This weekend was not as crazy as the last and as a result, not too much has changed with the BCS picture. However, things did become a little more clear. 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. It looks more likely that LSU and Alabama will rematch in New Orleans for the crystal football. Oklahoma State can make things interesting if they win big against Oklahoma, especially if LSU loses. But right now, the Tigers and the Tide seem destined to play again.
- 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.
Wisconsin and Michigan State will play in the first ever Big Ten Championship Game. Wisconsin will be looking for revenge after losing the first meeting, and I believe they'll get it.
Virginia Tech defeated Virginia impressively on Saturday and will face Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. Despite losing to Clemson 23-3 in the regular season, the Hokies appear to have all the momentum while Clemson is on the skids. Clemson has lost three of their last four with their only victory coming by three against Wake Forest. Their three losses were all by 14 or more points. I like the Hokies this time around.
Oregon will face UCLA in the PAC-12 Championship Game. The Bruins limp into this game, coming off a 50-0 beat down against USC. The Ducks are 30 point favorites and barring a monumental upset, will win the PAC-12. UCLA may not even go to a bowl game with a loss.
The winner of Bedlam will win the Big XII. Oklahoma State is currently ranked higher than the Sooners, and they are a slight favorite. With more to play for, I like the Cowboys to win the game, and the Big-12 Championship.
- 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 has cleared up...but it's not exactly clear. Here is what it comes down to:
- Louisville wins the Big East if Cincinnati loses to UConn. The Bearcats are favored by 9.5 points.
- West Virginia wins the Big East if they defeat South Florida and Cincinnati defeats UCONN.
Cincinnati wins the Big East if they defeat UConn and West Virginia loses to South Florida.
Based on those scenarios, we'll project West Virginia to come out on top.
Houston will also qualify for a spot in a BCS bowl game with a win in the Conference USA Championship Game against Southern Miss. We think that will happen.
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 is exactly what the Sugar Bowl needs. However, Michigan is currently ranked #16 in the BCS, and they must be ranked No. 14 or higher in order to be eligible for an at-large spot in a BCS bowl game. Can they get there? It appears so. Directly in front of them is Michigan State at No. 13, Georgia at No. 14, and Wisconsin at No. 15. Michigan will pass the loser of Michigan State/Wisconsin. And if Georgia loses to LSU in the SEC Championship Game as expected, then Michigan will be at least 14th in the BCS. If Georgia defeats LSU, then the Sugar Bowl would take Georgia automatically as SEC Champions and this conversation would become moot. Needless to say, Michigan fans are rooting for LSU this weekend. At the end of the day, I believe the Maize and Blue will 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. The pick seems like an easy one. However, the Sugar Bowl has recently had to take teams such as Hawaii, Cincinnati, and Utah. Nobody seems to be talking about it, but I really believe the Sugar Bowl would take a very long look at West Virginia before finally settling on Houston.
That will then send Houston to the Orange Bowl to face Virginia Tech.
- Stanford to the Fiesta Bowl.
- Houston to the Sugar Bowl.
- West Virginia 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. Houston Cougars
*Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech Hokies vs. West Virginia Mountaineers
*Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Stanford Cardinal
Just for fun, I thought we'd take a look at what the BCS bowl games could look like if things do not work out like we think.
If Houston loses to Southern Miss - The Sugar Bowl would then look for another at-large team to face Michigan. It seems that either Boise State or Kansas State would be the Sugar's choice.
If LSU loses to Georgia - The BCS Championship likely does not change, but this would send Georgia to the Sugar Bowl, who would likely face Houston.
If Oklahoma defeats Oklahoma State - For starters, the Sooners go to the Fiesta Bowl instead of the Cowboys. However, Oklahoma State could very well land in the Sugar Bowl in that scenario instead of Michigan. An Oklahoma State/Houston Sugar Bowl? No need to bring the punters on that trip.
If Oklahoma State wins big and sneaks into BCS Championship Game - In this case, the Sugar would select Alabama and the Fiesta would likely take Kansas State and Stanford. The Fiesta could possibly take Michigan ahead of Kansas State, but I suspect they'll stick with the Big-12 in this situation. The Sugar would then have to take Houston while the other bowls remain unchanged.
Kris Brauner updates the BCS standings every Monday for Crystal Ball Run. For all his insight on the BCS picture and more, follow him on Twitter @SNSlant.