Monday, November 27, 2006

This week in the BCS

Ohio State is the Big 10 Champ; USC is the Pac 10 Champ. Oklahoma and Nebraska play in the Big 12 Championship (Oklahoma should win easily); Georgia Tech and Wake Forest play in the ACC (pick Georgia Tech, even though they're not great); and Florida and Arkansas in the SEC (probably Florida). In the Big East, Rutgers beat Louisville head-to-head, so if they win against West Virginia, they are the champion, but if they lose, Louisville need only beat an unimpressive UConn squad to win the conference. (If West Virginia beats Rutgers and Louisville loses, all three will have two conference losses, and the tiebreaker situation becomes quite complicated, but Louisville won't lose.)

As mentioned last week, Michigan isn't a conference champion, but is high enough (currently #3) to get an automatic spot. Boise State is from the WAC, which is not a conference that gets automatic representation, but (currently #8) they get an automatic spot, too. (Any team in the top four, any conference champion in the top twelve, and Notre Dame in the top nine get automatic spots.) That leaves two other spots open. LSU, after beating Arkansas, has played a very difficult schedule and would be a great story, so they probably get a spot, even though they're not in the SEC championship game. Wisconsin and the loser of the SEC championship game would be great picks, but since no conference is allowed three teams, those teams are out of luck. Instead, the spot will go to either Louisville (assuming both they and Rutgers win,) or Notre Dame. Louisville (#6) is markedly better, but Notre Dame (#10) has better name recognition, which will probably be enough to overcome their two crushing defeats. Of course, if either Louisville or Rutgers lose, including Notre Dame would make sense--even if they'd get crushed by anyone other than Wake Forest in a BCS series game.

So, all said, here are the most likely match-ups:

National Championship: Ohio State is in. USC will be the opponent if they beat UCLA; if they don't, Michigan will get a rematch with the Buckeyes. USC in an upset.

Rose Bowl: Since USC and Ohio State will be taken for the national championship, the Rose Bowl gets to pick replacement teams first. They'll certainly take Michigan, since having a Big 10 team is traditional, and also have either LSU or the Big East champ (Louisville or Rutgers). LSU travels better, so that's who they'll pick to fill USC's spot. Michigan would be the favorite, but not by much.

Fiesta Bowl: They have the Big 12 champ (Oklahoma or Nebraska), and Boise State, who would be an unlikely team for the Sugar or Orange Bowls to be really excited about. Oklahoma would be favored here, but Boise State should not be misunderestimated.

Sugar Bowl: They have the SEC Champion (Arkansas or Florida), and will also want Notre Dame. Notre Dame should lose badly to either team.

Orange Bowl: They have the ACC Champ (Georgia Tech or Wake Forest), and probably will end up with the Big East champ (Rutgers or Louisville) as well. The ACC is unimpressive on top this year, so if Louisville is here, expect them to win. If it's Rutgers, the game will be harder to predict, but I'd still give the edge to New Jersey's state university over either ACC squad.


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