Despite what you may have learned from the Fonz, it's not hard to say. I was wrong. From way back in January, I have picked Ohio State and Nebraska as my BCS Championship game. It made sense. Both had manageable schedules. Both would be veteran teams that should improve from the 2009's strong finishes. And most importantly, I saw two SEC-free openings in the BCS title game. I believed that the two teams would run the table and that the SEC wouldn't have a perfect champion. I'm not entirely wrong on that one - yet.
So where are we in this new landscape? It's a mess. And of course, it's also the first week that I set out to predict all 35 bowls (36 if you count Queso). So here we go. Remember the Rules.
The best teams don't always go to the best games. In the end, butts in the seat and eyes to the television are the biggest factors.
The order of BCS selection is 1) Replacement for #1 Team; 2) Replacement for #2 Team; 3) Sugar Bowl; 4) Orange Bowl; 5) Fiesta Bowl.
If a Big Ten or Pac-10 team qualifies for the BCS Championship Game, the Rose Bowl will be required to take a non-automatic qualifier. This will only be required of the Rose Bowl the first time it occurs over the next four years.
The Gator Bowl picks its Big Ten team ahead of the Insight Bowl this year. It will rotate the other way next year.
Got it? Good. Let's get on to the projections.
The BCS and Big Ten Bowls...
Oklahoma has road games at Missouri and Oklahoma State that could be tricky. However, they also have such a strong tradition of winning in Columbia and Stillwater, that I feel more confident in selecting them for this game than I do the Ducks.
Oregon has a deep PAC-10 to wade through. Watch out for the game at USC in two weeks. All the Trojans have left to play for is ruining other teams' seasons.
11-1 (7-1) Ohio State wins the tiebreaker over 10-2 (7-1) Iowa and 11-1 (7-1) Michigan State. After head to head is resolved (and Sparty and the Bucks don't play this season), we'll end up looking at higher BCS ranking. Ohio State will win that and a return to Pasadena.
The interesting question we may see is this: if Oklahoma or Oregon loses, would a one-loss SEC champ or Boise State grab the bid to the championship game? Talk radio will explode.
Alabama needs to get past Tennessee and get healthy before the closing stretch. I still see a 12-1 Alabama team not given a chance to defend its title.
This is a special year for Sparty. I think that they lose at Iowa, but win their other games. 11-1 will get them a BCS bowl, and a selection to see and old friend.
I think Florida State wins this. That said, winning the ACC this year isn't a huge thing to be bragging about.
Auburn will be undefeated going to Alabama for the Iron Bowl on November 26. They'll lose there, but 11-1 will keep them as an at large pick.
I think Texas has lost for the last time this season. And, 10-2 Texas will be asked to replace OKlahoma (not 11-2 Nebraska after the Big 12 title game loss to Oklahoma) as the Big 12 representative. Head-to-head is part of it. But you also better believe that the Big 12 will be lobbying hard against their ex-pat.
West Virginia will have even less to brag about as champions of the Big East. The Mountain West champ will deserve, but not get, a BCS Bid much more.
Iowa will only drop a game against Ohio State. That said, I suspect that they'll be very glad that they catch Wisconsin the week that they do. Ask Kentucky about playing the team that just had an emotional victory over #1.
Arkansas has a schedule that should enable them to make it to 10-2 -- if they can get past Les Miles's voodoo.
What a huge win for Wisconsin. Unfortunately, I don't see them winning out in the Big Ten. A loss at Iowa next week seems likely.
Assuming that the SEC East Champ doesn't pull an upset in the SEC Championship game, this will only be the third year of the BCS without an SEC East representative. I think that Florida and South Carolina will both have at least four losses. I also think that the Outback will take Florida - something the bowl hasn't been able to since since the 2005 season.
A 7-5 Michigan is happily selected by the Gator Bowl. My guess is that the record is just good enough to save Rodriguez's job.
Kentucky isn't that good, but as the 7th team out of the SEC, it's the best remaining.
A rematch of a great Alamo Bowl from two years ago. I'll ask this question aloud: Could MIzzou be the best team in the Big 12 North? Hosting Oklahoma and traveling to Nebraska over the next two weeks should tell us quite a bit.
These are two 6-6 teams. My confidence that Penn State find three more wins is not very strong. I'm looking at the Northwestern game as their swing game. They can, and need to, win that one.
I'll explain 6-6 Texas A&M a little further down.
This is a 6-6 Illinois team. Unless Illinois get to seven wins, and has to be selected over Penn State, the Lions will get the more prominent bowl.
Baylor's win over Colorado giver them a viable route to 6 wins and a long awaited bowl game.
Northern wins the MAC and get the bid to the Detroit.
ULM is the third best team from the Sun Belt, which gets the Big Ten's berth in the Pizza when the league can't fill it.
When you can't get to six wins, you know that you'll spend the bowl season On the Couch with the Queso Bowl (sponsored by Ro*Tel).
Purdue has a route to six wins, but I think that it's asking too much to expect them to successfully navigate it. Indiana will be lucky to win a Big Ten game this season, namely because they don't get to play Minnesota, a team that has to be in the discussion with Kansas and Washington State for the worst team in the BCS.
And everything else.
How many times would this be referred to as a duel with pistols?
Syracuse needs to get to seven wins, due to a horrible decision scheduling two 1-AA teams (only one of which can count toward bowl eligibility). Tulsa takes the spot when an SEC team can't fill it.
11-2 Nebraska vs. 9-3 LSU sounds like a great Cotton Bowl matchup.
This would make a very interesting matchup of the second best teams of the Sun Belt and MAC. This is the former GMAC Bowl.
This sees the 6th choice from the SEC facing the 2nd choice of the ACC. In other words, South Carolina fills the seats while Miami bring the TV audience.
With the implosion of Houston's QB situation, I'm picking ECU to repeat as C-USA champs. That gets them a return bid to Memphis. 6-6 Georgia will be waiting for them there.
4th Choice from the Pac-10 and ACC. It looks like a very attractive matchup.
Pitt gets the return selection for Charlotte. The bowl picks a North Carolina team (again) to fill seats.
Arizona heads back to San Diego, but should find better results this year. Kansas State gets a nice game in its first bowl in four years.
This is assuming that UNC doesn't get NCAA whacked on bowl eligibility this season. Mississippi State's win makes 7 wins a likely outcome (and 6 a near certainty).
Cincy takes the Big East slot this year, in a game that would have been more fun last year.
Texas Tech, Baylor, and Texas A&M can all get to six wins, and there are a couple of scenarios that make it probable. However, it's also entirely possible that one or two of them will drop a game that they need to win. That's what mediocre teams do some times. I have them all in right now, but time will tell.
Army gets bowl eligible for the first time in ages and goes to the Armed Forces Bowl. BYU scratches its way to 6 wins a bowl.
This is the third pick of the Big 12 and the second from the Pac-10. It's also two schools that are slightly different culturally, no? I love when we see that it bowl games.
Southern Miss takes the C-USA bid. 6 win Maryland is a happy accident for this DC Bowl.
Virginia Tech gets this as the top non-BCS pick from the ACC. Notre Dame will get this bid if it secures 7 wins. The Domers will be in with the Big East Bowls. Practically, that means that Notre Dame will be selected at the first opportunity.
If you ever wanted to watch a football game from 1973, here is your chance.
Hawai'i stays home, as they love to do. UTEP gets the C-USA bid in paradise this year.
Navy is here if they become bowl eligible. Utah, who I see as runner-up in the Mountain West, will be very gad to be heading to the stronger bowl tie-ins of the Pac-10 next year.
TCU goes 12-0 (or 11-1), but unless they finish in the Top 4 of the BCS standings (which means that they must be selected), I expect them to be passed over for teams with fan bases the bring more eyes and butts.
Rutgers gets a Big East bid here. UCF travels across state, and might actually be the favorite.
I'd love to see this matchup. Two strong teams, and the Houston QB situation may make it a very fair fight.
Miami is the third choice from the MAC. Idaho creeps to 6 wins and stays in state.
Two California teams that head to New Mexico for a bowl, when they'll be facing each other as conference rivals very soon. I love bowl season.
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