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Texas To A BCS Bowl? Oh, It's Possible

It hasn't often been pretty. It's definitely been frustrating. But here we are and Texas is 7-2 and in the mix for a BCS Bowl Game. How realistic is it? Perhaps more so than you realize.

Recall the BCS Rules for the 10 slots (Rose, Fiesta, Orange, Sugar, National Title Game):

Automatic Qualifiers

1. The top two teams in the final BCS Standings shall play in the National Championship Game.

Right now: Ohio State and Boston College

2. The champions of the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and Southeastern conferences will have automatic berths in one of the participating bowls after the 2006 and 2007 regular seasons.

Right Now: Boston College, Connecticut, Ohio State, Kansas, Arizona State, LSU

3. The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, or the Western Athletic Conference will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if either:

 A. Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings, or,
 B. Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.

Right now: At the moment, no, thought let's pencil in Hawaii for now; if they win out, they'll finish in the Top 12.

4. Notre Dame will have an automatic berth if it is in the top eight of the final BCS Standings.

Right now: No

At-Large Qualifiers

If there are fewer than 10 automatic qualifiers, then the bowls will select at-large participants to fill the remaining berths. At at-large team is any Division I-A team that is bowl-eligible and meets the following requirements:

 A. Has won at least nine regular-season games, and
 B. Is among the top 14 teams in the final BCS Standings.

Team Selection Procedures

The bowls will select their participants from two pools: (1) automatic qualifiers, all of which must be selected, and, (2) at-large teams, if fewer than 10 teams qualify automatically. The following sequence will be used when establishing pairings:

1. The top two teams in the final BCS Standings will be placed in the National Championship Game ("NCG").

Right now: Ohio State and Boston College

2. Unless they qualify to play in the NCG, the champions of selected conferences are contractually committed to host selected games:

 Atlantic Coast Conference-Orange Bowl
 Big Ten Conference-Rose Bowl
 Big 12 Conference-Fiesta Bowl
 Pac-10 Conference-Rose Bowl
 Southeastern Conference-Sugar Bowl

ACC/Orange: Lost host to NCG
B10/Rose: Lost host to NCG
B12/Fiesta: Kansas
Pac10/Rose: Arizona State
SEC/Sugar: LSU

3. If a bowl loses a host team to the NCG, then such bowl shall select a replacement team from among the automatic-qualifying teams and the at-large teams before any other selections are made. If two bowls lose host teams to the NCG, each bowl will get a replacement pick before any other selections are made. In such case, the bowl losing the No. 1 team gets the first replacement pick, and the bowl losing the No. 2 team gets the second replacement pick. If the Rose Bowl loses both the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions to the NCG, it will receive two replacement picks.

A bowl choosing a replacement team may not select any of the following:

 A. A team in the NCG;
 B. The host team for another BCS Bowl;
 C. When two bowls lose host teams, then the bowl losing the number one team may not select a replacement team from the same Conference as the number two team, unless the bowl losing the number two team consents.

This year's top two at-large picks, then:

1st - Rose Bowl (for losing Ohio State)
2nd - Orange Bowl (for losing Boston College)

4. Any bowl with an unfilled slot shall select a team from the automatic qualifiers and/or at-large teams in the following order:

 A. The bowl played on the date nearest to the National Championship Game will pick first — in 2008, Orange Bowl January 3;
 B. The bowl played on the date second-nearest to the National Championship Game will pick second — in 2008, Fiesta Bowl January 2;
 C. The bowl hosting the game that is played in the time slot immediately after the Rose Bowl game will pick third — in 2008, Sugar Bowl.

The rotation noted in paragraphs A, B and C is as follows:
January 2007 games: Sugar, Orange, Fiesta
January 2008 games: Orange, Fiesta, Sugar
January 2009 games: Fiesta, Sugar, Orange
January 2010 games: Orange, Fiesta, Sugar

All teams earning automatic berths must be selected. No more than two teams from any single Conference may play in BCS games in a single year, regardless of whether they are automatic qualifiers or at-large picks.

Are you with me still?  If so, here's what we've got so far:

NCG: Ohio State vs Boston College

Orange Bowl: _______ vs _______
Rose Bowl: Arizona State vs ________
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs ________
Fiesta Bowl: Kansas vs _______

In (To Be Determined): Hawaii

At-large candidates (teams in or with a reaslistic shot of finishing in the Top 14 of the BCS Standings):

West Virginia
Virginia Tech
South Florida

That's thirteen teams competing for four spots. In reality, it's going to be far fewer, as one team's success will preclude the success of another. More realistically:

Big East: UCONN or West Virginia or South Florida. There won't be two bids here.

Big 12: Kansas and Missouri should be counted as one team; neither is likely to receive a bid without the auto-conference invitation.

SEC: The rules state a max of two teams from one conference.

Pac 10: Same as the SEC; max of two.

Regrouping everything, then, we get:

Pac 10: Most likely two (Champ + Oregon/ASU/USC runner up)

Big 12: Possibly two, depending on title game and Texas performance to close season (OU + Texas or KU/Missouri Big 12 Champ + OU)

SEC: Probably two (Champ + best of the rest)

ACC: One or two (VT is a wild card here.)

Big East: One (Conference champion)

Big 10: One or two (If Michigan beats OSU for conference title, Buckeyes very much alive for at-large. If Michigan loses to OSU, might still remain in Top 14 but might be borderline.)

WAC: One (Hawaii - if they win out)

So, if you're a Texas fan and want to see the 'Horns in a BCS game, what do you root for?

  1. Hawaii to lose.
  1. Oklahoma to win the Big 12. Unless you want to hold out hope in the Sooners dropping two games down the stretch, it's better for Texas if the Sooners win out. Gross, but, yeah. Prudent.
  1. Virginia Tech to fade. If they win out and remain relevant for at-large purposes, they could be attractive to a bowl.
  1. Against Michigan or, alternatively, for an Ohio State collapse. Two bids for the Big 10 makes the road to the BCS infinitely more difficult for Texas.

Final Analysis

Nothing matters unless Texas takes care of business down the stretch, but if we do? This isn't terribly unrealistic. The most important issue to remember is that if Texas is on the table, a bowl will be extremely tempted to select us. We're good business for these bowls and these things are far more economic/political than anything else. If we're in the right position, we'll be selected.

No matter what we've accomplished on the field.