Let's forget the Oregon vs. Kansas State narrative for a moment because there will be plenty of time to dissect that to pieces in the coming weeks. Nothing has really changed since our projections yesterday pretty much covered all the bases.
Besides the coveted two spots for the BCS championship game, there are four other BCS bowls with lucrative payouts. Money is the lifeblood of college sports. And with the five BCS games, dollar amounts equaling GDPs of small nations (OK, like Nauru and Tuvalu, not Belgium) will be doled out to various institutions of higher learning.
And after allowing the have-nots to crash the BCS party for five consecutive seasons from 2006 to 2010, this looks to be the second consecutive season in which the automatic-qualifying conferences will hoard nearly all the cash. With San Diego State's upset victory at Boise State late Saturday, it appears that no non-AQ team will meet the stiff qualifying threshold currently set at No. 12. Louisiana Tech, the highest-ranked non-AQ team, is No. 20 in the latest BCS standings.
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That leaves the six BCS conferences and Notre Dame to divvy up the 10 BCS bowl slots. And here we have a breakdown of the teams most likely to visit a BCS bowl near you, in order of likelihood:
1. Alabama - After getting by LSU, the Crimson Tide will be assured of their fourth BCS bowl berth in five years, even if they lose the SEC championship game against likely foe Georgia. An SEC title game win sends Alabama to the BCS Championship, and a loss sends it to the Fiesta Bowl.
2. Notre Dame - The Irish are assured of a BCS bowl berth if they finish in the top eight of the final BCS standings. And even with a loss to USC, they will be picked by a BCS bowl so long as they're in the top 14 of the final standings. If Oregon ends up in the BCS title game, look for Notre Dame to make its second Rose Bowl appearance after it last played in the 1925 game under Knute Rockne.
3. Kansas State - By winning two of their remaining three games, the Wildcats will clinch the Big 12 title and at worst a Fiesta Bowl berth. About the only way K-State would be shut out of its second BCS bowl appearance is if it goes 0-3 in its final three games ... not gonna happen.
4. Oregon - The Ducks are assured of a Rose Bowl berth if they wins the Pac-12 title, but probably will get a Fiesta Bowl berth if they lose their first game in the Pac-12 championship. Unless it stumbles badly in the closing weeks, Oregon will be playing in its fourth straight BCS bowl game.
5. Florida State - There is no path for the Seminoles to make it to the BCS title game as a one-loss team, and they haven't even clinched their division, as Clemson is still hot on their heels. FSU will be the ACC's lone representative, in the Orange Bowl, if it wins the conference title game. If FSU loses, the ACC will certainly be shut out of additional bid opportunities.
6/A. Florida - The Gators basically need Georgia to lose to either Auburn or Alabama to have a shot at their first BCS game since the Urban Meyer era. A Bulldogs upset win over the Tide in the SEC title game will bar Florida's path to a BCS bowl bid, but otherwise its prospects are very good.
6/B. Georgia - The Bulldogs can use a Florida State win over Florida to lock up a BCS bowl berth. If that happens, Georgia probably will earn a Sugar Bowl bid even with a loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game since both UGA and UF will have two losses and the Bulldogs did emerge victorious in the Cocktail Party.
7. Oklahoma - The Sooners probably won't have a shot to win the Big 12, but they'll be assured of a BCS bowl berth if they win their final four games. If K-State gets to the BCS title game, Oklahoma most likely will land in Miami, as the Fiesta Bowl will opt for Notre Dame, but not a Notre Dame rematch with OU.
8. Oregon State - The Beavers might be the Pac-12's only hope of landing a second BCS bowl berth if they can beat Stanford and lose only to the Ducks to finish the season at 10-2. Oregon State might play in its first BCS game since the 2001 Fiesta Bowl or, in the event the Rose Bowl passes up on Notre Dame to replace Oregon (say, to avoid a rematch with Michigan), its first appearance in the Granddaddy since the 1965 game.
9. Clemson - The Tigers are absolutely a last-ditch fallback choice in the event of too many SEC teams clogging up the standings and leaving too few qualifying teams in the top 14. The BCS didn't exactly have a great experience with its first-ever multiple ACC selections last season, when Clemson was inhumanely destroyed by West Virginia while Virginia Tech lost to Michigan in the overrated bowl.
10. Texas - The Longhorns have quietly returned to the conversation after getting annihilated by Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout. If they can somehow get through the next two games and then upset K-State at home in the season finale, they might steal a BCS bid if OU gets tagged for a third loss.
Big East champion - This is a one-bid conference no matter who wins it.
Big Ten champion - See above. It's a pretty stunning fall for a conference that's nabbed two BCS bowl berths every year since the format expanded to include five games in 2006.
First BCS bowl predictions:
BCS championship - Alabama vs. Oregon
Sugar Bowl - Florida vs. Oklahoma
Rose Bowl - Notre Dame vs. Nebraska
Fiesta Bowl - Kansas State vs. Oregon State
Orange Bowl - Florida State vs. Louisville
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