BCS/Big Ten bowl projections and an explanation of the BCS process
Alabama's loss to Texas A&M creates a shake up in the BCS standings which ultimately could determine if the Rose Bowl gets the traditional Big 10-Pac 12 matchup. Believe it or not, if you like the traditional Rose Bowl matchup a lot will be riding on the South Carolina-Clemson game. There is a provision in the BCS selection process which states "if any conference has two or more teams in the top 14, then two of those teams must be selected."
Currently, the SEC, Big XII and ACC all have at least two teams in the top 14. Assuming Oregon beats Stanford the Cardinal will be out of the top 14. So if I'm understanding the provision right, that would mean the BCS At-large teams would be an SEC school (take your pick there), Notre Dame, Oklahoma (second Big XII school in top 14) and Clemson (second ACC school in top 14.)
The Tigers are ranked 11th and a loss to rival South Carolina would place Clemson out of the top 14. So, back to the selection process. There's a second provision which states "from the teams ranked 15-18 a bowl can select only a team from a conference that has fewer than two teams in the top 14." So if Stanford loses to Oregon but remains in the top 18 the Cardinal would be eligible for selection.
But would the Rose Bowl want them? There is a selection procedure to determine who plays in what bowl. Now there are automatic selections (e.g. Big 10 champion automatically plays in the Rose Bowl) however the bowls that lose automatic selections to the national championship game get to pick replacements. The bowl that loses the number one team gets to pick first. Currently that would be the Fiesta Bowl, which would lose automatic pick Kansas State. The Rose Bowl, losing number two Oregon, would get the second pick. There's no question if Kansas State remains number one and if Notre Dame is 12-0 the Fiesta would take the Irish. But what if Oregon leaps over Kansas State? That means the Rose would get the first replacement pick. Would they want to preserve tradition and take Stanford or would they want a potential ratings grab with 12-0 Notre Dame?
This, folks, is why the BCS is such a mess. Too many rules and too many computers in the process. Now, on with the projections. Below is how I'm projecting the conference championship games (asterisk denotes team has clinched division), BCS bowls and a few other bowl projections.
Big 10 Championship: Nebraska vs Wisconsin*
Pac 12 Championship: Oregon vs USC
SEC Championship: Alabama vs Georgia*
ACC Championship: Florida State vs Miami
Rose Bowl: Stanford vs Nebraska
Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame vs Florida
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs Oklahoma
Orange Bowl: Florida State vs Louisville
BCS Championship: Kansas State vs Oregon
Capital One Bowl: Michigan vs LSU
Outback Bowl: Wisconsin vs South Carolina
Gator Bowl: Northwestern vs Mississippi State
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan State vs West Virginia
Meineke Car Care Bowl: Purdue vs Iowa State
Heart of Dallas Bowl: Minnesota vs Bowling Green
The Big 10 has a tie-in to the Little Caesar's Bowl however it does not appear that the conference will have eight eligible teams. Based on my projections, Purdue will beat Illinois and Indiana to gain eligibility and Michigan State will grab one more win to become eligible. If that's the case the only other school that can gain eligibility is Iowa at 4-6 but the Hawkeyes would need to beat both Michigan and Nebraska.