BCS Rankings: 2 Scenarios for Matching the Top 10 Teams in Bowl Games

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BCS Rankings: 2 Scenarios for Matching the Top 10 Teams in Bowl Games
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With the season heading closer to BCS Armageddon after the weekend’s upsets, the BCS bowl game projections have been shaken as well.

As I alluded to in a previous story, ESPN’s BCS Countdown show features a segment that shows projected bowl matchups if the season were to end that day or if those teams were to hold the same ranking at the end of the season.

This past weekend, Brad Edwards of ESPN projected these bowl matchups based on the rankings from Week 13:

  • Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio: Wisconsin vs. Oregon
  • Allstate Sugar Bowl: Michigan vs. Houston
  • Discover Orange Bowl: Va. Tech vs. West Virginia
  • Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford
  • Allstate BCS National Championship Game: LSU vs. Alabama

Compare those projections with the ones from the previous week, and you’ll see just how jumbled the BCS has become:

  • Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio: Wisconsin vs. Oregon
  • Allstate Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Houston
  • Discover Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Cincinnati
  • Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Stanford
  • Allstate BCS National Championship Game: LSU vs. Oklahoma State

Once again, only seven of those schools are in the current BCS Top 10. Based on Edwards’ projections, these Top 10 schools are on the outside looking in with regards to a BCS bowl berth: No. 3 Arkansas, No. 7 Boise State and No. 9 Oklahoma. Two schools projected to make BCS bowls are not in the Top 10 (No. 15 Michigan and No. 16 Wisconsin), and once again, the Big East AQ candidate failed to make the Top 25 (unranked West Virginia).

My argument last week was this: If a team is ranked in the Top 10, it should be guaranteed a spot in one of the BCS bowl games. That stance hasn’t changed.

The automatic-qualifier status needs to be removed, and the teams who make the Top 10 should be rewarded at season’s end with the healthy payout that comes from participating in a BCS bowl.


What Would the BCS Bowl Games Look Like If Only the Top 10 Participated (Part One)?

Just as Edwards’ projections have changed, the bowl projections based on a system I devised have changed, too. The basic premise for dividing the teams among the BCS bowls is this: After taking the top two teams for the BCS National Championship Game, the remaining bowls would pit the next two ranked teams until all bowls were filled.

I’m going to tweak that formula a bit this week in the first scenario, but I’ll use it in the second scenario. The top two teams, LSU and Alabama, have drawn all sorts of controversy because numerous projections have them facing off in the BCS National Championship Game. The purpose of this article isn’t to debate that—if you are curious what people are saying, there are plenty of LSU-Alabama rematch stories on this site to choose from.

For the sake of avoiding that controversy, teams within the Top 10 from the same conference will not be paired together and historical conference bowl affiliations will not be considered. If the season ended today, here's how that might look:

 

BCS National Championship Game: LSU vs. Oklahoma State

The stout defense of the Bayou Bengals against the high-powered offense of Oklahoma State (if Alabama loses to Auburn, LSU wins out and Oklahoma State wins Bedlam, this is probably the most-likely scenario). If the Iowa State game were any indicator, it could be a long night for the Cowboy offense.

 

Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Virginia Tech

Alabama’s top-rated defense and Heisman-contending RB Trent Richardson (1,702 total yards and 22 touchdowns) against the Hokies’ Top 10 defense and RB David Wilson (1,442 yards rushing and seven TDs). A game of strong defense and strong rushing offense—why wasn’t Va. Tech invited to join the SEC again?

 

Fiesta Bowl: Arkansas vs. Stanford

A great offensive matchup between the much-improved Razorbacks and QB Tyler Wilson (3,215 yards and 21 TDs), not to mention the rumored return of RB Knile Davis, and the likely Pac-12 champion Cardinal, led by prolific passer Andrew Luck (2,937 yards and 31 TDs).

 

Orange Bowl: Boise State vs. Houston

Only one of these teams likely will make it to a BCS bowl game using the current selection process of the BCS. However, if all Top 10 teams were guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl, fans would be treated to a game filled with offensive fireworks—Boise’s record-setting QB Kellen Moore (2,915 yards and 35 TDs) against Houston’s all-time, all-everything QB Case Keenum (4,269 yards and 38 TDs).

 

Rose Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Oregon

Preseason favorite Oklahoma against preseason No. 3 Oregon. These two teams no doubt hit a few bumps along the way but still would provide plenty of excitement. The Sooners are led by QB Landry Jones (3,796 yards and 28 TDs), while the speedy Ducks feature star RB LaMichael James (1,285 yards and 13 TDs).

 

What Would the BCS Bowl Games Look Like If Only the Top 10 Participated (Part Two)?

Using this basic premise for dividing the teams among the BCS bowls—take the top two teams for the BCS National Championship Game and pit the next two ranked teams against each other until all bowls were filled—some of the bowls would be much more controversial and would look like this:

  • BCS National Championship: LSU vs. Alabama
  • Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs. Oklahoma State
  • Fiesta Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Stanford
  • Orange Bowl: Boise State vs. Houston
  • Rose Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Oregon

Last week, someone commented that the Cotton Bowl should be considered a BCS bowl, too. Using the formula above, this year’s Cotton Bowl would feature Kansas State against South Carolina if the season were to end today.

As I said before, it's not a perfect method for determining the matchups in the remaining BCS bowl games, but it does reward teams that make the BCS Top 10.

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