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Bowl projections: Florida State, Ohio State eye BCS title game

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

The projection is that Florida State and Ohio State, the top two teams in the BCS standings, will meet in the title game; that the ACC, Big Ten and SEC will have two teams apiece in the BCS; and that Northern Illinois will get a second consecutive BCS berth.

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Northern Illinois is unbeaten and No. 14 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. NIU is two spots ahead of UCF -- the front-runner in the AAC -- this week.

As for other potential BCS at-large teams, there are Alabama (which would seem to be a BCS lock), Baylor, Clemson, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Oregon. A question with Oklahoma is whether the Sooners -- who are 17th 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. The Sooners face a must-win game at Oklahoma State on Saturday. Interestingly, Clemson is 13th, and the Tigers could end up falling below Oklahoma if the Sooners pull the upset. And if Florida State and Ohio State lose in their respective league title games, each would get an at-large bid.

The final BCS standings will be released Sunday, 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

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ROSE BOWL

Site: Pasadena, Calif.
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 5 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS/Big Ten vs. BCS/Pac-12
Projection: Michigan State vs. Stanford
Note: The Big Ten and Pac-12 champs head to Pasadena automatically if they are not in the title game. And no matter what, Rose Bowl folks crave a Big Ten vs. Pac-12 matchup.

FIESTA BOWL

Site: Glendale, Ariz.
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: BCS/Big 12 vs. BCS
Projection: Oklahoma State 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. If NIU gets into the BCS, 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: Alabama vs. Clemson
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. Potentially, this could be an Alabama-Oregon matchup, too.

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: Florida State vs. Ohio State
Note: FSU hasn't won a national title since the 1999 season; Ohio State's most recent title came in 2002. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was 5-1 against FSU while he was coach at Florida.

THE OTHER BOWLS

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

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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

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: Toledo vs. UNLV
Note: UNLV has won seven games, a feat for a team that had won just six games combined in the past three seasons.

NEW ORLEANS BOWL

Site: New Orleans
Date: Dec. 21
Time/TV: 9 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Conference USA vs. Sun Belt
Projection: Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Note: Both teams have accepted invitations. Tulane hasn't been bowling since 2002 and has been to just two bowls in the past 25 seasons. ULL will be playing in this bowl for the third consecutive season. The game is at the Superdome, which is Tulane's home field.

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: Ohio vs. Middle Tennessee State
Note: Projection is the AAC won't fill its slot (that won't be the case if SMU beats UCF and Rutgers beats USF this weekend). The bowl has a secondary agreement with the MAC.

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. Utah State
Note: It makes sense to pick a Mountain West team that didn't play a regular-season game at Hawaii, and Utah State fits that description.

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. Ball State
Note: The Big Ten won't be able to fill its slot.

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: Buffalo vs. Boise State
Note: Army won't be eligible; the bowl has a secondary agreement with the MAC.

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. East Carolina

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Alternate college football uniforms of 2013

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TEXAS BOWL

Site: Houston
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV: 6 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Big Ten No. 6 vs. Big 12 No. 6
Projection: Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
Note: This would be a rematch of last season's Texas Bowl. Despite losing to Minnesota, Michigan looks to be higher in the Big Ten's bowl pecking order. If the Gator Bowl chooses Minnesota, Michigan would be here from the Big Ten.

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.

PINSTRIPE BOWL

Site: New York
Date: Dec. 28
Time/TV: Noon, ESPN
Matchup: AAC No. 4 vs. Big 12 No. 7
Projection: Cincinnati vs. Notre Dame
Note: The 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. An extra storyline: Irish coach Brian Kelly would be going against his former team. One thing to watch: There could be a deal between Notre Dame, the MAC and the Poinsettia Bowl. The Poinsettia, which needs a team because Army isn't bowl-eligible, would take the Irish and the Pinstripe would get a MAC team, most likely Buffalo (this bowl is sponsored by New Era, which is based in Buffalo). The MAC has a secondary tie-in with the Poinsettia.

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

Auburn cornerback Chris Davis (11) returns a missed field-goal attempt 100-plus yards to score the game-winning touchdown as time expired in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against No. 1 Alabama in Auburn, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. Auburn won 34-28. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
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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: Nebraska vs. Texas
Note: Trust us -- if this indeed is the matchup, folks in the Big 12 office will laugh because Nebraska didn't like how much influence Texas wielded in the Big 12.

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: San Diego State vs. Navy
Note: Navy is eligible and locked in.

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. Oregon

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. Arizona State

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. Arizona
Note: This formerly was known as the Independence Bowl. 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: Virginia Tech vs. UCLA

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: Marshall 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: Duke vs. Texas A&M

HEART OF DALLAS BOWL

Site: Dallas
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: Noon, ESPNU
Matchup: Big Ten No. 7 vs. Conference USA
Projection: Oregon State vs. North Texas
Note: The Big Ten won't 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: Michigan vs. Georgia

CAPITAL ONE BOWL

Site: Orlando
Date: Jan. 1
Time/TV: 1 p.m., ABC
Matchup: Big Ten No. 2 vs. SEC No. 2
Projection: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina

OUTBACK BOWL

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

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: Baylor 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: Rutgers vs. Mississippi State
Note: Rutgers must beat USF this weekend to become bowl-eligible.

GODADDY.COM BOWL

Site: Mobile, Ala.
Date: Jan. 5
Time/TV: 9 p.m., ESPN
Matchup: Mid-American vs. Sun Belt
Projection: Bowling Green vs. Arkansas State
Note: Arkansas State already has accepted an invitation; this will be the Red Wolves' third consecutive appearance in the game.

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

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