Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hawaii F-ed Over

The BCS's big dogs apparently are not satisfied that Hawai'i's BCS hopes are already on life support. They want to pull the plug altogether.

The commissioners of the six BCS conferences voted to expand the at-large pool from their own conferences from 14 to 18 teams, adding yet another obstacle in Hawai'i's quest to earn a berth in one of the BCS bowls.

Here's how it works: Until Tuesday, only teams in the Top 14 of the final BCS standings may be considered for a BCS at-large berth. But there is an additional provision that each conference may send no more than two teams to BCS bowls each year.

Right now, that's not a problem. But in two weeks, this might be a big problem. It's very likely that there will be four Big XII, three Pac-10 and three SEC teams, but only one each from the ACC, Big East and Big Ten in the Top 14 in the final standings. That leaves the total available teams for the BCS at nine (do the math: 2+2+2+1+1+1=9).

So what to do? Potentially, Hawai'i could be sitting at No. 15, but because it's not in the Top 12 and not ahead of a conference champion, it does not qualify for an automatic bid. But with this new provision -- straight out of the school of "making-up-rules-as-we-go" -- Illinois stands to be a huge beneficiary. The Illini, now at No. 17, are in position to claim the final at-large berth.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson is taking the high road at the moment: "I don't think [the new rule] really has an effect on Boise State or Hawaii," Benson told the Associated Press. "This isn't anything that reduces or eliminates Boise State's or Hawaii's chances of getting into the BCS. Obviously, if they get into the top 12, it's still guaranteed."

But don't be surprised if Benson screams bloody murder -- and he should -- if a higher-ranked 12-0 Hawai'i team gets passed over by a 3-loss Illinois team that wouldn't have otherwise qualified until the new rule kicked in Tuesday.

Hawai'i's best hopes now rest with, for starters, an impressive victory over 10-1 Boise State on national TV Friday night. Then, a victory by UConn over West Virginia might help kick in the Top 16 clause. If that fails, then losses by Oregon, USC and Texas might become essential. And finally, if things do fall into place by Dec. 1, the Warriors must not forget about Washington.

The Huskies might be 4-7, but they handed Boise State its only loss of the season, and would love to do it again to Hawai'i in the final regular-season game of 2007.


The Rooting Guide

1. LSU (10-1)
Remaining games: Nov. 23 vs. Arkansas (7-4); Dec. 1 at SEC championship
National title scenario: LSU will be going to the BCS national championship game if it beats Arkansas and wins the SEC title game.
BCS bowl scenario: A win over Arkansas will assure the Tigers a BCS bowl berth, even if they lost to Tennessee or Georgia in the SEC championship game.
Needs help from: No one. A two-loss LSU team has a very slim chance of getting into the BCS title game. If they lose to Georgia for the SEC title, they'd have zero chance.

2. Kansas (11-0)
Remaining games: Nov. 24 vs. Missouri (10-1); Dec. 1 at Big XII championship
National title scenario: KU will be in the national championship game if it beats Missouri and then wins the Big XII title. So far, the Jayhawks have been the only BCS conference team that's avoided the upset bug. We'll find out what they're made of the next two weeks.
BCS bowl scenario: With Oklahoma's loss, the Jayhawks are pretty much a lock for at least a BCS bowl berth. An 11-1 or 12-1 KU team will be playing in a BCS bowl somewhere.
Needs help from: No one. Even if Kansas ends up being on of only two one-loss teams -- Ohio State being the other, the Jayhawks probably will be pushed out by a two-loss team like Georgia.

3. West Virginia (9-1)
Remaining games: Nov. 24 vs. Connecticut (9-2); Dec. 1 vs. Pittsburgh (4-6)
National title scenario: Two weeks ago, West Virginia looked as if it had no shot of reaching the national title game. Now it appears all the Mountaineers need is an LSU loss in the next two weeks -- or to have the Kansas/Missouri survivor lose the Big XII title game. They do not leave Morgantown again this season, but style points do count when it's this late in the season.
BCS bowl scenario: Saturday's game is effectively the Big East championship game. The winner will do no worse than getting the conference's automatic bid. The loser will be out -- the Big East is not a two-team conference this year.
Needs help from: LSU, Kansas/Missouri winner and Ohio State. Even though the Buckeyes are finished, they can theoretically jump West Virginia if the Mountaineers continue to win dangerously.

4. Missouri (10-1)
Remaining games: Nov. 24 vs. Kansas (11-0); Dec. 1 at Big XII championship
National title scenario: Missouri may very well control its own destiny at this point. A win over Kansas should catapult the Tigers over West Virginia into the No. 2 spot. A victory at the Big XII title game should lock it up.
BCS bowl scenario: It's an all-or-nothing deal for Mizzou. Win the Big XII and go to the national title game. Lose, then the at-large bid might end up with a two-loss Texas or a one-loss Kansas.
Needs help from: LSU and West Virginia. Just to be sure, Missouri will want one of these teams to lose at least once.

5. Ohio State (11-1)
Remaining games: Regular season complete
National title scenario: The Buckeyes need help, but maybe not as much as some might think. Either LSU or the Kansas/Missouri winner must lose for the Buckeyes to have a shot, but beyond that, it's a close call. It's possible, if not probable, that Ohio State might jump West Virginia without the Mountaineers losing a game.
BCS bowl scenario: The Rose Bowl is in hand. Now the Buckeyes are waiting in the airport lounge to see if they can get an upgrade. (I know, it's a sacrilege to say any bowl would be an "upgrade" from the Granddaddy of 'em all, but these are the times.)
Needs help from: LSU, Kansas/Missouri winner, West Virginia, Arizona State.

6. Arizona State (9-1)
Remaining games: Nov. 22 vs. USC (8-2); Dec. 1 vs. Arizona (5-6)
National title scenario: It's not looking good for the Sun Devils, but beating the Trojans on Thanksgiving would be a start. And then at least three, probably four of the teams in front of them will have to lose for them to have a shot.
BCS bowl scenario: The Sun Devils will get no worse than a Rose Bowl berth by winning their last two games. A loss to USC might still net ASU a Fiesta Bowl berth, depending on what Oregon does in its final two games.
Needs help from: LSU, Kansas/Missouri winner, West Virginia and Oregon. Yes, one more loss by Oregon will make the Sun Devils a lock for a BCS bowl berth.

7. Georgia (9-2)
Remaining games: Nov. 24 at Georgia Tech (7-4)
National title scenario: It's a long, long shot, but UGA is the only 2-loss team that might have a shot to get into the national title game. Here's how: Kansas/Missouri winner loses in the Big XII title game, West Virginia and Arizona State each loses at least one game. Tennessee loses to Kentucky and hands Georgia the SEC East title. And then the Bulldogs upset LSU in the SEC title game.
BCS bowl scenario: Should Georgia finish 10-2 but fail to win the SEC East, it should still have the inside track to an at-large berth over Florida. What might foul up the Bulldogs' plans is a Tennessee win over LSU in the SEC title game. In that case, most likely the Tigers will end up with an at-large bid over Georgia.
Needs help from: Kansas/Missouri winner, West Virginia, Arizona State and Tennessee.

8. Virginia Tech (8-2)

Remaining games: Nov. 24 at Virginia; Dec. 1 ACC championship
BCS bowl prospect: A victory over archrival Virginia will earn the Hokies a trip to Jacksonville, against Boston College. An Orange Bowl berth comes with the ACC title.
Needs help from: No one. It's unlikely that the ACC will get an at-large berth. The new rule seems tailor-made for Illinois.

9. Oregon (8-2)
Remaining games: Nov. 24 at UCLA; Dec. 1 vs. Oregon State
BCS bowl prospect: The Ducks' national title run came to a crashing halt when Dennis Dixon tore his ACL early in a loss to Arizona. Now the Ducks must win their remaining two games with hobbled backup Brady Leaf just to get a BCS bowl bid.
Needs help from: USC. A victory by the Trojans over Arizona State gives the control of the Rose Bowl race back to Oregon -- provided that the Ducks win their remaining two games.

10. Oklahoma (9-2)
Remaining games: Nov. 24 vs. Oklahoma State; Dec. 1 at Big XII championship
BCS bowl prospect: It's unlikely for OU to get a BCS bowl berth without a victory in the Big XII title game. The at-large berth most likely will go to the Kansas-Missouri loser, or even Texas.
Needs help from: No one.

11. USC (8-2)
Remaining games: Nov. 22 at Arizona State; Dec. 1 vs. UCLA
BCS bowl prospect: The Trojans' run as the Pac-10 champ might not be over after all, and they are very much alive for a sixth straight BCS bowl berth, extending their own record. By finishing 10-2 with a win at ASU will assure USC a BCS bowl berth, maybe even a third straight trip to the Rose Bowl, should Oregon lose one more game.
Needs help from: Oregon. If the Ducks lose one of its final two games, USC will win the conference by beating ASU and UCLA.

12. Florida (8-3)
Remaining game: Nov. 24 vs. Florida State
BCS bowl prospect: Florida's chances of reaching a BCS bowl are extremely slim, but given how this season has evolved, you just can't count them out yet.
Needs help from: Tennessee and Georgia. Georgia needs to lose to Georgia Tech but still gets into the SEC title game and lose again. In order for that to happen, Tennessee needs to lose to Kentucky first.

13. Texas (9-2)
Remaining game: Nov. 23 at Texas A&M
BCS bowl prospect: Texas all of a sudden is just an OU loss away from getting into the Big XII title game. The bad news is that there is almost no chance for the Longhorns to get an at-large berth.
Needs help from: Oklahoma. A Sooners loss to Oklahoma State, coupled with a Texas win over A&M will give the Longhorns the opportunity to win the Big XII.

14. Boston College (9-2)
Remaining games: Nov. 24 vs. Miami; Dec. 1 ACC championship
BCS bowl prospect: It's onto Jacksonville for the ACC title game against the Virginia-Virginia Tech winner. A victory there will land the Eagles in the Orange Bowl.
Needs help from: No one.

15. Hawai'i (10-0)
Remaining games: Nov. 23 vs. Boise State; Dec. 1 vs. Washington
BCS bowl prospect: Read the post up top ... it covers everything.
Needs help from: Texas, Florida and USC. Losses by any/all of these teams will help Hawai'i tremendously in the human polls, and thus enhance its chances to be in the Top 12.

16. Virginia (9-2)
Remaining games: Nov. 24 vs. Virginia Tech; Dec. 1 ACC championship
BCS bowl prospect: A win over the Hokies will give the Cavs the division title and a spot in the ACC title game. A win in Jacksonville will earn them an Orange Bowl berth.
Needs help from: No one.

17. Illinois (9-3)
Remaining games: Regular season complete
BCS bowl prospect: Ron Zook is living a charmed life. The victory over then-No. 1 Ohio State is giving the Illini unbelievable pub, to the point that BCS rules are hastily altered to potentially accommodate his team. How would you like a Florida-Illinois game in the Zooker, uh, Sugar Bowl?
Needs help from: Too many to count right now. But it'll all work out at the end.

18. Tennessee (8-3)
Remaining games: Nov. 24 at Kentucky; Dec. 1 SEC championship
BCS bowl prospect: The Vols control their own BCS destiny. Win their remaining two games, including the SEC title game, they will be in the Sugar Bowl. Lose just once, it will all go kaput.
Needs help from: No one. A loss to Kentucky will hand the SEC East to Georgia.

19. Boise State (10-1)
Remaining game: Nov. 23 at Hawai'i
BCS bowl prospect: It was looking good a week ago, but now it's all but extinguished for the Broncos. It's not possible for Boise State to get into the Top 12, even with a win over Hawai'i. And it's not probable for Boise State to be ahead of a conference champion and therefore triggering the Top 16 clause.
Needs help from: God.

20. Connecticut (9-2)
Remaining game: Nov. 24 at West Virginia
BCS bowl prospect: Very simple -- beat WVU, and UConn becomes the second team to clinch a BCS bid. Lose to WVU, and UConn and Larry Taylor turn back into pumpkins, unfair catch or not.
Needs help from: Big East refs. Didn't it seem like they helped the Huskies in every one of their victories?

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