BCS Standings Week 10: BCS Bowl Projections Based on Current Rankings
As the college football season begins to wind down, it's time to begin our yearly speculation about who ends up in the coveted BCS Bowls. This year, perhaps more than in the past, is intriguing because of the presence of three teams in the top five who do not come from automatic qualifying conferences.
Debate continues to rage about teams like Boise State and TCU—who detractors say will not be competitive against in a national championship game, and have not really played anybody.
It's becoming increasingly likely, as these two teams, and new wild card, Utah, pummel opponents, that one of these teams could end up in that title game.
Let's take a look at likely BCS Bowl matchups.
Pac-10 Champion vs Big Ten Champion
Stanford Cardinal vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Jim Harbaugh has molded a blue-collar efficient team in his image. Behind the play of Andrew Luck, Stanford has jumped out to an impressive 7-1 record. They're schedule shapes up to give them a chance to win out and claim the second spot in the Pac-10. They play a stingy Arizona team this week, however, the game is at home. Look for Stanford to win that game then roll through their remaining opponents.
The Big Ten is a huge mess right now. Three teams could end the season will only one loss in conference play. So, let me make a few assumptions about who those teams would be. Michigan State and Wisconsin have relatively easy schedules down the stretch. Expect both to have one conference loss at seasons end. Ohio State and Iowa have yet to play, but I expect Ohio State to go on the road and beat the Hawkeyes. Tressel's teams don't usually lose twice. In that scenario, with Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin all with one loss, the team with the highest BCS ranking would go. MSU beat Wisconsin who beat Ohio State. But MSU and Ohio State don't play one another. They go to the BCS tiebreaker because those two teams haven't played.
Look for Stanford vs. Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, a game which would be a serious slugfest.
Big 12 Champion vs BCS At-Large
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs TCU Horned Frogs
Under Bo Pelini the Cornhuskers have undergone a revival. Quarterback Taylor Martinez has run this offense to near perfection (the Texas game being an obvious exception) and Nebraska is once again a force in the Big 12. They are the clear favorites to win the Big 12 North after defeating their main challenger, the Missouri Tigers this week. In the Big 12 title game they will likely play the winner of Oklahoma-Oklahoma State. I'm picking Oklahoma State, a team that Nebraska has already beaten. Look for Nebraska to win the Big 12 title game, en route to a Fiesta Bowl berth.
Gary Patterson's team is a contender year in and year out. (His team would form the cornerstone of my proposed "Super Conference" with all of the good teams from bad conferences. This conference would get an automatic BCS berth and overcome the "they haven't played anybody" criticism.)
Andy Dalton have been efficient, but the real story is the TCU defense. They are ranked first in the country, giving up an absurdly low 8.7 points each contest, and they haven't given up more than seven points since September.
Their biggest challenge of the season comes this week at fifth-ranked Utah. Though, on paper, the two teams are pretty evenly matched, I expect TCU's big game experience to show. The Horned Frogs have played in huge games before and their poise will show. TCU will win this game en-route to another Fiesta Bowl appearance.
ACC Champion vs BCS At-Large
Florida State vs. Boise State
Plain and simple, when Florida State puts it all together, they're the best team in the ACC. They lost to NC State after making a ton of mistakes. But, NC State has three of its final four conference games on the road and will likely drop at least one. In that instance, Florida State goes through to the ACC title game against Virginia Tech. While Tech has righted the ship after consecutive losses to open the season—they will not beat Florida State.
Well, this sort of takes the suspense out of things doesn't it. Look, like a lot of people, I want a playoff system. The best for that to happen is to have a BCS buster like Boise or TCU get to the National Championship game. Unfortunately, computers have a nasty habit of disliking these teams. I think a one loss SEC team will leap frog Boise and get to the NCG. (Also, if they both win out, I think TCU also leap frogs Boise State.)
Being the giant-killers that they are, I expect Kellen Moore and Boise State to go ahead and beat Florida State, just to keep the debate raging about whether or not they belong in the title game.
SEC Champion vs BCS At-Large
Auburn Tigers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Right now they are the No. 2 ranked team in the land, but it won't last. An upcoming visit to Alabama spells doom for the Tigers. Cam Newton will win the Heisman, but he won't get a shot at a BCS title this season.
That loss to Alabama will keep Auburn out of the SEC championship game and rob them of an SEC title. But, the Sugar Bowl will select them as an SEC At-Large.
Ohio State will finish this season with one loss, again. They will steamroll Michigan in their final game of the season and finish ranked highly in the BCS. While they don't yet have a signature win, they will pick one up against Iowa, on the road. This big win will propel Ohio State into the top 10, and a shot at a BCS At-Large bid.
BCS National Championship Game
BCS #1 vs BCS #2
Oregon Ducks vs Alabama Crimson Tide
Oregon's path the the national title game is pretty straighforward. They are ranked No. 1 in the country right now, and if they win out, they will play in the title game.
Their remaing schedule isn't easy however. Luckily, they get to play No. 15 Arizona at home. Playing in Eugene is espeically difficult, and the Ducks should prevail in that game. Their other big test is at Oregon State. The "Civil War" is generally competitive and fans know that anything can happen in a rivalry game. Ultimately, Oregon's offense will be too much for the Oregon State defense. Chip Kelly will lead Oregon to its first ever BCS National Title game.
Alabama's path to a second straight BCS National Championship game is a bit more muddled. They have a seriously difficult slate ahead, but Nick Saban will have his team ready. This week, they play LSU at "Death Valley." Thankfully for 'Bama, they are playing a day game rather than a night game. LSU's record is considerably better in home, night games than with day games. Alabama's stingy defense and consistent offense will help them win in hostile territory.
They then play two games against Mississippi State and Georgia State. They will beat the No. 21 ranked Bulldogs, steamroll Georgia State, and wait for Auburn.
Cam Newton and Auburn have to come to Alabama and will ultimately wither in the face of Alabama's rapidly maturing defense. With a win against Auburn, Alabama will get a chance to play in the SEC title game and redeem themselves against the one team that beat them, South Carolina.
Stephen Garcia will be unable to duplicate his first performance against Alabama, and Saban's team will be out for revenge. Alabama will once again win the SEC.
Having beaten four ranked opponents in its final five games, the computers and voters will make Alabama the number two team in country and set up a showdown between Oregon and Alabama.