Sunday, November 19, 2006

Overlooked BCS storylines

An overlooked storyline: the Rutgers loss means Boise State is in significantly less danger of falling to thirteenth. Texas could perhaps pass them with wins against A&M and another win against Nebraska, but even if that happens, Auburn would also have to pass them, which cannot happen, since Auburn has finished their regular season. All the Broncos need to do is beat a quite good Nevada team in Reno. This is the most difficult game they will have this year. (Yes, Hawaii is better than Nevada, but Boise played at home against Hawaii this year; the same was the case against Oregon State.)

After this weekend, much more will be clear about the automatic-qualifying conference championships. USC and Ohio State are in, Arkansas and Florida will play for the SEC championship. The Big 12 is a little more complex, with Nebraska playing either Texas (if they beat A&M or if Oklahoma loses) or Oklahoma (if they beat Oklahoma State and Texas loses) for the championship. Texas is the favorite. The ACC is slightly more complicated, with one more possible team: Georgia Tech will be in the championship game, and will play Wake Forest (if they beat Maryland), Boston College (if they beat Miami and Wake Forest loses), or Maryland (if they win and BC loses). The Big East is still unclear, with two games left for each of the contenders. I'll just say that West Virginia has the inside track, then Louisville, then Rutgers.

Still not too illuminated about the fourth at-large, either. Boise State and Michigan are automatic qualifiers by rule, and Notre Dame is too big a draw not to invite if they qualify. (Which they almost certainly will, even if they lose to USC.) The main candidates for the final spot would be the SEC runner-up, LSU, and the Big East runner-up. SEC teams generally have more credibility, and the SEC commissioner is the one that runs the BCS, so they may have an in. LSU, runner-up to Arkansas in the SEC West division, does not deserve a spot more than a division winner, but they draw better than Arkansas does, so if Florida beats Arkansas, be on the lookout for a cash-related shafting. The Big East is probably out of luck; any of the three SEC teams with two losses would probably be a stronger draw than a one-loss Rutgers (if they beat West Virginia) or Louisville (if West Virginia beats Rutgers). Even though the Big East is a better conference than the SEC this year--which is not the usual state of the world, but is the case this year.


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