So, almost half the remaining undefeated teams lost this weekend and shook things up quite a bit. Our crazy comeback attempt worked, K-State killed the Red Raiders, Florida lost, Rutgers lost to Kent State, and the BCS computers still hate Oregon. All the chaos caused far more shake-ups in what would happen if the season ended today than to my projections, though.
|Bowl||If the season ended today||Projection|
|BCS Championship||#1 Alabama (SEC) vs #2 Kansas State (B12)||Alabama (SEC) vs. Oregon (P12)
|Rose||#4 Oregon (P12) vs #20 Nebraska (B10)
||Oregon State (P12/at-large) vs Nebraska (B10)
|Fiesta||#12 Oklahoma (B12/at-large) vs #3 Notre Dame (IND/auto-bid)
||Kansas State (B12) vs Notre Dame (IND/auto-bid)
|Sugar||#5 LSU (SEC/at-large) vs #13 Clemson (ACC/at-large)
||Florida (SEC/at-large) vs Boise State (MWC/auto-bid)
|Orange||#9 Florida State (ACC) vs #10 Louisville (Big East)
||Florida State (ACC) vs Louisville (Big East)
- Protecting relationships with conferences
- Out of town fans in the seats
- Local fans in the seats
- TV viewers
- 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 current BCS standings, Alabama is #1 and Kansas State is #2. The computers love K-State and Notre Dame right now, but they're coming up on relatively weaker parts of their schedule, while Oregon is hitting the relatively stronger part of theirs.
As for my projection - I'm sticking with Alabama vs Oregon.If the Ducks win out, they should get enough love from the computers to avoid being dragged below K-State and Notre Dame (who they're just barely behind right now).
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, Nebraska 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 even with the Beavers' lost because USC lost to Arizona; if they finish 10-2 (also losing to Oregon), they should still be in the BCS top 14, while I'm not sure USC or Stanford would be without beating Oregon. If the Pac doesn't have a 2nd top-14 team and Oregon is in the title game, then Notre Dame probably goes here (unless the Big Ten team has already played them this year, or we have a Notre Dame/Oregon title game).
Fiesta Bowl: If the season ended today, Kansas State is in the title game. Even with picking up a second loss to Notre Dam, Oklahoma replaces them in the Fiesta Bowl as they'd prefer to take a Big 12 team. Notre Dame is available as an opponent, so they go here.
In my projections, Kansas State goes to the Fiesta Bowl as the Big 12 champion. As they're not in the championship game, Notre Dame is available, and snatched up at the first reasonable opportunity. I project the Irish to lose to USC (even if most people don't now), but they still should be guaranteed a BCS bid by virtue of being in the top 8 (though they'd almost certainly be selected if they were in the top 14 and not guaranteed a bid).
Sugar Bowl: I have the Sugar selecting LSU even though they might be getting a bit tired of the semi-local Tigers, since they're the next-highest-ranked SEC team after championship-game bound Alabama. That seems to be what the Sugar Bowl does. I have them playing Clemson as I project them as the best draw to New Orleans of the available options (Oregon State, Clemson, Stanford, Louisville).
In my projections, Florida goes here because a projected loss to Alabama for LSU, an SEC Championship Game loss for the Dawgs, and a win over Florida State for the Gators would leave the Gators as the highest-ranked. 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 Louisville as the current Big East leader in the BCS rankings, 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. So FSU stays the projected ACC champ. L'ville is clearly the top Big East team for now no matter how shaky they look, and I can't really make a good case for anyone else (Rutgers? Cinci? Us? I don't think so.).