The BCS Blows Up: What Happens Now?

Oregon Ducks BCS

Photo: AP

After three straight weeks in which the Top 7 of the BCS rankings remained unchanged, things got crazy in college football this weekend.Three of the Top 10 teams in the running for BCS slots got knocked out of the picture, as other conference races came into focus.

The top 2 teams survived, but there were plenty of changes in the upper ranks of the college football world. Let’s take a look at the BCS Bowls as they stand now and try to predict what matchups we’ll see in January.

BCS Championship Game: #1 Oregon vs. #2 Auburn

Both teams have one game remaining and they aren’t easy ones. However, if either team loses they will likely end up in another BCS bowl. (Oregon already has the Pac-10 title.) But after their performances this weekend, these teams look like a good bet to meet in Glendale, Arizona.

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin (Big 10 Co-Champion) vs. TCU (#3, Automatic Qualifier)

This game is basically set. The BCS instituted a rule for 2011-14 that says the first time the Rose Bowl loses a team to the national championship game (in this case, Oregon) and a team from a non-BCS conference scores an automatic bid (in this case, TCU), the Rose Bowl has to take that team. By finishing in the Top 3, TCU automatically qualifies for a BCS bowl and will get the Big 10 champ in Pasadena. It will be intriguing to see the nation’s best defence face a team that has scored 70 points three times this year.

Sugar Bowl: Arkansas (SEC At-Large) vs. Ohio State (Big 10 Co-Champ, At Large)

The Sugar gets the first two free picks: A replacement for the SEC Champ (that is headed to the title game) and the first at-large. Stanford, who will be ranked #4 in the BCS standings would be first in line, but their relatively small fanbase and two time-zone difference makes them an unattractive option for a bowl looking to sell tickets down south.

By beating LSU, Arkansas becomes the No. 2 SEC team and is right in the Sugar’s backyard. Meanwhile, Ohio State has the huge, well-traveled support group that bowl bosses love.

Orange Bowl: Florida State (ACC Champion) vs. Connecticut (Big East Champion)

We’re calling an upset of the Seminoles over Virginia Tech in the ACC title game, which locks the winner into the Orange. Once again, Stanford would clearly be the better matchup, but Miami is an even farther haul from Palo Alto than New Orleans is. Since someone has to take Big East champ, this matchup will give the Orange an East Coast flavour. Connecticut still has to take care of business at South Florida next Saturday to lock up their berth.

Fiesta Bowl: Nebraska (Big 12 Champ)  vs. Stanford (#4 BCS, Pac-10 At Large)

The Fiesta Bowl is the beneficiary of Stanford’s closer location, getting the No. 4 team against the Big 12 Champion. That slot looked like Oklahoma State’s to lose … which they did, to rival Oklahoma. We like Nebraska to take care of the Sooners in the conference title game.

There is one gigantic wrinkle that could still upset the apple cart. If South Carolina beats Auburn in the SEC Championship game, they would a) knock Auburn out of the title game, which would b) move TCU into the title game, which could c) move Stanford back into the Rose Bowl, and would d) take the SEC’s Sugar Bowl slot away from Arkansas, which might e) tempt the Orange Bowl to steal the second SEC team (that would now be Auburn) for itself.

In other words, one game could upset the well-laid plans of all five BCS Bowls — which is reason enough to root for South Carolina next Saturday.

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