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Race to the Roses November 9 & BCS Bowl Predictions

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After back to back weekends with no major shakeups, college football finally felt a tremor as three of the top ten teams in last week's BCS standings fell. Iowa failed to erase a fourth quarter deficit and lost at home to Northwestern; Oregon fought hard but couldn't overcome the two-headed monster of Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck; and LSU succumbed to injuries, SEC officiating, and the Mark Ingram and Julio Jones show in Tuscaloosa.

So, where does that leave us? We can safely say goodbye to those three teams as the field of potential national champions looks much thinner. If you discount teams, like TCU and Boise State, from non-automatic qualifying leagues, like I do, then you're left with only five teams from BCS conferences who are undefeated or have a single loss and have a legitimate chance at Pasadena-Florida, Alabama, Texas, Cincinnati, and Georgia Tech. Sorry, Iowa and Pittsburgh fans, it is just not gonna happen.

I'm not going to go so far as to say the BCS is definitely going to work this year but it probably will. I will not be betting against Texas, Florida, or Alabama dropping a regular season game the rest of the way. And as long as Texas can take care of Kansas State/Nebraska in a virtual home game in Arlington, we'll see two undefeated conference champions play for the national title. Cincinnati, TCU, and Boise State fans will have small beefs but nothing significant or foundation shattering to the BCS formula.

Let's quickly play the game of matching teams to their BCS bowl destinations. This is assuming Florida wins out, including an SEC title game victory over an undefeated Alabama, Ohio State defeats Iowa this weekend, and Texas, TCU, and Boise State also win out. Florida and Texas would play for it all giving the Sugar and Fiesta Bowls first and second selections as replacement picks. The Sugar would definitely take the 12-1 Crimson Tide, but the Fiesta's selection is not as clear cut. They could take 12-0 TCU-a reasonable and deserving selection but one without a significant fan base or national draw. They could take 10-2 USC-probable Pac 10 runner ups with an easy geographic tie and guaranteed strong tv ratings. The Fiesta Bowl might also look at 10-2 Oklahoma State, should the Cowboys win out. I think the easy pick here is the USC, though. The Orange Bowl gets the ACC champion automatically, let's say Georgia Tech. After those picks and automatic berths, the bowls would look like this:
BCS Title: Florida vs. Texas
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Oregon
Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech vs.
Fiesta Bowl:
USC vs.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs.

The remaining picks go Orange, then Fiesta, and then Sugar. Cincinnati must be picked as Big East champs and TCU must be picked by virtue of finishing in the top 12 of the final BCS and being highest ranked team from a non-automatic qualifying conference. The last selection is the final at-large one-possible picks are Boise State, Oklahoma State, Miami, Iowa, Penn State, or Houston. These potential picks must have nine wins and finish in the top 14 of the final BCS standings.

I say the Orange grabs Cincinnati, the Fiesta take Oklahoma State, and then the Sugar is left with TCU.

BCS Title: Florida vs. Texas
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Oregon
Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Cincinnati
Fiesta Bowl:
USC vs. Oklahoma State
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. TCU

In this scenario, Boise State would be left out. Oh well. The Broncos are not done, though and this assumes that Oklahoma State wins out. Notre Dame's loss helped Boise on Saturday as did the Ohio State win in Happy Valley. Had Penn State won, they would have been in great position to earn an at-large bid and the Big Ten would have earned two bids. Now, it looks like the Big Ten will end up with just a single BCS bid. Moving forward, losses by Oklahoma State and Miami down the stretch would significantly improve Boise's chances.

After the jump, a look at this week's Favorites, Contenders, and those that Need Help...

The Favorites:

1. Florida (9-0; BCS 1): If the Gators are going to stumble pre-SEC title game, it will be this Saturday in Columbia. The 2:30 pm kick and the fact that the Old Ball Coach hasn't had any luck against his former team should make Gator fans comfortable.  

Next Games: 11/14 @ S. Carolina, 11/21 Fl. International, 11/28 Florida State

2. Alabama (9-0; BCS 2): I thought LSU had a good shot to knock off Alabama and for three quarters my prediction looked pretty good. There was the non-interception call, but in the fourth quarter Jones and Ingram were too much for the Tigers. Give ‘Bama credit.  That said, the trip to Starkville won't be easy, nor will the season ending trip to Auburn. Of the top three, there is no question that Alabama is one most likely to lose before championship Saturday.

Next Games:  11/14 @ Miss State, 11/21 Chattanooga, 11/27 @ Auburn

3. Texas (9-0; BCS 3): One down, four more to go. Texas started slowly but it didn't matter as Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley had career days and the defense was its usual outstanding self (3 pts, 151 total yds). Baylor showed some life on Saturday with a surprising win at Missouri. However, the trip to Waco is nearly a home game for the ‘Horns and shouldn't cause any trouble.

Next Games: 11/14 @ Baylor, 11/21 Kansas, 11/26 @ Texas A&M

The Contenders:

1. TCU (9-0; BCS 4): San Diego State became the first team in a month to score double digits against the Horned Frogs, and they still got pasted, 55-12. The final real hurdle to earning a BCS berth comes this weekend as TCU hosts Utah. Yes, TCU jumped Cincinnati this week. Don't get too excited Horned Frog fans. Your team is ahead by only .0040. TCU is ahead slightly in both polls but behind Cincy in the computers. The computers will likely favor Cincy as the Bearcats will be helped more with wins over WVU and Pitt than TCU will be with a win over Utah.  Pollsters could also swing toward Cincy with more tv exposure and more quality wins. Just speculation and speculation that won't matter unless one of the Favorites lose.

Next Games: 11/14 Utah, 11/21 @ Wyoming, 11/28 New Mexico

2. Cincinnati (9-0; BCS 5): You thought Colt McCoy had a good day, how about Zach Collaros (29/37 for 480 yds and a td)? Not bad for a backup. The Bearcats did give up 35 second half points but they remain unblemished. Their next two contests are at home and should put Cincy at 11-0. Only the season ending trip to Pittsburgh looks scary. If ‘Bama dropps at game but then beats Florida in Atlanta, who would you send to Pasadena, 12-0 Cincy or 12-1 Alabama?

Next Games: 11/13 West Virginia, 11/21 Bye, 11/27 Illinois


Need Help:

1. Boise State (9-0; BCS 6): A lot of the chaos that Boise needed to happen occurred on Saturday. However, it still isn't enough and PR firm isn't going to help. First, the Broncos need to keep winning. Next, a Utah upset win in Fort Worth would put the Broncos back in the driver's seat for a BCS bowl. Last, Boise fans should also be rooting against USC, Arizona, Miami, and Oklahoma State.

Next Games:  11/14 Idaho, 11/20 @ Utah State, 11/27 Nevada

2. Georgia Tech (9-1; BCS 8): Paul Johnson's club just keeps on winning. Their resume now includes a three point win over Clemson, a five point win at Florida State, and an overtime win against Wake Forest. Their only misstep came in September against Miami. The Yellow Jackets have just two games left and are poised to cruise into the ACC title game at 11-1.

Next Games: 11/14 @ Duke, 11/21 Bye, 11/28 Georgia