Sunday, November 23, 2008

Now the fun really starts?

Volumes could be (and are being) written about the possible mess on the way to the national championship game selection. I can only hope that the near-playoff we're going to be treated to in the SEC and Big 12 will build some future interest in a true playoff system. From all accounts, it still appears that an Alabama-Florida SEC Championship game will be an unofficial national semifinal, assuming of course they both win out until then. In an amusing twist, the Big 12 conference championship matchup will be determined by the BCS standings if OU, Texas, and Texas Tech all win next weekend, the highest ranked among those three playing Missouri for the conference championship. If that team then beats Mizzou, they're all but assured a spot in the national title game; but if the conference championship goes to Missouri, it's going to be chaos...

Meanwhile, in the "BCS Busters" department, I don't want to say it, but I have to acknowledge the facts, and those facts say it is now more unlikely that Boise State is going to get a BCS bowl bid. Don't send me hate mail over this; I wish it weren't so. But their chances under the governing BCS rules are becoming thinner after this past weekend. Utah has all but officially wrapped up an automatic BCS bowl bid, barring lots of pollsters changing their minds from previous weeks and moving Boise State ahead of the Utes. The special rules that force inclusion of high ranking conference champions outside the big 6 conferences only applies to a single school, which will be Utah, assuming again they stay ahead of Boise State in the BCS Standings. The second such school has to get a bid through the normal at-large selection process, of which there will only be 3 openings left. For Boise State's purposes, a hopeful key phrase in the rules is "No more than two teams from a conference may be selected, regardless of whether they are automatic qualifiers or at-large selections." Importantly, the top of the BCS Standings is packed full of teams from the SEC and Big 12, so it's safe to say that two from each will get BCS bowl bids. That is, two of the remaining three at-large bids will go to these two conferences. So does Boise State have a shot at that last spot if they win out? After yesterday, I'm not confident. Specifically, Oregon State is now one win away from a trip to the Rose Bowl, in which case you have to think that USC is going to get an at-large BCS bid. Indeed, if USC somehow climbs to #4 in the Standings before the end of the season, that at-large bid becomes automatic under the rules. So Boise State fans have to be cheering for Oregon to beat Oregon State next weekend, and for USC to win the conference to take the Rose Bowl bid. Alternatively, USC could drop out of the picture altogether with losses to both ND and UCLA; but that's not something I'd be counting on happening! So, Boise State fans need USC to win the Pac-10. Otherwise, there is no realistic route to a BCS bowl for Boise State. If USC does win the Pac-10, then the last at-large BCS bid appears to come down to a choice, made by the bowl games themselves, between Boise State and Ohio State (ignoring other teams that might become technically eligible but that I think are even less likely to be chosen).

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