Yesterday, the BCS officially gave up on 99 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. As such, there are only 21 possible teams that could receive one of the 10 BCS slots.
Schools not included in the list are now available to receive bowl bids, so the negotiations will be going like crazy to fill up the best spots.
A couple of the teams may surprise college football fans, but there are a few things to remember about the BCS.
First, it is all about money. Specifically, TV ratings. If a school has a reputation for bringing eyeballs to the TV sets, then it will get considered, even if the team has not played well this season. Given last year's disaster at the Orange Bowl (lowest rated BCS game ever), the powers that be want to avoid another bad draw.
Second, it is all about money. Specifically, game attendance. Which teams can bring the fans that will spend the money? After all, the bowls were started originally for tourism purposes. So, a team that has failed to deliver previously will not get another chance. Again, last year's Orange Bowl is the best example of this problem, as thousands of tickets were unused and scalpers were trying to dump them for less than one dollar. Not exactly what the BCS wants.
Third, no BCS bowl is going to take one for the team. These bowls are run by smart folks that understand the desire of the average fan for a playoff. While they would make a limited effort to placate outsiders, in the end, it goes back to TV ratings and attendance.
So, let's look at the teams, especially the couple of surprises.
Clemson started the season with a close loss to Georgia Tech in one of this season's best games. Now, Clemson has a chance at a rematch with Paul Johnson's powerful rushing attack.
Clemson is led by Heisman contender C.J. Spiller, who will be making the big bucks on Sundays for a long time.
Speaking of big bucks, first year Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney just got himself some big bucks. His relatively low salary ($800,000) just got bumped to $1 million for winning his division in the ACC. Not bad for a man who just turned 40 on Saturday. And no, Dabo is not going to start yelling, "I am a man. I'm 40!"
Clemson will not get an at-large bid to a BCS bowl, but will prove a dangerous team in the Orange Bowl if they get past the Yellow Jackets.
Coming into this season, many "experts" thought that Paul Johnson's rushing attack would face serious problems the second time around. Unfortunately for the rest of the ACC, only one team could slow down the Yellow Jackets. Luckily for Georgia Tech, Miami failed to keep up the strong play as the season went on, so the loss at Miami is long forgotten.
Josh Nesbit is the amazing leader of this powerful rushing attack and is among the nation's leaders in numerous offensive categories.
Georgia Tech has an outside shot at an at-large berth in the BCS if they lose to Clemson. Possible, but not very likely.
Sure, Cincy should have a loss right now. The Bearcats can thank the Big East officials for their undefeated season. But Cincy just needs to defeat Pitt to secure a BCS spot.
Last year, Cincy caused the Orange Bowl great injury with weak attendance and poor ratings. The Orange Bowl will try to avoid the Bearcats again.
Luckily for the BCS, Cincy looks to stumble against Pitt.
With a solid rushing attack and a solid defense, Pitt looks for Miami this year. Just one team stands in the way—Cincy. Sure, Pitt must get by West Virginia as well, but Pitt will get the Big East's automatic bid just with the win over Cincy.
While Cincy is undefeated, Pitt has the tools to take down the Bearcats.
While the Cornhuskers have been offensively challenged and under-performing all season, life in the Big 12 North is great for average teams. While Nebraska is in no way a worthy team for a BCS bowl, the Huskers may be a BCS team by beating Texas. Sure, it is tall order, but it is a much easier route to a BCS bowl than most other teams in the nation.
With the all-time record for victories by a quarterback in his hip pocket, Colt McCoy and his Longhorns are preparing to storm California. While there are some concerns that the Longhorns' relatively weak schedule leaves them open to being passed up, that is a very slim possibility.
A much stronger possibility is that Texas A&M upsets UT on Thanksgiving Day. Or that Nebraska (with the best defense the Horns will face all year) takes down the Horns at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington.
Now, if UT loses either game, it will be an Arizona vacation for Horn fans. Lose both and suddenly a return trip to Arlington is a real possibility.
While UT could lose either or both, it is more likely that the Horns play in the BCS title game.
With the dramatic overtime win in Tucson last Saturday, the Ducks are ready to fight the Civil War and take a trip to the Rose Bowl. But this Oregon Trail has a traditional enemy ready to ambush the Ducks.
Are the Ducks beatable? Sure. Stanford showed the whole world that, as did Boise State. Will it happen in the Civil War? Now that is another question entirely.
For Oregon State, it is Rose Bowl or bust! There are no other BCS possibilities for the Beavers. Just a little matter of getting past Oregon in the Civil War.
Unlike so many other teams, the Beavers' BCS hopes on in their own hands.
Ohio State heads to the Rose Bowl to face the winner of the Civil War. While Ohio State lost to a very average Purdue team and a very average USC team, the Buckeyes won the Big Ten, which just shows how weak the conference really is.
So, Buckeye fans, your bowl destination is set. Maybe Ohio State can actually win another BCS game.
With its stellar defense and powerful running attack, Alabama looks ready to smash its way to Pasadena. A slip up and it might be back to the Sugar Bowl to face another Mountain West Conference team with a chip on its shoulder.
So, unless something crazy happens, like Auburn winning the Iron Bowl and Florida blowing out the Tide at SEC Championship Game, Bama will be BCS bound for the second straight year.
Florida seems like a lock for a BCS bowl, so it is no surprise that Tim Tebow and company are on the BCS's list. Of course, two losses to end the season and suddenly, Florida might be on the bubble. Not likely, but it could happen.
Of course, if both Florida and Bama lose on Saturday and Bama beats Florida in the SEC championship game, Florida could be at the Orange Bowl instead of the BCS title game or the Sugar Bowl.
Mike Gundy is a man of 42 or so, but he has to find a way to beat the Sooners to get to Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl.
Oklahoma State is the last Big 12 school to win at Norman, but that was a long time ago.
Oklahoma hasn't lost at home since a 2005 loss to TCU.
So, the Pokes are a lock for the Fiesta, but only if Gundy and his questionable team find a way to get past a Sooner team depleted by injuries.
Even with Oklahoma's problems this year, the Sooners are virtually unstoppable at home, so look for the Gundy and his boys at the Cotton Bowl or Holiday Bowl instead.
Sure, Penn State had a cupcake schedule and lost its only two good games scheduled. Sure, Joe Pa played eight home games. Sure, Penn State is likely the most over-rated team in college football.
Even so, the BCS says so what! Penn State is a huge school with lots of fans. Penn State does well on TV.
As such, Penn State may go into the BCS instead of Iowa. Not deserving, but hey, the BCS is not about deserving.
Iowa is in a tight contest with Penn State for the Big Ten's at-large spot in the BCS. The Big Ten does own it, after all, so even bad Big Ten schools will be selected to the BCS due the Big Ten's great ability to provide good TV ratings and thousands of traveling fans.
Hey, if you lived in Iowa, wouldn't you want out in January?
Iowa fans claim that their team merely plays down to the level of its competition. Everyone else just claims that the team is soft and not worthy.
Even with the head-to-head victory over Penn State, Iowa may be missing out on the BCS.
Gary Patterson's Horned Frogs are not only going to the BCS, they have an outside chance at the BCS title game. Now that would shake up the BCS!
TCU is in the top five in both offense and defense (the only team in both categories in the top 14!). The defense, led by DE Jerry Hughes, is just dominating. The offense, guided by QB Andy Dalton, is nearly unstoppable.
As I wrote many months ago, having a team like TCU in the BCS title game would likely lead to a playoff faster than any other thing. I called it "system shock", sort of how BYU's 1984 championships, plus numerous independents winning championships in the 1980s, led to the Bowl Coalition, Bowl Alliance, and the BCS.
The powers that be would be putting in a plus one or more right away, hoping that a playoff would make it near impossible for an outsider to play for a title. We can only hope!
The Frogs could be going to the Fiesta, Sugar, or Orange Bowl. A rematch with Boise from last year's bowl game is not likely. A rematch with Clemson in the Orange Bowl is just as unlikely. We will just have to wait and see.
How is a team that has lost its three best games even being considered for a BCS bowl?
Moreover, with Bama and Florida in front of LSU and a limit of two BCS teams per conference, how can LSU jump ahead?
Simple. If Bama or Florida lose this week and then lose in the SEC championship game, a 9-3 LSU could be more attractive to the Sugar Bowl than an 11-2 Florida or Alabama.
After all, it's about putting fans in the Superdome, not selecting the best team. So, Bama and Florida fans, your teams are really not locks for a BCS bowl, at least according to the BCS itself.
I was very surprised to see VT included here. After all, this is an 8-3 team that failed to deliver a crowd in last year's Orange Bowl.
It is very unlikely that the Hokies will get a real consideration for the BCS, but the BCS did keep them in their final 20 teams.
Led by stand out QB Jacory Harris, the U is back! Not all the way back to national title level, but back as a power in college football. The U is the only school to beat Georgia Tech this year, and the Canes laid the wood to the Jackets.
While the question coming in was whether Randy Shannon would have a job mid-season, the new question is whether the U will be playing for the BCS title next year.
Local product Jacory Harris is poised and dangerous and will be in contention for the Heisman next year.
The biggest concern for the U is whether they can win against tough defenses, having lost to the three of four best defenses that Miami has faced all season.
The U is not a serious contender for a BCS spot, but they are an outside possibility. If a lot of upsets occur in the next two weeks, the U may back into a BCS bowl. Not unlikely as the BCS still considers it possible.
With three losses, one to a bad team and two blowouts to good teams, one would think that BCS would want nothing to do with USC. Unfortunately for college football, the BCS is driven by money and USC brings eyeballs to the TV sets.
Few teams have the national reputation of USC, and casual fans will see USC and watch the game, even over Boise State. And the BCS bowls know this.
If USC defeats UCLA and Arizona, don't be too surprised to see Pete Carroll going for another BCS win.
If that happens, USC will be back in the top 10, again, for the eighth consecutive year.
While Boise State lacks the quality schedule to play in the BCS title game, there is reason the Broncos shouldn't play in a BCS bowl.
Boise State should be going over all these two and three loss teams. The team has one of the best wins in all of college football.
Also, Boise State will bring a huge crowd to the Fiesta Bowl.
But none of that matters to the BCS folks. None of them are required to take Boise State, so it is likely that any of them will.
When the BCS added the Kansas State rule (no BCS conference school at No. 3 or No. 4 can be passed over for a BCS berth), it specifically did not include non-automatic qualifying schools.
It stinks, but so does the entire system, and not even a river of B.S. from Ari the Mouthpiece can change anything.
Yes, folks, the BCS folks have not released 9-2 BYU. If they win the Holy War against Utah, BYU could sneak into a BCS bowl ahead of Boise State. Crazy, right?
Not exactly. BYU has a massive national following, is a known TV ratings machine, and could be the prefect fit for a BCS bowl.
While BYU has never played in a BCS bowl and was famously rejected in 2001 with a record of 12-0, BYU has reached the top 10 early in each of the last two seasons.
So, Boise, maybe you should root for Utah in the Holy War to just to make sure that the Cougars don't back door you out of a BCS bowl.
To summarize by conference:
Big East: 2
Big Ten: 3
Big 12: 3