The BCS Standings have not been released yet, so I’m going to use my own rankings.
BCS National Championship Game:
(2) Florida St.
(4) Michigan St.
(5) Ohio St.
(10) Central Florida
Other Selected Bowl picks
(9) Arizona St.
(11) South Carolina
(15) Oklahoma St.
(53) Texas Tech
Chick-fil-A (Peach) Bowl:
(28) Texas A&M
Unless I’m misled by reliable sources, BCS bowl selection will proceed as follows. (The italicized section is the way it works. My guesses as to what will happen are in plan fontt.)
(1) #1 plays #2, based on the BCS Standings. There is almost no doubt the two teams will be Florida St. and Auburn. Florida St. is the only unbeaten team in major college football. Auburn has clearly had the best schedule among one-loss teams and won the SEC over Alabama and Missouri, who would both be in the top 5 had their seasons ended before playing Auburn.
(2) If the #1 team would otherwise be designated for a certain bowl game, that bowl gets a replacement pick. I’m pretty sure the #1 team will remain Florida St. since they were #1 going in and won convincingly. So that means the Orange would get to pick first. I think they’ll pick Ohio St. That’s the best team not in the BCS Championship or Rose Bowl, and they bring fans to games pretty well. There is an agreement not to pick the #2 team from another conference, so I don’t think Alabama would be going here.
(3) If the #2 team would otherwise be designated for a certain bowl game, that bowl gets a replacement pick. The second bowl to pick will be the Sugar Bowl. Despite a great season by Missouri, Alabama is a better draw. Most people already regarded Alabama as the better team before Missouri’s loss to Auburn. Unfortunately, there are only two teams allowed per conference.
(4) Remaining slots will be selected based upon the rotation for a given year. In order to pick an “at-large” team, slots must be available for the automatic bids.
(4a) Orange My guess is the Orange will jump at an opportunity to recall the old days of picking Big 8 champions and go with Oklahoma. They could pick Clemson instead, but other than not losing to anyone but South Carolina and Florida St., what has Clemson really done? Also, I know South Carolina is a crazy football state, but they’re just not on the same level.
(4b) Sugar You might remember that a week ago people were saying that for the second selection, the Sugar would have to decide between UCF and Northern Illinois. That would have been true had Northern Illinois won; but since the Huskies lost, that opens up another at-large slot. Clemson might have a good argument here, but I think people would be more excited about Oregon. It wasn’t too long ago that Alabama was #1 and Oregon was #2. I think that would be a more exciting match-up. Ducks fans probably wouldn’t travel as well as Clemson Tiger fans though, so I’m not 100% sold on this.
(4c) Fiesta Unless the Orange or Sugar pick Central Florida, the Fiesta Bowl will have to. Baylor automatically goes as a result of winning the Big XII.
As to the non-BCS Bowls, there is more leeway.
Last year, a very good SEC team that lost the Championship for its second loss went to the CapitalOne Bowl, which is meant to be the top SEC non-BCS bowl. I expect the same this year.
Although conceivably Missouri could lobby to be in the Cotton instead of LSU, usually the Cotton goes to an SEC West team; and I think the Cotton would be happy with LSU, which has been a good draw in Arlington a few times recently, including playing Texas A&M in the Cotton a few years ago and playing Oregon and TCU to start the year in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Les Miles vs. Oklahoma St. would of course add some intrigue to the game.
Although Texas was one win away from the Fiesta Bowl, I think it would only be fair if it is the #4 Big XII team selected with its two non-conference losses. So that slot is the Alamo Bowl, which is of course in Texas and should be happy to have them. Arizona St. is pretty close for a Pac-12 school, so they’ll be a good pick to play the Longhorns. The Pac-12 #2 (or top available after the BCS) has gone to the Holiday Bowl before, but that’s not the way it works now from what I understand.
South Carolina always seems to end up in the Outback Bowl, but it’s a result of being in the SEC East and not one of the top 3 selections when there are two SEC teams in BCS bowls. I don’t see another logical place to put them. There is some talk of LSU going to the Outback Bowl if Missouri goes to the Cotton and frees up the CapitalOne Bowl for South Carolina, but I don’t think that’s fair to either the CapitalOne Bowl or to LSU. LSU was brushed aside for the Cotton last year in favor of A&M despite having beaten the Aggies. But Texas A&M wasn’t given the option of the “better” CapitalOne Bowl, which got Georgia. Iowa beat Nebraska, but they’re both 5-3 and I would think the Outback would go with Nebraska for its well-known supportive fan base.
I mentioned the Holiday Bowl earlier. They may pass on UCLA to vary things up a bit, but I suspect they won’t. It just seems to make too much sense. It’s also possible that the Alamo and Holiday could switch Pac-12 teams, but I don’t think that would be an improvement for either. If Oregon does not get into a BCS bowl, they may bump either UCLA or Arizona St. to the Sun Bowl. The pickings in the Big XII start to get slim, but Texas Tech looks like the best possibility. Kansas St. is another.
Texas A&M has been slotted for the Chick-fil-A bowl for a while, particularly by those prognosticators who didn’t pick them to beat Missouri. Since the time it was the Peach Bowl, this has been known for fun, competitive games, and I don’t think Clemson would disappoint. The Tigers won by a single point last year, but I don’t think the bowl would be enticed by Duke. It’s basketball season at that school.
Georgia has had an up-and-down year and they play in Jacksonville every year anyway, but I still think the Gator makes a lot of sense given its proximity to the state of Georgia. I think enough Georgia fans live far enough away to get hotel rooms and so forth, but they’ll still show up in big numbers. I’ve seen Michigan projected here, and they’re always a good draw too. I’m hoping the politics don’t allow the Wolverines to pass up Iowa and Minnesota, who both finished with better records. It wouldn’t shock me though.