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Texas A&M, Johnny Manziel still have chance at BCS bid

Aaron M. Sprecher/NFL
Johnny Manziel still has a chance to end the season with a BCS bowl game.

Here are our latest bowl projections for the last season with the BCS in place.

The projection is that ACC, Big Ten and SEC will have two teams apiece in the BCS. The prediction is Northern Illinois will get a second consecutive BCS berth, too.

Fresno State is unbeaten and No. 15 in this week's BCS standings. BCS rules stipulate that if a team from a non-automatic qualifying conference (Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt) finishes in the top 12 of the final BCS standings or finishes in the top 16 of the final BCS standings and is ranked ahead of a league champ from an automatic qualifying conference, the non-AQ team is guaranteed a spot. Fresno State is three spots ahead of UCF -- the front-runner in the AAC -- this week.

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But Northern Illinois also is unbeaten and one spot behind Fresno State. As with Fresno, NIU should be favored in the rest of its games. There is one difference: NIU plays better teams the rest of the way. The Huskies play a seven-win Toledo team Wednesday night and likely will play a nine-win team in the MAC championship game. Fresno's best remaining regular-season foe is five-win San Jose State, but the Bulldogs could get Boise State in the Mountain West championship game. Fresno already beat Boise once this season.

Worth noting: NIU already is four spots ahead of Fresno in the BCS computer, so where the pollsters rank the Huskies is going to be huge for their BCS hopes.

One week after a Stanford win shook up the projections, a Stanford loss shook them up again. Last week, the thought was the Pac-12 would get two teams in the BCS (Stanford and Oregon). But all things being equal -- meaning teams being BCS-eligible -- Stanford would be behind Clemson and Wisconsin when it comes to the BCS at-large pecking order because of ticket sales and, to a lesser extent, TV ratings. The question with Wisconsin is whether the Badgers -- who are 19th in the BCS standings this week -- can move high enough to be eligible. At-large candidates must have at least nine victories and finish in the top 14 in the final BCS standings. Wisconsin (8-2) plays No. 25 Minnesota this week, and a win certainly would help the Badgers' computer numbers. The Badgers finish with Penn State.

In addition, keep an eye on Texas A&M. The SEC almost certainly will have two BCS teams; the question is which ones. Alabama is on course for the title game, and the Sugar Bowl wants an SEC team in its game, But which team? Right now, Auburn, Missouri and Texas A&M have a shot, with Mizzou the longest shot.

A&M is 12th in the BCS this week, but finishes with LSU and Missouri. The Aggies (8-2) will score on both those teams; the problem, of course, is A&M's rancid defense. If A&M can finish 10-2, it will have a great shot at a BCS bid. Even though Auburn beat the Aggies, A&M likely would be ahead of Auburn in the final BCS standings if Auburn loses to Alabama. Johnny Manziel's presence makes A&M a coveted bowl team; add in that Manziel could be playing his final college game, and a 10-2 A&M likely would trump a 10-2 Auburn when it comes to a BCS bid.

The final BCS standings will be released Dec. 8, and all the bowl pairings will be announced that night.

Remember that a bowl's tie-in with a league doesn't necessarily mean it will get the third- or fourth-, etc., place team from the league; instead, it means it gets the third or fourth, etc., selection from that league.

BCS MATCHUPS

ROSE BOWL

Site: Pasadena, Calif.
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 5 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS/Big Ten vs. BCS/Pac-12
Projection: Ohio State vs. Oregon
Note: The Big Ten and Pac-12 champs head to Pasadena automatically if they are not in the title game. And even if one or both is in the title game, Rose Bowl organizers still crave a Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup.

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FIESTA BOWL

Site: Glendale, Ariz.
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS/Big 12 vs. BCS
Projection: Baylor vs. Northern Illinois
Note: The Big 12 champ is contractually obligated to the Fiesta if it is not in the national title game. This season, the Fiesta gets the last pick among the at-large teams. Fresno State and Northern Illinois have legit shots at finishing unbeaten; if either gets into the BCS automatically, it would be the final at-large pick.

SUGAR BOWL

Site: New Orleans
Date: Jan. 2
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS/SEC vs. BCS
Projection: Auburn vs. UCF
Note: The SEC champ is contractually obligated to the Sugar if it is not in the national title game. But the Sugar always wants an SEC team even if the champ is in the title game. The Sugar gets the second pick among the at-large teams. UCF is the pick to win the AAC's automatic bid.

ORANGE BOWL

Site: Miami
Date: Jan. 3
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS/ACC vs. BCS
Projection: Clemson vs. Wisconsin
Note: If the ACC champ is not in the BCS championship game, it is contractually obligated to go to the Orange Bowl. The Orange Bowl gets the first pick among the at-large teams. If Notre Dame is eligible for a BCS bowl, it will be picked. But the Irish "qualifying" for a BCS bid is an extreme long shot.

BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Site: Pasadena, Calif.
Date: Jan. 6
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS No. 1 vs. BCS No. 2
Projection: Alabama vs. Florida State
Note: Nick Saban vs. Jimbo Fisher -- or the mentor vs. his protégé. Florida State shouldn't be tested the rest of the way. The same can't be said for Alabama.

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NEW MEXICO BOWL

Site: Albuquerque
Date: Dec. 21
Time/TV: 2 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mountain West No. 4/5 vs. Pac-12 No. 7
Projection: Colorado State vs. Washington State

LAS VEGAS BOWL

Site: Las Vegas
Date: Dec. 21
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m., ABC
Matchup: Mountain West No. 1 vs. Pac-12 No. 5
Projection: Fresno State vs. USC
Note: Fresno State could finish unbeaten but not in the BCS. That would make this an especially intriguing matchup.

FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL

Site: Boise, Idaho
Date: Dec. 21
Time/TV: 5:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mid-American vs. Mountain West No. 6
Projection: Bowling Green vs. UNLV

NEW ORLEANS BOWL

Site: New Orleans
Date: Dec. 21
Time/TV: 9 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Sun Belt
Projection: Tulane vs. Western Kentucky
Note: Tulane hasn't been bowling since 2002 and has been to just two bowls in the past 25 seasons. This would be a home game for Tulane.

BEEF 'O' BRADY'S BOWL

Site: St. Petersburg, Fla.
Date: Dec. 23
Time/TV: 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: AAC No. 6 vs. Conference USA
Projection: Central Michigan vs. Middle Tennessee State
Note: Projection is the AAC won't fill its slot. The bowl has a secondary agreement with the MAC. CMU still needs two more wins to become bowl-eigible.

HAWAII BOWL

Site: Honolulu
Date: Dec. 24
Time/TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Mountain West No. 4/5
Projection: Rice vs. Boise State
Note: It makes sense to pick a Mountain West team that didn't play a regular-season game at Hawaii, and Boise State fits that description.

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LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA BOWL

Site: Detroit
Date: Dec. 26
Time/TV: 6 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten No. 8 vs. Mid-American
Projection: Pittsburgh vs. Toledo
Note: Projection is Big Ten won't be able to fill its slot. Pitt, which needs one more win to become bowl-eligible, could be a "leftover" ACC team.

POINSETTIA BOWL

Site: San Diego
Date: Dec. 26
Time/TV: 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Army if bowl-eligible vs. Mountain West No. 2
Projection: Ohio vs. San Diego State
Note: Army won't be eligible; the bowl has a secondary agreement with the MAC. This would be a home game for San Diego State.

MILITARY BOWL

Site: Annapolis, Md.
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV: 2:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC No. 8 vs. Conference USA
Projection: Maryland vs. Marshall

TEXAS BOWL

Site: Houston
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV: 6 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten No. 6 vs. Big 12 No. 6
Projection: Iowa vs. Texas Tech

KRAFT FIGHT HUNGER BOWL

Site: San Francisco
Date: Dec. 27
Time/TV: 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BYU if bowl-eligible vs. Pac-12 No. 6
Projection: BYU vs. Washington
Note: BYU is eligible and already locked in.

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PINSTRIPE BOWL

Site: New York
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV: Noon, ESPN
Matchup: AAC No. 4 vs. Big 12 No. 7
Projection: Rutgers vs. Notre Dame
Note: Projection is Big 12 won't be able to fill its slot. Notre Dame doesn't have a fallback if it doesn't make the BCS, and a bowl in Yankee Stadium would be a nice landing spot for the Irish.

BELK BOWL

Site: Charlotte, N.C.
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV: 3:20 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: AAC No. 3 vs. ACC No. 5
Projection: Houston vs. North Carolina

RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL

Site: Orlando
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV: 6:45 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: AAC No. 2 vs. ACC No. 3
Projection: Louisville vs. Miami
Note: This would be an intriguing matchup. Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater is a Miami native who originally committed to UM before reneging and signing with the Cardinals.

BUFFALO WILD WINGS BOWL

Site: Tempe, Ariz.
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV: 10:15 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten No. 4 vs. Big 12 No. 4
Projection: Michigan vs. Texas

ARMED FORCES BOWL

Site: Fort Worth, Texas
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV: 11:45 a.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mountain West No. 3 vs. Navy if bowl-eligible
Projection: Utah State vs. Navy
Note: Navy is eligible and locked in.

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MUSIC CITY BOWL

Site: Nashville
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV: 3:15 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC No. 6 vs. SEC No. 7
Projection: Georgia Tech vs. Ole Miss

ALAMO BOWL

Site: San Antonio
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV: 6:45 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big 12 No. 3 vs. Pac-12 No. 2
Projection: Oklahoma vs. Stanford

HOLIDAY BOWL

Site: San Diego
Date: Dec. 30
Time/TV: 10:15 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big 12 No. 5 vs. Pac-12 No. 3
Projection: Kansas State vs. UCLA

ADVOCARE V100 BOWL

Site: Shreveport, La.
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 12:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC No. 7 vs. SEC No. 10
Projection: Boston College vs. Oregon State
Note: This formerly was known as the Independence Bowl. Projection is the SEC won't fill its slot.

SUN BOWL

Site: El Paso, Texas
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 2 p.m., CBS
Matchup: ACC No. 4 vs. Pac-12 No. 4
Projection: Duke vs. Arizona State

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LIBERTY BOWL

Site: Memphis
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 4 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA No. 1 vs. SEC No. 8 or 9/AAC No. 6
Projection: East Carolina vs. Vanderbilt

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL

Site: Atlanta
Date: Dec. 31
Time/TV: 8 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: ACC No. 2 vs. SEC No. 5 Projection: Virginia Tech vs. Georgia

HEART OF DALLAS BOWL

Site: Dallas
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: Noon, ESPNU
Matchup: Big Ten No. 7 vs. Conference USA
Projection: Arizona vs. North Texas
Note: Projection is Big Ten won't be able to fill its slot. North Texas hasn't been in a bowl since 2004. UNT is in Denton, a Dallas suburb.

GATOR BOWL

Site: Jacksonville
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: Noon, ESPN2
Matchup: Big Ten No. 5 vs. SEC No. 6
Projection: Minnesota vs. LSU
Note: Minnesota hasn't played in a January bowl since the 1961 season. Presumably, Gophers fans would buy a lot of tickets, if for no other reason than to get out of Minnesota in late December/early January.

CAPITAL ONE BOWL

Site: Orlando
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ABC
Matchup: Big Ten No. 2 vs. SEC No. 2
Projection: Michigan State vs. Texas A&M

OUTBACK BOWL

Site: Tampa
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten No. 3 vs. SEC No. 3/4
Projection: Nebraska vs. South Carolina

COTTON BOWL

Site: Arlington, Texas
Date: Jan. 3
Time/TV: 7:30 p.m., Fox
Matchup: Big 12 No. 2 vs. SEC No. 3/4
Projection: Oklahoma State vs. Missouri

BBVA COMPASS BOWL

Site: Birmingham, Ala.
Date: Jan. 4
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: AAC No. 5 vs. SEC No. 8/9
Projection: Cincinnati vs. Buffalo
Note: Projection is the SEC won't fill its slot, and the bowl has a secondary agreement with the MAC.

GODADDY.COM BOWL

Site: Mobile, Ala.
Date: Jan. 5
Time/TV: 9 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mid-American vs. Sun Belt
Projection: Ball State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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