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Sunday, November 26th 2006

Breaking Down The BCS

Here’s how the BCS breaks down currently.

# of BCS Bowl Spots (including national championship game): 10
# of Automatic Qualifiers: 8 – 10

Current Automatic Qualifiers:

  • USC (PAC 10 Champion)
  • Ohio State (Big 10 Champion)
  • Florida/Arkansas (SEC Champion)
  • Oklahoma/Nebraska (Big 12 Champion)
  • Wake Forest/Georgia Tech (ACC Champion)
  • Rutgers/Louisville (Big East Champion)
  • Boise State (Non-BCS Top 12)
  • Michigan (Non-Champion Top 4)

Potential Automatic Qualifiers:

  • LSU (Becomes Top 4 With Arkansas Upset of Florida or UCLA Upset of USC)
  • Louisville (Becomes Top 4 Even if Rutgers Wins Out With Arkansas Upset of Florida and UCLA Upset of USC)
  • Notre Dame (Becomes Top 8 With Florida Over Arkansas and UConn Over Louisville)

What will the BCS look like with no upsets per the current BCS standings:

  • National Championship: Ohio State (BCS #1) v. USC (BCS #2)
  • Rose Bowl: Michigan (Top 4) v. Notre Dame (At-Large)
  • Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma (Big 12 Champ) v. Boise State (Non-BCS Top 12)
  • Orange Bowl: Wake Forest (ACC Champ) v. Rutgers (Big East Champ)
  • Sugar Bowl: Florida (SEC Champ) v. Louisville (At-Large)

This would be a disaster scenario. The automatic qualifiers would include Wake Forest, Boise State and Rutgers (no offense to those teams). There would be a mere two at-large berths to go around. One would clearly go to the Irish. They travel to well, their fan base is huge (and national in scope) and they have too much history. It doesn’t matter that I don’t think they deserve it.

However, the trouble is the Rose Bowl would get the first two picks. They would take Michigan without a doubt. I promise that will be the first selection (they will take an eligible Big 10 or PAC 10 team if possible). There has actually been rumors from inside the Rose Bowl committee (per ESPN) that they would look hard at a Notre Dame – Michigan rematch. This despite the trouncing Michigan put on the Irish earlier.

The average fan asks why?

Because the prospect of an SEC team or Louisville traveling all the way out to Pasadena in numbers and of their fans tuning into the game makes the Rose Bowl people cringe. While the Michigan-ND earlier this season was horrific, Notre Dame’s fan base makes them attractive still. It would also be a traditional rivalry game.

If that happens, then the situation will be really bad for the other BCS bowls. The Sugar Bowl would pick after the Rose Bowl. They have to take the SEC champion (by contract). If Notre Dame is gone (a team they would love to match up with either Florida or Arkansas), then they’ll be hurting.

Their options would be:

  • Boise State (ick)
  • Another SEC team (no chance in hell)
  • Rutgers (ick)
  • Louisville (ick)

Louisville seems like the best of bad options here for the Sugar Bowl.

That leaves the Orange and Fiesta Bowls in the odd position of each having a team they must put in by contract (Wake Forest to the Orange Bowl, Oklahoma to the Fiesta Bowl) and two automatic qualifiers.

Rutgers and Boise State will have to go to a BCS bowl (they’re automatic qualifiers), and the Orange and Fiesta Bowls are like the last kids picking for their dodge ball teams. It is just a matter of which team gets picked first (by the Orange Bowl). I have no doubt it would be Rutgers, the feel good story of the year, rather than Boise State.

What will the BCS look like if UCLA upsets USC, Arkansas upsets Florida, and Rutgers loses to West Virginia:

  • National Championship: Ohio State (BCS #1) v. Michigan (BCS #2)
  • Rose Bowl: USC (PAC 10 Champ) v. LSU (Top 4)
  • Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma (Big 12 Champ) v. Boise State (Non-BCS Top 12)
  • Orange Bowl: Wake Forest (ACC Champ) v. Louisville (Big East Champ)
  • Sugar Bowl: Arkansas (SEC Champ) v. Notre Dame (At-Large)

Personally, even if Florida wins out I do not think they can catch Michigan. It would take the pollsters playing God. If USC loses it will probably be an Ohio State-Michigan rematch.

The Rose must take USC (by contract) and then would again be faced with a tough decision between a Notre Dame rematch (which could happen), Louisville (unlikely), or an SEC team. Florida will not get picked here, despite their loyal fans because coming off a loss never bodes well for how the fan base travels. That leaves the other at large SEC possibility of LSU. LSU-USC would make a compelling match up. But don’t be surprised to see a Notre Dame-USC rematch here either.

The Sugar Bowl gets the second pick. Remember they must take the SEC champ (by contract). They’ll almost certainly jump at an eligible Notre Dame team.

Once again the Orange and Fiesta Bowl are the last kids picking for dodge ball. They must, between them, take Boise State and Louisville. Once again there’s little doubt the Orange Bowl will take the Big East champion (in this case Louisville). That leaves the Fiesta Bowl with a Oklahoma – Boise State match up.

A thing to keep in mind:

  • No matter how overrated you think they are Notre Dame is a virtual automatic qualifier if an at large spot is available

The contenders for a second “at large” spot (in order of strength):

  • LSU (If Finishes Outside of Top 4)
  • Florida (If Loss In SEC Championship)
  • Louisville (If Rutgers Wins Big East)

Have fun figuring the entire mess out. See you on December 3rd (when the BCS selections come out).