Bowl projections: Upsets, Miami's ban change postseason outlook
Apologies to Texas A&M and Clemson fans for providing false hope last week in the form of projected BCS berths. Saturday's upsets changed my BCS lineup considerably.
For one thing, the Pac-12 is all but assured two BCS bids now, which eliminates the ACC's second berth. And with the SEC back in line for a championship game participant, the second choice will go to the Sugar, not the Fiesta Bowl. The Aggies made sense in Glendale, but LSU (or Florida if it beats Florida State this week) gets the nod opposite Oklahoma in New Orleans.
Mind you, Clemson could get back in the BCS mix if Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State or TCU and the Big 12 fails to qualify a second team. If not, this week's Clemson-South Carolina winner will head to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Meanwhile, A&M fans probably won't mind their projected consolation prize: a Cotton Bowl grudge match with Texas.
Elsewhere, Miami invoked another self-imposed bowl ban on Monday, which throws quite the wrench into things. Right now, I'm projecting just 70 eligible teams for 70 spots. That included 6-5 Georgia Tech, which will now play in the ACC title game against 10-1 Florida State following this week's matchup with 10-1 Georgia. Should the Yellow Jackets finish 6-7, they could still get in (much like UCLA last year) if there aren't eligible teams otherwise.
The biggest winners from Miami's decision might be 5-6 Rice and 5-6 Wake Forest. One of the NCAA's contingencies if there aren't enough six-win teams is to allow a 5-7 team if it has a top-five APR score among available candidates. Rice (986) and Wake Forest (973) fit that bill.
As always, please remember:
• After the No. 1 and 2 teams are slotted and replaced, the BCS at-large selection order this year is 1) Fiesta, 2) Sugar and 3) Orange. The highest-ranked champion from a non-automatic qualifier is guaranteed a BCS berth if it finishes in the top 12 or in the top 16 and ahead of an AQ-conference champion.
• Most bowls are not obligated -- I repeat, NOT OBLIGATED -- to choose in exact order of conference standings. For instance, "Big 12 No. 3" means "third selection of Big 12 teams," not "the Big 12's third-place team." Bowls often pick a team with an inferior record due to geography, anticipated fan travel, the need to avoid a regular-season rematch, or just plain politics.