The BCS bowl picture has already been set in stone, but everything could have looked completely different. As we entered the 2012 college football season, we had many teams that were ruled ineligible for postseason play.
However, if we were to remove the NCAA sanctions from every team and let the regular-season records speak for themselves, the BCS lineup wouldn't be what it is currently.
How different would things be?
Well, Notre Dame could possibly be playing a different opponent in the national championship. I can also guarantee that a team such as Northern Illinois wouldn't have found a way to sneak into the party.
Let's check out what the rest of the BCS games should have looked like.
Real Matchup: Wisconsin vs. Stanford
What Matchup Should Have Been: Florida vs. Stanford
Even though it was very surprising, Stanford ended up winning the Pac-12 conference fair and square. Because the Cardinal took care of business, they would be awarded with a Rose Bowl berth as Pac-12 champions.
The second part is where things get tricky.
With a Big Ten team playing in the national championship, there is not another team from the conference eligible for an at-large bid. Nebraska ends up losing the conference championship game, which knocks the Cornhuskers out of a possibility of receiving an at-large because they wouldn't have been a Top 14 team.
This then gives the Rose Bowl the first pick for an at-large bid, and it would likely go with the Florida Gators. Florida receives an automatic bid from the BCS and would have taken an unusual trip out west. In fact, this would have marked the first time for the Gators to appear in the Rose Bowl.
A matchup against Stanford could have resulted in a solid game featuring two similar teams. It also would have been just the beginning of a complete shakeup of the BCS matchups.
Real Matchup: Florida State vs. Northern Illinois
What Matchup Should Have Been: Florida State vs. Louisville
This is one of the easier matchups to place, as it removes the biggest surprise of the BCS and places the matchup everybody expected from the beginning.
Whether North Carolina or Miami was eligible to play in the ACC championship, you would assume that Florida State would have still won the conference. With the Seminoles as ACC champions for the first time since 2005, they would enter the Orange Bowl automatically.
Then you add Ohio State to the poll, which knocks Northern Illinois to No. 17 in the BCS rankings. This removes any chance of the Huskies crashing the party and allows Louisville to return to the Orange Bowl for the first time since 2006.
This bowl game would have the final at-large selection, and the lonely Big East champion would be able to enjoy a trip down to sunny Miami, Fla.
Real Matchup: Florida vs. Louisville
What Matchup Should Have Been: Alabama vs. Oklahoma
Although Alabama ended up winning the SEC, the team has to settle for the automatic bid to the Sugar Bowl. An undefeated Ohio State team is being added to the mix, which knocks head coach Nick Saban and Co. out of the title conversation. The SEC national championship streak would have finally come to an end.
Also, having the Buckeyes in the final BCS poll would have bumped Northern Illinois to No. 17, making the Huskies ineligible for an at-large bid. This would have left the Sugar Bowl with a respectable selection, and the Oklahoma Sooners would have likely been the choice.
Oklahoma and Alabama haven't played each other since 2003, and it would have provided us with a classic matchup between two powerhouse programs.
Real Matchup: Kansas State vs. Oregon
What Matchup Should Have Been: Kansas State vs. Oregon
The only BCS bowl that would have stayed the same is the Fiesta Bowl. Even with removing the NCAA sanctions from every team this season, you would have still ended up with a Kansas State-Oregon matchup.
The Wildcats ended up winning the Big 12, which puts them in the Fiesta Bowl automatically. The Oregon Ducks then would have been one of the last at-large teams taken.
With Florida going to the Rose Bowl, Oregon settles for this bowl game for the first time since 2001.
No matter how you want to slice it up, we were destined to receive the Wildcats and Ducks in the Fiesta Bowl. Hopefully this game doesn't disappoint, as it is one of the more exciting BCS games on paper.
Real Matchup: Alabama vs. Notre Dame
What Matchup Should Have Been: Notre Dame vs. Ohio State
There is no concrete way to prove that the Buckeyes would have jumped ahead of a one-loss Alabama squad. However, there has never been an undefeated BCS conference team that has been left out of the big game for a one-loss team in the history of the BCS.
Even though many would criticize the schedule in the Big Ten, running the table is no easy task no matter who you are playing. Assuming that Ohio State was the best team in the Big Ten, this would have also included a Big Ten championship victory.
Regardless of who you put up against Notre Dame, this would have been the argument of the decade and would have made folks love the BCS format even more than they already do.
Being realistic and assuming that the voters would eat up two undefeated teams, I think it would have been the Crimson Tide left out in the cold. Still, this would have been an interesting conversation if the Buckeyes weren't banned from the postseason.