College Football 2010: BCS Bowl Projections Are an Inconvenient Truth
Welcome to the 13th season of the Bowl Championship Series, commonly known as the BCS.
The BCS system is designed to match the top two teams in the country, while allowing conference champions to continue a relationship with specific bowls.
From 1998 through 2005, the top two teams were pitted against each other in a rotation of sites among the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta Bowls.
Previously referred to as the "major bowls of college football," they are now known as the "BCS Bowls."
Beginning in the 2006 season, an additional bowl was created to be known as the BCS Championship Game.
The championship game has no permanent home. It is played in the stadium of one of the other four BCS Bowls on a yearly rotation.
This season the location for the game is in Arizona, on the field of the Fiesta Bowl.
What qualifies a team for such gala events, these celebrations of all perceived as right and good among the clever and the swift?
The following order of events is presented as the most likely scenario for the 2010 season BCS Bowl selection process and why those teams will be chosen.
An Inconvenient Truth
There are three inconvenient truths resulting from the current BCS selection method.
1. There has never been a back-to-back BCS Champion.
2. Coaches and fans feel left in the dark until the final moments of the process, adding to the misery of teams not receiving their desired invitation.
3. A general misunderstanding exists among casual observers of college football regarding a qualifying representative of a conference for a BCS bowl game as opposed to which schools are mandated to receive invitations under the current rules of the system.
The BCS Title game selection is the most simple of the entire process. The teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the final regular season BCS Poll receive automatic invitations.
Qualifying for the other BCS Bowls is accomplished by winning the championship of a "BCS Conference." These leagues consist of the ACC, PAC-10, Big 10, SEC, Big 12 and Big East.
Another method, which gives life to everyone not in a BCS Conference, is to meet the requirement of a specified ranking in the final regular season poll.
Such was the case last season with Boise State and Texas Christian meeting in the Fiesta Bowl.
With BCS Conference winners going to the BCS Title game, this can also result with another highly ranked team from the league taking the position of the champion in the conference affiliated BCS Bowl.
An example of this situation occurred last season when Florida went to the Sugar Bowl, while Alabama traveled to the BCS Title game.
And now that we all know who goes where and why, let's name the teams who will play in the BCS Bowls in January 2011.
The Fiesta Bowl: 11-2 Oklahoma vs. 10-2 Iowa
A clash which could be for the BCS Title provided early season match-ups do not spoil the plot.
The Hawkeyes must not slip beneath the desert sands in Tucson against the revenge-minded Wildcats of Arizona, while the Sooners must find their defense early on against the lightning quick Seminoles of Florida State.
The Fiesta Bowl has a relationship with the Big 12 conference, sending the champion to be the host school unless they are in the BCS Title game.
The Orange Bowl: 11-2 Florida State vs. 11-1 Connecticut
The Orange Bowl will be a confrontation between two BCS conference champions: the Huskies of the Big East and the Seminoles of the ACC.
The ACC champion goes to the Orange Bowl, unless in the BCS Title game, while the Big East champ is an automatic qualifier for any of the open positions in BCS Bowls.
For those who believed coach Bobby Bowden had held back the FSU program in the past several years, this will be the opportunity for the 'Noles to shine.
The ACC will be a battle down to the wire between the great talent at FSU and Miami, along with the superb coaching of Paul Johnson's defending conference champions at Georgia Tech.
The considerably superior line play of workman-like Boston College will round out the top four of the ACC.
The Big East will feature several strong programs this season, any of whom are capable of winning the Orange Bowl.
UConn, with a wide variety of returning starters has the depth, defense and coaching to come out on top in three-way battle among the Huskies, the Pittsburgh Panthers and the South Florida Bulls under new coach Skip Holtz.
Look for last year's winner, Cincinnati, to slide back among the middle of the pack while Rutgers continues to improve year by year thanks to a fine conditioning program.
The Rose Bowl: 11-1 Ohio State vs. 11-1 Arizona
Let us come together and be reasonable concerning Ohio State in 2010.
Just as in 1998, the Buckeyes have the best team in the country. If everything goes to plan, they will avoid a return trip to Pasadena and compete in the BCS Title game.
But, just as in that oh-so-close season of '98, one has merely to look at the schedule to see Ohio State has an incredibly difficult road to the national championship.
With Miami out of conference, the always rugged clash with Penn State, along with visits to Iowa and Wisconsin, the Buckeyes know if they make it unscathed through that meat grinder, “The Vest” and company will complete the business of winning another BCS Title.
The Rose Bowl matches the Big 10 champion versus the winner of the PAC-10.
Arizona made enough progress last season to be considered a legitimate threat for the PAC-10 title in what looks to be a topsy-turvy race.
Expect an early "payback" win for the Wildcats over Iowa to catapult them into the nation's elite.
The Desert will be swarming with a hostile group of Wildcats bent on seeking vengeance for an emotional letdown which led to a shutout loss to Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl last season.
Tucson school officials are still smoldering over perceived poor officiating in a 44-41 loss to Oregon last year which kept Arizona out of the Rose Bowl.
Arizona has all the motivation to make for a great fall in the the land of cactus.
The Sugar Bowl: 12-0 Boise State vs. 11-2 Alabama
The Sugar Bowl plays host to the SEC champion provided that school is not in the national title game.
The Crimson Tide is the hunted instead of the hunter this year which could result in Florida winning the SEC Title in the back and forth battle between the two behemoths.
The unbeaten run of the Crimson Tide will likely come to an end earlier in the season in the always competitive SEC, but they should remain successful enough to seize a bid to New Orleans.
The Broncos are primed for yet another run at the BCS title with a continuation of their unbeaten ways.
Loaded throughout the depth chart, this could be the season Boise State makes the final step and captures the BCS Title.
The BCS Title Game: 13-0 Nebraska vs. 12-1 Florida
The Gators will lose at Alabama in October but, will defeat ACC Champion Florida State in their final regular season game and then take out Alabama in a "double revenge" SEC Title Game.
By remaining undefeated the rest of the season, the Gators' year end heroics will vault them into the No. 2 position in the final regular season BCS poll.
Expect Bo Pelini's crew to enter the BCS Title Game ranked No. 1 in the country.
The Cornhuskers face a danger game on Thursday night at Kansas State the week before the showdown with Texas.
The Longhorns and Missouri Tigers will offer resistance to the Big Red; however, the truth is they will not be challenged until the Big 12 championship game with Oklahoma.
Nebraska versus Oklahoma, just as it was 48 years ago when Bob Devaney created the Nebraska dynasty and faced the legendary Bud Wilkinson's Sooners for the conference title. It is fitting these two battle each other in the final Big 12 championship game.
There is a good chance Nebraska says farewell to the Big 12 conference with not only the league title but, as champion of all college football.