BCS Projections, Week 9 2012

That was an interesting weekend. We actually blew someone out (I'm not getting overenthusiastic this year and projecting us to the BCS after a big win; I've learned my lesson on that; I swear), K-State killed the 'eers, Florida killed Skaralina, the team I projected to win the Big East lost to Toledo, and the BCS computers hate Oregon. However, nothing actually changed in my projections or in how things would look if the season ended today.

Bowl If the season ended today Projection
BCS Championship #1 Alabama (SEC) vs #2 Florida (SEC/automatic at-large as #2)
Alabama (SEC) vs. Oregon (P12)
Rose #4 Oregon (P12) vs #22 Michigan (B10)
Oregon State (P12/at-large) vs Michigan (B10)
Fiesta #3 Kansas State (B12) vs #9 USC (P12/at-large)
Kansas State (B12) vs Notre Dame (IND/at-large)
Sugar #5 Notre Dame (IND/auto-bid) vs #8 Oklahoma (B12/at-large)
Florida (SEC/at-large) vs Boise State (MWC/auto-bid)
Orange #12 Florida State (ACC) vs #15 Rutgers (Big East)
Florida State (ACC) vs Louisville (Big East)

The "If the season ended today" projection 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
  1. Protecting relationships with conferences
  2. Out of town fans in the seats
  3. Local fans in the seats
  4. TV viewers
  5. Novelty
  6. Providing a good game (note that this is sixth on the list)

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 for the purposes of the 'if the season ended today' projection.

Also worth noting, the selection order for the BCS bowls this year is Fiesta, Sugar, Orange.

BCS Championship: In the initial BCS standings, Alabama and Florida are #1 and #2, so they would meet in the BCS championship if the season ended today. However, they would meet in the SEC Championship game if they avoid losing until that point and last year notwithstanding, the loser should fall out of the top 2. If they keep winning until then, though, we're going to end up with a long run of a projected rematch.

As for my projection - I'm going with the totally expected Alabama vs Oregon. Neither has played the toughest schedule so far, but they're destroying all who oppose them; Arizona State and Tennessee were supposed to be a little tougher, but looks like not.

Rose Bowl: The current BCS rankings have the Ducks fourth and out of the title game. If Ohio State did not have a post-season ban, they'd be about fifth and slotted here with an outside chance at a BCS title game appearance given sufficient chaos. Instead, Michigan looks the least bad of Big Ten teams who can go to bowl games, even according to the BCS.

In my projections, I (like almost everyone in the country) have the Ducks in the title game. Oregon State is the replacement rather than USC both because losing twice to Oregon rather than once will hurt the Trojans' ranking, and because Beavers fans will actually have to travel to LA.

Fiesta Bowl: In both scenarios, Kansas State goes to the Fiesta Bowl as the Big 12 champion.Oklahoma looked very good again last week, but since they've already lost to Kansas State, the Wildcats would need two Big 12 losses to finish behind the Sooners. If the season ended today, the only teams eligible for the other spot would be Oregon State, USC, Oklahoma, and Rutgers (Notre Dame is gone to the Sugar as Alabama's replacement with Florida unavailable). Since Oklahoma would be a repeat of a Big 12 conference game, no one wants to watch Rutgers, and Kansas State brings fans but not TV ratings, USC is the choice here.

In my projections, though, we don't have a second SEC rematch, so Notre Dame is available, and snatched up at the first reasonable opportunity. I project the Irish to lose to Oklahoma and USC, so they won't be guaranteed a BCS bid, but they'll still be in the top 14.

Sugar Bowl: 'If the season ended today', the Sugar needs a replacement for the BCS title game participant, and can't select an SEC team because two are in the title game. #5 Notre Dame is a huge draw and the highest-ranked team available (and automatically gets a bid since they're in the top 8). Since the Fiesta doesn't want a Big 12 rematch, Oklahoma is available as the opponent, setting up for a very high-profile Sugar Bowl despite no SEC teams involved.

In my projections, the projected Florida/Alabama loser goes here, though it's quite possible by the time the end of the regular season rolls around, UGA, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, and LSU may have beat each other in ways that mean one of the division runner-ups looks better to the Sugar Bowl (though it doesn't look like it right now). Meanwhile, an 11-1 Boise State sneaks into the top 16, and with the Big Ten (and possibly Big East) champions outside the top 16, that's good enough.

Orange Bowl: Not surprisingly, FSU is leading the ACC at the present time; it's October. On the other side, the Orange Bowl picks last again this year, and with Rutgers as the current Big East leader in the BCS rankings (no matter how foolish this seems to anyone who has actually seen Rutgers play), they go on the other side here.

Despite NC State having shown that FSU is not 'back', I can't default to projecting Virginia Tech to win the ACC this year after they've lost to Clemson, UNC, Cinci and Pitt. And the Seminoles already have a head-to-head win over the only plausible alternative in Clemson (no, I can't believe in Duke yet). So FSU stays the projected ACC champ. I can't project Rutgers to go to a BCS game, so after Cinci's (non-conference) loss to Toledo (actually not bad, but still MAC) the nod goes to L'ville.

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