Championship Week 14 to Answer All BCS Questions

Each week we like to say something to effect that the BCS picture is clearing up and we’re getting a better understanding of the BCS picture.

It’s a lie.

In reality, with the unpredictable nature of the BCS and college football as a whole, the only time when we’ll ever have a clear picture is after the final game is played.

Luckily (or unluckily depending on how you view it) we will finally get the clarity that we’ve been working towards all season this weekend, as the 2010 regular season comes to an end with Championship Weekend.

Championship games in the Big 12, SEC and ACC along with conference-deciding games in the Big East will make this final weekend an exciting one beginning to end, and nearly every game has an effect on postseason positioning — especially of the BCS variety.

Among the guarantees of this weekend — which are few and far between — are that the winners of the three automatic qualifying conference championship games will be headed to BCS Bowls. And in all likelihood, the winner of the ACC game (Virginia Tech or Florida State) will be going to the Orange Bowl and the winner of the Big 12 game (Nebraska or Oklahoma) will be on their way to the Fiesta Bowl.

But past that, it gets a little more complicated. A win in the SEC Championship Game would obviously give the Auburn Tigers a berth in the BCS National Championship Game, but what if they lose to South Carolina? Where would Auburn end up and how would that shuffle the picture?

Where will TCU end up? The Horned Frogs are done with their season and would be headed to the Rose Bowl if they don’t get to the BCS title game and Oregon does, but what would it take to send the Horned Frogs to Glendale?

Oregon and Auburn stand in their way, and although the Ducks have already clinched a spot in the BCS, they will need to beat instate rival Oregon State on Saturday to secure their spot in the title game. A loss, and who knows, we could actually have the non-AQ team in the title game everyone has been talking about.

The Big East will also be supplying a team to the BCS, however it could easily be any of the three remaining teams in contention for the crown — who will all be in action on Saturday. Connecticut, West Virginia Pittsburgh, remain alive, with the Huskies controlling their fate despite having four losses to their name.

The final weekend of college football always features a bevy of possibilities to be pondered, but this year’s edition raises an exceptionally large number of questions and possibilities.

BCS Know How will be here on Saturday guiding you through the action and then on Sunday as bowl selections and BCS rankings are released.

To get up-to-the-second updates from BCS Know How follow us on Twitter @BCSKnowHow.

We’ll also be setting up a live chat for any questions and selection weekend hub page to help you gather all the information you’ll need in order to fully understand the selection process and BCS system when the time comes for the final announcements.

It’s going to be a great weekend, enjoy.

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BCS Dominoes Ready to Fall in Rivalry Week 13

The Iron Bowl. Bedlam. The Backyard Brawl. The Game.

These are all rivalry games that rile up emotions regardless of record, implication, ranking or even sport. It just so happens, however, that during this extended Thanksgiving-weekend slate of college football games, all four have massive BCS implications. And they aren’t the only matchups this weekend that could send shock waves through the BCS and college football landscape.

Yes, just a week removed from all three top-three BCS teams taking the weekend off, we’ve come to a defining moment in the 2010 college football season, a Rivalry Week 13 that could start the domino effect that defines the BCS national title race and the BCS race as a whole.

Of course, we have to start in Tuscaloosa, where Auburn and Alabama will be playing a Friday afternoon showdown with huge BCS implications. An Auburn win would be great, and would likely help make Auburn the No. 1 team in the next set of BCS rankings. However, the chaos scenario that everyone’s been projecting since the BCS standings came out — a Crimson Tide victory — could start some BCS chaos that would be almost unmatched in the BCS era.

Oregon and Auburn have ridden the BCS wave at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively for a couple of weeks now, and they’ve yet to show signs of slowing down, however this Friday matchup could be the end of four weeks of relative BCS calm after we got off to such a raucous start with No. 1’s Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma falling on consecutive weekends.

The question has loomed for a while now — who would replace Auburn in the BCS national title picture if they were to fall to Alabama? Could it be Boise State, who will be tested sorely against Nevada late Friday? Or would it be TCU, who will have a rather pedestrian New Mexico team to deal with on Saturday?

These questions are ones that have been projected on for a while now, but the Tigers could render them all moot with a victory on Friday, and would likely be heavy favorites to make it all the way to the BCS National Championship Game with a win.

It may not have the title game implications of the Iron Bowl, but Bedlam in Stillwater on Saturday will play a deciding factor in at least one BCS bowl bid come bowl selection Sunday, as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will likely be playing for a Big 12 South title and the accompanying Big 12 Championship Game bid.

Equally important to the BCS bowl picture, and possibly a deciding factor in who the Big 12 champion ends up playing in the Fiesta Bowl might be played out Friday afternoon in the Backyard Brawl between West Virginia and Pittsburgh. Both have spent the season as prime contenders in the muddled Big East title race, with Pittsburgh faring better thus far with just one conference loss to their name.

A loss by West Virginia here would almost certainly give the Panthers the inside track to the Big East crown, but a Mountaineer win would open up the conference race to four teams — the Mountaineers, Panthers, Connecticut and Syracuse — which would have to wait until the final week to be decided.

Finally, “The Game’ between Ohio State and Michigan is among three monumentally important Big Ten games occurring Saturday afternoon in which the Buckeyes will be playing for the possibility of a Big Ten title, along with Wisconsin and Michigan State. If all three win or all three lose, the race will have to be decided by the BCS standings (the Big Ten’s tiebreaker rule for three teams). However, a variety of other circumstances could occur, with the possibility remaining of all three claiming the title.

Other games from around the country, including Arkansas-LSU, Oregon State-Stanford and Maryland-NC State will all have seriously important implications on the final two BCS standings that will decide a number of variables in the college football season.

The question is now, how will it all turn out and will the BCS dominoes begin to settle into place, or fall all around the country?

We’ll find out over the course of three action-packed days.

Calm Before the BCS Storm During Week 12 Should Not Go Unnoticed

With the top ten in the unchanged in the most recent BCS standings, people looking at the week 12 slate of games might find little reason to think that BCS chaos is nearby — and it may or may not be — but that certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t important matchups on tap this coming weekend.

Yes, the top three teams in the BCS are not hitting the field this weekend, but the gaggle of teams chasing them are certainly hitting the field with even more to play for, and important points to prove (and score).

The team with the most to gain in the next few weeks might be Boise State, who will start the college football weekend off on Friday night against Fresno State, the first of three important WAC games that the Broncos have to close out their 2010 season.

If the Broncos want to take advantage of their somewhat back-loaded final three game schedule and TCU’s single remaining game, they’ll have to make sure they’re firing on all cylinders the rest of the way in order to keep ahead of TCU in the human polls.

The group of three teams at the head of the Big Ten table — Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin — are all in action this weekend as well, as all three try to do their best to climb the BCS standings as final BCS rank is the tiebreaker in case of a three-way tie in the conference.

Ohio State may have the best chance to do just that against Iowa, although the Hawkeyes recent loss to Northwestern certainly downplays the importance of the game for Ohio State’s computer rankings. Michigan State takes on Purdue while Wisconsin faces a test at the Big House against Michigan and Denard Robinson.

The current leaders at the one-loss BCS conference section of the BCS — a position that’s enviable this late in the season — LSU and Stanford will both have conference teams to deal with, but should be favored to continue their chase of an outside shot at a BCS title shot.

Positioning for BCS bowls is also of the utmost importance this time of year, and ACC matchups featuring Virginia Tech against Miami and Florida State and Maryland along with a Big 12 showdown between Nebraska and Texas A&M will have a lot to say about who gets the automatic BCS bids in those conferences come season’s end.

Its been three seasons since the No. 1 and No. 2 BCS teams after the fifth BCS standings have finished in those spots at the end of the year. Many things happened along the way to continue that streak for three years, including teams putting on surprising performances where they just weren’t expected.

There’s no reason to think it won’t happen again.

2010-11 BCS Bowl Selection Process Explained

More information can be found at the BCS Bowls page.

As it acts today, the BCS facilitates matchups in five bowl games — the BCS National Championship Game along with the Orange, Sugar, Fiesta and Rose Bowls.

In the 2010-11 season as in past years, there is a specific selection process for each of the five bowls, with slight changes year-to-year.

On Sunday December 5th, “Selection Sunday” if you will, representatives from the conferences, bowl games and schools meet to decide the matchups in the five bowl games in the following fashion:

Creating the BCS Selection Pool

  • The champions of the six BCS conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10 and SEC — will all receive guaranteed bids to BCS games.
  • The top ranking conference champion from the five non-AQ conferences — C-USA, MAC, MWC, Sun Belt, and the WAC — in the final BCS rankings will also be assured of a bid to a BCS bowl if they rank within the top-12 or within the top-18 and are ranked higher than any BCS conference champion.
  • Any teams which wins nine games and finishes within the top 18 of the final BCS standings will be BCS bowl-eligible, although a team within the top-14 will have priority on eligibility over a team ranked 15th-18th.
  • Although more than two teams from a single conference can be BCS bowl eligible, no more than two teams from a single conference can be selected to play in the five BCS bowls.

BCS National Championship Game Participants

  • The teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the final BCS standings — regardless of conference affiliation or own-conference finish — will be placed in the BCS National Championship Game to be held in Glendale, Arizona in January 2011 as the selection committee’s first measure.

Filling Conference Affiliation

  • After the National Title Game is filled, the remaining BCS bowls will fill their bowls with their traditional “anchor host” conference champions as follows:
    • Rose Bowl: Big Ten Conference and Pac-10 Conference
    • Fiesta Bowl: Big 12
    • Orange Bowl: ACC
    • Sugar Bowl: SEC

Championship Replacement

  • If any of the bowls’ traditional anchor hosts have been lost to the BCS National Championship Game, that bowl will be allowed to select a replacement team from the eligible pool before any other picks are made.
  • If more than one bowl loses a host conference champion, the bowl which lost the BCS No. 1 will choose its replacement from the pool and then the bowl that lost the BCS No. 2 will choose from the pool.
  • Beginning this season, if the Rose Bowl loses either the Pac-10 or Big Ten conference champion to the BCS National Championship Game, they will be required to select the automatically qualifying non-AQ conference champion as one of their replacements.

Filling the Rest of the Bowls

  • Once all of the affiliation and replacement selections have been made, the Sugar, Fiesta and Orange will select from among the remaining members of the eligibility pool in the following order:
    • Sugar, Orange, Fiesta.
  • One of the three bowls will be required to select the Big East champion and the automatically qualifying non-AQ champion (if they have not been taken by the Rose Bowl) if one exists.
  • If not selected previously, a team which finishes third in the final BCS standings will automatically be awarded a spot in a BCS bowl if they are an at-large team from one of the six BCS conferences. If the third team is a conference champion, the fourth-place team will also be afforded this automatic eligibility if not selected previously.
  • The three bowls will also be able to select among the rest of the pool if no other teams automatically qualify for inclusion among the five bowls.

Auburn and South Carolina Clinch Spots in the 2010 SEC Championship Game

After their victories on Saturday, the Auburn Tigers and the South Carolina Gamecocks have both clinched a spot in the 2010 SEC Championship Game to be played on December 4th in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Tigers defeated Georgia 49-31 in Jordan-Hare Stadium to stretch their record to 11-0 and 7-0 in conference, which was good enough to secure the SEC West Division Crown.

A victory over Alabama in Thanksgiving weekend’s Iron Bowl against Alabama would give the Tigers an undefeated season, but even a loss there coupled with LSU winning the rest of their games would only be enough to give LSU a tie for the SEC West lead — and Auburn holds the all-important head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Florida Gators and South Carolina Gamecocks played what amounted to a SEC Semifinal on Saturday night, as the winner in the matchup would be awarded the SEC East crown and a spot in the SEC Championship Game. Both teams were two losses clear of the rest of the division after Georgia lost to Auburn, and neither team will play another conference game this season.

The Gamecocks proved too much for the Gators, beating Florida 36-14 on their way to clinching a berth in the SEC Championship Game and their first SEC East title. The Gamecocks stretched their record to 7-3 and 5-3 in conference with the victory.

The Tigers and Gamecocks have already played this season, with Auburn topping South Carolina 35-27 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

This game will be a neutral site game, and although Auburn is geographically closer to Atlanta than South Carolina is, the Gamecocks will be the “home team,” as designated by the SEC.

A victory in the SEC Championship Game assures the winner a BCS bowl bid, although Auburn will be looking for a bid to the BCS National Championship Game when the final weekend of the season rolls around.

Conference Trap Games On Tap For the BCS Elite in Week 11

With less than a month left in the college football season, the field of BCS title contenders is whittling down to just a handful of teams.

Just four teams remain without a loss, and few teams with one loss still realistically have even an outside chance at the title game. However, if enough dominoes fall in a week 11 slate filled with conference matchups that some of the nation’s best teams could overlook, the BCS picture could expand once again and send us into a messy final few weeks.

None of the BCS top ten will be challenged with a ranked opponent this weekend after we’ve had a few consecutive weeks filled with just that.

But that certainly doesn’t mean that there isn’t the chance for upsets to rule the weekend once again.

BCS No. 1 Oregon takes the trip south to northern California to take on the up and down California Bears — whom the Ducks could easily overlook with Arizona and Oregon State slated in the weeks following.

The Ducks are in prime position to make a run to the BCS National Championship Game if they can run the table the rest of the way, but they will need to be wary of not only the marquee matchups coming up against the Wildcats and Beavers, but of this weekend’s test against the Bears.

The other team locked into a BCS title game bid if they win out are the Auburn Tigers. In the coming weeks they’ll see their rival Alabama in the Iron Bowl and a likely spot in the SEC Championship Game, however this weekend they’re faced with Georgia at home.

Of course, the Bulldogs have been underachievers to say the least this season, leading many to discount the possibility of an upset this weekend, but the Bulldogs have been playing better lately and with other distractions — like Cam Newton’s NCAA investigation — distracting the Tigers during the lead up to this game, this can not be a game the Tigers overlook.

BCS No. 3 TCU — the likely first replacement if either Auburn or Oregon take a tumble in the next few weeks — faces their final remaining test at home against 7-2 San Diego State, who could actually both knock the Horned Frogs out of the BCS chase but also the MWC drivers seat with an upset victory.

Boise State also hits the road for a conference battle — this time against Idaho — before they face the final quarter of their schedule, which includes tough games against the likes of Fresno State and Nevada.

The rest of the BCS top ten will be faced with similar tests, both on the road and at home — against conference foes that may not have the strongest of records, but still present tough challenges in a weekend that at first glance might seem to be lacking the usual oomph of a November weekend in college football.

You’ll just have to stay tuned.

Underestimated BCS Party Crashers Tussle in Week Ten’s Marquee Matchup

Dubbing years with catchy monikers seems to be a favorite pastime of the national media — for example, baseball just had its “Year of the Pitcher,” where it was pitching and not offense that dominated the headlines.

The year in college football thus far could easily be classified as a “Year of the BCS Buster,” as it has been the mid-major powers and not the traditional giants of the game which have taken over the headlines around the country.

And in this year of unexpected contenders, this weekend could hold a defining moment in the hopes of the non-AQ BCS contenders.

The marquee non-AQ matchup of the year, Utah-TCU has dominated the coverage of the coming weekend — and with good reason. The winner of this matchup of Mountain West powers could go a long way towards a BCS bowl bid, and if a few dominoes fall in the right way, even a national title game bid.

Both teams have rode undefeated streaks to the tenth week of the season, although Utah has had less fanfare along the way than TCU. And not entirely surprisingly, neither team’s hype has compared to that of the undefeated run that Boise State has put together.

But as the BCS rankings stand now, No. 3 TCU is in a stronger position than Boise is at its fourth spot — a surprise result considering the extraordinary hope non-AQ supporters had put behind the Broncos to start the season.

Now it seems likely that a victory in one of four or five marquee matchups of the season could bring either team to the forefront of the race for the top non-AQ spot and possibly the first substitute if either Oregon or Auburn should stumble down the road.

Of course, many other matchups will have something to say about the plausibility of any of the three top non-AQ teams getting to Glendale on January 10.

One such matchup will join the TCU-Utah tussle as the headlining game of the weekend as Alabama and LSU play an effective knockout game for the SEC West title and long shot chance at the title game.

Both teams still rest in the BCS top ten and a victory in Baton Rouge on Saturday could open the door for a surprise visit to the title game from either team, although Alabama’s positioning at No. 6 sets up as a better striking position than LSU’s tenth spot, although a Tiger victory would do a great deal towards improving that positioning.

Many other BCS hopefuls will be in action, including the duo atop the most recent BCS standings — Oregon and Auburn. Both return home after tough week nine tests and welcome visitors to their home grounds — Oregon taking on Pac-10 foe Washington while Auburn takes a visit from FCS Chattanooga.

Victories are of the utmost importance this late in the season, as there is precious little time to make up for stumbles in the final weeks of the season, so all of the BCS hopefuls will need to bring their best against upset-minded underdogs.

Boise State will face a tough test against improved and dangerous Hawaii at home, while BCS conference contenders Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Nebraska all take to the road against difficult conference opponents.

In this “Year of the BCS Buster” every week seems to give us a new storyline and opens up the possibility of the biggest BCS bust of all time, and winning is at a supreme premium with favorites seemingly falling every week.

Stay tuned.