12 November 2006

BCS shuffle

This week's BCS rankings should look very interesting.

On Thursday night, #3 Louisville lost to #13 Rutgers. On Saturday, #4 Florida barely won by blocking a South Carolina field goal attempt. #5 Texas lost to Kansas State. #6 Auburn lost to Georgia. #10 Cal lost to Arizona.

This week certainly thinned the ranks of the one-loss teams looking for a chance to play in the national championship game. The big winners are #7 USC, #9 Notre Dame, and #11 Arkansas, who should all move up a few spots.

There might be space too, for #13 Rutgers and #14 Boise State, too. Both are undefeated and ranked low based on perceived weak schedules and both starting the season outside the top 25.

To top it all off, both Miami ("Thug U") and Florida State (the Criminoles) lost. Miami (5-5) has games left against Virginia and Boston College. They'll need to win at least one just to make a bowl game. Florida State (5-5) plays Western Michigan and Florida. If it weren't for the cake game against Western Michigan (and there's always hope for an upset), the Seminoles would fail to win 6 games and wouldn't go to a bowl game.

Much hinges on next week's Ohio-State Michigan game and the conference championship games, but a picture is beginning to emerge. Interestingly enough, this could all effect Penn State, despite the fact that the Nittany Lions are no where near the BCS this year. Here is the background: everyone has expected that the loser of the Ohio State-Michigan game would make it into the BCS as an at-large bid. However, the new rules may prevent that. Of our ten BCS teams, six are automatic: ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10, SEC. Boise State will lock up an at-large bid finishing #12 or better or #16 or better if an automatic bid champion is ranked lower (very likely to happen in the ACC this year). Notre Dame will lock up an at-large bid as long as they are ranked in the top 8. That leaves one at-large bid remaining. Will it go to the Big Ten, as everyone has assumed? Not necessarily so. A late loss hurts a lot. This last at-large bid could go to anyone.

How does this affect Penn State? If the Big Ten gets only one BCS bid, the second place team (Ohio State-Michigan loser) will go to the Capital One Bowl, the third place team (Wisconsin) will go to the Outback Bowl (in Tampa) and the fourth place team (Penn State) will instead go to the Alamo Bowl (in San Antonio). So it's likely Tampa or San Antonio for the Nittany Lions, but it all depends on what happens in the BCS shuffle.
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