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Updated Bowl Projections – October 21

What a week it was!  Six of the 10 top-ranked teams lost, changing the projected orders of finish in  just about every conference.  Here are this week’s expert picks, followed by some commentary, and our first bowl selection of the year.


Alabama vs. Florida State Mark Schlabach

Alabama vs. Oregon – Brad Edwards

Alabama vs. Oregon – Jerry Palm


Discover Orange Bowl

Clemson vs. UCF – Mark Schlabach

Florida State vs. Wisconsin – Brad Edwards

Florida State vs. Wisconsin – Jerry Palm


Allstate Sugar Bowl

Missouri vs. Stanford – Mark Schlabach

Auburn vs. Clemson – Brad Edwards

Missouri vs. UCF – Jerry Palm


Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

Baylor vs. Fresno State – Mark Schlabach

Baylor vs. UCF – Brad Edwards

Oklahoma State vs. Fresno State – Jerry Palm


Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO

Oregon vs. Ohio State – Mark Schlabach

Ohio State vs. Stanford – Brad Edwards

Ohio State vs. Stanford – Jerry Palm Bowl

Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State – Mark Schlabach

Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State– Brad Edwards

Northern Illinois vs. Western Kentucky – Jerry Palm


BBVA Compass Bowl

Cincinnati vs. Tennessee – Mark Schlabach

Cincinnati vs. Florida – Brad Edwards

Florida vs. Houston – Jerry Palm


AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic

Texas vs. Texas A&M – Mark Schlabach

Oklahoma State vs. Missouri – Brad Edwards

Baylor vs. LSU – Jerry Palm


Outback Bowl

Nebraska vs. LSU – Mark Schlabach

Michigan State vs. Georgia – Brad Edwards

Nebraska vs. South Carolina – Jerry Palm


Capital One Bowl

Wisconsin vs. Auburn – Mark Schlabach

Nebraska vs. LSU – Brad Edwards

Michigan vs. Texas A&M – Jerry Palm


Heart of Dallas Bowl

Minnesota vs. North Texas – Mark Schlabach

Indiana vs. North Texas – Brad Edwards

Minnesota vs. Rice – Jerry Palm


TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

Michigan State vs. Georgia – Mark Schlabach

Iowa vs. South Carolina – Brad Edwards

Northwestern vs. Georgia– Jerry Palm


Chick-fil-A Bowl

Miami (FL) vs. South Carolina – Mark Schlabach

Miami (FL) vs. Texas A&M – Brad Edwards

Clemson vs. Ole Miss – Jerry Palm


AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Marshall vs. Florida – Mark Schlabach

Marshall vs. Tennessee – Brad Edwards

Marshall vs. Tennessee – Jerry Palm


Hyundai Sun Bowl

Georgia Tech vs. Arizona State – Mark Schlabach

Georgia Tech vs. Oregon State – Brad Edwards

Virginia Tech vs. Washington – Jerry Palm


AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl

Boston College vs. Vanderbilt – Mark Schlabach

Duke vs. Vanderbilt– Brad Edwards

Vanderbilt vs. Georgia Tech – Jerry Palm


National University Holiday Bowl

Oklahoma State vs. Oregon State – Mark Schlabach

Texas Tech vs. Washington – Brad Edwards

Arizona State vs. Texas – Jerry Palm


Valero Alamo Bowl

Texas Tech vs. UCLA – Mark Schlabach

Oklahoma vs. UCLA – Brad Edwards

Oklahoma vs. UCLA – Jerry Palm


Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Wake Forest vs. Ole Miss – Mark Schlabach

Boston College vs. Ole Miss – Brad Edwards

N.C. State vs. Auburn – Jerry Palm


Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl

Navy vs. Utah State – Mark Schlabach

Navy vs. Wyoming – Brad Edwards

San Diego State vs. Navy – Jerry Palm


Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

Oklahoma vs. Michigan – Mark Schlabach

Texas vs. Michigan – Brad Edwards

Texas Tech vs. Michigan State – Jerry Palm


Russell Athletic Bowl

Virginia Tech vs. Louisville – Mark Schlabach

Virginia Tech vs. Louisville – Brad Edwards

Louisville vs. Miami (FL) – Jerry Palm


Belk Bowl

Pittsburgh vs. Houston – Mark Schlabach

Maryland vs. Houston – Brad Edwards

Rutgers vs. Maryland – Jerry Palm


New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Rutgers vs. Notre Dame– Mark Schlabach

Rutgers vs. Notre Dame – Brad Edwards

Notre Dame vs. Cincinnati – Jerry Palm


Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

BYU vs. Washington – Mark Schlabach

BYU vs. USC – Brad Edwards

Oregon State vs. BYU – Jerry Palm


Texas Bowl

Iowa vs. TCU – Mark Schlabach

Northwestern vs. Kansas State – Brad Edwards

Kansas State vs. Indiana – Jerry Palm


Military Bowl presented by Northrop

Middle Tennessee vs. Maryland – Mark Schlabach

East Carolina vs. Pittsburgh – Brad Edwards

North Carolina vs. Tulsa – Jerry Palm


S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

Utah vs. San Diego State – Mark Schlabach

Ohio vs. Boise State – Brad Edwards

Boise State vs. Ohio – Jerry Palm


Little Caesars Pizza Bowl

Ball State vs. Northwestern – Mark Schlabach

Ball State vs. Minnesota – Brad Edwards

Ball State vs. Louisiana-Monroe– Jerry Palm

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

Rice vs. Colorado State – Mark Schlabach

Middle Tennessee vs. Utah State – Brad Edwards

Colorado State vs. Middle Tennessee – Jerry Palm


Beef O’Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl

Buffalo vs. East Carolina– Mark Schlabach

Toledo vs. Rice – Brad Edwards

Toledo vs. East Carolina – Jerry Palm


R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette– Mark Schlabach

Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette – Brad Edwards

Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette  – Jerry Palm


Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Bowling Green vs. UNLV– Mark Schlabach

Bowling Green vs. San Diego State – Brad Edwards

Bowling Green vs. Arkansas State – Jerry Palm


Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl

Boise State vs. USC– Mark Schlabach

Fresno State vs. Arizona State – Brad Edwards

Utah State vs. Arizona – Jerry Palm


Gildan New Mexico Bowl

San Jose State vs. Arizona – Mark Schlabach

San Jose State vs. Arizona – Brad Edwards

San Jose State vs. USC – Jerry Palm

WILL THE CRIMSON TIDE ROLL?  Since before this season even began, nearly every set of bowl projections that I reviewed had listed Alabama vs. Oregon as the teams likely to appear in the BCS National Championship Game.  After Saturday nights stunning victory by Florida State at Clemson, the Seminoles claimed the number two spot in the in the initial BCS rankings.  Both Florida State and Oregon will likely be favored in the rest of their games, and both need to win out to retain their spot in title game discussions, but, so does Alabama.  If the Crimson Tide falter,there is the possibility that Oregon and Florida State could meet in the title game, and if Ohio State is able to run the table, including winning the Big Ten Championship, they could be ranked ahead of a one-loss Alabama team.   Alabama faces two rated teams of Tigers in LSU and Auburn, plus could face a third in Missouri in the SEC Championship game.   Let this weekend remind us that anything can happen.

WILL A DOG GET ITS DAY? If Fresno State and Northern Illinois are able to win out, one of them will get an invitation to a BCS bowl game.  In the initial BCS standings, the Bulldogs and the Huskies are ranked 17th and 18th.  For an automatic bid, they would need to one of the top-16 ranked teams, which they would be if they make it to 13-0.  Last season, the Huskies became the first school from a non-automatic qualifying conference to receive a BCS bowl bid with a loss.  It won’t happen this season.

MICHIGAN STATE IN THE ROSE BOWL?  Would you think that we are crazy if we said the Spartans are heading to Pasadena?  It’s okay if you do, because every week from now to December 3, we’ll make one bowl projection that may seem crazy on the surface, but we’ll explain the rationale behind it.  So how does an un-ranked Michigan State team get to play in the 100th Rose Bowl Game?

The Spartans actually have a few potential paths to Pasadena.   The most direct route to Pasadena for the Spartans would be to win their division and defeat Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.  We believe that they will be favored to win games against Illinois, Northwestern and Minnesota, leaving Michigan and Nebraska as potential division challengers.   The Spartans get the Wolverines at home, and Michigan has one conference loss already to Penn State and still has to play No.4 Ohio State.  If Michigan was able to beat MSU in East Lansing, they would still need to beat Ohio State and Nebraska, a tall order for any team.  The other rival in the division is Nebraska, who has a schedule similar to Michigan State.  The Cornhuskers travel to Ann Arbor to take on the Wolverines, and Michigan will be the likely favorite in that game.  Michigan State has a bye that week, before the showdown with the Cornhuskers, which is the must-win game for this to happen.  If Sparty gets by Herbie, he’ll have a date with Brutus in Columbus.

But fortunate scheduling doesn’t automatically produce wins.  The Spartans have one of the best defenses in the country.  Even a  team like Ohio State, coached by Urban Meyer and led by Braxton Miller, would have a very difficult time pulling away from the Spartans.  What makes the Spartans a contender in the Legends Division is the fact that their offense has been getting better every week.  Combined with a great defense, we think Michigan State has a chance to get to Pasadena as Big Ten Champions.

But even if the Spartans don’t win the Big Ten, there is still a chance they could punch a ticket to Southern California.  But in this case, the Spartans would actually drop one game, and sit out the Big Ten Championship, ending the season with 10-2 record.  If we look at the scenarios above, it would be more likely Nebraska would win the Leaders division, by beating Michigan State head-to-head and controlling the tie-breaker, while the Wolverines have three conference losses (all the States).   Nebraska makes a return to Indianapolis, where they face an undefeated Ohio State team and lose.  With losses to the teams in front of them, (Alabama, Oregon and Florida State), and solid wins over Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska, the Buckeyes make an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game.   The Rose Bowl selects a 10-2 team that hasn’t been to Pasadena since 1988.  Or, the Spartans win their the Legends Division as in the first scenario, but lost a close game to Ohio State.  In this scenario, they Spartans would be 11-2, with wins over Nebraska and Michigan, and the Rose Bowl invites MSU over two teams with 10-2 records.

Will it happen?  It’s possible, but if you asked me today, I think the Buckeyes will be in Pasadena, but any of the scenarios are possible, and not an extreme stretch.  If you are a fan of defensive football, the Spartans are a team you want to make sure to watch.  Remember, if the other team doesn’t score a lot, you don’t need to have the best offense to win.

ALWAYS WEARING WHITE – If you watched the last three Rose Bowl Games, you may have wondered why Wisconsin wore white uniforms all three years, because most bowls use a rotation with teams from one conference wearing home uniforms one year and road uniforms the next year.  When playing in a BCS game, the higher-ranked team (No.1 being highest)  wears their home uniforms.  Wisconsin faced TCU, Oregon and Stanford, all of which were ranked higher than the Badgers.  Does how you look affect how you play? –Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema was 0-4 in bowl games when his team wore white, and 2-0 when they wore red.  The Badgers were underdogs in all six bowl games Bielema coached.

THE EXPERTS – Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards write for  Jerry Palm’s column appears at

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