The season of upsets brought us one fine ending ... and a fine mess. The BCS Guru now projects that Ohio State and LSU, two teams that occupied the top spot of the BCS standings for much of the season, will meet in New Orleans in the BCS national championship game.
Ohio State will be a comfortable No. 1 against LSU, which will edge Virginia Tech (No. 3) and Georgia (No. 4) and Oklahoma (No. 5) for the spot. The Tigers' early-season rout of the Hokies, and the victory over a Tennessee team that blew out Georgia should put them over the top.
The Guru's preliminary analysis, pending the outcome of the Hawai'i-Washington game, is that LSU will win out primarily in the polls. LSU, Georgia and Virginia Tech will be very close in the computer rankings. But the Tigers will make the quantum leap from No. 7 to No. 2 because of its body of work; and the early-season win over Virginia Tech and SEC championship game victory over Tennessee will pay big dividends.
Les Miles, who's definitely not going to Michigan now, also planted the seeds earlier in the week when he lobbied for LSU's merit, stating that both of the Tigers' losses were in triple-overtime. Those words will now resonate in the heads of the coaches and Harris voters.
Mark Richt went on ESPN to state his case, but his argument rings hollow -- as was with Michigan's Lloyd Carr last year. The voters, having wrested control of the BCS standings from the computers, don't want to hear that it's not a BCS stipulation to put a conference champion in the BCS title game. Remember, when Nebraska (2001) and Oklahoma (2003) went in spite of not winning its division and conference, respectively, it was the computers' handiwork in both cases.
As for Oklahoma and USC, it's a case of too-little-too-late, as well as killer losses to unworthy opponents (OU to Colorado and USC to Stanford). Both teams are too far down in the polls -- and also the computers -- to make up ground. Kansas, despite being the only other one-loss team besides Ohio State, also has no chance after failing to reach the Big XII title game.
Should LSU make the BCS championship game as projected, most likely there will NOT be a split championship. LSU was No. 5 in the last AP poll, very close to No. 4 Georgia. The Tigers are expected to make the jump to No. 2, ahead of Georgia and Virginia Tech, in the final regular-season AP poll.
The BCS bowl situation is very fluid as well. Down 21-0 early, Hawai'i has roared back to defeat Washington, 35-28, finishing with the only perfect 12-0 record in Division I-A and earning the WAC's second consecutive BCS bowl trip.
The Guru's final bowl projections:
BCS championship game: No. 1 Ohio State (11-1) vs. No. 2 LSU (11-2)
Rose Bowl: No. 8 USC (10-2) vs. 13. Illinois (9-3)
Sugar Bowl: No. 4 Georgia (10-2) vs. No. 10 Hawai'i (12-0)
Fiesta Bowl: No. 5 Oklahoma (11-2) vs. No. 9 West Virginia (10-2)
Orange Bowl: No. 3 Virginia Tech (11-2) vs. No. 7 Kansas (11-1)
Other teams in the projected Top 15: 6. Missouri (11-2), 11. Arizona State (10-2), 12. Florida (9-3), 14. Boston College (10-3), 15. Clemson (9-3).