So what is the BCS going to do this year? Here are the top 14 teams at this moment: Alabama, Oklahoma,Texas, Florida, USC, Utah, Texas Tech, PSU, Boise State, Ohio State, TCU, Ball State, Cincinnati, Okie State. Of those:
Oklahoma and Texas are guaranteed in unless Mizzou pulls an upset. In that case, Mizzou and Texas go in. (I’m assuming UT gets an at-large bid).
Penn State is in.
Cincinnati is in.
The winner of Virginia Tech/Boston College is in.
Both Alabama and Florida are in (I’m assuming the SEC title game loser gets an at-large bid).
USC is in, unless they choke against UCLA. In that case, they may get in anyway with Oregon State rematching against PSU in the Rose Bowl.
Utah is in as they are the highest-ranked non-BCS champion.
That leaves only one lonesome at-large bid left, which may reduce to zero if UCLA pulls the upset.
Now apart from the very real possibility that Florida wins the SEC, gets ranked in the top two but fails to make the BCS game (the computers forcing a Texas-Oklahoma rematch — does it pay to be in a top-heavy conference or what?), this last bid is a problem.
It should go to Boise State. They are an undefeated conference champion whose ranking below Utah is arbitrary. I expect, however, that it will go to Ohio State. OSU is from a BCS conference and has a large fanbase that will bitch if they don’t get in.
Moreover, I think that the BCS bowl committee still doesn’t consider non-BCS conferences to be “real teams” and their undefeated champions to be an illusion. Granted, Hawaii was awful last year (although they were facing the second-best team in the nation). But Boise State and Utah have shown, in past years, that they can run with the big boys quite well, thank you. They at least deserve a shot.
And what about Ball State? Yeah, they’re Ball State. But they still played well this year. They still won their conference in undefeated fashion (modulo this weekend’s game).
Anyway, barring an upset by Mizzou or UCLA, here is how I see it playing out:
Rose Bowl – PSU vs. USC
Fiesta Bowl – Texas vs. Utah
Orange Bowl – Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati
Sugar Bowl – Alabama vs. Ohio State
National Championship – Florida vs. Oklahoma
I’ll save my playoff rant — the one about how USC, Penn State, the SEC loser, the Big 12 #2, Boise State and Utah all deserve a shot at the title — for another post.