If you want some real football discussion, go read styg50's diary. But if you want a college football diversion before kickoff, read on. I watched ESPN's college football recap show and I learned that Missouri and West Virginia are gonna meet in the national championship game unless one of them loses. In that case Ohio State gets to be in the championship game. If both Missouri and West Virginia lose then who knows who will play Ohio State. A pretty firm grasp of the obvious if you ask me and something that anyone with a minimal knowledge of college football could figure out by taking a quick look at the current standings. So I thought I would take a bit broader look at the entire BCS.
Among the ten spots in the BCS, there are six automatic bids given to the winners of the major conferences. Hawaii should be given a seventh automatic bid if they beat Washington next week (which should make sure they are in the top 12 in the BCS standings). That would leave three at large bids - no more than one at large bid can come from any conference and to qualify for an at large bid you must finish in the top 14 in the final BCS standings. Based strictly on the quality of the teams, two of those at large bids will be coming from the SEC and Big 12, while the third (and potentially fourth if Hawaii loses) is up for grabs. For reference purposes, here is my guesstimated BCS standings after this week: Missouri, WVU, Ohio State, Geeorgia, USC, Kansas, LSU, Va Tech, Oklahoma, and Florida are the top ten followed by Hawaii, Arizona State, BC, Illinois and Tennessee at 11-15 then Oregon, Wisconsin, Clemson, Texas and USF round out the top 20.
ACC: Virginia Tech (10-2) vs Boston College (10-2). The winner goes to the Orange Bowl. If BC loses, they won't make it to a BCS game, but Virginia Tech might still have a chance for an at large bid with a loss. Clemson (9-3) may become a "top 14" team but would not be selected over either BC or Va Tech since they lost to both.
Big East: West Virginia (10-1) is in a BCS game as the Big East champion regardless of the game vs Pitt. If WV wins, they will play for the national championship. If they lose, their destination is very much in the air as the Big East is the one major conference not "hosted" by a BCS Bowl. No other team from the Big East will be eligible.
Big 12: Oklahoma (10-2) vs Missouri (11-1). If Missouri wins, they play for the championship. In addition, Kansas (11-1) will get an at large bid to the Fiesta Bowl (over Oklahoma). If Oklahoma wins, they will go the Fiesta Bowl and Missouri will be given an at large bid to an unknown bowl (probably the Orange). Texas (9-3) may end up in the top 14, but they are clearly the fourth team from the conference and won't be selected.
Big 10: Ohio State (11-1) won the conference championship and will go to the Rose Bowl unless WVU or Missouri lose, in which case Ohio State goes to the national championship. Illinois (9-3) may get an at large berth (possibly to the Rose Bowl if Ohio State is bumped up to the championship and assuming that Illinois moves into the top 14 as expected). Wisconsin (9-3) may become a "top 14" team, but they won't be chosen over Illinois due to their head to head result.
Pac 10: Three teams can win the conference championship. All USC (9-2) has to do is win against UCLA (6-5). That would guarantee them a spot in the Rose Bowl and a very longshot chance of sneaking into the championship game. Arizona State (9-2) can get into the Rose Bowl with a victory over Arizona and a loss by USC. Even if USC wins too, ASU has a shot at an at large bid (most likely to the Fiesta Bowl). UCLA can actually win the Pac 10 by beating USC and Arizona beating ASU. In this case ASU would drop out of the top 14 while USC would still be technically eligible but doubtful to get an invite. Oregon (8-3) is another team that may technically qualify, but is very doubtful to be selected even if they beat Oregon State this coming weekend.
SEC: Tennessee (9-3) vs LSU (10-2) Winner goes to the Sugar Bowl, with LSU having a longshot at the championship game. If LSU wins, Georgia (10-2) will get an at large bid over Florida (9-3). If Tenn, manages to win the at large bid will probably go to Georgia but LSU might still get it (especially if LSU loses in OT again).
So now for the (not so) short conclusion:
West Virginia, Ohio State are guaranteed spots and Missouri and Georgia are most likely in. Spots go to Oklahoma or Kansas, Va Tech or BC, and LSU or Tenn and another to the Pac 10 champ (USC/ASU/UCLA). That makes eight, nine if Hawaii wins. IMO, ASU will get the last at large spot with a victory. If ASU or Hawaii lose, it opens up a spot for either Illinois (or potentially Va Tech if they lose the ACC Championship)
If you want exact matchups, I'll give you two sets of predictions. If Missouri beats Oklanhoma, things fall into place rather eaily. The title game will be WVU vs Oklahoma. The Rose Bowl will be Ohio State vs USC. The Fiesta Bowl will be Kansas vs Arizona State. The Orange Bowl will be Va Tech versus Georgia and the Sugar Bowl will be LSU versus Hawaii.
If Oklahoma beats Missouri, the title game will be Ohio State versus WVU. In that cse, the Rose Bowl gets to choose its replacement for OSU. I would love to see them take Hawaii and setup a USC vs Hawaii matchup. But word on the street is that the Rose Bowl would like to pair USC and Illinois to keep the Big 10/Pac 10 matchup. In that case, things get interesting. In my mind, the last three bowls would have to choose from Georgia, Missouri and Hawaii even though the Fiesta might like to match ASU with Oklahoma. (The Fiesta would not force Oklahoma to play the WAC champion again (Hawaii this year after Boise lat year), they would not take ASU over a Georgia team in the top 5 in the BCS standings and they would not take ASU if that meant a Big 12 team (Missouri) would not make a BCS bowl). So based on those assumptions, the Orange would end up as Va Tech versus Missouri, the Fiesta would be Oklahoma versus Georgia and the Sugar will be LSU versus Hawaii. (This is based on the order the bowls select, but they can also come to mutaually beneficial arrangements such as placing Hawaii in the Orange Bowl vs Va Tech and then having Oklahoma face Georgia in the Fiesta and Missouri face LSU in the Sugar.)
(Other possibilities: If Oklahoma asked for Hawaii in the Fiesta, the Orange would probably take Georgia to face Va Tech and that would leave LSU versus Missouri. Alternatively, if the Fiesta did decide on Oklahoma vs ASU, the Orange would choose Goergia over Missouri to face Va Tech and that would leave the Sugar with LSU versus Hawaii and Missouri going from #1 in the nation to on the sidelines of the BCS picture in less than 24 hours)