Saturday, November 15, 2008

BCS bowls for the non-BCS

The current state of BCS bids.  There are 10 spots in BCS bowls. Two go to the top-ranked two teams, 6 go to the BCS conference champions. One goes to the highest ranked non-BCS team (provided they are ranked high enough.)  And any remaining spots go to at-large teams in the top-14, with a limit of two teams per conference. 

So, what scenarios would be best for the non-BCS teams?
First, the top 2 need to be conference champions. As it looks now, the winner of the SEC championship game should be there. As long as Missouri doesn't win the big-12, the big-12 champion should also be in the top 2.
Then, the at-large pool in the top-14 needs to be favorable. The ideal situation would have the 6 BCS conference champions and 8 non-BCS teams, guaranteeing 4 non-BCS spots in the bowls.  Next best would be for one conference to dominate the top-14, with non-BCS filling the remaining spots. Since only one team from that conference will make it in, that leaves 3 spots for the non-BCS.
How do things look today? Well, currently, only 3 conference champions are in the top-14. North Carolina is barely out at 16. The big-12 representatives are down at 21 and 22. For the pac-10, USC is in the top group - but Oregon State is currently the conference leader.  
As the standings look right now, the 3 at large BCS bids would probably go to Texas, Florida and USC.  Should Oregon State (or USC) lose, the at large spot would probably go to Ohio State. Now if Oregon State and Ohio State lose, things get interesting.  The big-10 title and rose-bowl berth would probably end up with the winner of the Michigan State-Penn State game.  The loser would likely fall out of the available at-large range.  Next in line to be at-large eligible would be North Carolina, Florida State, BYU, TCU, LSU, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.  North Carolina and Florida State would likely end up in the ACC championship game, with the winner getting an automatic bid, and the loser out of the at-large range. BYU and TCU are non-BCS teams, and LSU is pretty much out due to the many SEC teams ahead of it. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh play each other, with the winner likely getting the Big Easts's automatic bid, and the other out of contention. This would leave Boise State, Ball State and one of the Mountain West teams as possible at large teams (after at large spots were taken by Big12 and SEC teams.)
How likely is this?  Well, Michigan-Ohio State is a fierce rivalry, so an upset could be possible there.  Illinois has given OSU a beating before, but it looks doubtful this year.  Oregon State has tough games against Arizona, Oregon and Cal.  Running the table will be a challenge (though not impossible.)  USC losing against Notre Dame, Stanford or UCLA look less likely (though they lost to Stanford at home last year.) Penn State also appears to be taking care of Indiana.
Up higher in the BCS rankings, there do not seem to be many things that can potentially change the non-BCS odds.  Oklahoma's games against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech could reshuffle the big-12 standings, but the big-12 south champion will probably still end up in the national title game.  The big-12 north champion (currently Missouri) could throw some kinks in the national championship game if the beat the south champion. However, this will likely not impact the non-BCS teams as the big-12 is pretty much guaranteed two BCS spots (with a maximum of two available per conference.)  However, I'm sure there will be plenty of anger about BCS rules if the big-south loser of the championship game ends up left out.

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