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??