Picking up from last year, I'll be starting a weekly analysis on the BCS standings since we're getting close to the time it actually starts to matter and the variables get reduced. First, your updated BCS standings:
4) Boise St
So what this means is:
- Oregon and Auburn / Alabama likely control their destiny. Oregon more so, since they have no real roadblocks on the way to a #1 or #2 BCS ranking. Auburn may jump them at the end if they beat Bama and win the SEC, but the Ducks got a slot if they keep winning.
- I still think Alabama will jump all the non-AQ teams if they beat Auburn and win the SEC champ game. Voting pools still make a huge portion of the polls and I have a hard time thinking more "traditional" college football pollsters will not move Bama up considerably with those two wins, and the computers are going to give Bama a big time trampoline-like bounce with potential wins against Auburn and an SEC champ game opponent.
- The non-AQ is playing out as I thought a couple weeks ago. For a slot opposite Oregon or Auburn/Bama should one of the two slip up, it's the TCU/Utah winner, not Boise St. the computers and voters are more impressed with TCU's quality wins at this point over Boise St, and the game against Utah is going to far outweigh any bump in computers's Boise's going to get from either Hawaii or Nevada.
- I also think though, that you're looking at 2 non-AQ's in BCS at large berths. So with that, we're looking at (10 bids overall):
BCS CHAMP 1: Oregon
BCS CHAMP 2: Auburn
ACC: Va Tech/ FSU winner (likely only 1 team)
BIG EAST: Pittsburgh? (Do we have to?)
BIG TEN: Wisconsin or Iowa or tOSU at this point, but more thoughts below
SEC: see above
BIG 12: Nebraska / Mizzou / Oklahoma winner (likely 1 team)
PAC 10: see above
Fill- in for Auburn's SEC (champ slot replacement rules): (1 loss) Alabama
Fill-in for Oregon's PAC-10 (champ slot replacment rules): Stanford / Arizona
At-Large 1: TCU / Utah winner
At-Large 2: Boise St
BCS Championship: Oregon v Auburn
Rose Bowl: Stanford/Arizona v. Wisconsin/Iowa/tOSU
Orange Bowl: Va Tech / FSU v. TCU
Sugar Bowl: Alabama v. Pitt
Fiesta Bowl: Okl/Neb/Mizz vs. Boise St
Big Ten: At this point, I think the Big Ten is likely the conference to get most screwed. Lets say Alabama beats Auburn, I still think both the SEC champ game winner AND a 1-loss Auburn get BCS bids. Sugar Bowl's going to take an SEC team if at all humanly possible to replace Auburn's slot. The fill in for Oregon's slot is probably going to be the Pac-10 runner up so the Rose Boel gets it Big Ten v Pac-10 matchup. Both an undefeated TCU/Utah and an undefeated Boise St are probably for to autoqualify for a BCS at-large slot taking one of the second conference slots from the Big Ten. The second team from the Iowa/Wiscy/tOSU triumverate are going to have to hope for a loss by either (TCU and Utah) or Boise St.
- Big games left really are Alabama v Auburn and Boise St vs. Hawaii or Boise v Nevada. TCU v Utah is big terms of who gets a loss, but really, the winner of that should be able to win out and secure themselves a BCS at large slot. Th eonly real drama about TCU . v Utah is that if Utah wins, then Boise probably has the top non-AQ slot from voters, Utah has the top non-AQ slot from computers, and the difference in BCS standings will be miniscule.
- The Iron Bowl is really shaping up as football armageddon 2010. Should Auburn win, they're either the BCS champ rep or the SEC at-large depending on the result of the SEC champ game, but really, Alabama's probably out at that point. If Bama wins, then we are on the verge of absolute chaos. Bama wins the SEC championship, they're probably in the BCS champ with a whole lot of wailing/gnashing of teeth jumping over non-AQ's & 1-loss Oklahoma/Neb. A loss by Bama in the SEC championship and we probably have the first non-AQ in the championship game, most likely TCU, not Boise.
Well now that we got the nagging question of whether we'll play in Detroit, Tempe, San Antonio, or DC out of the way (damn freshman being freshman-y), let's look objectively, without sorrow at the BCS&Big Ten bowl pictures...
First the BCS
Well I think this weekend cleared a lot up. What we know:
1) Fla/Ala winner and Tex are in the nat'l championship game as long as Tex keeps winning. Even a loss by Fla or Ala before the SEC championship game really won't matter as much as the SEC championship game is now essentially a play-in game for the nat'l title slot as either the #1 or #2 seed.
2) Provided TCU keeps winning, 3 of the 4 at-large slots are locked up. Fla/Ala loser, TCU, and a 2nd Big Ten team between Iowa and Penn St. Big East is likely only going to get one team (except for a scenario I'll outline in a second) and that will be the winner of Pitt/Cincy.
3) If Texas slips, it will become a voter free-for-all as to who gets the #2 slot in the title game. Right now, while TCU is ahead of Cincy in the BCS standings and human polls, a big time showing by Cincy against Pitt may be enough to vault Cincy ahead of TCU in human polls and the computer margin narrows to the point where Cincy goes ahead. But I also believe that we are staring right down the barrel of a TCU in the nat'l title game with one Nebraska upset of Texas.
So with that here's the predictions (special citation to Jerry Palm of CollegeBCS.com whose interview on Rivals radio on Friday reinforced some of my ideas) Reminder, only the Top 14 in BCS standings are eligible for selection as an at-large, and only two teams from a conference can be selected:
BCS Nat'l Championship: Fla v. Texas
Rose: tOSU v. Oregon (all but locked in)
Fiesta: Ok St v. TCU
Sugar: Alabama v. Penn St
Orange: Ga Tech v. Cincy
So here's how the selections went for me:
- Fla beats Ala to get the title slot.
- Texas beats Neb to get the title slot.
- Rose gets Big Ten Champ (tOSU) & Pac-10 champ (assumed Oregon, but could be Oregon St if they win next week); Orange gets ACC champ (Ga Tech)
- Sugar gets first at-large selection to replace Florida and they take slam dunk Alabama
- Fiesta gets next selection to replace Texas. While they could take TCU, I think they'll actually take a 2-loss Big 12 Ok St
- Now we go to the actual "at-large order", and this year its Orange, Fiesta, Sugar. Orange gets first pick and they take undefeated Cincinnati out of the Big East
- Fiesta is next, and they get either TCU (who has to be picked) or an attractive 2nd Big Ten team. I'm going to guess this time they'll take TCU who being from nearer Texas and the populous Dallas/FtWorth area will be a better travel option.
- Sugar gets the remainder, and they take Penn St for a salavating Alabama v. JoePa matchup that will be the 2nd best TV game of the BCS series. Sorry Iowa, but PennSt travels better and has better cache in terms of TV ratings.
- Pitt with an upset of Cincy will get the Big East bid, but a loss probably means they knock themselves out of an at large bid unless both TCU and Boise lose, making a potential Fiesta Bowl of Pitt and Penn St a possibility
- A Texas loss will throw the whole system into chaos. Neb would get the Fiesta Bowl bid leaving Texas as an at-large selection to the Sugar or Orange. My guess would be that the Orange would prefer Tex over Cincy/TCU leftover (whoever doesn't get the title game birth), but the Sugar would love them some Alabama-Texas action. That would mean then that Ok St wuld get knocked out BCS contention (2-team conference rule) leaving Penn St to glide into either Fiesta against Neb or Orange against Ga Tech.
- Clemson is still alive but they have to beat Ga Tech, and in that case, just swap out GT with Clemson in the predictions.
So with that settled, let's go to the Big Ten.
It's pretty much settled that the Big Ten will get a 2nd BCS team this year (either Penn St or Iowa-- my money's on Penn St as a better TV draw and hence more attractive). Big Ten also only has 7 teams bowl eligible, and with 2 BCS teams, will be left out of one bowl game.
Hence, the predictions:
BCS At-LArge: Penn St
Capitol One Bowl (BT2): Iowa
Outback (BT3): Wisconsin
ChampsSports (BT4): Northwestern
Alamo (BT5): Mich St
Insight (BT6): Minnesota
Pizza Pizza (BT7): no qualifiers
About the only shenanigans here would be the Alamo&Insight swapping teams and really it's not going to make much of a difference. Not too much controversy either... NW / Wiscy is a pick 'em from resume standpoints, but Wiscy travels much much better so the Outback is an easy pick for them.
The biggest intrigue for Big Ten bowls, is actually regarding a non-Big 10 team. A 6-6 ND would get shut out of all their bowl tie-ins leaving them to search for a bowl game. The open games in terms of conferences not having enough teams to fill slots are:
- Pizza Pizza Bowl (BT, Detroit)
- Eagle Bank Bowl (ACC, Wash DC)
- Humanitarian Bowl (MWC, Boise)
- GMAC (ACC, Mobile)
Humanitarian Bowl probably is going to want a Western team just for travel reasons (6-6 Kansas if they win this weekend?), and barring that are going to have to fight tooth/nail for another Eastern time zone team to come out that way (hello MAC!). GMAC may be out if Duke beats Wake Forest and qualifies at 6-6 (this may be sketchy-- would a 6 win team with a conference tie-in get in over a 7-win at-large team? I don't know the rules on that). Pizza Pizza and Eagle Bank seem to be the likely choices for a 6-6 ND. The wrinkle is that a 6-win team can't go if there are 7 win teams available, so according to Mandel at si.com (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/stewart_mandel/11/23/bowl.projections/index.html) , Mid Tenn St and No Ill have seven, a Bowl Green win would get them to 7 wins, and if a third Sun Belt team qualifies (LA-Lafayette or LA-Monroe) with 7-wins, ND may not go bowling AT ALL.
Wow, what would be worse, us not going bowling after a 4-0 start roster limitations noted, or 5-Star Charlie's OMG AWESOME recruiting classes not going bowling at all in year 5??
Now with the BCS rankings, we run down the possible BCS setup...
10 BCS slots, 6 autobids, 4 at large
Autobids (assumptions listed in parenthesis, * for clinched)
ACC: Ga Tech (win ACC championship)
Big 10: OSU*
Big 12: Texas (win Big 12 championship, stay undefeated)
Big East: Cincinnati (finish undefeated)
Pac-10: Toss-up (discussed below)
SEC: Florida (winout)
So the only team that's in for sure right now is tOSU and they're going to the Rose Bowl against the Pac-10's only representative (Oregon, USC or Stanford). More on the Pac-10 later....
At-Large Slots (my guesses)
1) Alabama (loss to Fla only blemish)
2) TCU (undefeated, stays in top 8 of BCS standings for autobid)
The Florida / Alabama loser is going to get the #1 at-large slot. TCU at 12-0 is a lock for a 2nd at-large and maybe a nat'l title shot jumping Cincy. Now it gets confusing, let's list the rest of the eligible teams for at-large slots from the Top 18 in the BCS standings (LSU not counted since 2 SEC teams are already in)...
Contenders: 12-0 Boise St, 10-2 Ok St, 10-2 Pitt, 10-2 Iowa, 10-2 Penn St, 9-3 VaTech, 10-2 Wisconsin, 9-3 Stanford, 9-3 USC, 9-3 Miami (YTM)
If Boise St stays in the Top 8 and undefeated, with their competition being a flurry of not just 1-loss teams, but 2-loss teams, I don't see how they can be left out at this point. This is the "Year of the Little Guy" in college football and I see the Powers That Be formalizing that with a Boise St at-large bid. For the fourth slot, I think it's a matter of the specific bowl game again.... Per the BCS rules, with Florida and Texas in the championship, the Fiesta and Sugar Bowls get first pick from at-large teams. Bama in the Sugar is a slam dunk as a SEC replacement for Florida. I think Fiesta takes TCU with their Dallas/ Ft Worth area fan base. Orange Bowl is next. I think they take an undefeated Cincy. So then we have:
BCS Championship: Florida v Texas
Rose Bowl: tOSU v Oregon / Arizona
Fiesta Bowl: TCU v ???
Orange Bowl: Ga Tech v. Cincy
Sugar Bowl: Alabama v. ???
So we now have two at-large slots. Fiesta Bowl would get the first pick over Sugar since they're closest to the natl champ game in date, and I think the lure of a psuedo-natl chmp game between TCU and Boise is going to be too good to pass up, especially since Boise traveled REAL good last time they were in a BCS game. So Boise St in the Fiesta.
Sugar wants a big name team from a power conference to matchup against Bama, and to me the choice is either the Fightin T-Boones from OK St or a 2-loss Big Ten runner up, like Penn St/Wiscy/Iowa who travels REALLY well. I'll say Penn St over Iowa since Iowa will still be back-up QB'ing and Wiscy isn't as attractive as a JoePa led team.
So we are between a 2-loss Penn St and a 2-loss OK St. I think T-Boone greases a couple palms and gets OK St in against Bama, especially with a perceived "down" Big Ten. Giving us:
MY BEST GUESS
BCS Championship: Florida v Texas
Rose Bowl: tOSU v Oregon / Arizona
Fiesta Bowl: TCU v Boise St (psuedo natl champ)
Orange Bowl: Ga Tech v. Cincy
Sugar Bowl: Alabama v. OK St
If the Orange took lets say a 2-loss Penn St for the better TV and travel cache JoePa led Penn St brings over Cincy, I think we are then looking at the Fiesta taking Cincy for a TCU v Cincy matchup, and the Sugar, left with a Boise St v OK St v Miami (YTM) choice, may opt for a Bama v Miami (or OK St if t-Boone again starts giving out wind farm seed grants to BCS officials) matchup leaving Boise St outside looking in.
Lots of stuff still can happen. Wiscy and Penn St are playing for a BCS bid and OK St may sew one up if they can beat OU. Boise St is going to have to lay on the style points. Pitt I just don't know about.. I just don't think the Wannestache has enough pull yet to get a BCS bid over Penn St or even an undefeated Boise, so they're only hope is probably a win against Cincy.
EDIT EDIT:: Now updated with BCS standings from Sunday night.
I thought I'd give a quick recap as to how things stand following yesterday's amazing day of action.
1) Fla / Ala still on track for "OMG Death Match 2009 Greatest Game In History of College Football" in SEC championship. After looking at the polls released this morning and listening to some of the scuttlebutt in the media, I think this is a no-doubt elimination game for one of the nat'l championship slots. Ala got their big roadblock game out of the way, and even a loss to Auburn may not hold them back fro the BCS championship if they beat Fla in the SEC Championship. Fla only has SoCar, Fla Intl and FSU left, so their path seems fairly straight.
2) A Big XII champion Texas will take the second slot. The only real probable stumbles for Texas left are roadies at Baylor (not too hard) and at Tex A&M (rivalry, but still should be a blowout). The big rock in their path now is the Big XII championship game where either a DL loaded Neb or a resurgent K-St awaits.
3) TCU has jumped Cincy for #4 in BCS, but this may be temporary as Cincy's high profile schedule is about to start. However, looking at the BCS standings (4th in both human polls and 4th in computers) I don't think we can discount anymore the real possibility that TCU's a stunning Cinderella to human voters to the point where they may stay ahead of Cincy as prime beneficiary of a Fla/Ala/Tex stumble. I still think Cincy in the end is going to end up ahead of TCU, but I think the chances of a TCU jump and hold over Cincy is growing.
4) Sorry Boise, but you're out unless TCU stumbles and everyone else collapses. Your hopes were banked on a 1-loss Oregon and voters with a moral dilemma on whether to vote a team with a worse record and a loss head to head above you. Boise looks good in BCS standings, but may be the first team to be in all the positions (non BCS conf in the top 8) for an auto-qualify but not get one.
The At-Large Situation
Reference: 10 slots, 6 conf autobids, 4 at large
ACC: Ga Tech
Big East: Cincy
Big Ten: more on that in a moment
Big XII: Texas
SEC: Fla / Ala winner
PAC-10: Oregon, for now
How many at-large left? 4
So does an undefeated non-BCS team get in? For sure one, so let's assume chalk holds and TCU gets the auto-qualify for non-BCS teams.
Ok so now there are 3 at large bids, who's in? 2 bid conferences?
Yes, so let's look at candidates by conference.
ACC: No one jumps out. Maybe a 2-loss Miami at #14 in BCS standings? Let's put them in the candidate pool
Big East: 1-loss Pitt would be the only real resume blockbuster (#12 BCS), but if we assume a Cincy win in two weeks, then a 2-loss Pitt isn't that attractive.
Big Ten: Here's the rub. Penn St was all setup to be a 2nd BCS bid easy, but with the turmoil of yesterday, it seems that Iowa (#10 BCS) / Ohio St (#11 BCS) next week is an elimination game. I don't think a 2- loss Iowa, a 3-loss OSU or a 2-loss Penn St (who lost every meaningful game this year) is that attractive.
Big XII: A 2-loss OkSt (#19) would seem to be on the only candidate. We'll throw them in the pool
SEC: Fla / Ala loser. That's it since conferences can't get more than 1 at large
PAC-10: Is a 2-loss USC attractive? In this climate, yes. USC sits at #9 BCS. If Oregon (#13 BCS) tanks again though, we're only looking at 1 Pac-10 team. Arizona has a good BCS rank (#17) but USC and Oregon are going to take the Pac-10's two slots available.
Yes, an undefeated Boise St team gets a dip in the candidate pool.
So anyone get in right away?
Assuming Oregon holds on to get the Pac-10 title, and USC wins out, I'll put a 2-loss USC team in.
So who's in at at-larges? TCU, Fla/Ala loser, USC
Leaving? undefeated Boise St, 2-loss Miami, 2-loss Pitt, 2-loss OkSt
Meaning? as much as cache means with Miami, it may come down to Actual Bowl Slots....
BCS Title: Fla (sake of discussion) v Texas
Rose Bowl: Oregon v. Big Ten Champ (Iowa for sake of discussion)
Orange Bowl:Ga Tech v. ????
Fiesta Bowl: ??? v ???
Sugar Bowl: ??? v. ???
Miami would be a nice choice in the Orange Bowl, but as a poster pointed out, an all-ACC Orange Bowl isn't likely. Let's start with putting the already qualified at-large's + the Big East champ Cincy (since they don't have a formal tie-in) in:
Sugar Bowl: would still like a SEC team, so with Ala sitting there, let's put them in.
Fiesta Bowl: would like a western team for attendance purposes and they get one of the 1st two at-large choices since the Big XII team is in the championship, so let's put USC there (big draw)
So now we have:
BCS Title: Fla v Tex
Rose Bowl: Oregon v. Iowa
Orange Bowl: GaTech v ???
Fiesta Bowl: USC v. ???
Sugar Bowl: Alabama v. ???
Well b/c of conference tie-ins and choices for big name teams, we likely will not have the poor man's natl championship of Cincy v TCU possible. So let's slot:
* Put TCU in Fiesta v USC as Dallas area alums will flock to Arizona
* Cincy as an undefeated team has some interest and a Cincy v Alabama matchup would be good for ratings.
* This leaves the Orange Bowl. As I said before, Miami would be nice, but unlikely due to ACC rematchery. next best looking is either an undefeated Boise St or the Fighting T-Boone's. While OkSt may guarantee an ungodly number of tickets sold due to Pickens fronting cash, I think Boise gets it.
So that's it?
Well no. If either USC or Oregon drops another game, I think you may be looking at a "poor man's natl championship" in the Fiesta Bowl with TCU v. Boise St, Cincy v Alabama in the Sugar, and OkSt taking on GaTech in the Orange.
Any big losers from yesterday?
Yes, three big losers come out
1) Penn St-- they had a BCS bid locked if they could just win out. Now they may be competing with Wisconsin&tOSU/Iowa for 2nd best Big 10 bowl
2) Notre Dame-- Another team who had their BCS bid mapped out, beat Navy, Pitt, UConn, and Stanford, and they're cashing a huge check.
3) The Pac-10-- Oregon's loss as mentioned above puts 2 Pac-10 BCS bids in serious question.
We stand on the precipice of 4 Div I teams being undefeated at the end of the season, all with BCS victories. Chaos ensues.