Bowl projections are always fun (and by fun, I mean maddening), but it is that time of the year. This is indeed a projection of Clemson's likely destination - with CBS and ESPN's outlook alongside - and not just if the season ended today.
Here's some factors to keep in mind...
1) Six conferences have an automatic bid to the BCS. Every bowl has a tie-in with at least one of those conferences as follows: Rose (PAC-12 v. Big Ten), Sugar (SEC), Orange (ACC) and Fiesta (Big 12).
2) If a non-automatic-qualifying (AQ) conference lands a team in the top-12, they earn an automatic bid. Another case, which could very well be a factor this year, is if they get into the top-16 and are ahead of all teams ranked in an AQ conference.
3) There's an order to the selection of the BCS at-larges, which starts with the bowls replacing BCS Championship Game participants. The order this year is: No. 1 team's conference bowl, No. 2 team's conference's bowl, Orange, Sugar then Fiesta.
ESPN: Mark Schlabach - Florida State v. UCF; Brad Edwards - Florida State v. Wisconsin.
CBS Sports: Jerry Palm - Florida State v. UCF.
O&W: Brandon Rink - Florida State v. Wisconsin
ESPN: Mark Schlabach - South Carolina v. Wisconsin; Brad Edwards - Auburn v. Clemson.
CBS Sports: Jerry Palm - South Carolina v. Wisconsin.
O&W: Brandon Rink - Auburn v. UCF
ESPN: Mark Schlabach - Clemson v. Missouri; Brad Edwards - Miami v. Texas A&M.
CBS Sports: Jerry Palm - Clemson v. Missouri.
O&W: Brandon Rink - Clemson v. Missouri.
Analysis: This is the projection with a win over South Carolina or not, which is crazy because the Tigers could be in the top-five with a 'W' in Columbia, but it all comes down to BCS selection order politics. Here's what works against Clemson...
1) Non-AQ auto bid for Fresno State or Northern Illinois - One of the two will likely fend off the low-end of the BCS conferences' champ (AAC) and earn an auto bid by finishing in the top-16.
2) AAC champ still has to go somewhere.
3) FSU not making the National Title Game - They are currently in, but if Oregon wins out, the Ducks will likely pass them again.
4) The Orange has a higher pick this year - They have the top at-large selection and therefore don't have to get stuck with the AAC or non-AQ selection.
Who Clemson is rooting for/against, for a BCS bid is much the inverse of that list above (in order)...
1) Chaos in the Big Ten & 12 - The Big 12 is setting up to be a giant mess if undefeated Baylor can't survive a gauntlet that starts with Oklahoma Thursday. There's a chance they don't have an at-large eligible team by December. The Big Ten can be every bit as weird. That's the factor to weigh for the Orange, which obviously can't pit Clemson v. FSU in its game and doesn't necessarily have to pick an AAC or non-AQ team. Give them no choice and it's likely UCF.
2) Florida State to make the title game - Opens up the Orange and therefore another at-large spot essentially. Oregon would likely go to the Rose Bowl if they don't make it undefeated, and Alabama is Sugar Bowl-bound in case of loss there. If Stanford knocks out Oregon, they would likely be headed to the Rose and Oregon would be a targeted at-large. Either way, Clemson's BCS chances increase with FSU in Pasadena for that other game.
3) Fresno State and Northern Illinois to lose - Rooting against Cinderella is not typically what you do in March Madness, but in football? It's perfectly acceptable.
On the Chick-fil-A Bowl end, Clemson will have the most appeal of any ACC team - their only issue is if the CFA is dead-set on South Carolina or Georgia and not favoring a rematch.
Would you go to Atlanta again? What do you think will happen?