There is something about rivalries and undefeated records, bowl game placement, conference championships and school pride that always seems to come to the fore this time of year during a typical college football season, playing havoc with the BCS Standings and providing a measure of uncertainty to the games that only adds even more to the excitement of each contest. As many teams finished their regular seasons, several conference championships were on the line this weekend. Most teams also played their intra-state and/or intra-conference rivals (or in the case of West Virginia and Pittsburgh’s Backyard Brawl, an interstate rivalry). Regardless, this weekend’s games supplied three Top 10 BCS-ranked teams with losses, shaking up the rankings, wreaking havoc with bowl game projections, and setting up an exciting finish to the season — and it is still unknown who will play for the BCS National Championship.
The Top 3 teams in the BCS Standings — Oregon, Auburn, and TCU — won, although #2 Auburn seemed to have a tough time of it in the Iron Bowl, having to struggle back from a 24-0 deficit at halftime against arch-rival Alabama. But they did.
However, #4 Boise State wasn’t as fortunate. A missed field goal at game’s end left the Broncos tied with #19 Nevada (possibly the most under-ranked team in the nation). Nevada would go on to beat the undefeated Broncos, knocking them out of consideration for the BCS National Championship Game.
The #3 TCU Horned Frogs stated their case for consideration for the big game, knocking off a hapless New Mexico squad by 49 points. Now their season is over and they must await the results of next week’s games. Still, it now looks as if the #1 Oregon Ducks and the #2 Auburn Tigers and their high-powered offenses are set to compete for the national championship as long as both teams get through next week. Oregon will take on a very competitive Oregon State in a rivalry that has been dubbed the Civil War. Auburn plays South Carolina in Atlanta for the SouthEast Conference championship. In an unlikely projection, a loss by either Oregon or Auburn puts TCU in the championship game.
The #5 LSU Tigers also fell, dropping only their second game all season to SEC conference rivals Arkansas (#12), giving the Razorbacks and the previous #6 Stanford Cardinal a glimpse at major BCS bowls. Stanford is most likely destined for the Rose Bowl, given Oregon’s propensity to remain undefeated. There will likely be no bigger fans of Oregon State in the entire nation (outside of Oregon) next week than The Cardinal fans hoping for an upset. Of course, an additional upset by South Carolina over Auburn would most likely put Stanford in the BCS National Championship Game with TCU — the most unlikely projection among the top teams but certainly possible.
There’s a lot depending on the outcome of the Auburn and Oregon games next weekend.
And, as can be seen, nothing is certain in the BCS Standings…
#7 Wisconsin is already in the Rose Bowl, having clinched the Big 10 Conference championship by beating Northwestern handily Saturday. Conference rivals Ohio State is right behind them. Both teams will advance due to the losses incurred by LSU and Boise State.
Oklahoma State, ranked #9 going into the weekend, fell to Oklahoma in their annual enactment of the Bedlam Series. Nebraska won the North Division of the Big 12 and await the BCS rankings to see who their opponent will be in the Big 12 championship game — but it will most likely be Oklahoma, which was #13 going into the game. The winner of the Big 12 championship automatically is seeded in the Fiesta Bowl, one the four BCS Bowl games besides the National Championship Game.
The Big East, which will place a team in the Sugar Bowl, has yet to decide a champion. With West Virginia’s defeat of Pitt in the Backyard Brawl, UConn (University of Connecticut) controls its fate. If they win their final game, they go to the Sugar Bowl. If they lose and West Virginia wins, WVU goes. If they both lose, Pittsburgh makes it to the Sugar Bowl with five losses.
The Atlantic Coast Conference champion has not been decided either. The ACC champion plays in the Orange Bowl. Virginia Tech will match up against Florida State for the championship game, the winner going to Miami.
And that is what the BCS Bowl picture looks like at present. It is like a paint-by-numbers painting with several of the numbers remaining unpainted. But by the end of next weekend, there will be no need for projections — all the numbers will be filled in.
“2010 BCS Standings,” ESPN.go.com