Posted: Monday November 21, 2005 11:22AM; Updated: Wednesday November 23, 2005 5:23PM
Troy Smith led the Buckeyes to a last-second win over Michigan on Saturday, but Ohio State will likely be shut out of the BCS.
Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images
With Alabama out of contention and Virginia Tech back in the driver's seat for the ACC's automatic berth, there were really only three realistic choices -- Oregon (10-1), Notre Dame (8-2) and Ohio State (9-2) -- to consider for the two BCS at-large berths. And since the Irish are a mortal lock for one of them if they beat Stanford on Saturday, the question really is, Ducks or Buckeyes? I don't know the answer -- and I don't think Fiesta Bowl officials do yet, either.
Much will depend on what the Fiesta does with its first pick (this is under the assumption Texas reaches the Rose Bowl). If it takes Penn State (10-1), obviously Big Ten rival Ohio State is out of the question. If, however, the Fiesta takes the Irish, they'll face a tough decision for Notre Dame's opponent. My guess, as of this week, is they'll go with the Ducks, because they have a better record, and because the Buckeyes would be playing in Tempe for the third time in four years.
Meanwhile, Auburn's win over Alabama had a ripple effect on the SEC projections. The Tigers (9-2) likely locked up a berth to the Capital One Bowl and sent the Tide (9-2) to the Cotton, which creates a domino effect that sends Florida tumbling all the way to Shreveport. That could change, however, if the Gators beat Florida State on Saturday.
One other intriguing bowl storyline involves Fresno State (8-2), which, following its near-upset of USC, will be very attractive to the Liberty Bowl for its at-large opening. The WAC would gladly free up the Bulldogs to go to the higher-paying game since it already has three other eligible teams from which to fill the league's two spots in the MPC Computers and Hawaii bowls.
Stewart Mandel's Bowl Projections
Rose: USC (BCS No. 1) vs. Texas (BCS No. 2)
Orange: Virginia Tech (ACC champ) vs. Penn State (Big Ten champ)
Sugar: LSU (SEC champ) vs. West Virginia (Big East champ)
Fiesta: Notre Dame (BCS at-large) vs. Oregon (BCS at-large)
Capital One: Ohio State (Big Ten No. 2) vs. Auburn (SEC No. 2)
Gator: Miami (ACC No. 2) vs. Louisville (Big East No. 2)
Outback: Michigan (Big Ten No. 3) vs. Georgia (SEC)
Cotton: Texas Tech (Big 12 No. 2) vs. Alabama (SEC)
Liberty: UCF (C-USA champ) vs. Fresno State (at-large)
Houston: Iowa State (Big 12) vs. TCU (at-large*)
Meineke: Clemson (ACC) vs. USF (Big East)
Peach: Florida State (ACC No. 3) vs. South Carolina (SEC)
Music City: Northwestern (Big Ten No. 6) vs. Virginia (at-large*)
Emerald: N.C. State (at-large**) vs. Utah (MWC No. 2)
Alamo: Wisconsin (Big Ten No. 4) vs. Oklahoma (Big 12 No. 4)
MPC Computers: Boise State (WAC) vs. Boston College (ACC)
Insight: Arizona State (Pac-10 No. 4) vs. Rutgers (Big East)
Champs Sports: Georgia Tech (ACC) vs. Nebraska (Big 12)
Motor City: Bowling Green (MAC) vs. Minnesota (Big Ten No. 7)
Hawaii: Tulsa (C-USA No. 3) vs. Nevada (WAC)
Fort Worth: Memphis (C-USA No. 4) vs. New Mexico (at-large***)
Poinsettia: Colorado State (MWC) vs. Navy (at-large)
Las Vegas: Toledo (at-large**) vs. BYU (MWC No. 1)
GMAC: UTEP (C-USA No. 2) vs. Northern Illinois (MAC)
New Orleans: Louisiana-Monroe (Sun Belt No. 1) vs. Southern Miss (C-USA)
* -- in place of SEC
** -- in place of Pac-10
*** -- in place of Big 12 No. 8
Notes: • Non-BCS bowls do not have to pick in order of conference standing (i.e. "Big Ten No. 2" means second choice of Big Ten teams, not second-place Big Ten team.
• Only teams .500 or above were considered.
• In conferences with two divisions, the team with the better conference record was used as the projected champion.
• Teams in bold have already accepted bids.