Monday, November 19

BCS Bowls - who's still alive?

Of course while the media is focused on the title game, a berth in any BCS bowl is a great honor for a team - it's basically an official nomination for being one of the ten best teams in the country - and an opportunity to show the nation what they're made of against another top team. As I'm sure you all know, the six "BCS conferences" each send their champion to a BCS bowl automatically and the remaining four slots are filled by invitation. (which may be guaranteed in some cases with a high enough ranking)

First of all, who's still alive in their conference races, and what would it take for them to win?

Boston College:
* Has clinched Atlantic division.
* Conference title with win in ACCCG.
Virginia Tech:
* Clinches Atlantic division with win over UVA.
* Conference title with win over BC in ACCCG.
* clinches Atlantic division with win over VT.
* Conference title with win over BC in ACCCG.

Big East:
Connecticut: Conference title with win over West Virginia.
West Virginia: Conference title with win over Connecticut.

Big Ten:
* Ohio State is the Big Ten champion.

Big 12:
* Clinches North division with win over Missouri.
* Conference title with win in B12CG.
* Clinches North division with win over Kansas.
* Conference title with win in B12CG.
* Clinches South division with win over Ok State OR Texas loss to A&M.
* Conference title with win in B12CG.
* Clinches South division with win over A&M AND OU loss to Ok State.
* Conference title with win in B12CG.

Pac 10:
Arizona State:
* Conference title by winning out OR win over Arizona and USC loss to UCLA and Oregon loss.
* Conference title by winning out AND Arizona State loss to USC.
* Conference title by winning out AND Oregon loss.

* Clinches East division with Tennessee loss to Kentucky.
* Conference title with win over LSU in SECCG.
* Has clinched West division.
* Conference title with win in SECCG.
* Clinches East division with win over Kentucky.
* Conference title with win over LSU in SECCG.

What this means is that, in addition to the conference championship games and a few Pac 10 games Dec 1, there will be games with major conference championship implications this weekend. (all times MST... lol that's right bitches)
* USC at Arizona State, 6pm Thursday
* Texas at Texas A&M, 1:30pm Friday
* Boise State at Hawaii, 7pm Friday
* Connecticut at West Virginia, 10am Saturday
* Virginia Tech at Virginia, 10am Saturday
* Tennessee at Kentucky, 11:30am Saturday
* Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, 1:30pm Saturday
* Oregon at UCLA, 1:30pm Saturday
* Missouri at Kansas, 6pm Saturday

Additionally, Notre Dame travels to Stanford in a game that will be aired on NBC at 1:30pm Saturday. A victory by the Cardinal would give ND 10 losses for the season.

At this point, obviously the race for the wild card spots is too chaotic to really predict. In fact, upsets in conference championships would make it tough to predict even a week from now (surely an 11-2 LSU team who lost to an 11-2 Georgia team would still get an at-large bid). However, my predictions:

Conference Champions:
ACC: Virginia Tech (11-2)
* Virgina has been humiliated by Wyoming, won three games by 1 point, and won another two by 2 points. Fortune has been their ally as much as skill.
* Boston College was frankly lucky to win the first matchup, and has only escaped four straight losses by two last-minute victories. This time the Hokies won't go into a prevent.

Big East: West Virginia (11-1)
* UConn hasn't seen a player as good as Pat White, nor a backfield as scary as this one.

Big Ten: Ohio State (11-1)
* It's official.

Big 12: Missouri (12-1)
* Chase Daniel is the best quarterback and perhaps the best player in the conference. Kansas's schedule has not prepared them for the kind of offense the Tigers bring to the table.
* Oklahoma was lucky to pull out a 4th quarter win over Mizzou in Norman. On a neutral field and if they don't make as many mistakes (WR throwing an interception??) the Tigers win a rematch.

Pac 10: USC (10-2)
* ASU hasn't faced that great a schedule aside from Oregon, a game which they lost. USC knows how to take care of business, and they'll take care of things on their end.
* Oregon should have otherwise won out, but with Leaf quarterbacking now they are in a bad situation.

SEC: LSU (12-1)
* LSU may be banged up, but Arkansas just isn't very good.
* Tennessee has been absolutely killed by Florida and Alabama, and the Cal game got away from them too. They needed to come back to beat Vandy. Come on now.

In which case, the at-large bids go to:

* Kansas (11-1) - a loss to the only real competition they faced doesn't negate 11 wins vs a schedule at least 100 times tougher than Hawaii's.
* Georgia (10-2) - Despite the Vols finishing 9-3, Tennessee gets the East tiebreaker which means UGA doesn't face LSU. Two losses in the SEC is good enough, and they're already in the top ten anyway.

To understand the rest of what I think will unfold, first take into account that each conference can send at most two teams to the BCS. The Big 12 has three teams in the top 10 and Texas is 13th in the BCS standings. The SEC has two teams in the top 10 and Florida 12th. The Pac 10 has two in the top 10 and USC 11th. That means four teams currently in the top 13 would be ineligible to go! Looking down the list, that means schools like Boston College, Hawaii, Virginia, and Illinois are a lot closer to those final two spots than they otherwise appear. My guesses:

* Arizona State (10-2) - A loss to USC would likely drop them out of the top 10, but recall that all of the potentially eligible Big 12 and SEC teams cannot go. Of course, should Oregon avoid upset they would go over ASU.
* Boise State (11-1) - Hawaii has played unimpressively for about half the season, while Boise State's ground game has been devastating.

My BCS matchup predictions:

BCS Championship: LSU vs Missouri
Fiesta: Kansas vs Arizona State
Orange: Virginia Tech vs West Virginia
Rose: Ohio State vs USC
Sugar: Georgia vs Boise State