BCS Bowl Projections

With the first standings for the BCS out, let’s take a look at how the major bowl matchups are likely to shake out. The selection process involves the four big bowl games (Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta), plus the BCS National Championship Game, so 10 teams are selected to compete on college football’s showcase stage. Six bids go automatically to the champions of the ACC, Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, Pac-12 and Big East. Four teams are then chosen on at-large basis. Teams can earn automatic qualification if they achieve a certain ranking in the BCS standings. If you’re feeling ambitious you can read up on the details. For now though, it really suffices to know that as long as Boise State stays unbeaten they’ll automatically qualify and beyond that the process is unlikely to be affected.

A more important and often overlooked rule is that a conference cannot send more than two teams to the BCS’ five games. So when you see a league like the SEC have teams stacked in the Top 15, remember only two of them can go and right now those two—LSU and Alabama—look self-explanatory. Here’s a cautious look at who will qualify.

ACC: Clemson
Big Ten:
SEC: Alabama
Big 12: Oklahoma
Pac-12: Stanford
Big East: Cincinnati
At-Large: Boise State, LSU, Oklahoma State, Michigan State

I would then submit these matchups as likely to come out of this…

BCS National Championship: Alabama vs. Oklahoma
: Clemson-Cincinnati
Rose: Wisconsin vs. Stanford
Fiesta: Boise State-Oklahoma State
Sugar: LSU-Michigan State

There’s a lot of nuances that go into how these matchups will end up and that goes beyond the scope of a single post. For now we’ll leave it at reminding that five conferences have their champs automatically tied to a particular bowl—ACC (Orange), Big Ten (Rose), Pac-12 (Rose), Big 12 (Fiesta), SEC (Sugar). The teams ranked 1-2 in the final BCS standings go to the championship game and the two bowls that lost those teams—in this case the Sugar and Fiesta—get the first two selections to “replace” those teams, and I’m projecting the Sugar to take LSU and the Fiesta to grab Boise State.

The selection order for the remaining teams, which rotates annually, goes Fiesta-Sugar-Orange this year. The Big East champ is usually the least attractive team on the board, thus almost de facto putting them in the Orange Bowl and meaning the Sugar, with the last pick of the conference runner-ups to have the big decision. I put Michigan State in the spot opposite LSU, a Pac-12 team will also have a very strong case.