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BCS Breakdown

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Sorry for the day delay on this week's BCS breakdown, but it took me a while to wrap my head around the new standings and all the new possibilities. Things are certainly starting to shake out following this past weekend's action.

By playing Ohio State tight, Michigan all but assured themselves finishing no worse than third in the BCS standings. Personally, I don't think there should be a rematch. They had their shot and lost. If Ohio State doesn't turn it over four times, the game isn't that close. Either way, the Buckeyes are headed to Glendale for the BCS National Championship game.

USC clinched the Pac-10 championship and no worse than a trip to the Rose Bowl by beating Cal. Despite being ranked third, USC controls its destiny (ESPN Insider) and will play Ohio State if it wins out.

Despite what you think you see, USC is still in the driver's seat to finish second behind Ohio State, and there will be no Michigan-OSU rematch without a loss by the Trojans. The Men of Troy are slightly ahead of Michigan in both BCS polls (remember, the AP poll doesn't count) but trail the Wolverines in all but one computer. If USC closes the season by beating Notre Dame and UCLA, it will not only climb ahead of Michigan in most, if not all, of the computers, but it could even jump Ohio State in some. And as voters see more of USC and remember less of the Classic in Columbus, the Trojans should also put a little more room between themselves and the Wolverines in both polls.

Michigan probably gets into the national title game for an Ohio State rematch with a USC loss. Most likely, else does is if Florida thumps Florida State and an 11-1 Arkansas team in the SEC Championship Game. But that still isn't likely. Either way, the Wolverines earn an automatic bid to the BCS by finishing no worse than fourth in the final standings.

After that, most of the rest of the BCS slots are filled by other automatic berths. The Big 12 will send either Texas or Nebraska. The Big East sends either Rutgers or Louisville. The ACC sends either Georgia Tech, Maryland or Boston College. The SEC sends either Florida or Arkansas. Boise State is almost assured an automatic berth by beating Nevada on Saturday. Along with OSU, USC and Michigan, that means eight of the 10 BCS slots are filled by automatic berths. Of the other two, one will go to Notre Dame whether the Domers beat the Trojans this week or not. That leaves one slot for the remaining teams ranked in the top 14 of the BCS.

How does this impact LSU? Well, if the Tigers beat Arkansas, they are likely the most attractive final candidate. With a win over Arkansas, LSU would be eligible along with Wisconsin, West Virginia, Auburn, Oklahoma (and Florida if the Razorbacks win the SEC Championship Game). Wisconsin can't be picked because a conference can only have two teams go to the BCS and the Big 10 is already sending Ohio State and Michigan. Sorry Badgers.

So who gets it? Well, the pick will be the Rose Bowl's to make. They'll probably lose both of their traditional tie-ins, Ohio State and USC, so they would have the first two picks of the at-large teams. They'll pick Michigan with the first (if Michigan is in the NC game, USC is automatically in the Rose Bowl, so that would fill the first slot. After that, you have to wonder where the Rose Bowl's head is at.

Usually, Notre Dame would be a no-brainer for the first at-large team taken. However, they Irish have already been blown out by Michigan and would have just played USC a month before. So, if the Rose didn't want a rematch, you go back to the rest of the at-large pool. Of the teams listed above, I'd like to think LSU would be the most attractive candidate, particularly if ranked as high as fifth or sixth.

Oklahoma has history with the Rose Bowl, having gone a few years ago. But to me, the thought of national powers LSU and Michigan meeting for the first time ever with LSU's head coach a Bo Schembechler product, the storylines would be too tempting to pass up. The key is for Cal not to somehow work its way up from No. 19 back into the top 14, in which case I'd expect the Rose to take them. The other possibility is for Nevada to beat Boise State, which knocks them out of the BCS. That would open up an extra position at the Fiesta Bowl, which could go to LSU.

First things first, LSU has to beat Arkansas. Then, root for Florida (as painful as it may be), USC and Georgia Tech and the Tigers are in pretty good shape. Of course, it's still just a dream, but definitely one worth having. On to the predictions:

NC Game - Ohio State vs. Southern California, with the way the pundits fawn over Pete Carroll, I may not be able to watch this game.
Rose - Michigan vs. LSU, what a dream this would be for LSU fans to go to the GrandDaddy of them all.
Sugar - Florida vs. Notre Dame, Urban Meyer vs. Notre Dame? Enough said.
Orange - Georgia Tech vs. Louisville, ummm, at least its not ...
Fiesta - Texas vs. Boise State, the worst BCS match up ever. Yes, worse than Utah-Pitt a few years ago.

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