With its thrilling, if not heart-attack inducing, victory over Tennessee on Saturday, LSU has kept alive its chances at a coveted BCS bowl slot. Of course the easiest way for this to happen is for Arkansas to lose to Tennessee and Auburn to lose to Georgia this weekend. That would basically allow LSU to control its own destiny in the SEC West race. Don't count on it though.
So what else needs to go LSU's way to slide into one of the big pay days. Well, first and most obvious is win out. The Tigers are currently No. 12 in the BCS standings and that will only go up with more wins. However, the final BCS ranking doesn't matter unless LSU climbs to No. 4, or falls out of the top 14, neither of which will happen if the Tigers win out.
Second, LSU needs some help. BCS rules state that a maximum of two teams from any conference can fill the 10 BCS slots. Right now, the SEC has four teams that could reach the BCS (rank): Florida (4), Auburn (6), Arkansas (11) and LSU (12). Right now, both Florida and Auburn are more attractive candidates, particularly for the Orange Bowl, which would be the most likely destination for an SEC at-large team. So, what do we need to happen? Well, the worst thing that happens for LSU is a Florida vs. Arkansas SEC title game. This guarantees one of those two teams to the Sugar Bowl with Auburn finishing 11-1. The best scenario involves a Florida vs. Auburn championship game with Florida winning. Then, the Orange Bowl would be looking at a 10-2 LSU team with six straight wins and a higher ranking or a 10-2 Auburn team fresh off a loss.
Here's the national picture with assumptions as of right now. Ohio State beats Michigan to win the Big 10. Louisville beats Rutgers and wins the Big East. Texas cruises to the Big 12 title. After this, the picture gets muddled.
Boise State is guaranteed a berth if it finishes in the top 12 or in the top 16 AND ahead of any BCS conference champ. The Broncos seem to have hit the glass ceiling in terms of BCS rankings at No. 14. However, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Maryland, the three most likely ACC representatives are ranked 18, 19 and 23, respectively. So, Boise is likely in.
Also Notre Dame (ninth) is guaranteed a berth if it finishes in the top eight. But realistically, if the Irish are eligible, they're going to the BCS and I don't see them falling from the top 14.
Here's the most likely scenario to happen with tied in bowl slots followed by picks in order of drafting position:
Sugar - Florida (SEC Champ)
Orange - Georgia Tech (ACC Champ)
Fiesta - Texas (Big 12 Champ)
Rose - Cal (Pac 10 Champ)
Rose - loses Ohio State to National Championship game
Other automatic bids: Louisville (Big East), Boise State (Non-BCS), Ohio State (Big 10)
Teams eligible for at-large berth (in order of projected rank): Auburn, Michigan, West Virginia, LSU, USC, Notre Dame, Oklahoma
Any team from the at-large pool can be taken by a bowl regardless if its rankde fifth or 14th.
No. 1 (National Championship) - Ohio State
No. 2 (National Championship) - Louisville
No. 3 (Rose, via losing Big 10 champ) - Michigan
No. 4 (Sugar) - Notre Dame
No. 5 (Orange) - Auburn
No. 6 (Fiesta) - Boise State
National Championship - Ohio State vs. Louisville, worst national title game ever, well Miami vs. Nebraska was pretty bad too
Sugar - Florida vs. Notre Dame, I can see the Urban Meyer vs. Notre Dame story lines already
Orange - Georgia Tech vs. Auburn, one of the oldest rivalries in the tradition rich South
Fiesta - Texas vs. Boise State, the poor Fiesta Bowl gets stuck with Boise and a 48-10 thrashing
Rose - Cal vs. Michigan, the Granddaddy of them all gets its coveted Big 10 vs. Pac 10 match up, not to mention two really good teams