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BCS Selection Process Explained

There has been a lot of speculation about Texas possibly playing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Let's take a look at how this is almost impossible.

The top two teams in the final BCS poll will play in the national championship game in Miami on January 8th. For the sake of this post, I am going to assume those two teams are Oklahoma and Florida. I am also going to assume that Oklahoma is the top ranked team and Florida is the second ranked team.

Now, the national championship game is set: #1 Oklahoma vs. #2 Florida.

The others that are now set involve the automatic bowl tie-ins. The Rose Bowl will get the Pac-10 champion vs. the Big 10 champion. This year, that will be Penn State vs. USC. So, the Rose Bowl is now set.

The Orange Bowl automatically gets the ACC champion. By virtue of their win over Boston College yesterday afternoon, Virginia Tech is headed to the Orange Bowl.

There are now five teams of the ten in place. Next, the bowls which lost their automatic tie-ins to the national championship game will get to pick replacement teams, with the bowl that lost the #1 ranked team picking first. In my assumed scenario, Oklahoma is the top ranked team, and as the Big XII champion, would have automatically qualified for the Fiesta Bowl as the Big XII representative. So, the Fiesta Bowl gets the first replacement pick followed by the Sugar Bowl, by virtue of losing Florida.

The Fiesta Bowl would be crazy not to select Texas. The Longhorns will finish in the top four of the final BCS standings and automatically qualify for a BCS berth. If the Fiesta were to pass on the Longhorns, then Texas would be selected by either the Sugar or the Orange bowls. This is not going to happen.

(Some of you may be wondering what would happen should Florida be #1 and Oklahoma #2 in the final BCS poll, therefore giving the Sugar Bowl the first replacement pick and the Fiesta the second one. In this case, nothing changes. There is a provision in the BCS rules that states a bowl picking a replacement team for the #1 team may not select a team from the same conference as the #2 team without the permission of the tie-in bowl of that conference. What this means is the Sugar Bowl would not be allowed to pick Texas with their replacement pick unless the Fiesta Bowl agreed to it. That is not going to happen without an amazing amount of cash changing hands. Don't hold your breath Longhorn fans.)

Ok, back to the selection process. The Fiesta will take Texas as their replacement pick and the Sugar Bowl will pick Alabama as theirs.

Now, we have the national championship game, the automatic selections, and the replacement picks taken care of. There are three spots left. The bowls alternate the picking order year to year. This year it is Fiesta, Sugar, and then Orange.

The Fiesta gets the next pick and can choose teams like Ohio State, Utah, or Boise State. The most likely pick here is Ohio State. Buckeye fans travel, the television ratings will be very good, and it would be the rubber match of a home-and-home series between Texas and OSU from a few years ago.

The Sugar Bowl gets the next pick and must take either Utah or Cincinnati. Utah is the highest rated conference champion from a non-automatic qualifying conference and is ranked in the top 12 of the final standings. Cincinnati is an automatic qualifier as the Big East champion. The safe money is on the Sugar selecting Utah and letting Cincy fall to the Orange Bowl.

National Championship: Oklahoma vs. Florida
Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. USC
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Ohio State
Sugar: Alabama vs. Utah
Orange: Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati

There is one final provision which allows BCS officials to change the match-ups to avoid rematches or to align the teams for better television ratings. For those of you hoping to see Texas in the Sugar Bowl, this is what you're basing your hopes on because if the selections go logically, then Texas is headed to the Fiesta Bowl.