Texas A&M decided to throw a monkey wrench into the SEC's championship run by beating Alabama. Of course, most of us were too busy celebrating the win over Louisville to notice.
|Bowl||If the season ended today||Projection|
|BCS Championship||#1 Kansas State (B12) vs #2 Oregon (P12)||Kansas State (B12) vs. Oregon (P12)
|Rose||#13 Stanford (P12/at-large) vs #14 Nebraska (B10)
||USC (P12/at-large) vs Nebraska (B10)
|Fiesta||#12 Oklahoma (B12/at-large) vs #5 Georgia (SEC/at-large)||Oklahoma (B12) vs Alabama (SEC/at-large)|
|Sugar||#4 Alabama (SEC) vs #3 Notre Dame (IND/auto-bid)
||Georgia (SEC) vs Notre Dame (IND/auto-bid)|
|Orange||#10 Florida State (ACC) vs #19 Louisville (Big East)
||Florida State (ACC) vs Rutgers (Big East, ick)
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
- 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: Texas A&M knocked Alabama out of the top 3, and Oregon's love from the humans helps more than ND's love from the computers, so K-State is #1 (with the best balance of appreciation from CPUs and people) and Oregon #2 right now. And I project that to hold up, if only because I think ND is going to lose to USC.
Rose Bowl: The current BCS rankings have Oregon in the title game, while Nebraska leads the Big Ten (excluding non-BCS-eligible Ohio State). While the Ducks would need to beat all of the potentially BCS eligible other Pac 12 teams to go to the BCS title game, right now Stanford is available and the Rose Bowl's loyalty to the Pac 12 suggests they will take a Pac 12 team if they can. I'm projecting USC to actually get there, though it may be a bit of a reach; I think a win over a top-3 ND and a ranked UCLA will help them more than losing to Oregon again will hurt them.
Fiesta Bowl: If the season ended today, Kansas State is in the title game. Even with picking up a second loss to Notre Dame, Oklahoma replaces them in the Fiesta Bowl as they'd prefer to take a Big 12 team. Rather than create a rematch with Notre Dame, the Fiesta selects one of the many SEC teams available. Right now, I project Georgia here and Alabama in the Sugar Bowl as SEC champions, but just for fun I flip them in my projections. There's really nothing stopping the Fiesta from taking Florida or Texas A&M or LSU or South Carolina, though.
Sugar Bowl: As Alabama is the highest-ranked SEC team and no longer in the top 2, they're in the Sugar if the season ended today. Because Oklahoma/Notre Dame would be a rematch, and I think the Pac 12 will find a way to sneak a 2nd team into the top 14 somehow, I project ND falling to the Sugar in my projections, too. But I have Georgia winning the SEC just because (or really, because LSU and A&M showed you could pass on Alabama, and Aaron Murray is pretty good).
Orange Bowl: Florida State's position at the top of the ACC is surprisingly comfortable despite it not being the 1990s anymore the last time I checked. 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. However, after what we did to Louisville, I find it hard to project them actually winning the Big East, the scenarios for Cinci winning the Big East are complicated, and the one for us doing so is about as likely as winning PowerBall, so I very reluctantly have Rutgers projected as the Big East champion (please, Cards or Bearcats, don't let this happen).