Final BCS Projections
Posted by Gerry Meskill
Going into the BCS Selection show (5 p.m. EST), the bowl pairings have become rather predictable. I'll give them first, then explain why.
Rose Bowl: Southern Cal (12-0) vs. Texas (12-0)
Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame (9-2) vs. Ohio State (9-2)
Orange Bowl: Florida State (8-4) vs. Penn State (10-1)
Sugar Bowl: Georgia (10-2) vs. West Virginia (10-1)
These eight teams will be the ones chosen. I can guarantee that. With LSU and Virginia Tech losing their conference championship games, Ohio State leaps from sixth in the BCS to fourth, while Notre Dame moves from eighth to sixth. Under the BCS rules, any school that does not win its conference and places third or fourth in the BCS rankings shall be awarded an automatic bid. So that takes care of the Buckeyes. A second rule states that if any non-BCS conference school or Notre Dame finishes fifth or sixth in the BCS standings shall be awarded an automatic bid. Therefore, there are no at-large openings for Oregon or Auburn.
Let's consider the pairings now. The Rose Bowl pairings should be obvious. With Texas going to the national championship game, the Fiesta Bowl is compensated by receiving the first pick, and they will choose Notre Dame. The Orange Bowl chooses second, and certainly will pick Penn State, pairing the two winningest coaches in history (Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno) against one another. (I had originally thought that the Orange Bowl and Fiesta Bowl might swap the two Big Ten schools to avoid Ohio State making its third trip to Tempe in four years, but a reliable source who communicates with someone on the Orange Bowl selection committee has said that the Orange Bowl refuses to make such a trade.) The Fiesta Bowl then picks again, choosing Ohio State. This leaves the Sugar Bowl with West Virginia.
For better or for worse, the BCS this year will generate some interesting storylines, if not games themselves. The system worked this year, pairing the two undefeateds in the Rose Bowl. Penn State vs. Florida State is a great human interest story, considering the Nittany Lions meteoric rise and the matchup of two college football coaching dinosaurs. Notre Dame vs. Ohio State will be a ratings bonanza. The Fiesta Bowl hit a homerun this time around. Unfortunately, the Sugar Bowl did not. In addition to being relocated from its natural site in New Orleans, this game will be over before halftime. Georgia will crush West Virginia.