It’s weekends like these that the whole “every game counts” mantra of the BCS looks all the more cunning.
|BCS Bowl Projections
||Kansas State vs. Oregon
||Stanford vs. Nebraska
||Alabama vs. Clemson
||Florida State vs. Louisville
||Florida vs. Notre Dame
|Scroll down for more
Yes, we might be headed to a non-SEC BCS champion in 2012, after just one game — a SEC showdown between mainstay Alabama and newcomer Texas A&M turned the national title race on its head, giving us the first real shock of the season.
There’s no doubt the role that one, single game plays in the layout of the BCS race. It’s completely different. It’s starts at the top, sure. But from there? It gets a little crazy. Let’s dive in.
BCS National Championship Game: Kansas State Wildcats (BCS No. 1) vs. Oregon Ducks (BCS No. 2)
Comment: The change starts right at the top, of course, as for the first time in seven years, we might be headed for a non-SEC national champion. When the BCS standings are released tomorrow, we wont see an SEC team occupying the top spot, or the No. 2 spot. That shock to the system opens up the BCS title game to Wildcats and Ducks, which have been battling all season for an elusive No. 2 spot. Now both can win out and claim a spot.
Rose Bowl: Stanford Cardinal (At-large selection) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (Big Ten champion)
Comment: With Oregon headed to the title game, the Rose Bowl jumps at the chance to grab the Pac-12’s second-best team, Stanford. The Cardinal proved as much with their victory over Oregon State on Saturday, a game that might have served as an entrance exam for the Rose Bowl.
Nebraska used a late rally to squeak by Penn State, and it looks like the Cornhuskers could be headed to the Rose Bowl as the Big 12 champions.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama Crimson Tide (SEC champion) vs. Clemson Tigers (At-large selection)
Comment: It’s odd to see the term ‘SEC champion’ next to a non-BCS title game contender, but that’s exactly what we’ll get if Oregon and Kansas State can win out. As the SEC’s champion, the Crimson Tide would get a Sugar Bowl bid by the nature of the conference’s agreement with the Sugar Bowl.
Clemson grabs this BCS bid largely because of the glut of SEC teams that can’t all get into the BCS — in fact, just two of them can — leaving the door open for a second ACC squad to grab a spot at the table.
Orange Bowl: Florida State Seminoles (ACC champion) vs. Louisville Cardinals (Big East champion)
Comment: As far as losses go, Louisville’s loss this weekend was largely overshadowed by a much more visible and important one — Alabama’s defeat. But the two might have been equally as shocking. Louisville was unable to hang with Syracuse, putting their hold on the Big East at risk. Winning out would still spell a BCS bid for the Cardinals with Rutgers still on the schedule, so for now, Louisville sticks against the ACC champion Seminoles in the Orange Bowl.
Fiesta Bowl: Florida Gators (At-large selection) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (At-large selection)
Comment: Yes, Notre Dame, even if it wins out, is squarely on the outside looking in at the national title picture if Kansas State and Oregon continue to perform to expectations. So given their outsider’s shot at the title game, the Irish land instead at the Fiesta Bowl, hungry to pick the Irish in their return trip to the BCS. For their opponent? The bowl lucks into having consecutive at-large selections, and goes with the one-loss Gators instead of the two-loss Bulldogs (their second loss coming in the SEC title game to Alabama in this projection).