BCS Bowl Projections: Is There More Chaos To Come?

You know about the chaos that reigned on Saturday in college football, as Kansas State & Oregon fell, to the great benefit of Notre Dame, Alabama and Georgia, who now all control their destiny for the national championship. If the chalk holds for two weeks, we’ll see Notre Dame beat USC and take on the winner of the Alabama-Georgia SEC championship game. But what if the chalk doesn’t hold?

There’s still any number of scenarios out there at the top of the national championship race and exponentially more when it comes to the race for bids in BCS games. And the reality is, we’re only a couple games away from another all-SEC battle in the national title game.

Just one week ago, TheSportsNotebook tabbed Florida one of the big losers in the events of a particular Saturday. And what I wrote then was true. At the time. Because of the chaos and because they still have Florida State on the schedule, the Gators are in position to not only get back into a major bowl game, but are in the discussion for the top prize. At #4 in the current standings, they are guaranteed at-large selection. And if Notre Dame loses to Southern Cal? Then a win over the Seminoles sets up Florida to play the Alabama-Georgia winner in Miami come January 7.

The one factor that could stop this scenario would be voter rebellion against another all-SEC title game, in which case Oregon, sitting at #5, could move their way back in. But the possibilities for Florida are just one example of national championship possibilities that are very much in play, but not being discussed, as everyone in the media rushes to get read for the Notre Dame-Alabama/Georgia final showdown (and that’s being generous—most media reports I see are giving Georgia short shrift in their chances against ‘Bama).

Let’s walk through a few more scenarios that could upset the applecart…

*Don’t assume the Alabama-Georgia game is a de facto semi-final. That’s true if the current rankings hold, and Alabama’s game against Auburn doesn’t present any real threat for chaos. But Georgia has to play Georgia Tech this week. The Yellow Jackets are an improving team, having won three in a row, including games against North Carolina and Duke and could yet end up in the ACC Championship Game. Georgia gets GT at home, but it can be a competitive game under any circumstances and especially if the Dawgs are looking ahead to Alabama.

*Notre Dame’s game at USC isn’t slipping under anyone’s radar, but what if the following happens—the Irish lose at USC. The Dawgs lose to Georgia Tech, then turn around and beat Alabama. Now you have a glorious mess and everyone is back into it. Here are a few more things to look at…

*Oregon is sitting on #5 and needs help just to get into the Pac-12 Championship Game. If Stanford wins at home against UCLA they take the North Division, and there would be a Cardinal-Bruin rematch for the Rose Bowl one week later. Would Oregon be better off just knocking off Oregon State (9-2 and 15th in the BCS rankings), staying home and hoping for a crackup? The hard answer is that yes, they probably are. The style points from any Pac-12 title game win probably don’t matter, for better or worse. And even if they didn’t get the Rose Bowl bid, Oregon would be snapped up as a BCS at-large if they fall short of the top game.

*Florida State really hasn’t gotten any respect, sitting at #10. Given the weakness of the ACC, that’s probably fair enough, but what if they beat Florida on Saturday? The teams between the Seminoles and Gators in the national rankings are Oregon, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Stanford and LSU. Should Florida State beat Florida, then win the ACC Championship Game a week a later, why shouldn’t they make the national game under the same scenario I outlined for Florida above? At the very least, the ‘Noles  should get in if total chaos opens up both spots.

*Looking around conference races, Rutgers got a big win over Cincinnati and looks set up to play Louisville in a winner-take-all game for the Big East next Thursday night. The winner likely goes to the Orange Bowl. We know Florida State will play for the ACC’s automatic spot in that game. Miami gets the other spot if they beat Duke on Saturday. Should the Blue Devils win the nod goes to Georgia Tech. And in the Big Ten, Nebraska just needs to beat Iowa or hope Michigan loses on the road at undefeated Ohio State and the Cornhuskers can book their trip for the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin.

*The Big 12 is a story unto itself and TheSportsNotebook will explore this conference’s complete bowl implications from the top down later this week. For now, let’s just say that while Kansas State can still keep it simple with a win over Texas, the Wildcats’ loss opens the door for Oklahoma, Texas & Oklahoma State. It’s going to be a great closing weekend in what has been the nation’s best conference this year.

*Now let’s get on with the BCS bowl projections. I’m going to break them into four different sets of matchups this time. In the first, we’ll just assume form holds and it’s Notre Dame vs. Alabama/Georgia. The loser of the SEC title game will likely be passed over for an at-large slot regardless. Then we’ll do a projection that has Notre Dame losing to USC. We’ll do a set that presumes the parlay of Georgia losing to Georgia Tech, then beating Alabama. And then we’ll do the Glorious Chaos projection, where both Notre Dame and the SEC leaders crack up.

For the sake of at least a little simplicity I’m going to assume its Kansas State in the Big 12, Stanford/UCLA out of the Pac-12. I’m also assuming Florida holds serve at home and beats Florida State (late correction–the game is at Florida State).  And the way the matchups likely shake out it seems that Clemson and Oklahoma are vying for the same spot in the Sugar Bowl. Clemson currently has the edge, but has to play South Carolina. If they lose, it opens the door for OU to beat Oklahoma State. And if both lose?  Please, we’ve had enough chaos for one article.

Sugar: Florida-Clemson/Oklahoma
Fiesta:  Kansas State-Oregon
Orange: Florida State-Rutgers
Rose:  UCLA/Stanford vs. Wisconsin/Nebraska

BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Alabama/Georgia vs. Florida
Sugar: Notre Dame-Clemson
Fiesta: Kansas State-Oregon
Orange: Florida State-Rutgers
Rose: UCLA/Stanford vs. Wisconsin/Nebraska

Sugar: Georgia-Clemson/Oklahoma
Fiesta: Kansas State-Oregon
Orange: Florida State-Rutgers
Rose: UCLA/Stanford vs. Wisconsin/Nebraska

BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Florida-Oregon (note that neither  team would be a conference champ)
Sugar: Georgia-Clemson/Oklahoma
Fiesta: Kansas State-Notre Dame
Orange: Florida State-Rutgers
Rose: UCLA/Stanford vs. Wisconsin/Nebraska