Road to Glendale 2011: Conference Championship Games Star in Week 14

As part of BCS Know How’s 2010 college football season preview, we will be breaking down each week’s most important games that could have BCS and postseason implications in the “Road to Glendale 2011”.

Let’s move on to Week 14 where the three BCS conference championship games will play a huge role in which teams make BCS bowls in 2011.

Big 12 Championship Game: Saturday Dec. 4, TBA

In what will be the conference’s final championship game, a matchup of two top-ten teams is more than likely in a very deep 2010 Big 12.

Among the favorites in the North are the defending division winners Nebraska, a revitalized Missouri team and even possibly an unexpected team, like a Colorado or Kansas.

The Big 12 South is sure to once again provide some of the best conference action in the country in the upcoming season, and when the time comes for the South to fill its bid, it could go to a team that has been battered by a tough schedule.

Oklahoma and Texas — as in years past — are the favorites, but don’t overlook teams like Texas Tech and Oklahoma State in the division.

Projected Matchup: Oklahoma Sooners vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers

ACC Championship Game: Saturday Dec. 4, TBA

Some might wonder if the ACC Championship Game has lost some of its luster in the past few years when the game failed to provide truly compelling matchups.

However, in 2010, you can expect two high-quality opponents to make their appearance in Charlotte for this years’ edition, as the ACC looks to have a bevy of talent and good teams all around the conference.

Among the favorites are Virginia Tech, Florida State and defending ACC champ Georgia Tech.

No matter what the matchup is, you can expect the ACC Champion to be a nationally vaunted team, and who knows, even a contender for a BCS National Championship.

Projected Matchup: Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Florida State Seminoles

SEC Championship Game: Saturday Dec. 4, TBA

The last four years of the BCS have been ruled with an iron fist by the teams from the SEC. And for each of those four teams, the SEC Championship Game was their penultimate proving ground before making their way to a national title.

Could 2010 be more of the same?

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Auburn, Arkansas and even more give the SEC the depth we’re used to expecting from the conference, meaning that we could be headed for a national semifinal of a SEC Championship Game, as it has been in the past few seasons.

The defending champion Crimson Tide must be the preseason favorites, but any of the aforementioned teams can make a legitimate run at the title. The SEC continues to be the best conference in the country, and there’s no reason to think the dominance will end anytime soon.

We should be treated to yet another high-quality and top ranked matchup when the final week of the regular season comes around.

Projected Matchup: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Georgia Bulldogs

Oregon at Oregon State: Saturday Dec. 4, TBA

Last year, this “Civil War” decided more than just the statewide bragging rights for the Ducks and Beavers.

Oregon’s victory in this game allowed the Ducks to return to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1995 and their first Pac-10 title since 2001.

This year’s matchup will feature some of the stars that featured heavily in the decisive game last season, including Oregon running back LaMicahel James and Oregon State back Jacquizz Rodgers.

However, both teams will be relying on new quarterbacks this season and their respective play could end up not only deciding which team is victorious in the Civil War, but whether that team is successful throughout the 2010 year.

Other Games of Note: C-USA Championship Game, MAC Championship Game, Pittsburgh at Cincinnati.

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Road to Glendale 2011: Big Ten Tussle Tops Week 12 Slate

As part of BCS Know How’s 2010 college football season preview, we will be breaking down each week’s most important games that could have BCS and postseason implications in the “Road to Glendale 2011”.

Let’s move on to Week 12, where Big Ten and ACC titles could be on the line.

Ohio State at Iowa: Saturday Nov. 20, TBA

Preseason hype and expectations will mean very little when Ohio State takes the treacherous trek to Iowa City in this late-season Big Ten matchup that seems destined to be an elimination game for the Big Ten crown.

Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes will hope to have the Big Ten title all sewn up by the time this game rolls around, but, like in year’s past, that’s not going to be an easy task.

The Buckeyes will have to deal with tough opponents all season, not to mention the strong possibility of three or even four teams vying for the Big Ten title all the way throughout the season. All that skill spread around the country could spell a very muddled picture in the Big Ten in 2010, making this game of the utmost importance to two of the teams that seem primed to make a run at the title.

Last season these two teams met up on this same weekend with the Big Ten title on the line in Columbus. The Hawkeyes were able to comeback from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit, but they were beaten in OT by the Buckeyes, 27-24.

Hawkeye quarterback Ricky Stanzi and the Iowa defense will be fired up to welcome the Buckeyes into town and will look for some revenge, especially if the Big Ten title is up for grabs once again.

Virginia Tech at Miami (FL): Saturday Nov. 20, TBA

Two of the three teams that jumped the Big East ship in 2004 have made the ACC a comfortable fit for themselves, and 2010 looks to be no different, as both the Hokies and Hurricanes are among the favorites for the ACC title.

Both could use this game as a springboard to the ACC Coastal Division crown and to secure a berth in the ACC Championship Game. Once again, Tyrod Taylor and Jacory Harris will be tested against tough defenses and will measure against one another. Both are capable of doing damage with both their feet and their arms—in fact the teams could benefit from playing against a similar-style quarterback in the practices leading up to the game, as the two have similar styles.

A key for both teams will be to stay healthy down the stretch of the ACC schedule. Injuries riddled the 2009 campaign for the Hurricanes and prevented them from continuing their hot start to last season.

Virginia Tech was uncharacteristically weak during the middle of last season, dropping games to eventual ACC Champion Georgia Tech and to ACC foe North Carolina.

The Hokies will have to avoid those kinds of losses, especially at home, in order for this game to mean something to them when late November rolls around.

Miami will have the home field advantage in this one, which could prove more important than any other factor in this game, as the Hurricanes were 5-1 at home in 2009.

USC at Oregon State: Saturday Nov. 20, 8:00 p.m. ET

The state of Oregon has been quite unkind to the Trojans these past couple of years, delivering crushing loss after loss in four consecutive seasons and hampering the Trojans’ attempts at BCS National Championship Game berths.

This season the Trojans will be unable to compete in any postseason bowls, but they will still have to take the treacherous trip up the Pacific coastline to the state of Oregon, this year to face the Oregon State Beavers.

The Beavers have been underdogs in the two team’s meetings during the Trojans’ dominating Pac-10 run, but this year Oregon State might find itself in an unusual situation—favored against a USC team.

The Beavers are among the favorites for the Pac-10 title, and they have a chance to make their way to the top of the conference if they can overcome the growing pains of a new quarterback.

Oregon State will feature running back Jacquizz Rodgers extensively in this one—as they have the past few years against the Trojans—and will hope for a similar result to that of 2008—when the Beavers shocked the country by beating Mark Sanchez and the then-No. 1 Trojans.

Although the Trojans are ineligible for the postseason, don’t expect Lane Kiffin and USC to go quietly. Quarterback Matt Barkley and a group of talented returners will do their best to play spoiler to the entire conference and claim a Pac-10 title despite their inability to play in the Rose Bowl.

This game might be a perfect opportunity for the Trojans to do just that.

Other Games of Note: Wisconsin at Michigan, Arkansas at Mississippi State.

Road to Glendale 2011: Conference Favorites Face Make or Break Week 11

As part of BCS Know How’s 2010 college football season preview, we will be breaking down each week’s most important games that could have BCS and postseason implications in the “Road to Glendale 2011”.

Let’s move on to Week 11 where every game is make or break for conference contenders.

Pittsburgh at Connecticut: Thursday Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m. ET

Down the stretch of the Big East race in 2009, Connecticut nearly pulled upsets against Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and Rutgers. Not one of those losses came by more than four points.

Finally, after nearly knocking off the eventual Big East champ Bearcats, the Huskies ended the season on a four-game winning streak—including a PapaJohns.com Bowl victory over South Carolina.

That kind of end to a season would make any team excited about its future prospects, and Connecticut is no exception. 2010 holds unprecedented expectations in Storrs, and when Pittsburgh comes to campus in this late-season matchup, things could get very interesting.

The Panthers themselves are considered among the favorites in the Big East, but this year Connecticut could be in position to actually complete the upsets it nearly pulled off in ’09, and this might be a key game in the Huskies’ drive for a possible Big East championship.

If the Huskies defense can contain Pittsburgh’s Heisman-hopeful running back Dion Lewis for four full quarters, there’s no reason to think an upset isn’t possible.

Combine this visit from the Panthers with a visit from West Virginia to Storrs the week before, and it’s not too much of a stretch to think the Huskies could win the conference if they can protect home field.

Miami (FL) at Georgia Tech: Saturday Nov. 13, TBA

Two of the ACC’s most dynamic quarterbacks and Heisman hopefuls—Georgia Tech’s Josh Nesbitt and Miami’s Jacory Harris—will feature prominently in this marquee matchup of ACC Championship hopefuls in 2010.

Georgia Tech will be coming off an extended break following a matchup with ACC favorite Virginia Tech, giving it enough time to prepare for an on-the-rise Hurricanes squad led by Harris and coach Randy Shannon.

Miami’s schedule to this point is not daunting, and after a fast start brought some of that swagger back to Miami last season, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Miami back near the top of the rankings when November 13 comes around.

Injuries and small mistakes kept the Hurricanes from being more than a nine-win team in 2009, but a year of experience—and hopefully for the ‘Canes a less injury-riddled season—could spell some real success in Shannon’s fourth season.

Tech will once again be testing the ACC with its spread-option offense, which Nesbitt has become a master of orchestrating, something that the Hurricanes will need to prepare for if they hope to top Georgia Tech on the road.

South Carolina at Florida: Saturday Nov. 13, TBA

Forget for a moment that this will be another Steve Spurrier return trip to the Swamp and that emotions will likely run high—this game is likely to be great on its own merits.

Spurrier, who will call all of the Gamecocks’ offensive plays this season, will be looking to put a scare into the Gators on the road. And if the Gamecocks can get a couple of the finer points ironed out earlier in the season, just a scare would be a disappointment.

South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia had transformed into the SEC’s most prolific passer and will need to bring an even better effort if the Gamecocks want to improve on a 7-6 record in 2009 that ended in a disappointing loss in a January 2nd bowl to Connecticut.

Florida’s quarterback situation is also a key point to this potentially important game, as by Week 11 we’ll probably know whether John Brantley is an adequate replacement for Tim Tebow or if he has struggled to adapt to his new role in the Gator offense.

The Gamecock defense should be an especially tough test for the new Gator quarterback—one that was able to rank highly in many statistical categories despite youth and injuries in 2009.

Penn State at Ohio State: Saturday Nov. 13, TBA

Perennial Big Ten contenders Ohio State and Penn State will do battle once again in Columbus in a game that could help decide—once again—the Big Ten champion.

Ohio State might have higher aspirations than a Big Ten championship this season, but it’ll have to get past a visit from the Nittany Lions if it wants to make a run at the championship game.

You know the major players here: coaches Paterno and Tressel, OSU QB Terrelle Pryor and Penn State RB Evan Royster, and just like any high quality Big Ten matchup this one will likely include some classic Big Ten rough, physical play.

Defenses and offenses will be tested all game and the winner will have a great shot at the conference title.

Expect both teams to come out fired up, and for the Buckeyes’ home field advantage to play a huge role in this one.

Georgia at Auburn: Saturday Nov. 13, TBA

This is another SEC matchup that could be a matchup of undefeated squads or one where both teams have taken a beating in early SEC action.

But despite the unpredictability of the SEC, most believe that both teams are serious contenders for their respective SEC division crowns, and this game will be key if either wants to meet that goal.

Both teams look stocked with talent all around the field, including Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, a Heisman candidate, and an Auburn offensive line that is loaded with experienced players.

In the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” Auburn holds the slightest of edges over the Bulldogs, 53–52–8, and will look to extend the lead after Georgia has done a great deal of catching up in the past couple of years.

Road to Glendale 2011: Big Ten Favorites Hit the Road in Week Seven

As part of BCS Know How’s 2010 college football season preview, we will be breaking down each week’s most important games that could have BCS and postseason implications in the “Road to Glendale 2011”.

Let’s move on to week seven where the Big Ten has two marquee matchups on the slate.

Arkansas at Auburn: Saturday Oct. 16, TBA

There’s no denying it—in 2010, the SEC West is absolutely loaded, and it could be any one’s division.

This midseason matchup might feature two undefeated or once-defeated SEC West squads still jockeying for conference positioning as the season turns the corner towards the home stretch.

Arkansas will be coming off a hellacious early-season SEC schedule, faced with taking on Georgia and Alabama on back-to-back weekends before taking on Texas A&M at home the week before this marquee SEC showdown.

If the Razorbacks are undefeated at this point, they would likely be favored to take the SEC West crown and this game at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium. However, it’s possible that the Tigers will welcome Arkansas to their house with an undefeated record of their own.

Unlike the Razorbacks, the Tigers do not take on the cream of the SEC crop until later on in the season, and a victory here could propel them towards showdowns with the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide that could decide the conference title contenders.

Auburn will be hard-pressed to replace some significant holes at quarterback, running back, and defensive line, but by the time Week Seven rolls around the Tigers hope to have the wrinkles in their system worked out.

Arkansas, on the other hand, comes into the season very confident with its quarterback Ryan Mallet—who could be a strong Heisman contender when the Razorbacks take the trip to Auburn.

Iowa at Michigan: Saturday Oct. 16, 3:30 p.m. ET

The Wolverines come into the 2010 season with guarded expectations following an underwhelming 5-7 record in the ’09 season, including a very disappointing 1-7 showing in Big Ten play.

If coach Rich Rodriguez wants to cool down his coaching hot seat even a little bit, he’s going to have to come into this Week Seven matchup with a good record. Luckily for Rodriguez, the Wolverines’ first six games this season are winnable (although far from guaranteed) matchups against the likes of Notre Dame and Connecticut.

If Rodriguez and Michigan can come into this meeting with Big Ten co-favorites Iowa with an undefeated or one-loss record, hopes will be high in Ann Arbor for an upset.

However, standing in its way will be a tested and experienced group from Iowa, led by quarterback Ricky Stanzi and a deep group of running backs. The experience of the Hawkeye offense will prove especially vital in this matchup, as questions have become concerns on the defensive side of the ball for the Wolverines.

On offense the Wolverines can put the Hawkeye defense to the test, especially by utilizing Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier, a dynamic combination of quarterbacks for the Wolverines.

Ohio State at Wisconsin: Saturday Oct. 16, 7:00 p.m. ET

If Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema ever had a shot to prove he could get his Badgers over the hump and make a BCS bowl, it seems like 2010 might be the year.

Along with welcoming back most of the core from the ’09 team that tied for second in the Big Ten, the Badgers were gifted a fortuitous schedule, welcoming conference favorite Ohio State to Camp Randall in what should be a classic Big Ten-style football showdown.

Badger running back John Clay has the ability to batter even the best defenses, and by the middle of October he could be among the early Heisman favorites. A strong performance here would only further his candidacy, especially if he can lead his team to break the national title hopes of the Buckeyes.

It wont be easy though, no matter how excited the team and the crowd in Madison might be.

Ohio State has a Heisman hopeful of its own in quarterback Terrelle Pryor and a shockingly good and experienced defense that has few, if any, holes.

The Buckeyes will be a tough test for any team this season, but Wisconsin could be the team to knock the Buckeyes off the national title track and leave Columbus without a national title shot for another season.

Other Games of Note: Texas at Nebraska, Oregon State at Washington, Southern Methodist at Navy, BYU at TCU, Middle Tennessee at Georgia Tech.

New Rose Bowl Selection Process Explained

A new provision of the BCS bowl selection process will be enacted during the 2010-11 season, providing the annual Rose Bowl, held in Pasadena, California, an opportunity to break from tradition and host a non-BCS conference member for the New Years Day bowl.

Starting with the 2011 Rose Bowl and extending until the 2014 edition of the granddaddy of them all, the first time the Rose Bowl loses one of its traditional hosts (Big Ten or Pac-10 Champion) to the BCS National Championship Game, and a non-BCS team automatically qualifies for the BCS, that non-BCS team will be selected by the Rose Bowl.

As a reminder, these are the ways in which a non-BCS conference member can automatically receive a BCS bowl bid:

  • Be a member of the five non-BCS conferences, win at least nine games and either:
    • Be ranked in the top-12 in the final BCS standings.
    • Be ranked in the top-16 in the final BCS standings, and rank ahead of at least one of the six BCS conference champions.

As in past years, only one non-BCS conference school can automatically qualify for a BCS bid. If more than one team does meet the criteria, it will be considered for an at-large bid by the BCS bowls.

If neither the Big Ten nor Pac-10 champions are selected for the BCS National Championship Game, the Rose Bowl will continue to honor its contract with the two conferences and host the two teams for its traditional pairing.

In the case that a non-AQ school is selected to play in the BCS National Championship Game, the Rose Bowl will not be held to fulfilling this provision as that school would be the “automatically qualifying non-AQ school.” However, the Rose Bowl could still decide to take a non-AQ team, which would clear the bowl of its responsibility for the four year period.

The provision is only temporary for 2011 to 2014, and will only apply once. Once the provision is met the first time, it will no longer apply.

2010 BCS Conference Profiles: Big 10 Conference

This is second in a series of conference profiles as part of BCS Know How’s season preview. Today’s conference is the Big 10.

Conference: Big 10 Conference (Big 10)

Active Since: 1896

Current Member Schools: Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Northwestern Wildcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Purdue Boilermakers, Wisconsin Badgers. (11)

Bowl Affiliations: Rose Bowl (BCS), Little Caesars Bowl, Insight Bowl, Texas Bowl, Dallas Football Classic Bowl, Outback Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Gator Bowl. (8)

2009 Results:
Conference Champion – Ohio State
Conference Runner-up – Iowa/Penn State
BCS Bowl Results: 2010 Rose Bowl – Ohio State 26 vs. Oregon 17; 2010 Orange Bowl – Iowa 24 vs. Georgia Tech 14
Overall Bowl Record: 4-3
Heisman Vote Recipients: None

2010 Outlook: The Big 10 is on the way up — other conferences be warned.

Viewed as a second tier BCS conference for the past few years, the Big 10 is back, and looking stronger than they have top to bottom in years.

Of course at the top is perennial power Ohio State. Led by the underachieving Terrelle Pryor for the past few seasons, Ohio State has fallen just short on multiple occasions, but if the Buckeyes’ last game is any indication, Pryor is finally ready to step into the spotlight that has been waiting for him for years. Add the fact that this year’s edition of the Buckeye defense looks up to usual standards and you might just have a national title favorite waiting in Columbus.

Not that the Buckeyes are the only reason the Big 10 is up this year.

Iowa too received a BCS bowl bid last season, and handily topped Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl, setting expectations high for the Hawkeyes. Iowa returns core players but will have to fill important holes all over the field, especially on the offensive line and linebacker positions.

Michigan State, Wisconsin, Purdue and Penn State all seem poised to post big seasons, with 10 wins a possibility for all four.

2010 Heisman Hopefuls: Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor, Penn State Evan Royster

BCS Know How’s 2010 Predictions:
Conference Champion – Ohio State Buckeyes
Conference Runner-up – Iowa Hawkeyes
BCS bids – Two: Ohio State – BCS National Championship Game; Iowa – Fiesta Bowl
Heisman Finalists – Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor

Conference Realignment 101

Now that conference realignment talks have — at long last — settled down, let’s take a quick look as to where this leaves the FBS conferences moving forward.

First and most importantly, none of the changes you heard about last month will not be taking affect this season. The 11 BCS and non-BCS conferences you’ve come to know and love remain in tact for at least one more season.

However, starting in the 2011-12 season (still more than a year away), things will begin to get a little unfamiliar.

The first so-called “domino” to fall in last month’s conference realignment fiasco was surprisingly Nebraska’s move to the Big 10 conference. The Cornhuskers were an integral part of the Big 12, joining in 1996 along with the rest of the former Big Eight conference.

The Big 12 then saw Colorado follow in Nebraska’s footsteps out the conference door, with the Buffalos instead deciding to take to the west coast, joining the Pacific-10 conference.

The Utah Utes took a step in the same direction, vacating their seat at the head of the BCS-buster table as a part of the Mountain West conference to join an automatically-qualifying conference in the BCS-automatic-qualifying Pac-10.

As the Utes departure was written in the tea leaves for some time, the Mountain West went about replacing them before they had even made the announcement and came back with the Utes’ co-hosts at the top of the BCS-buster world, bringing Western Athletic Conference member Boise State into the MWC mix.

With the four teams sending shockwaves around the college football landscape in short order, more moves were expected, but conference members showed surprising loyalty, and the rest of the conference world was left unchanged.

So to wrap:

  • Colorado and Nebraska left the Big 12, leaving the Big 12 with 10 teams.
  • Boise State left the WAC and joined the MWC leaving the conference with nine teams after Utah left the conference.
  • Colorado and Utah joined the Pac-10 giving the conference 12 teams.
  • Nebraska joined the Big 10, leaving the conference with 12 teams.

With the net net gains and losses as such in regards to the rules of the BCS:

  • With 12 teams the Pac-10 will be able to hold a conference championship game.
  • With 12 teams the Big 10 will be able to hold a conference championship game.
  • With only 10 teams the Big 12 will no long be able to hold a conference championship game.
  • The Utah Utes is the first “BCS buster” school to move from a non-BCS conference to an automatically-qualifying conference.
  • The MWC’s qualification and affiliation with the BCS remains unchanged.

Remember none of these changes are effective immediately, with the first move not planned until the beginning of the 2011-12 academic year.