Usual Rose Bowl pairing unlikely

Pac-10 vs. Big Ten a hard task

College football Analysis

November 20, 2006|By Mike Huguenin | Mike Huguenin,Orlando Sentinel.

Please, no Michigan-Ohio State rematch.

So Ohio State and Michigan remain first and second in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings. If there's a rematch in the national title game, or even an Ohio State-Southern California matchup, one thing is for sure: The Rose Bowl ain't going to be happy.

The bowl covets a Big Ten/Pacific-10 matchup, but it's going to take a miracle for it to happen this season. The bowl will have one team from those leagues; the question is whether it will be Michigan (the Big Ten runner-up) or USC (the Pac-10 champ), and the opponent will have a ripple effect on the entire BCS.

(Remember: A BCS at-large team has to win at least nine games and be in the top 14 of the final BCS standings.)

It's hard to imagine the Rose Bowl picking Notre Dame, which is a natural because of its national following. The Irish already would've played USC and Michigan. That leaves the Big East champ, a Southeastern Conference team, Boise State or Oklahoma as the likely Rose pick - and that leaves Notre Dame in play for the Orange and Sugar bowls but not the Fiesta, which picks last among the at-large teams.

Let's examine those choices: A Big East team in the Rose? Louisville, Rutgers or West Virginia in the Rose? It seems unlikely the hoity-toity "Granddaddy of Them All" would select a Big East team, but who knows for sure? SEC teams have been in the Rose but not since 1946. And it would be a two-loss SEC team, either Auburn, Arkansas, Florida or LSU.

Boise State will be in the BCS if it goes unbeaten (it must win at Nevada on Saturday for that to happen). Boise in the BCS is one thing. Boise in the Rose? That's as unlikely as Ohio State saying it doesn't want to play in the national championship game.

Oklahoma has to be in the top 14 of the final BCS standings; the Sooners are 15th this week. To be in play for the Rose, the Sooners - whose early-season loss at Oregon essentially was caused by bad officiating - obviously must move up at least one spot, beat Oklahoma State this week and have Texas win the Big 12 South. If the Sooners win the Big 12 South, then go on to beat Nebraska in the Big 12 title game, they'll be in the Fiesta Bowl. And a loss in the Big 12 title game almost certainly would mean OU wouldn't finish in the top 14 of the BCS.

The Rose wouldn't mind if a three-loss California somehow made it into the top 14; if USC were in the title game, the bowl could pick the Golden Bears and keep its Big Ten/Pac-10 matchup. But Cal is 19th in this week's standings and needs a lot of teams to lose if it is to somehow make it into the top 14.

Our projections for the BCS bowls and some others of interest:

Title game: Ohio State vs. USC.

Fiesta: Boise State vs. Texas.

Orange: Georgia Tech vs. Louisville.

Rose: Michigan vs. Oklahoma.

Sugar: Arkansas vs. Notre Dame.

Birmingham: Tulsa vs. South Florida.

Capital One: Florida vs. Wisconsin.

Champs Sports: Iowa vs. Maryland.

Chick-fil-A: Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech.

Cotton: LSU vs. Nebraska.

Emerald: Arizona State vs. Florida State.

Gator: Clemson vs. West Virginia.

Holiday: California vs. Texas A&M.

Outback: Auburn vs. Penn State.

More bowl talk

With the addition of the 12th regular-season game, the NCAA passed an offseason rule making 6-6 teams bowl-eligible.

But there's a caveat: if you're 6-6, you can play in bowls that have a tie-in with your conference. You can't be an at-large selection for a non-affiliated bowl unless there are no teams with winning records available.

What this means: 6-6 teams from the BCS leagues could be left out in favor of 7-5 teams from the Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences.

That means if 5-5 and 6-5 teams such as Troy, Arkansas State, Kent State and Northern Illinois can get to 7-5, they're in good shape to go bowling. Yeah, that'll make for some must-watch bowls, huh? The potential exists for as many as 16 teams with 6-6 records to make it to a bowl. And that, too, will make for some must-watch bowls, huh?

Grid bits

Alabama is 6-6 and will finish its season in a lower-tier bowl. Can someone again explain why the school felt obligated to give coach Mike Shula a contract extension before the season? Shula is 25-23 in his four seasons at Alabama, and after Saturday's home loss to Auburn, the Tide fell to 0-19 under Shula when trailing after three quarters.

Lafayette and Lehigh met for the 142nd time Saturday. Rarely have the stakes been so high: Lafayette won, 49-27, to earn the Patriot League's berth in the Division I-AA playoffs.

Mike Huguenin writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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