Well, that was fun, no? A wild rivalry weekend was followed by one final shakeup of the BCS. Florida State pounded Duke, 45-7, to punch its ticket to the BCS National Championship Game. BCS #2 Ohio State was upset by Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game, giving SEC champ Auburn, 59-42 winners over Missouri, the spot in the title game opposite Florida State.
Meanwhile a win by Stanford over Arizona State in the Pac-12 Championship should be enough to keep Clemson in the final BCS top 14, allowing the Tigers to serve as Florida State's replacement in the Orange Bowl.
There are a total of 11 bowl-eligible teams from the ACC for eight bowl slots, though should Clemson land in the Orange, the ACC would just have two programs looking for slots in replacement bowls.
Here's my last best guess as to how this all shakes out. The full bowl game lineup will be revealed later tonight.
BCS National Championship Game: Florida St. Seminoles (ACC) vs. Auburn Tigers (SEC)
Orange Bowl: Clemson Tigers (FSU replacement) vs. Ohio St. Buckeyes (BCS at-large 1)
Sugar Bowl: Alabama Crimson Tide (Auburn replacement) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (BCS at-large 2)
Fiesta Bowl: Baylor Bears (Big 12 champ) vs. Central Florida Knights (BCS at-large 3)
Rose Bowl: Michigan St. Spartans (Big Ten champ) vs. Stanford Cardinal (Pac-12 champ)
Not a whole lot of controversy left with the final slate of BCS bowls. The Orange and Sugar will get to select replacement teams for Florida State and Auburn, respectively, and will likely keep it in the conference with Clemson and Alabama.
The Orange would then have the first choice of the at-larges and would be able to choose between a team from the Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12, or Central Florida. Ohio State seems the logical choice here. The Sugar would then be able to select either a Big 12 school (Oklahoma), a Pac-12 school (Oregon) or UCF. The Oklahoma / Oregon question is probably the only lingering one for tonight's BCS reveal. The Fiesta takes UCF in the final year of underwhelming BCS teams from the Big East/American.
Seems pretty cut and dry this year, but stranger things have happened. No one predicted the Michigan-Virginia Tech Sugar Bowl a few years ago, for example.
Peach Bowl: Miami Hurricanes vs. Texas A&M Aggies
Russell Athletic Bowl: Duke Blue Devils vs. Louisville Cardinals
Sun Bowl: Virginia Tech Hokies vs. UCLA Bruins
Belk Bowl: North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Cincinnati Bearcats
Music City Bowl: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Mississippi Rebels
Independence Bowl: Boston College Eagles vs. Arizona Wildcats
Military Bowl: Maryland Terrapins vs. Marshall Thundering Herd
It was looking likely that Duke was going to play in the Peach Bowl, but now that the Blue Devils were crushed in the ACC Championship Game to the tune of 45-7 and will drop out of the polls, I think it makes more sense for Miami to end up in Atlanta. Duke falls to the Russell Athletic Bowl to take on ACC newcomer Louisville, while the Sun Bowl scoops up Virginia Tech.
Update: Duke, not Miami, is headed to the Peach Bowl. Miami is likely to fall to the Russell Athletic Bowl.
I've seen bowl projections with Boston College headed to the Belk Bowl but I just can't see the Charlotte-based bowl passing on North Carolina. The Tar Heels will face Cincinnati, which will be making its second straight trip to Charlotte. Last year, Cincinnati beat Duke 48-34.
Other projections still have BC in the Music City Bowl, but I don't see that one either. Think the Music City Bowl scoops up Georgia Tech here and pairs with Ole Miss. The only way the Eagles land in Nashville is if the SEC does something wonky and Georgia gets passed over by the Gator Bowl.
The I-Bowl selects next and would be down to 4-4 Boston College, 4-4 Syracuse, 3-5 Pittsburgh or 3-5 Maryland. While Brad Bates has made it no secret he's trying to get the program into the Heart of Dallas Bowl, I-Bowl exec director Missy Setters is here to remind the Eagles that they don't have a choice but to go if selected.
Here the I-Bowl and Boston College have conflicting priorities. While Bates, Addazio and Gridiron Club president Paul Criscione are out to shed BC's "bad travel team" reputation with a possible New Year's Day trip to Dallas and the historic Cotton Bowl, the Independence Bowl, appreciating that any ACC team won't fill the stadium, is more looking for a favorable TV draw. The I-Bowl kicks off New Year's Eve with a 12:30 p.m. kickoff on ESPN and is the only game on at the time. The Heart of Dallas Bowl, meanwhile, is on ESPNU and will kickoff at the same time as the Gator (Noon, ESPN2) and just an hour before both the Capital One (1 p.m., ABC) and Outback (1 p.m., ESPN).
Out of that group of four teams, Boston College along with Heisman / Walter Camp / Doak Walker award finalist Andre Williams is the best TV draw. Opposite a replacement team like Arizona -- and the nation's second leading rusher Ka'Deem Carey -- and the I-Bowl has some pretty good ratings appeal.
Finally, the Military Bowl goes with the local option, especially considering it's the bowl's last shot at landing the Big Ten-bound Terps. The Annapolis-based bowl will pit an ACC program up against the American Athletic Conference starting next season.
Pittsburgh is just five hours from Ford Field but really, Panthers fans will just be pumped that this year's bowl game is NOT in Birmingham, Alabama (even if most will just watch from their couches). The Panthers face Ball State from the MAC. Syracuse gets scooped up by the Heart of Dallas Bowl to face North Texas.
While I appreciate Bates trying to change BC's poor travel rep by putting the program a) in a historic venue b) in a major city c) on New Year's Day, I don't think it's a big deal if the Eagles land in Shreveport instead. The I-Bowl's TV coverage, time slot, history and opponent are all likely to be better than the Heart of Dallas Bowl anyway.
Buckle up, because it should be pretty interesting to see how this all shakes out. We'll all share a good laugh about how wrong these predictions end up being later today. Go Eagles!