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Bracketology/Bowls Expert

Stanford loss, Auburn miracle shift bowl projections

Stanford lost for the second time this season, both to unranked teams, and lost both control of the Pac-12 North and a spot in the BCS bowl projections.

Oregon is now the projected winner of the Pac-12 and moves from the Orange Bowl to the Rose. The Ducks are replaced by Wisconsin. Michigan State fans likely wonder why an 11-2 finish, which I project, would not get them selected ahead of the Badgers and that answer is two-fold. First, BCS bowls don't like championship game losers. Secondly, MSU would certainly be ranked below Wisconsin and might not even be eligible.

Auburn was 30 seconds from gagging away a potential BCS berth, but then a miracle occurred. The result is that the Tigers are now the choice to replace archrival Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. In fact, the only thing that could keep Auburn out now would be if the East division champ wins the SEC title. If that happens, Alabama would be the at-large team from the SEC. The East division champ, whoever it is, will not be picked as a BCS at-large team if it loses the SEC title game.

Shifting Stanford back into the Pac-12 bowl pool leaves two more teams than bowl berths. Washington State and the team it beat this week, Arizona, are both bowl free agents.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin going back into the BCS leaves the Big Ten two teams short of filling its spots. The Cougars are projected to fill one of those.

If a playoff started today, it would probably look like this:

Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs No. 4 Baylor
Rose Bowl: No. 2 Florida State vs No. 3 Ohio State

Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs Missouri
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs Texas A&M
Fiesta Bowl: Oregon vs South Carolina
Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Auburn vs UCF

Note that I have UCF instead of either Fresno State or Northern Illinois, both of which are higher ranked in the current BCS. That's the kind of strength of schedule selection I expect the committee to try to make. Obviously, we won't know until they make one.

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