Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bowling Alone ... With 67 Others

America may be suffering a decline in social capital because everybody is busy texting and tweeting instead of going out and bonding with real people. Robert Putnam was simply ahead of his time.

But that's not a problem in college football. Unless your team really, really sucked, everybody gets to bowl, even if it costs your school money for the privilege.

Once again, we have 34 bowls in this postseason for 68 teams. And on the eve of Thanksgiving, we officially have 69 bowl eligible teams, meaning every bowl slot will be filled, with at least one 6-6 team being sent home despite its excellence perfect mediocrity.

The odd team out could be Notre Dame, either by its own choosing or by being squeezed out of a bowl slot. If the Irish lose to Stanford this weekend - as expected - they may decide to clean house instead of making an appearance at a minor bowl and risking Jimmy Clausen being sucker-punched by one of their irate, drunken alums.

The biggest loser last week was Kansas State, which went from a potential BCS bowl slot to no bowl at all with a single defeat. The Wildcats were playing Nebraska for the Big 12 North title, but their 17-3 loss dropped them to 6-6 overall. And since K-State had two wins over lower division teams, it did not muster the six required victories to be bowl eligible.

Nebraska, meanwhile, becomes one of the 21 teams still under consideration for the 10 BCS bowl slots, according to the BCS press release (in order of the latest BCS rankings):

1. Florida
2. Alabama
3. Texas
4. TCU
5. Cincinnati
6. Boise State
7. Georgia Tech
8. Oregon
9. Pittsburgh
10. Ohio State *
11. Iowa
12. Oklahoma State
13. Penn State
14. Virginia Tech
15. LSU
16. Oregon State
17. Miami (Fla.)
18. Clemson
19. BYU
20. USC
26. Nebraska

(* clinched Rose Bowl berth)

Realistically, only teams in the top 13, plus Oregon State, Clemson and Nebraska, which are playing for their respective conference championships, are still in the running. And in truth, the last BCS bowl slot will come down between Oklahoma State and Boise State.

If the Cowboys defeat Oklahoma in Norman this week, they will be picked by the Fiesta Bowl, leaving Boise State in the cold. Should the Sooners prevail, the Broncos' prospects will brighten considerably, with either the Fiesta Bowl or Sugar Bowl a possible destination.

The BCS bowl lineup with an OSU win:

BCS National Championship: Florida/Alabama vs. Texas
Sugar Bowl: Florida/Alabama vs. Cincinnati/Pittsburgh
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. TCU
Orange Bowl: Iowa/Penn State vs. Georgia Tech/Clemson
Rose Bowl: Oregon/Oregon State vs. Ohio State

The BCS bowl lineup with an OSU loss:

BCS National Championship: Florida/Alabama vs. Texas
Sugar Bowl: Florida/Alabama vs. TCU
Fiesta Bowl: Iowa/Penn State vs. Boise State
Orange Bowl: Cincinnati/Pittsburgh vs. Georgia Tech/Clemson
Rose Bowl: Oregon/Oregon State vs. Ohio State

The rest of the bowl list:

BOWL QUALIFIED (31) - teams with at least 7 wins
North Carolina
Boston College
West Virginia
South Florida
Texas Tech
Ole Miss
Air Force
Fresno State
Central Florida
Southern Miss
East Carolina
Central Michigan
Northern Illinois
Middle Tennessee State

BOWL ELIGIBLE (17) - Teams with 6 wins
Florida State
Iowa State +
Texas A&M
Michigan State +
Minnesota +
Notre Dame
South Carolina
Southern Methodist
Bowling Green

(+ regular season complete)

Kent State

^ Duke, at 5-6, will not be bowl eligible after losing to Miami last week. One of the Blue Devils' wins was over North Carolina Central, which is a provisional member of the FCS (I-AA) and therefore does not count.


buffalowill said...

Way more interesting matchups with an OSU loss. The Cowboys have not been all that impressive this year. Voters gave them the benefit of doubt after losing to Houston early on. really probably should have never started at preseason #11 Coaches after finishing last year #18 and getting beat down by Oregon in the Holiday Bowl (FYI Oregon was preseason #14). Makes Should be a good game in Norman regardless. Just another point to bolster my case that the completely subjective preseason poll is the most important component of the football season.

Victor said...

How does TCU/Boise's market compare to Cincy? Big East fan bases aren't exactly rabid, so I'm wondering how the actual pick order would work out.

i.e. Sugar Bowl replaces its #1 seed with the SEC #2 team. Fiesta replaces Texas with either OSU or Iowa/Penn state to guarantee some ticket sales. The last three spots are ordered Orange - Fiesta - Sugar, from my understanding.

I guess from your predictions that you see the Orange Bowl preferring Cincy/Pitt over Boise/TCU and the Fiesta preferring Boise over TCU and TCU over Cincy/Pitt. Is that based on likely attendance?

Donny said...

My best guess...

Sugar picks first and they pick SEC runner up.
Fiesta picks next and they pick BEST available traveling team... Iowa or Penn State.

Orange Bowl next pick and they pick Cincy/Pitt winner

Fiesta picks again. They won't pass up OSU twice...

Sugar with last pick gets TCU.

I just don't see people salivating over TCU. They are a small private school. Its the southern equivalent of East Carolina or Bowling Green.

So Fiesta would have 10-2 Iowa/Penn State vs 10-2 Okie State

Sugar would have SEC runner up vs TCU

1-loss Gtech vs 1-loss Pitt in Orange Bowl. (or Cincy)

Much better matchups anyway if that would happen.

Fiesta bowl doesn't get the BEST matchup... but gets most fans.

buffalowill said...

Hey Donny, I see the comparison you are trying to make, but East Carolina and Bowling Green are both public schools. They are not the equivalent of TCU. Not sure who they are the equivalent to...Vandy? Let's remember that they were longtime members of the old Southwest Conference and played with the "big boys." No doubt they, along with Houston, should have been part of a BCS conference to begin with...

The Ripper said...

I would think that the Sugar will get "stuck" with one of the mid majors. If OSU wins I think they would have to take TCU. If OSU losses they would take whoever the Fiesta doesn't want between Boise STate and TCU. I'm not sure which one of those two is better.

Donny said...


You got the gist... Just trying to show the size angle and not really the private/public angle.

There is a clause in the BCS that says things can be arranged to make for better matchups. don't know how/when/if that could be evoked.

PeteP said...

The Orange Bowl does not want Cincy again after last year.

Jams said...

Guru, you don't think that if Georgia Tech loses to Clemson that they've still got a good chance of getting into a BCS bowl as an at-large selection?

Chase said...

This is how the BCS will turn out:
Rose:Oregon vs Ohio St.
Fiesta:Oklahoma St. vs Boise St.
Orange:Georgia Tech vs Cincinatti
Sugar:Florida vs TCU
BCS Championship:Alabama vs Texas

Anonymous said...

"you don't think that if Georgia Tech loses to Clemson that they've still got a good chance of getting into a BCS bowl as an at-large selection?"

Not now after losing to Georgia.

With GTech and Okie State losing, the Big Ten is sending 2 to the BCS. And Boise St. probably gets the other at-large.