CFN: Tigers Projected to Orange Bowl

It's mid-May, but it's never too early to think about the first week of January. While there might be some changes and different thoughts as the summer goes on, here is the first look at what the BCS matchups, including the national championship, might be.

By Pete Fiutak 

- 2008-2009 Way-Too-Early non-BCS Bowl Projections

Don't get too mad/excited quite yet. The idea is to look into the crystal ball into the schedules and the talent on the top teams to figure out what the big money matchups might be. Remember, no one, nowhere would've ever predicted in a million years that Kansas and Illinois would make the BCS last season. We told you Hawaii was going to be in, but that was still a bit of a wacky call. Obviously, things could quickly change over the next few months, and we'll change up the projections and predictions weekly during the season.

Rose Bowl presented by Citi
Jan. 1 / 5:10 p.m. ET  Pasadena, Calif. ABC
*BCS vs. BCS  (Big Ten Champion vs. Pac 10 Champion, if available)
Way Too Early Projection:  Wisconsin vs. USC
Top 5 Others Considered: 1) Ohio State, 2) Penn State, 3) Oregon, 4) Arizona State, 5) California

It's this simple. The winner of the Ohio State-USC showdown will be playing for the national title; the loser will be playing in the Rose Bowl. The early call, because of the experience, if a Buckeye win, but if USC wins, then put Jim Tressel and the boys here and Wisconsin in the Fiesta. Eventually the Badgers to break through and get to a BCS game again, right?  They've been on the verge for years and now have the team to break through. If USC beats Ohio State, then it'll probably be the Buckeyes vs. either Oregon or Arizona State. If it's the Badgers vs. the Trojans, it would be the first matchup of the two since 1966 when USC won 38-3. If only it could be as good a matchup as the 1963 classic Rose Bowl when the Badgers mounted an epic comeback only to fall short in a 42-37 loss.

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Jan. 2 / 8:30 p.m. ET  New Orleans, La. FOX
*BCS vs. BCS  (SEC Champion, if available)
Way Too Early Projection:  Georgia vs. Virginia Tech
Top 5 Others Considered: 1) Florida, 2) LSU, 3) Auburn, 4) Clemson, 5) West Virginia

The early call is for the Florida-Georgia winner to be playing for the national title, while the loser to go to the Sugar Bowl. Of course, the winner of the Cocktail-Not-A-Cocktail Party will have to get by the SEC West champion, while the Bulldog-Gator loser should still have enough juice in the polls to get into the big money games. The ACC will finally get a second team into the BCS, and while Boston College also has a shot, it'll probably be the Hokies if they make it to the conference title game and lose to Clemson. West Virginia, if it wins the Big East title, is also a viable option.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 5 / 8 p.m. Phoenix, Ariz. FOX
*BCS vs. BCS (Big 12 Champion, if available)
Way Too Early Projection:  Missouri vs. West Virginia
Top 5 Others Considered: 1) Texas Tech, 2) Oklahoma, 3) Texas, 4) Wisconsin, 5) Florida

Depending on who gets into the national title game, the Fiesta gets the first pick of the at-large BCS teams. West Virginia, assuming it comes up with another Big East title, should be the most attractive of the lot unless Florida, Georgia, or another SEC team is available if the champion goes to the Sugar Bowl. Admittedly, Missouri is a very, very, very shaky call as the Big 12 champion. If you want to argue that this is a loaded Texas Tech's year, or that Oklahoma will get another shot at Fiesta redemption, or that Texas will rise up, or that Kansas will close, there's no argument here.

FedEx Orange Bowl
Jan. 1 / 8 p.m. Miami Gardens, Fla. FOX
*BCS vs. BCS (ACC Champion, if available)
Way Too Early Projection: Clemson vs. Texas Tech
Top 5 Others Considered: 1) Virginia Tech, 2) Boston College, 3) West Virginia, 4) Florida, 5) Georgia

The ACC champion is automatically in, and the assumption is that Clemson, troubled offensive line and all, will get here. The Orange, assuming it doesn't lose the ACC champion to the BCS Championship game, will pick last from the at-large teams. While it might lobby for the second best SEC option and hope to grab West Virginia or Wisconsin because of their traveling fan bases, Texas Tech, the projected loser of the Big 12 championship game, would likely be the last team chosen.

FedEx BCS National Championship
Jan. 8 / 8 p.m. Miami Gardens, Fla. FOX
*BCS #1 vs. BCS #2 
Way Too Early Projection: Ohio State vs. Florida
Top 5 Others Considered: 1) USC, 2) Georgia, 3) Oklahoma, 4) LSU, 5) West Virginia

The way-too-early scenario (that might/will suddenly change at some point this summer): No one goes unbeaten; Ohio State beats USC in L.A. to build up enough style points to overcome one acceptable Big Ten loss to be the begrudging choice by the voters as the nation's No. 1 team; Florida loses twice, but beats Georgia and wins the SEC championship. Repeat that exact scenario except replace Ohio State with USC (who'll lose one Pac 10 game) and Florida with Georgia, and you might have it.

Basically, a two-loss SEC champion will have far more cachet
than any other team with a blemish, even a one-loss West Virginia, ACC champion or Big 12 champion. After the last two national title games, it's going to take something special to keep the SEC champion out.

- 2008-2009 Way-Too-Early non-BCS Bowl Projections Top Stories