The title may seem like a weird truth, but a truth it is.
In a college football landscape where Boise State needed TCU to be upset to have a chance for an automatic BCS berth, the Broncos ironically now have to hope three other undefeated teams don’t get tripped up to make their at-large dreams come true.
Five conference championships are on the line this weekend, and six of the 10 teams involved in those games inhabit the Top 14 of the BCS Rankings.
If they can avoid upsets, Boise State is going bowling with the big boys.
The penultimate BCS rankings have the same top six as last week: Florida, Alabama, Texas, TCU, Cincinnati, and the Broncos.
Beyond that, the teams in the eligible pool for selection (aka the Top 14 with nine or more wins) are Oregon, Ohio State, Iowa, Georgia Tech, Penn State, Virginia Tech, LSU, and BYU.
Two teams are already assured of a trip to Pasadena. Ohio State is headed to the Rose Bowl by virtue of winning the Big Ten, and the winner of the Florida vs. Alabama SEC Championship Game is headed to the BCS Championship in Pasadena.
TCU’s season is over, so they should remain in the top six and thus earn the automatic “BCS Buster” berth. And, if Texas, Cincy, Oregon, and Georgia Tech can hold serve and claim their conference crowns, they’re in.
Even with Pitt (No. 15) and Oregon State (No. 16) having to lose to two of those teams, it’s doubtful that USC (No. 18) or Houston (No. 21) would move up enough to get into the top 14.
That leaves the choices for three BCS at-large berths at Boise, Iowa, Penn State, Virginia Tech, LSU, BYU, and the loser of the SEC Title Game.
However, with the Sugar Bowl losing the SEC Champion to the BCS Championship Game, they get the first choice and will likely select the 12-1 SEC runner-up as the replacement. Because BCS rules prevent more than two teams from any conference earning BCS berths, that eliminates LSU.
So now, it’s down to five teams for two berths. But really, you can eliminate three off the bat.
Iowa and Penn State can’t both make it because Ohio State is in the Rose Bowl, so one of them is out right away. 9-3 Virginia Tech, who didn’t even make the ACC title game, would be a serious long shot, and 10-2 BYU wouldn’t beat out any BCS conference team with a similar or better record.
That means by process of elimination, Boise State is back in the BCS.
As for where they go, it will most likely be the Fiesta Bowl, aka the site of the Broncos’ humongous triumph over Oklahoma a few seasons ago.
If everything in this scenario holds, you’d have Texas vs. Florida/Alabama in the title game, Ohio State vs. Oregon in the Rose, and Georgia Tech locked into the Orange.
The Sugar would select the Gators/Tide loser, and the Fiesta gets the next pick for losing No. 2 Texas. Left to choose between TCU, Cincinnati, or an at-large, they would likely take Penn State—who would travel well and be the most ratings-friendly of the remaining teams.
The actual at-large selection then goes Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar. The Orange Bowl, who had Cincinnati last year, would likely avoid the Bearcats and take undefeated TCU to face Georgia Tech.
That leaves the Fiesta Bowl to choose between Boise, Cincy, Virginia Tech, and BYU—and given their success years ago, the Broncos would likely get the nod. That would send the Bearcats to New Orleans to face the SEC runner-up.
So there you have it: If all goes as planned, Boise State gets to return to the scene of the crime, so to speak.
Of course, if Cincinnati, Texas, or possibly even Georgia Tech lose...I feel very, very bad for whichever lower-conference leftover gets to face Boise in a virtual home game at the Humanitarian Bowl.