As we head into mid November things across the Football Bowl Subdivision are really heating up. Outside of who will be in the National Championship game, their is no bigger debate then who will receive auto bids to BCS games, and who deserves at large births. And as the games have unfolded in October and the first week of November, I believe that it is becoming more and more likely that both the Texas Christian Horned Frogs and the Boise State Broncos will be featured in BCS Bowl game match ups.
Over the past five years the landscape of college football has really changed. Former power house programs like Michigan and Florida State are complete dumpster fires. Teams like Miami and Nebraska are pulling themselves out of holes similar to what the ‘Noles and Wolverines are in now. Adding to that, this year is especially unique in which all the top BCS conferences are pretty soft in the middle. The SEC sees a pretty significant drop off after Florida and Alabama. Proof of this can be seen in the fact that both have locked up their spots in the SECCG by November 7th. With a full three weeks of conference games yet to play. Oklahoma was destroyed by the injury bug, and no other Big XII team has stepped up to be a strong number 2 to Texas, to push for an at large BCS game (the second highest ranked Big XII team in the BCS rankings is Oklahoma State at #19). Ohio State and Iowa line up Saturday in a defacto Big Ten championship game with a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line. The loser of that game will drop out of the BCS top 14 (the spot that any non BCS automatic qualifier needs to be ranked to be eligible for any at large birth).
The point is, that their is a void in the top half of teams throughout the nation. And that void has been filled by the non BCS conference power house. This weeks top 20 of the BCS rankings feature #4 TCU, #6 Boise State, #15 Houston, and #16 Utah. Now any non BCS conference team ranked in the top 8 of the BCS gets an auto bid to a BCS game. But no more then one non BCS conference team will receive an auto bid. Which leaves any other team, like Boise State, subject to the same at large process as second place teams in the big 6 conferences.
My current BCS Bowl Projection looks like this…
Rose Bowl: Ohio State (Big Ten) vs Oregon (PAC 10)
Sugar Bowl: Alabama (at large) vs Cincinnati (Big East)
Fiesta Bowl: USC (at large) vs Boise State (at large)
Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech (ACC) vs TCU (auto bid)
National Championship: Florida (#1) vs Texas (#2)
A lot of people don’t understand the BCS selection process. Now let me explain further as to how this will go down, and why Boise State deserves that at large birth. The National Championship game is obviously filled first with the #1 and #2 ranked teams. Now the Sugar Bowl will get the first pick to replace SEC Champion #1 Florida, who normally when not going to the National Championship game would go to the Sugar. They will without a doubt take Alabama. The Fiesta will then get to replace its Big XII champion Texas. And without any qualifying second Big XII team the Fiesta will happily select 2 loss USC. The Rose will be filled out with its tie in champions of the Big Ten and PAC 10. ACC winner Georgia Tech will accept their tie in to the Orange Bowl.
If you’ve had trouble following so far, this is when things start getting real fun…
So now we move to the BCS at large selection process. The order in which teams are selected go by what bowl game is played closest to the National Championship game (By date of the game played) and then down the line to what game is played farthest away. So for the remaining 3 spots, the order will be Orange, Fiesta, Sugar.
Now out of those 3 spots one has to be auto bid TCU, and one has to be Big East Champion Cincinnati. The Big East has no official tie in to a specific BCS Bowl, only a contract that states they must be chosen.
So the Orange is put into a position of take one of the two auto bids, or select one of the two remaining possible at large teams (their will be more then two, I don’t see anyone else being a viable option, at this time) the highest ranked non automatic qualifier Boise State or second place ACC team Miami, who should finish with two losses. Now the Orange in no way shape or form will take Miami to play fellow ACC team Georgia Tech. I believe in this scenario they will take TCU. A match up of TCU vs Georgia Tech give the Orange Bowl a solid match up of teams the undefeated #3 ranked TCU who ranks #7 in rush defense vs Georgia Tech’s #2 ranked rush offense. The whole point is to generate story lines, and a match up that will bring in dollar bills.
Which will move us to the Fiesta Bowl. Where the Miami vs Boise State debate begins. In any other year, before this, I would say that a choice between a national power like Miami and the smurf turfers, for a BCS birth, would result in a choice of the Hurricanes 100% of the time. But this year I think things will be different. On face value Miami would seem to have an edge. A lot comes with the name Miami, and even with two loses when you line up what would be both teams 3 most impressive wins on the season Miami would be on top. With wins vs Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, and Florida State the resume would seem better then Boise States wins vs Oregon, Fresno St, and Nevada. Financially, I think the Fiesta is better off selecting the Broncos. And the money is what matters most. I don’t recall exactly, but I don’t think Miami traveled that well to Arizona when they played Ohio State, in 2003. I certainly remember that was more of a home game for the Bucks. Boise State fans will travel well to Arizona. I think TV wise Boise State has closed the gap on other national powers, so I think the money gap has closed, at least in the Fiesta’s sake. I think the Sugar, if the Fiesta takes the Big East champ, they will take Miami over Boise State to face Alabama. But you never know. Their will be a lot of outrage if Miami is taken over higher ranked and undefeated Boise State. BSU is looked at in a different light then all other small conference schools. Average football fans across the nation know about the wacky team who plays on the weird colored field. And Boise has done it on the big Fiesta Bowl stage before. And because of these things, I don’t see the Fiesta Bowl letting Boise State get by them.
Of course their is a lot of football left to play. A lot of things could throw monkey wrenches in this whole scenario, and I could come back next week with something completely different. Look at things here, Arizona controls their own destiny in the PAC 10, Nebraska and Kansas State are fighting for a birth to the Big XII championship where they could beat Texas, Idaho has 7 wins and is going to a bowl game! This is why College Football is the most exciting and unique sport in the country.
Case Keenum for Heisman!