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.
Lots of shake-ups this week, which features a lot of things which I think are unlikely to really be true at the end of the year.
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: #2 Auburn (SEC) vs. #1 Oregon (P10)
Rose: #7 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: #5 LSU (at-large) vs. #9 Ohio State (at-large)
Orange: #20 Virginia Tech (ACC) vs NR Pittsburgh (Big East)
Fiesta: #7 Nebraska (B12) vs. #3 Boise State (at-large)
Here's the logic:
Auburn and Oregon are the top 2 schools in the BCS rankings (the Ducks moving ahead of Auburn makes no difference here).
Wisconsin goes the Rose as Big Ten champion. Nebraska goes to the Fiesta as Big 12 champion. Virginia Tech goes to the Orange as ACC champion. Pittsburgh is guaranteed a bid as Big East champion (with all other Big East schools now having two conference losses, Pitt would now be projected as Big East champ even if they weren't getting the most votes in the BCS affiliated polls).
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; LSU is the next-ranking SEC team and almost local.
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.
The Orange Bowl finds itself with few good options (in terms of fan appeal; Stanford and Boise are excellent football teams, but have few fans east of the Rockies) for Virginia Tech's opponent (their choices are pretty much Pitt, Stanford, Oklahoma State, or Boise); Boise State would be a rematch of a regular season game, and Oklahoma State isn't Oklahoma or Texas and so isn't really as desirable for a non-Big 12 affiliated bowl. So the Orange rolls the dice and takes Pitt here (and takes a small bribe from the Fiesta Bowl committee).
The Fiesta then has a choice of two highly-ranked western teams available to play Nebraska in Stanford or Boise State, and takes the Broncos, who have done well at Fiesta Bowls before.
Big East Bowls
Champs Sports/Orlando: WVU (almost always the best fan draw in the Big East)
Meineke Car Care/Charlotte: Louisville (closer to Charlotte than Syracuse)
Pinstripe/NYC: SU (NY-area team a big advantage for this bowl)
Beef O' Brady's/St. Petersburg: South Florida (local teams important for bottom-tier bowls)