Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/21/11

A crazy weekend of college football filled with upsets has turned the BCS bowl picture upside-down.  A lot of questions exist about what teams could land where, and we will once again do our best to figure that out.  We will once again go through the BCS bowl selection process, using the BCS Rankings as a guide.  

Step 1: BCS Championship Game

The first thing that happens is that Nos. 1 and 2 in the BCS rankings are selected to play in the BCS Championship Game.  Regardless of your thoughts about a rematch in the BCS Championship Game, it appears that LSU and Alabama are headed for one if both teams win their remaining games.

  • LSU to the BCS Championship Game.
  • Alabama to the BCS Championship Game.


Step 2: Conference Champions


Next, all of the conference champions are assigned to the bowls with automatic tie-ins.

The Big-10 conference race cleared up quite a bit this weekend.  Michigan State has clinched the Legends division championship.  In the Leaders division, the winner of the game between Penn State and Wisconsin will win the division.   Wisconsin will likely be favored against both Penn State and Michigan State, and we'll project them to win the Big-10 right now.

Despite an awful blowout loss to NC State, Clemson will still play in the ACC Championship Game.  They will face the winner of Virginia Tech / Virginia this weekend.  Clemson is a field goal away from having three straight losses while Virginia Tech has a ton of momentum.   Right now, we'll project the Hokies as ACC Champions.

Despite losing to USC on Saturday, Oregon is still in control of the PAC-12 North division.  With a win over Oregon State, Oregon goes to the PAC-12 Championship game.   If the Ducks were to lose, then Stanford would win the North.  The PAC-12 South is much more confusing.   UCLA currently leads the division; however, they play USC in the Coliseum this weekend.  Arizona State and Utah are one game behind UCLA.   A UCLA loss could mean a two or three-team tie-breaker scenario that gets awfully confusing.   What's more crazy is that UCLA could very well win the division with a 6-6 overall record, lose the PAC-12 championship game to bring their record to 6-7, and be ineligible for any bowl game.   It could be a Rose Bowl or go home situation.   Regardless of who wins the South, Oregon is the projected PAC-12 champion.

The winner of Bedlam will win the Big-12.  Oklahoma State is currently ranked higher than the Sooners, and they'll likely be favored in that game.  We'll go with the Cowboys as Big-12 champs.

  • Oregon to the Rose Bowl
  • Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl
  • Virginia Tech to the Orange Bowl
  • Oklahoma State to the Fiesta Bowl

The Big East champion is assured a spot in a BCS bowl game.  The Big East race is extremely tight right now with five of eight teams only having two conference losses.  Looking at remaining schedules makes you cross-eyed in a hurry.   For now, we'll go with West Virginia.  They're currently the highest ranked team in the conference and they have wins over several of the other contenders.

Any conference champion from a non-BCS conference receives an automatic bid to a BCS bowl if they finish in the Top 12 of the BCS standings.  With Houston at #8 in the BCS standings, they are a lock to play in a BCS bowl if they win their remaining games. A team from a non-BCS conference can also automatically qualify for a BCS game if they are ranked in the Top 16 of the BCS standings and if they are rated ahead of a conference champion from a BCS conference.   If Houston were to trip up and lose a game, then TCU is currently ranked #20.  Since the Big East does not have a team ranked in the Top 25 of the BCS standings, it stands to reason that TCU would finish the season ranked ahead of the Big East champion.   The question then becomes whether they could reach #16 and whether they would pass Houston?   Both seem very possible.

Having said all that, we still project Houston to win out and earn a spot in the BCS.


Step 3: Replacement Picks

The two bowl games that lost their automatic tie-ins to the BCS Championship Game get to select a "replacement pick" prior to any other selections being made. The bowl that lost the No. 1 team gets to choose first.  Right now, that would be the Sugar Bowl.   Ideally, the bowl game that loses their conference champion to the BCS championship game would replace them with another team from that conference.   But in this case, the Sugar Bowl cannot do so since two SEC teams are in the championship game and only two teams from the same conference can participate in the BCS.  Therefore, the Sugar Bowl must look out of conference for both participants.

Without the regional SEC team to gobble up tickets, I believe the Sugar Bowl will look for a team that is a great draw and that travels well.  A 10-2 Michigan team would be exactly what the Sugar Bowl needs.  Yes, they would pass over many other teams that are perhaps more deserving.  But I believe the Maize and Blue would populate Bourbon Street on New Year's Eve.


  • Michigan to the Sugar Bowl

Step 4: Final Selections

Next, the bowls select teams in a pre-determined order that rotates annually. This year, the bowls will select as follows: Fiesta, Sugar, Orange.

The Fiesta is up first and must choose an opponent for Oklahoma State.   Since Glendale is PAC-12 country, I see the Fiesta looking that way and choosing Stanford.   Andrew Luck, likely the top pick in April's NFL draft, will be a big draw.

Next, the Sugar Bowl must choose an opponent for Michigan.  Its decision will be between two teams:  West Virginia and Houston.   Houston will likely be ranked in the Top-10 of the final BCS rankings while West Virginia will, at best, be around #20.  Plus Houston is much closer to New Orleans than Morgantown.   However, the Sugar Bowl has recently had to take teams such as Hawaii, Cincinnati, and Utah.  This time, I think they go for the Mountaineers and the bigger fan base and bigger "name."

That will then send Houston to the Orange Bowl to face Virginia Tech.

  • Stanford to the Fiesta Bowl.
  • West Virginia to the Sugar Bowl.
  • Houston to the Orange Bowl.

CBR Official BCS Bowl Game Projections

*BCS Championship Game: LSU Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

*Rose Bowl: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Oregon Ducks

*Sugar Bowl: Michigan Wolverines vs. West Virginia Mountaineers

*Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Houston Cougars

*Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Stanford Cardinal

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