AP predicts college football bowl matchups

Published 2:46 am Thursday, December 4, 2008

Projecting the bowls can be a little like putting together a jigsaw puzzle with a pair of scissors. You can make the pieces fit, but you’re also destined to have some in the wrong place.

The Bowl Championship Series pairings are announced Sunday, but if all goes according to plan — Southern California beats UCLA and Oklahoma beats Missouri in the Big 12 title game — college football fans will go to bed Saturday night knowing the matchups of the four big bowls and the BCS national championship game.

Assuming no big upsets, these spots are set:

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—SEC winner vs. Oklahoma in the BCS national championship game.

—USC vs. Penn State in the Rose Bowl.

—ACC winner in the Orange Bowl.

With those teams locked in, here’s how the BCS selection process will go down:

—First pick, Sugar Bowl (which will lose the SEC champ and likely BCS standings No. 1 team to the championship game): SEC runner-up (at-large bid).

—Second pick, Fiesta Bowl (which would lose Big 12 champ and likely No. 2 in the standings, Oklahoma): Texas (at-large bid).

After replacement teams are chosen, the preset selection order starts:

—Third pick, Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State (at-large bid).

—Fourth pick, Sugar Bowl: Utah (automatic bid).

—Fifth pick, Orange: Cincinnati (automatic bid).

Some bids to the other bowls have already been handed out. A few more could come down in the next few days. Sunday a flood of games will be made official.

Making projecting tricky this season is three major conferences (SEC, Big 12 and Pac-10) don’t have enough six-win teams to fill spots, opening up space for more Mid-American Conference and Sun Belt teams.

Bowl organizers are not exactly lining up to get MAC and Sun Belt teams, but it’s a nice break for those conferences.

With that, here’s an educated guess (with an ‘x’ next to bids already made official) about which teams are going where:

EagleBank Bowl

x-Navy vs. Wake Forest

New Mexico Bowl

Colorado State vs. Fresno State

St. Petersburg (Fla.) Bowl

South Florida vs. Memphis

Las Vegas Bowl

BYU vs. Arizona

New Orleans Bowl

Troy vs. x-Southern Miss

Poinsettia Bowl

TCU vs. Boise State

Hawaii Bowl

Hawaii vs. Northern Illinois

Motor City Bowl

North Carolina State vs. Ball State

Meineke Bowl

North Carolina vs. West Virginia

Champs Sports Bowl

Florida State vs. Wisconsin

Emerald Bowl

California vs. Miami

Independence Bowl

Western Michigan vs. Louisiana Tech

PapaJohns.com Bowl

Rutgers vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

Alamo Bowl

Northwestern vs. Missouri

Humanitarian Bowl

Nevada vs. Maryland

Holiday Bowl

Oklahoma State vs. Oregon

Texas Bowl

x-Rice vs. Notre Dame

Armed Forces Bowl

Air Force vs. Houston

Sun Bowl

Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh

Music City Bowl

Vanderbilt vs. Virginia Tech

Insight Bowl

Kansas vs. Minnesota

Chick-fil-A Bowl

South Carolina vs. x-Georgia Tech

Outback Bowl

LSU vs. Iowa

Capital One Bowl

Georgia vs. Michigan State

Gator Bowl

x-Clemson vs. Nebraska

Rose Bowl

USC vs. Penn State

Orange Bowl

Boston College vs. Cincinnati

Cotton Bowl

Texas Tech vs. Mississippi

Liberty Bowl

Kentucky vs. Tulsa

Sugar Bowl

Alabama vs. Utah

International Bowl

Connecticut vs. Buffalo

Fiesta Bowl

Texas vs. Ohio State


East Carolina vs. Central Michigan

BCS National Championship

Florida vs. Oklahoma