Early BCS Bowl Picture
Another weekend of college football down and we still do not have a clear-cut No. 1 team.
Many could argue that LSU, with their dominant defense and surprise star quarterback Jarrett Lee, are the team to beat.
However, some can argue that not only are the Tigers not the top team in the nation, but they may not even be the top team in their conference. The Alabama Crimson Tide have stomped everybody they play and are looking to get back to the BCS title game.
The Oklahoma Sooners also figure to lay claim to a BCS title game slot should they finish the year undefeated. Oklahoma also has the benefit of not playing in a conference championship game. Win out and they’re in.
There are a number of other teams who plan to make their way into argument as well, as Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois are all undefeated in the Big Ten.
The Pac-12 has Oregon and Stanford, who will look to complicate things, and let us not forget about the Clemson Tigers and Georgia Tech's Yellow Jackets in the ACC.
The Boise State Broncos will make an argument that they belong, but it will most likely fall on deaf ears and they will not be rewarded by the voters.
With the first official BCS standings a week away from being released, let us forecast who will be playing in the five major bowl games in January.
The Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Wisconsin
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Oregon must survive the next few weeks without LaMichael James, but if they do that, they should finish the year 11-1 and go on to win the conference title game over Arizona State.
While the Ducks' defense still needs to work out some kinks, the offense has a plethora of weapons and won’t be slowed by anyone left on their schedule.
November features a treacherous three-week stretch, with games at Stanford, Washington and a home game against USC, but they should have James back for all three matchups.
Wisconsin is by far the best game in the Big Ten and should cruise into Pasadena. The only game of concern left for Wisconsin is a late November game at Illinois, but they should be able to take care of business in that one.
Expect a rematch with Nebraska in the inaugural Big Ten championship game. While no one should expect the trouncing that the Badgers put on the Huskers a week ago, Wisconsin will do enough to finish unbeaten.
Wisconsin’s resume is BCS title-game worth,y but they will ultimately get snubbed and have to settle for a trip out west to the Rose Bowl.
The Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Stanford
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The Virginia Tech Hokies seem to always close the season strong after an early-season misstep. This year, it was a beat down at the hands of Clemson, but Virginia Tech showed true grit in a victory over Miami.
The only game of concern left on the schedule should be a trip to Georgia Tech in November. However, Georgia Tech must play against Clemson the week before and might be a little banged up.
Beat Georgia Tech, and a rematch with Clemson in the ACC Championship is most likely. The Hokies will avenge their only loss of the season and return to the Orange Bowl.
The Stanford Cardinal proved that they are a force to be reckoned with, regardless of who their coach is. Stanford will be challenged in a trip to USC, but Luck will be plenty fired up to faceoff with Trojan star quarterback Matt Barkley. Stanford will win, but stumble against Oregon.
The last game of the season against Notre Dame could be a trap, but the Cardinal will win a shootout. Luck will finish his career with a second-straight trip to the Orange Bowl and a rematch with Virginia Tech.
The Fiesta Bowl: Boise State vs. Oklahoma State
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The Oklahoma State Cowboys have one of the best offensive attacks in the country. Unfortunately, they also play in one of the toughest conferences in college football.
The Cowboys will survive the schedule and show up undefeated in the “Bedlam Game” against the Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners defense will be the difference in a hotly contested game, and the Cowboys will see their hopes of playing in a BCS title game erased.
Oklahoma State will take the at-large bid and head to Phoenix for the Fiesta Bowl.
The Boise State Broncos will be heavily favored in all of their remaining games and, as long as they don’t slip up, they will once again finish the season unbeaten—only to be looked over by the BCS voters.
The only way Boise loses is if they beat themselves, and with a veteran quarterback in Kellen Moore, don’t count on it.
Boise State will get the chance to prove their might against another good big conference opponent in Oklahoma State. Perhaps after another high-profile BCS win, the Broncos can prove they are no fluke.
The Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. West Virginia
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The Big East is West Virginia’s for the taking. They are by far the best team in the conference and, in all likelihood, will be headed to a BCS Bowl.
The Mountaineers could end up playing in the Orange Bowl, but that at-large bid is more likely to go to Stanford. There is less of a chance that West Virginia would be sent out west to play in the Fiesta Bowl, and that leaves them playing in the Sugar Bowl.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are arguably the best team in the nation, or the third best behind Oklahoma and LSU.
Regardless of where the voters decide to place them in the week-to-week rankings carousel, Alabama will have the chance to play into the BCS title game.
The difference in a Sugar Bowl berth and a game in the National Championship hinges on a November 5 meeting with LSU. Alabama will enjoy home-field advantage, but the LSU defense and emergence of Jarrett Lee at quarterback will give LSU the slightest edge.
The Tigers will survive the trip to Tuscaloosa, and Alabama will have to take out their frustrations on West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl.
Alabama needs to be weary of the season finale at Auburn, but their anger of not playing in the title game will carry them over in that one.
BCS Championship Game: Oklahoma vs. LSU
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The Oklahoma Sooners started this year at the top of the Coaches' Poll, and through six weeks have done everything to prove they deserved that ranking.
The Sooners went on the road and blasted a Florida State team that was a preseason Top 5 and, yesterday, they pounded a young Texas team into submission. The Sooners would put up 55 points and score three defensive touchdowns.
The schedule still has a considerable number of wrinkles in it. Oklahoma must go on the road to play an overachieving Kansas State team, they follow that up with a home game against Texas A&M and then a trip to Baylor two weeks later.
Oklahoma will roll through those games, but a December 3 game in Stillwater will serve as a pseudo-conference championship and BCS Championship qualifier.
Oklahoma has one of the better defenses in the nation, and with Landry Jones at quarterback and the combination of Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills at receiver, they will take Bob Stoops back to the BCS title game.
LSU started this season by busting up an Oregon offense that was thought to be untouchable.
They made easy work out of Big East favorite West Virginia and conference foe Florida, and as long as they don’t allow themselves to be bitten by the upset bug, there is only one game on the schedule that figures to give them problems.
The November match at Alabama is key to the season. The game will determine, in all likelihood, which of the two teams represents the SEC in the BCS title game. Even a conference loss to another team won’t hurt too bad because they will get a chance at redemption in the SEC championship—but they must win the trip to Tuscaloosa.
LSU has more balance on offense and the better defense and will win a close game over Alabama.
They must survive a season finale against a tough Arkansas team and hold off an SEC East opponent in the conference title game.
If they can navigate through the labyrinth that is the SEC, they are guaranteed a shot in the title game.