To respond to something in another post, yeah, it is sort of irrational for a 7-5 team from the Sun Belt to a 6-6 team from the SEC. And overall, no, the bowl system isn't fair. But lots of things in life aren't fair, and personally, it isn't something that I feel the need to get all worked up about.
Now I do wonder how the bowls work it out if they're trying to decide which one of them might get stuck with a 7-5 Ball State team and somebody else could get a 6-6 Alabama.
I'm varying up the format a bit, because the conference lists are getting less interesting.
We can be 99% sure that 3 of the 4 BCS at-large berths are going to the Big 12, the SEC, and the Pac-10. The 4th one is still up in the air. The priority goes something like this:
- If Hawaii wins out (which I still doubt) and gets into the top 12, they will get a bid. My assumption is that the poll voters will give them enough of a boost to make sure this happens.
- If Virginia Tech does not win the ACC, they will still be in the top 14 and will be the most attractive candidate.
- If West Virginia loses to UConn (unlikely) or Pitt (impossible, even this year), they will also stay in the top 14, and would probably get picked over Virginia Tech.
4. If Hawaii or Boise State winds up in the top 16, but ahead of a BCS league champion, they would get a bid. The only possibilities for that happening are UConn beating West Virginia, or Boston College losing to Miami and then winning the ACC title, and even that might not work out.
If 1,2,3 or 4 doesn't happen and nothing else changes, you'd have a top 13 of LSU, Georgia, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona State, USC, Oregon, Ohio State, West Virginia and Virginia Tech. I don't think to loser of the Arizona State-USC game or the Big 12 Championship will take enough of a hit to drop out of this group. Now, Oklahoma losing to Oklahoma State, or Oregon going into a tailspin without Dixon, or something else along those lines could change that. But that's how I see the top 13.
- My best guess is that this would put Illinois at 14, getting the BCS spot.
- If Tennessee wins the SEC championship, they would definitely move into the top 13. This would mean that there aren't 4 conferences with multiple teams in the top 14. In a quiet announcement, the BCS said that in such a case it would take teams from the top 18. (I don't know if this comes into play if there is a non-BCS team at 13 or 14, where they don't get an automatic bid. I wouldn't put it past them.) I would assume Boston College would be the first choice, followed by Illinois and Virginia, but I could be wrong. BC has a bad travel reputation, but they also were in the top 5 this year, and Matt Ryan has gotten a lot of ink.
- I'm just throwing this out there, but if somebody drops out of the top 13, it's possible that 13/14 could be Illinois & Boise State. Is there any chance a bowl just picks the Broncos as an at-large? They did sell all their Fiesta Bowl tickets last year.
- Big 10
- Big East
- Purdue (7-5)
- TCU (because they are very likely to be 7-5, although that would make the extra team New Mexico)
- Iowa (6-6) (although they are saying they wouldn't do a bowl when their exams are, so that takes the Las Vegas out)
- Northwestern (6-6)
- Mississippi State (This could wind up being South Carolina, who I'd rank ahead of Northwestern, or Alabama, who I'd rank ahead of Iowa. They could also get to 7-5).
- Ball State
Nevada and Florida Atlantic can still get to 7-5, although for FAU that would mean winning the Sun Belt, so Troy would be the team going for a spot, at 7-5 or 8-4.
The only team that isn't yet eligible that I could see being appealing as an at-large is Louisville. At a guess, they'd go between Iowa and Northwestern.
If one of the other conferences gets the 4th BCS bid, then the Humanitarian spot would not be open. If it's the Big 10, then Purdue comes off of the list as it gets a conference tie-in, so there's no real change. If it's the WAC, then Nevada getting to 7 wins wouldn't be a concern, but there is 1 less spot. The Big East would open up the PapaJohn's Bowl unless Louisville wins next week.
As for who the bowls are talking about:
The Humanitarian still seems to be focused on getting an ACC team. (This is probably because the concept of the ACC getting 2 BCS bids doesn't go over well in Boise.)
The Las Vegas is talking about getting Boise State as an at-large. I think that would be assuming no WAC team makes it to a BCS game, and probably that Fresno and Nevada get to 7 wins.
The Armed Forces Bowl seems to be just talking about the Big 10/SEC teams that could be out there.
The Texas Bowl is a mystery.
My guess is that the general order of preference for the teams would be Las Vegas, Armed Forces, Texas, Humanitarian.
ACC (8 bids)
IN: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Wake Forest, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech
OUT: Duke, North Carolina
BUBBLE: Miami - Well, at least they scored this week. If they beat Boston College, they're in, and the Humanitarian Bowl slot is covered. Of course, it also hurts the ACC's odds of getting 2 teams in the BCS, which probably means they'd be bumped out of a game.
Maryland /N.C. St. - Win and you're in.
Big East (5 bids)
IN: USF, UConn, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Rutgers
BUBBLE: Louisville - Well, they looked pretty awful this week, but so did Rutgers, so they still have a chance.
Pitt - I was at the Rutgers-Pitt game this week. I don't know how they won 4 games so far.
Big 10 (7 bids)
IN: Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State, Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue, Iowa, Northwestern,
Big 12 (8 bids)
IN: Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Texas A&M, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State
OUT: Iowa State, Baylor
BUBBLE: Colorado/Nebraska - Two teams enter, one team leaves.
Kansas State - According to Vegas, the Fresno State game is a Pick'Em. Sounds about right to me. This is for the Texas Bowl bid (although they went last year, so somebody else actually gets to go to Houston.)
Pac-10 (6 bids)
IN: Arizona State, USC, Oregon, Cal, Oregon State
OUT: Stanford, Washington, Washington St.
BUBBLE: UCLA - Oregon looked like a very different team without Dixon. Maybe practice will change that, maybe not.
Arizona - Do they have another upset in them? They can't count on injuring the quarterback again.
SEC (8 bids)
IN: LSU, Kentucky, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi State
BUBBLE: Vanderbilt - Even if they beat Wake, I would think they're at the end of the line, and there aren't any spots there.
C-USA (6 bids)
IN: East Carolina, UCF, Houston, Tulsa, Southern Miss, Memphis
OUT: Marshall, Rice, SMU, UAB, Tulane, UTEP
Independents (1 bid)
OUT: Notre Dame, Army
MAC (3 bids)
IN: Central Michigan, Ball State, Miami, Bowling Green
OUT: Northern Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Temple, Kent State, Akron, Buffalo
BUBBLE: Toledo, Ohio - doesn't matter.
MWC (4 bids)
IN: Air Force, New Mexico, Utah, BYU, TCU
OUT: Colorado State, UNLV,
BUBBLE: Wyoming, San Diego State - irrelevant
Sun Belt (1 bid)
OUT: Louisiana-Laffayette, FIU, North Texas
BUBBLE: MTSU, ULM, Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic. As mentioned above, only FAU can actually go anywhere.
WAC (3 bids)
IN: Hawaii, Boise State, Fresno State
OUT: Utah State, Idaho, New Mexico State, San Jose State
BUBBLE: Nevada, Louisiana Tech
And the list of games for this week:
USC at Arizona State (Thurs.): If only to find out who really can't afford to lose next week.
Nebraska at Colorado (Fri.): Houston, hello!
Mississippi State at Mississippi (Fri.): A win puts the pressure on Alabama and South Carolina
Texas at Texas A&M (Fri.): An Aggie win would open space in the top 14.
Boise State at Hawaii (Fri): You know all about this one.
UConn at West Virginia: You don't need to watch it, but just keep an eye on the ticker.
Kansas vs. Missouri: Actually, not all that relevant to this stuff. But I couldn't leave it out.
Maryland at North Carolina State: Boise, hello!
Clemson at South Carolina: Maybe they'll get into another brawl and both teams will stay home again. Gamecocks should be OK with a win.
Ball State at Northern Illinois: For a 7th win, and almost certainly a disappointed bowl selection committee.
Oregon at UCLA: At-large berth in danger here, as well as the top 14.
Alabama at Auburn: Wait, doesn't Alabama already have 7 wins? They lost to WHO?!?
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma: Another possible impact on the Top 14.
Kansas State at Fresno State: Lots of people pulling for the Bulldogs here.
Miami at Boston College: Can the Hurricanes snap out of it? (Probably not.)
Virginia Tech at Virginia: Virginia's best win is probably UConn. This is a big step up in class.
TCU at San Diego State: TCU looks to be in the New Mexico Bowl with the 7th win.
Nevada at San Jose State: They almost had Hawaii, if they can bounce back they'll take a big step towards their 7th win.