This series, unlike my Bowl Projections series, is based on the current BCS standings (and conference standings, when it's clear lower-ranked teams will finish ahead of higher-ranked teams), and my estimation of how bowl selection committees would react to the current standings if they were present at the end of the season. In my estimation, what bowls value is, in order
- Protecting relationships with conferences
- Out of town fans in the seats
- Local fans in the seats
- TV viewers
- Providing a good game
However, the bowls have various agreements to take certain teams under certain rules, so Ohio State and USC don't just play in the Rose Bowl every year no matter what happens in the regular season.
Things change less here from last week than you might think.
Teams in Italics have guaranteed a bid. Teams in Bold have guaranteed a bid to a specific game (or come so close that's a virtual guarantee).
BCS Title: #1 Auburn (SEC) vs. #2 Oregon (P10)
Rose: #5 Michigan State (B10) vs. #3 Boise State (WAC/autobid as highest-ranked non-BCS champ; assigned to Rose with Big Ten or Pac 10 team in BCS title game)
Sugar: #7 Alabama (at-large) vs. #11 Ohio State (at-large)
Orange: #16 Florida State (ACC) vs #14 Nebraska
Fiesta: #6 Missouri (B12) vs. NR West Virginia (Big East)
Here's the logic:
Auburn and Oregon are the top 2 schools in the BCS rankings.
Michigan State goes the Rose as Big Ten champion. Missouri goes to the Fiesta as Big 12 champion. Florida State goes to the Orange as ACC champion. West Virginia is guaranteed a bid as Big East champion, but not any specific spot (WVU is still the projected Big East champ even after losing to us because they've got more Coaches' poll and Harris poll votes than us, and all Big East teams are outside the top 25 in the only BCS computer ranking I know how to find easily).
As the highest-ranked champion of a non-AQ conference, Boise State gets an autobid. Because Oregon is in the BCS title game, the one-time special rule sending a non-AQ team to the Rose Bowl applies, so they go there.
To replace Auburn, the Sugar takes the best available SEC team; Alabama and LSU are both BCS eligible, but Alabama is more highly ranked, and not local to New Orleans.
With the first at-large selection, the Sugar selects Ohio State. They aren't (according to the BCS rankings) the best team available, but they do have the most fans and TV viewers of the available teams, so they go here.
Incurring the wrath of BCS haters everywhere outside of Nebraska, the Orange Bowl selects the #14 Huskers. With the semi-local Seminoles representing the ACC, they want an opponent that will bring a big traveling contingent for a game against FSU. Nebraska, long-removed from their last BCS appearance and with legions of devoted fans -- and ranked only slightly ahead of FSU -- is perfect for their needs. Oklahoma and Florida State played in the regular season. Stanford, like the non-AQ teams, has a relatively small fan base (and like the non-AQ teams, is likely to blow out FSU). And after losing to Syracuse, West Virginia is not all that attractive. The remainder of the top 14 are barred by the two team per conference rule.
West Virginia must be sent to the Fiesta as the final at-large slot.
Big East Bowls
Champs Sports/Orlando: Syracuse (no Big East teams other than WVU have big fan bases; SU goes here as the next highest-ranked team and a novelty)
Meineke Car Care/Charlotte: Louisville (Pitt was here last year)
Beef O' Brady's/St. Petersburg:Cinci