Football fans, there are only three weeks left in the regular season and things have become a bit muddled due to the recent upsets on Saturday. A long as the the top two keep winning, the championship game will be set, but what about the other games, and what if the Tigers and Cowboys lose?
I'm looking at the top 15 schools (and the top three Big East contenders—someone has to win it) and give predictions on how they will finish the regular season. Then, I will give BCS bowl predictions: who will play and who will win.
First, a brief explanation of the BCS selection process for the uneducated.
1. Teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 will play each other in the title game.
2. Bowls that have lost their host team will pick before the other bowl games do. The bowl that lost the No. 1-ranked team picks first, then the bowl that lost the No. 2-ranked team. If a bowl lost two teams (i.e. if the Rose lost both the Big Ten and Pac 12 champions to the title game), it gets two picks.
3. After steps one and two, the selection will go in order like normal. This year the order will be: Fiesta Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl. Rose Bowl automatically gets the Big Ten/Pac 12 champs if they aren't in the BCS title game.
What a mess this conference has been the past few years. Last year, a four-loss UConn team won the automatic bid and it is likely a four-loss team will get the bid this year. Three weeks left and it is still an open race.
Cincinnati is in first with a 3-1 conference record, with Rutgers, West Virginia, Louisville and Pittsburgh right behind them at 3-2. UConn is also in the mix at 2-2. If the Bearcats win out, they are in. However, just like in previous years, the final games are set out like playoff elimination games.
The Bearcats have to play at Rutgers, at Syracuse and then against UConn at home. You would think that would be easy, but Big East teams have a habit of not living up to expectations. The Scarlet Knights have been decent and could pull off the upset in New Jersey. Syracuse is capable of the upset as well, as it proved in its win over the Mountaineers.
UConn might even be playing for something depending on its record for that final game as it hosts Rutgers just before traveling to Cincinnati. UConn will first have to get past a Cardinals team that could steal the BCS bid if the Bearcats slip up.
Louisville has UConn and South Florida left on their schedule and has wins over Rutgers and West Virginia that would help with tie breakers.
Speaking of West Virginia, it has the Backyard Brawl against Pitt left followed by a trip to South Florida. The Pittsburgh game could be a tossup, especially since the Panthers are also tied for second in the conference and a win for them would mean just as much to them as it would for everyone else that has been mentioned on this slide.
So, who will come out on top?
It may come down to the play of Munchie Legaux, the guy replacing Zack Collaros at Cincinnati. If he can keep the Bearcats from losing two of the last three games, the Bearcats are walking off with the Big East title. If he can't, look for the Cardinals of Louisville to represent the Big East in a BCS Bowl. They have the easiest remaining schedule and should win out. West Virginia should also win out, but the loss to Louisville will keep it out of the BCS.
Sitting at the No. 15 spot are the Spartans of Michigan State. They have Indiana and Northwestern left on their schedule and will be favored in both games. I like them to win out and go to the first annual Big Ten title game.
Who will they face? As it stands now, Penn State would be their opponent, but with the sex scandal distraction plus road games to Columbus, Ohio and Madison, Wis. left on its plate, don't expect to see anyone from Happy Valley in Indianapolis this year. Instead, look for a rematch of the Spartan/Badger game that ended with a Hail Mary catch and a controversial replay ruling.
This should be another classic game, but the result will be different as I have the Spartans losing to the Badgers in the title game. Michigan State will end up in the Capital One Bowl and a tough matchup with an SEC team.
Sorry, Sparty, it was a great yea,r but I'm picking you to lose both the Big Ten title game and the bowl game.
Back from the 0-2 start and on a roll are the 8-2 Bulldogs of Georgia. They are currently on top of the SEC East and have Kentucky and Georgia Tech left on their regular-season schedule. The Dawgs should roll past the Wildcats to lock up a spot in the SEC title game, and I like them against the Yellow Jackets as well.
That will have Georgia at 10-2 heading into the SEC title game. Depending on whom it has to play, Georgia would have a good shot at the upset. Can the Bulldogs pull an LSU and get into the BCS title game with two losses? They would need some help, but it isn't out of the question.
However, I have UGA losing the SEC title game and with it having three losses it wouldn't be eligible for the Capital One Bowl (there would be two SEC West teams with a better record), and a trip to the Outback Bowl would be its destination.
Fear not, Dawg fans, you will get to end the year on a high note. Either Penn State, Ohio State or Michigan will be your opponent in the bowl game, and I expect typical SEC dominance as Georgia builds momentum for next year.
One of the best years the Wildcats have had in quite some time should continue to be great as they have an overrated Texas team and the Iowa State Cyclones left on the schedule. Had it been last year, K-State would be looking at a Big 12 title game spot as representatives of the North Division. This year, it's looking at the Cotton Bowl and an opponent from the SEC.
Kansas State is good, but I don't see it winning against an SEC team that probably could have played in the BCS title game. The Wildcats will play hard, they will get an E for effort, but it won't be pretty to watch.
The Gamecocks are currently rooting for Kentucky to pull the upset over Georgia, as they would get into the SEC title game over the Dawgs due to the head-to-head tiebreaker. I already stated Georgia will win, so the Gamecocks must focus on Clemson and improving their bowl status. I see Clemson winning the rivalry game and the Gamecocks will be sent to the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Now, wouldn't it be something if they end up getting a rematch against the Tigers? It might be a possibility, but I have Florida State getting picked to face Carolina. Clemson would have a better record, but the Seminoles are the bigger name, which means more fans and more money. Plus, same-year rematches are rare in bowl games.
This is could end up being a low-scoring game, as both teams had high expectations at the start of the year and being in this bowl would be an obvious disappointment. I predict the Seminoles pulling off the upset in this game.
We now come to potential BCS-busting Cougars of Houston, led by Heisman dark horse Case Keenum. If the Cougars win out and win the C-USA Championship Game, they will get the automatic BCS berth due to their high rank and flawless record.
But it won't be an easy road for Houston. SMU and Tulsa still wait to finish the regular season and a loss to Tulsa would knock them out of the C-USA title game (the Golden Hurricane are also 6-0 in conference play). If you follow this conference, you know how tough of a thorn Tulsa has been in Houston's side. Should Houston get past that, it still has a tough hurdle in top-20 team Southern Miss.
Should Houston and Southern Miss win out, it would create a very intriguing game. While a loss to the Golden Eagles would knock out the Cougars, it might open the door for Southern Miss to step in. According to BCS rules, a non-BCS school ranked in the top 16 that finishes higher than a champion from a BCS conference will receive an automatic BCS bid. If Southern Miss wins out and knock off a top-10 Houston team, it may get that top-16 rank and head into a BCS bowl as it will be ranked higher than anyone that wins the Big East title.
How about that for BCS chaos?
Back to the Cougars, they have the quarterback that can lead them to the promise land and I see them finishing the job. That means you will see the first C-USA team to bust the BCS and I predict them to get picked by the Fiesta Bowl, the home for BCS busters. Whom will they play? I can guarantee it will be an Oklahoma school. As for which one, that will be revealed later on the list.
Bronco fans, you need to be Colorado State and UNLV fans. Those are the remaining opponents on TCU's schedule and it would have to lose them both for the Broncos to have a shot at the Mountain West title, let alone the BCS. Boise also must take care of business against San Diego State, Wyoming and New Mexico. Boise should win out, but so should TCU.
Boise better make reservations while in San Diego, because that is where it's going to be bowling.
The matchup should be interesting as the Broncos will face a BYU squad that should be prepared and hungry. This game will be closer than expected, but I will give the Broncos the win to give them back-to-back one-loss seasons.
The other victim of last week was Stanford, which lost its Pac-12 lead and BCS title hopes to Oregon. Now the Cardinal's fate lies in the hands of others.
If the Tigers and Cowboys win out, the Ducks will go to the Rose Bowl and Stanford heads south to the Alamo Bowl. If that happens, expect an angry Cardinal team taking out their frustrations on Kansas State. However, Luck and company can still make the Rose Parade with some help.
LSU has some games it can lose and the Cowboys still have the Bedlam Game. That could open up a spot for Oregon to sneak back in to the BCS title game and places the Cardinal in the game in Pasadena against the Wisconsin Badgers.
It is a long shot, but anything can happen in college football.
A Stanford-Wisconsin Rose Bowl would be a classic and it would be a tossup between who would win. Look for a slightly more motivated Badger squad to pull off the upset.
Every time I go against his team, it shuts me up and proves me wrong. So, this year I am doing the opposite and announcing that Virginia Tech will win the ACC title game over Clemson.
Frank Beamer always finds a way to win these games and I see no reason why he won't find a way to do it again.
The Hokies still have a Virginia team to play that believes it can pull off the upset and steal the Coastal Division from Tech, but the Hokies should win out and claim the Orange Bowl spot. There, Virginia Tech should end the ACC's BCS blues by defeating an average Louisville team.
One day, the Hokies will put it together and play a complete season. Maybe then we will see Beamer finally get that national championship. For this year, an Orange Bowl victory would be just fine.
Finally, Clemson has lived up to the talent level of the team. The Tigers are sitting at 9-1 and I have them going 11-1 heading into the ACC title game.
As previously stated, though, the Hokies will come out on top and the Tigers will be sent to the Champ Sports Bowl because the Chick-fil-A Bowl wouldn't want a South Carolina-Clemson rematch. The Tigers' opponent will be West Virginia in what should be an entertaining game.
Unlike past Clemson teams, I think this team finishes the season on a high note and it beats the Mountaineers.
You want another chaotic scenario? What if Arkansas wins out? You would get a three-way tie between Alabama, LSU and Arkansas, creating a scenario similar to the one the Big 12 had with Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech. That would put the Tide in the championship game against Georgia, and it should place the Hogs in the Sugar Bowl...or would it?
Remember when the Orange Bowl picked a Kansas Jayhawk team over a Missouri Tiger team that had beaten Kansas a few weeks prior to the selection? What is to say the Sugar Bowl wouldn't pick the hometown Tigers over the Razorbacks?
I'm going out on a limb and I am picking the Hogs to upset the Tigers, but it would take a blowout victory for them to leapfrog LSU for the Sugar Bowl spot. As a result, Arkansas travels to Dallas and the Cotton Bowl. Arkansas will feel cheated and K-State will be the team with unfortunate luck of playing an angry SEC team.
The Sooners sit in the No. 5 spot but not for much longer. The Sooner Schooner is in full gear and Oklahoma should be 10-1 going into the Bedlam Game.
Just like last year, the Cowboys will have the higher ranking. Just like last year (and every year since 2002), the Sooners will win and knock out the Cowboys from the No. 2 spot. This will give them the Big 12 title and a BCS game, but not the BCS title game. That Texas Tech home loss looks awful compared to the other one-loss teams, especially after that 66-6 drubbing that the Cowboys put on the Red Raiders.
No shot at the title this year, but they will get back to the Fiesta Bowl.
Their opponent will be the Houston Cougars, a team that reminds me of the Colt Brennan-led Hawaii team that went into a BCS bowl. That team was blown out by Georgia, and I expect he Cougs to be blown out in the same fashion. An easy victory for the Sooners as they reload for another run at the big one next year.
What a statement they made against Stanford. The Ducks are the talk of the town in college football right now and have been hot since losing to LSU at the start of the year. The runner-ups of last year's BCS title game are my pick to go to the game as the No. 2 team in the country—if they can get past two more games.
The last game of the year is against a very bad Oregon St. team. However, it is next week's game that has Duck fans chewing their nails. The Trojans head to Autzen Stadium led by Matt Barkley, a quarterback who may go No. 2 overall in the NFL draft. USC won't be going bowling this year—it can't even play for the Pac-12 championship. So for the Trojans, this will be their championship game and Rose Bowl rolled into one. We all know how USC plays when they actually care, and they will care about this game.
It will be scary, but I see the Ducks pulling away late and getting the win.
As I said earlier, LSU and Oklahoma State will fall. The Ducks will be picked over the Sooners and will play a great game just like last year. Yet, they won't win. The defense that they will face will be of NFL caliber in power and speed. A better defense than the one they faced against LSU, who was also an NFL-caliber defense. They will lose to...
The Tide are my pick to win the whole thing. They will win out, they will take advantage of LSU's upset loss to Arkansas, they will beat Georgia, and they will slow down the Oregon offense. Stable quarterback play, No. 1-ranked defense, Heisman Trophy-winning running back...sounds like the last time they won it all, doesn't it?
Nick Sabin already has a statue, what would a second championship give him?
After the Georgia Southern game, the Tide will play in the Iron Bowl. They should win this, but we have seen Nick Sabin-led teams just disappear at odd moments (last year's Iron Bowl after a 24-0 lead, 2007 loss to UL Monroe). If there were a game this would happen, it would be in the Iron Bowl. And while Georgia will be game and give Alabama a scare, the Tide is just too powerful for the Dawgs to pull it out.
That just leaves the title game against Oregon, where I forgot to mention one more advantage Alabama will possess. Home-field advantage. The BCS title game will be played in New Orleans, SEC territory. SEC fans may hate each other, but they hate outsiders even more and will rally behind the Tide to beat the Ducks and bring another title to the SEC house.
The Bedlam Game has been the mountain that the Cowboys can't climb. They haven't won since 2002, and it wasn't always because the Sooners were better. Bad luck, bad officiating, bad mentality—it is always something.
This year, a combination of factors will keep the Pokes out again: the pressure of the Cowboys being No. 2 in the country and holding on to a spot in the BCS title game, a place they have never been before. The fact that this group of players have never beaten the Sooners. The game is in Norman. Texas Tech. Yes, Texas Tech.
The Sooners are going to be angry. For the next two weeks, Oklahoma will be hearing about how it lost to the Red Raiders at home, how the Cowboys demolished the team that beat the Sooners, how the Cowboys are better than the Sooners, how the Cowboys have finally arrived, etc.
The Big 12 still goes through Norman, Okla., and it will remain that way for another year.
The Pokes will end up in the Sugar Bowl where the game should turn out to be a tight and brutal contest. The Cowboys and their opponent will be angry and bitter about blowing their shot at the big one and will take it out on each other on national television. I am going to make another bold prediction and have the game end in overtime, but Oklahoma State won't be able to deal with the New Orleans crowd and will lose it in the end.
The Tigers of LSU control everything. All they have to do is win out, plain and simple.
However, I already have them losing to Arkansas, which would keep them out of the BCS title game and put them in the Sugar Bowl against the Cowboys. I have this game going into overtime and becoming the best non-title game of the postseason. The offense will step up for the defense, and the home crowd will pump up the defense enough to make the much needed stops at the right time to give the Tigers the win.
Virginia Tech over Louisville
Oklahoma over Houston
LSU over Oklahoma State
Wisconsin upsets Stanford
BCS Title Game
Alabama over Oregon