Moving Oklahoma State into my BCS lineup had a bizarre, unintended consequence: It knocked Texas A&M, the hottest team in the Big 12, all the way down to the Holiday Bowl. Here's how.
The Cotton can't do an Aggies-Arkansas rematch, so in goes Oklahoma. The Alamo will want to grab Nebraska before it leaves for the Big Ten. And the Insight took too much flak for bypassing Missouri last year to do it again. However, if Arkansas beats LSU next week and goes to the BCS, you can scratch everything I just wrote and put A&M (assuming it beats Texas) in Dallas.
A few other notes:
• Notre Dame may have beaten Utah twice. The Maaco Bowl Las Vegas badly wants the Irish (which became bowl eligible last week) to fill one of its vacated Pac-10 slots, but it doesn't want an ND-Utah rematch, either. And San Diego State is all but assured the hometown Poinsettia Bowl. So the Utes, even at 10-2, could slip to the Independence Bowl. (I put 8-4 Air Force in Vegas.)
• After getting some further clarification on the strange Liberty Bowl/SEC/Conference USA arrangement, I reshuffled my C-USA lineup. If UCF wins the conference title game but gets bumped from Memphis, it will have its choice of league-affiliated bowl games, and who would turn down a trip to Hawaii? This also allows Southern Miss to play closer to home in Birmingham.
Note that if Tennessee beats Kentucky this weekend, giving the SEC a 10th bowl-eligible team, this will all be moot.
• It will be interesting to see how the SEC bowls treat a potential 9-4 South Carolina team, if it loses the SEC title game. The Outback Bowl seems its most likely destination, but don't put it past the folks in Tampa to take 8-4 Florida. If that happened, the Gamecocks could slip to sixth in the order, because the Chick-fil-A Bowl would be leery of a team returning to Atlanta in the same month.
• As always, it's important to remember that most bowls are not obligated to choose their teams in exact order of conference standings. For instance, "ACC No. 3" means "third choice of ACC teams" -- not "the ACC's third-place team."
• As of now, I'm projecting exactly 70 eligible teams for 70 spots.
Teams in bold have accepted bowl invitation * -- replacement team for a conference without enough eligible teams