How sure is the Guru? Let me put it this way: I wouldn't bet my kid's college money on it. But I would bet yours.
The confluence of events worked out just right for the Florida Gators on Saturday, which should secure them a place in the BCS title game. Oklahoma's spot was never in doubt as the Sooners raced to an early lead against Missouri and kept pounding away.
What worked out for Florida is that its victory over Alabama was hard-fought, which gave the impression that it defeated a stout, undefeated, No. 1-ranked team, as opposed to a fraudulent pretender. Also, OU's victory over Missouri, while impressive and record-setting, seemed pedestrian by comparison because the Tigers' defense was so atrocious that it might as well not have shown up.
All that should add up to a preponderance of first-place votes for the Gators, helping them to make up whatever deficit in the computers against Texas, which will be left out at No. 3. The Guru projects at least a 100-point gap between Florida and Texas in the Harris Poll and probably a 40-50 point lead in the Coaches Poll. Taken together, they should override whatever residual lead that the Longhorns might have in the computer rankings.
If Hawaii defeats Cincinnati in the last regular-season game of 2008, Florida's place in the title game will be cemented.
As for Oklahoma, the crushing victory over Missouri was sufficient to keep enough first- and second-place votes for the Sooners in the human polls, allowing them maintain a comfortable cushion after adding in their superior computer ratings. There should be no concern about their being jumped by Texas in the BCS standings.Texas's only national title hopes now rests with the Associated Press. But with the Fiesta Bowl's decision to invite two-loss Ohio State to face the Longhorns, their chances dimmed considerably. Currently, Texas is 8 points ahead of Oklahoma in the AP poll. Should Texas maintain that lead going into the bowls and the Sooners defeat Florida in the BCS title game, the Longhorns might try to make a claim for the AP crown - by virtue of their head-to-head win over the Sooners. But it's doubtful that the AP voters would buy into that now since all they can prove is beating a perennially overrated Buckeyes team.
The Fiesta Bowl's decision only reinforces that the nature of the bowl games remains unchanged. It's never about bringing together the best matchups - the BCS title game notwithstanding - but it's all about bringing the most bucks and the highest TV ratings. Even though Texas-Utah made for a more compelling game, the bowl opted to play safe by picking Ohio State.
With all that in mind, here are the Guru's BCS bowl projections:
BCS Championship: No. 1. Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida
Fiesta Bowl: No. 3 Texas vs. No. 10 Ohio State
Sugar Bowl: No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 6 Utah
Rose Bowl: No. 5 USC vs. No. 8 Penn State
Orange Bowl: No. 12 Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
And the rest of the rankings projections, with the Cincinnati-Hawaii game pending:
No. 7 Texas Tech, No. 9 Boise State, No. 11 Texas Christian, No. 13 Oklahoma State, No. 14 Georgia Tech, No. 15 Georgia.