Instead, they coughed it up in spectacular fashion, losing 42-16. That, combined with Stanford's win over Cal, gave the Cardinal the Pac-12 North title and a spot in the conference championship game. Meanwhile, Oregon can likely make plans for the Alamo Bowl.
That is where the Ducks are in the current bowl projections. At 11-1, Oregon may have worked well for the Orange Bowl, but at 10-2, Ducks fans may not be as willing to make the very long trip.
Meanwhile, the battle for No. 3 in the BCS behind Florida State cleared up after Baylor got blown out at Oklahoma State. That could cost the Bears the Big 12 title and a BCS berth. Because of a relatively small fan base, Baylor is an unlikely at-large team if Wisconsin is available. The cheeseheads are huge draws in Florida and would be tough for the Orange Bowl to pass on, even for a higher rated Baylor. Baylor can still win the league by winning out and getting help from Oklahoma.
Other teams clinched conference championship game berths Saturday.
Florida State has been locked in to the ACC title game for a couple weeks, but Duke took another step toward joining them with a win at Wake Forest. Duke can clinch next week if it beats North Carolina.
Also, What The Florida?? The Gators lost to Georgia Southern. Not Georgia. Georgia Southern. That eliminated them from bowl consideration for the first time in 22 years.
If we had a playoff this year:
This section of the blog describes what things might look like if the new playoff system were in effect this year. It's different than the regular bowl projections in that it is based on current data. Beginning next year, a selection committee will not only select and seed a playoff, but also put together matchups for the other four bowls in the playoff rotation. The five major conference champions are all automatically placed in one of those six bowls. The American conference is not part of that group. The highest rated team from outside those leagues (as determined by the selection committee) is also guaranteed a spot.
If a playoff started today, it would probably look like this:
Sugar (Iron) Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs No. 4 Auburn
Rose Bowl: No. 2 Florida State vs No. 3 Ohio State
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs Missouri
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs Michigan State
Fiesta Bowl: Stanford vs South Carolina
Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Baylor vs UCF
Alabama-Auburn in a semifinal? They probably haven't built the stadium big enough to host that game.
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.