We will once again go through the motions of making the selections as if the season ended today, using the BCS Rankings as a tiebreaker to determine conference champions. Up to this point, we have simply been going with the top ranked team in each conference as the champion. But we're now far enough along in the season to look at remaining schedules and project some games.
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. LSU and Oklahoma State both stayed on track to keep their lead atop of the BCS standings.
- LSU to the BCS Championship Game.
- Oklahoma State 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 is hotly contested in both the Leaders and Legends division. In the Legends division, Michigan State has a one game lead over Michigan and Nebraska, and they have a favorable schedule. In the Leaders division, Penn State currently has a one game lead over Wisconsin; however, they still have trips to Columbus and Madison coming up. Wisconsin looks to have the edge at this point. Wisconsin would likely be favored in a rematch with Michigan State, so we'll project Wisconsin to win the Big-10.
Clemson escaped an upset against Wake Forest on Saturday and has clinched a spot in the ACC Championship Game. They will likely face Virginia Tech who they defeated on October 1 by a score of 23-3. Virginia Tech is playing good football right now, but we will give Clemson the nod at this time.
Oregon's big win over Stanford puts them in the driver's seat for the PAC-12 North. The PAC-12 South is a mess. Both Arizona State and UCLA lost in glorious fashion on Saturday and remain tied for the lead in the division. Although UCLA holds the tie-breaker, Arizona State's remaining schedule is more favorable and it looks like they'll sneak into the championship game. It should be noted that USC actually leads the division but is ineligible for post-season play. Oregon certainly gets the nod over Arizona State in the conference championship game.
As of now, Cincinnati would receive the Big East's bid to the BCS. They have a one-game lead over everyone else in the conference. However, the Bearcats' starting quarterback, Zach Collaros suffered a broken ankle is out for the remainder of the season. That could make things difficult for Cincinnati who must play away from home in two of their remaining three contests. A loss would create an enormous log jam in the Big East standings. For now, we'll give Cincy the nod.
- Oregon to the Rose Bowl.
- Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl.
- Clemson to the Orange Bowl.
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. TCU's upset of Boise State knocks the Broncos out of that spot, and puts the Houston Cougars in. Even though Boise State (#10) is still ranked higher in the BCS than Houston (#11), Boise State will not win their conference unless TCU really stumbles from here out. However, Houston must still play SMU and travel to Tulsa before facing Southern Miss (#20) in the Conference USA championship game.
And how about Southern Miss? If they win out and defeat Houston in the CUSA championship game, could they sneak all the way up to #12? It is not likely. However, the BCS has a rule in place that gives an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game to the top rated champion from a non-BCS conference if they are ranked ahead of the conference champion from a BCS conference AND if they are rated #16 or higher in the final BCS standings.
Since the Big East does not have a team ranked in the Top 25 of the BCS standings, it stands to reason that Southern Miss would finish the season ranked ahead of the Big East champion. The question then becomes whether they could reach #16? That seems very possible.
One more wrinkle to that scenario...TCU is currently ranked #19, one spot ahead of Southern Miss. If Houston were to lose, they could conceivably continue to move up and reach that #16 spot and thus "steal" the automatic berth from Southern Miss. Or would the big win by Southern Miss over Houston propel them ahead of TCU?
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, and selecting Alabama is an easy choice.
The Fiesta Bowl would choose next. The easy choice seems to be Oklahoma as a Big 12 representative. Since we are projecting Oklahoma State to beat Oklahoma, the Sooners would be 10-2 and likely ranked around #10 in the BCS.
- Alabama to the Sugar Bowl.
- Oklahoma to the Fiesta 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. Since Glendale is PAC-12 country, I see the Fiesta looking that way and choosing Stanford. While worthy on the field, Stanford does not have the reputation for traveling well to bowl games. Michigan (#18) hosts Nebraska (#16) this weekend. The winner of that game could finish the season at 10-2 and probably ranked in the Top 14 of the BCS which would make them eligible to be selected as an at-large. The Fiesta would certainly consider either rabid fan base ahead of Stanford. But at the end of the day, I think Stanford gets the nod. Boise State could also receive consideration, as could an 11-2 Virginia Tech.
Next, the Sugar Bowl must choose an opponent for Alabama. Its decision will be between two teams: Cincinnati and Houston. Cincinnati was in the Sugar Bowl a couple of years ago, and I believe the Sugar goes with the higher ranked team in Houston.
That will then send Cincinnati to the Orange Bowl to face Clemson.
- Stanford to the Fiesta Bowl.
- Houston to the Sugar Bowl.
- Cincinnati to the Orange Bowl.
CBR Official BCS Bowl Game Projections
*BCS Championship Game: LSU Tigers vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys
*Rose Bowl: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Oregon Ducks
*Sugar Bowl: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Houston Cougars
*Orange Bowl: Clemson Tigers vs. Cincinnati Bearcats
*Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma Sooners vs. Stanford Cardinal
Kris Brauner gives his BCS recap every Monday morning at Crystal Ball Run. Follow him on Twitter @SNSlant.
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