loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday night? It eliminated the Fighting Irish's chances of playing in a BCS bowl and leaves them with the scraps from the BCS leagues. Since Notre Dame isn't contractually aligned with a bowl game this year, it will be left to find a spot in an open bowl game, potentially the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, AdvoCare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, La., or BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.
Next season, the Irish will be part of the ACC's bowl rotation as an associate member.
Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas has probably been criticized as much as any player in college football the past two seasons, but when he's on, he's really good. Thomas completed 25 of 31 passes for 366 yards with two touchdowns in the Hokies' 42-24 win at No. 11 Miami on Saturday, which keeps the Hokies in the hunt for an ACC Coastal Division title. Most importantly, Thomas didn't commit a turnover in a downpour in Miami after losing eight turnovers combined in losses to Duke and Boston College. His 92.9 adjusted-for-competition QBR was the highest of the season and almost three times higher than his rating in each of those previous two games.
Vote: Next week's game-changer?
On The Mark: Precision Passers
1. Shane Carden, East Carolina
Carden passed for 384 yards and five touchdowns in East Carolina's 58-24 win against Tulsa. He also ran for 25 yards and two touchdowns. He is one of four FBS players this season to account for at least seven touchdowns in a game and he is the only FBS player with multiple games in which he passed for at least 300 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions.
2. Derek Carr, Fresno State
Carr completed 33 of 46 passes for 360 yards and four touchdowns in Fresno State's 48-10 win at Wyoming. He has not thrown an interception in 229 consecutive passes, a Mountain West Conference record. Carr leads the FBS with 32 passing touchdowns this season.
3. AJ McCarron, Alabama
McCarron completed 14 of 20 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns in Alabama's 38-17 win against LSU. He eclipsed John Parker Wilson to become the school's all-time leader in passing yards (7,997). Since Oct. 1, he has 13 touchdowns, no interceptions and leads the FBS in Total QBR (90.6).
4. Maty Mauk, Missouri
Mauk passed for 203 yards and a career-high five touchdowns in Missouri's 48-17 win at Kentucky. He is the first Missouri quarterback to throw for at least five touchdowns in a game since Chase Daniel had five against Colorado on Oct. 25, 2008.
5 Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Thomas completed 25 of 31 passes for 366 yards and two touchdowns in Virginia Tech's 42-24 win at Miami. The Hokies are 15-0 when Thomas starts and does not throw an interception and 10-12 when he has at least one.
On The Mark: Ground-Gaining RBs
1. Kapri Bibbs, Colorado State
Bibbs had 30 carries for a school-record 312 yards and four touchdowns in Colorado State's 38-17 win against Nevada. It was the second-most rushing yards in an FBS game this season behind Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch, who had 316 at Central Michigan. The previous Colorado State record was 310 rushing yards by Tony Alford at Utah on Oct. 28, 1989.
2. Andre Williams, Boston College
Williams rushed for a school-record 295 yards and two touchdowns in Boston College's 48-34 win at New Mexico State. The previous school record of 264 yards was set by Montel Harris against NC State on Oct. 17, 2009. Williams leads the FBS this season with three 200-yard rushing games.
3. Branden Oliver, Buffalo
Oliver had 34 carries for a career-high 249 yards and two touchdowns in Buffalo's 30-3 win against Ohio. He had 10 rushes that gained at least 10 yards, tied with BYU's Taysom Hill for the most such runs in an FBS game this season.
3. Tevin Coleman, Indiana
Coleman had 15 carries for a career-high 215 yards and two touchdowns in Indiana's 52-35 win against Illinois. It was the most rushing yards by an FBS player with 15 or fewer carries in a game this season.
5. T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
Yeldon had 25 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns in Alabama's 38-17 win against LSU. He gained 104 yards in the second half. He is the fourth player in the last five seasons to rush for at least 100 yards in a half against LSU. Mark Ingram and Cam Newton did it during their Heisman Trophy-winning seasons and Florida's Mike Gillislee did it last season.
On The Mark: Big-Play WRs
1. Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri
Green-Beckham had seven receptions for 100 yards and a career-high four touchdowns in Missouri's 48-17 win at Kentucky. His four receiving touchdowns are tied for the most by an FBS player in a game this season with Texas A&M's Mike Evans and Fresno State's Davante Adams.
2. Steve Hull, Illinois
Hull had nine receptions for a career-high 224 yards and two touchdowns in Illinois' 52-35 loss at Indiana. He entered Saturday with 19 receptions for 340 yards in 33 career games. Hull and A.J. Jenkins are the only Illinois players in the last 10 seasons to have 200 yards receiving in a game. Jenkins did it against Northwestern on Oct. 1, 2011.
3. Cody Latimer, Indiana
Latimer had 11 receptions for a career-high 189 yards and three touchdowns in Indiana's 52-35 win against Illinois. It was his fourth straight game with a receiving touchdown.
4. Allen Hurns, Miami
Hurns had a career-high 142 receiving yards on four receptions in Miami's 42-24 loss against Virginia Tech. He gained the majority of his yards on a career-long 84-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
5. Josh Harper, Fresno State
Harper had nine receptions for 159 yards in Fresno State's 48-10 win at Wyoming. In his last two games, Harper has a combined 26 receptions and 412 receiving yards.