Lots of upsets, but not the one I expected. Late this week due to holiday madness.
(boilerplate for this series follows)
This series, unlike my Bowl Projections series, is based on the current BCS standings, 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.
Unless it's extremely improbable (or impossible) that the highest-ranked team in the BCS standings can win a conference, the highest-ranked team in a conference is considered its projected champion in this series.
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 Wisconsin (B10) vs. #3 TCU (MWC/autobid as highest-ranked non-BCS champ; assigned to Rose with Big Ten or Pac 10 team in BCS title game)
Sugar: #7 Arkansas (at-large) vs. #6 Ohio State (at-large)
Orange: #15 Virginia Tech (ACC) vs #24 West Virginia (Big East)
Fiesta: #9 Oklahoma (B12) vs. #4 Stanford (at-large/autobid as #4)
Here's the logic:
Auburn and Oregon are the top 2 schools in the BCS rankings. Auburn managed to edge Oregon out as #1 with its win yesterday; a single loss by Auburn likely would move them out of the BCS Championship game, but they would still likely go to a BCS bowl (possibly kicking Stanford out). Oregon has clinched the Pac 10 title yet; they'll go to the Rose Bowl if they lose.
Wisconsin goes the Rose as Big Ten champion. Oklahoma goes to the Fiesta as Big 12 champion, replacing Oklahoma State. I think the BCS rankings are kind of a silly tiebreaker, but a lot of conferences use it.
West Virginia is the highest-rated Big East team this week, and back inside the top 25. UConn has a handful of Harris poll votes, but its likely they'll be outside the top 25 even if they win the Big East; WVU may move up some with a win and a Big East title.
As the highest-ranked champion of a non-AQ conference, TCU 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; Arkansas is the next-ranking SEC team and almost local.
With the first at-large selection, the Sugar selects Ohio State. There are very few circumstances where a BCS bowl would not select Ohio State with its at-large spot if it could.
The Orange Bowl probably decides it likes West Virginia more than Stanford which makes a lot of sense for both teams. Every once in a while the naked greed of the bowls gets them to do what makes sense.
The Fiesta then has no choice but to select Stanford, which means the Cardinal get to do the annual severe beating of Oklahoma in a BCS game.
I've decided to stop doing Big East bowls in this series when my projected Big East champion and the current leader are the same, since the bowls picks don't have much to do with standings in any case.