South Carolina will be the highest-ranked team to play its postseason outside the BCS, while Clemson appears on the cusp of garnering a BCS at-large bid.
The Gamecocks check in at No. 8 in both the Associated Press rankings and USA Today coaches poll released Sunday at the completion of the regular season and conference championships. Clemson is No. 11 via the coaches and No. 12 via the media.
Because only two teams per conference may play in a BCS bowl (a rule going away next year with the College Football Playoff), South Carolina (10-2) will settle for likely the Capital One Bowl, or potentially the Cotton Bowl.
No. 2 Auburn appears bound for the BCS National Championship against top-ranked Florida State, and No. 3 Alabama will have an automatic BCS bid via the written rules (No. 3 or No. 4-ranked teams that don't win their conference are guaranteed a seat at the BCS table.)
Using AP rankings, the No. 8 Gamecocks were hopped by Big Ten champion No. 4 Michigan State and Big XII champion No. 6 Baylor, but watched No. 9 Missouri and No. 13 Oklahoma State tumble with defeats.
No. 5 Stanford (Pac-12 champs) and No. 15 UCF (American Athletic champs) also have automatic BCS bids.
Meanwhile, Clemson (10-2) held strong at No. 11 in the coaches' poll, being passed by No. 10 Oklahoma but passing No. 13 Oklahoma State as a result of the Sooners' upset victory in Stillwater. The Tigers moved up one spot to No. 12 in the AP rankings, also passing Arizona State.
Every major bowl projection has Clemson taking on No. 7 Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. The Buckeyes are expected to settle for a lesser BCS bid after letting its chance at a national title game berth slip away against the Spartans.
Michigan State and Stanford are locked in as the Rose Bowl participants, Baylor and UCF is the expected Fiesta Bowl matchup, and Alabama will be in the Sugar Bowl against either Oklahoma or No. 10 Oregon.
The BCS bowl selection show is 8:30 p.m. tonight on ESPN.