This Sunday, the football team will find out where they will be spending early January. While the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls are all possibilities, reading the BCS tea leaves and an understanding of how the bowls are chosen leaves one option most likely.
First and foremost, there is an order to how the BCS bowls select teams every year. Once the automatic qualifiers are placed in their bowls, the remaining slots are “drafted” from eligible schools.
TCU will be selected in one of the final five spots, as they are the highest-ranked non-BCS team. Where they go depends a lot on money, somewhat on politicking and very little on producing the best matchup. Welcome to the wonderful world of the Bowl Championship Series.
Also, this is going on the assumption that the nearly two-touchdown favorite Texas Longhorns win the Big 12 Championship. If they were to lose, Nebraska would be in the Fiesta Bowl and Texas would fall to the Orange Bowl and TCU would have a very realistic shot at a place in the National Championship game.
With that in mind, the finals picks should play out like this:
1) In what is considered the no-brainer of the remaining choices, the Sugar Bowl would select first to replace the SEC Champion, who will be in the National Championship Game. They will pick the loser of the SEC Championship whether it is Florida or Alabama. Either would be highly ranked, bring plenty of fans and the bowl would keep its SEC connection.
2) This is where things begin to get interesting. Fiesta would have the next pick once the Big 12 Champion (Texas) goes to the title game. They could consider the runner up in the Big 10 (Iowa), Boise State, the Cincinnati/Pittsburgh winner and TCU. The Horned Frogs would be more appealing than Cincinnati or Boise as they will likely be the No. 3 team in the country and Fiesta Bowl Chairman of the Board Alan Young said, “(How well a fanbase travels) is quite important. It really is an issue to us and is always a concern, but we’re convinced at this point that TCU would be a great travelling team and bring a lot of alumni and fans to the valley.”
The decision would come down to TCU and Iowa for the second pick, and I think the Fiesta Bowl will have to lean towards Iowa. The Hawkeyes have a massive fanbase, which would satisfy advertisers and bowl officials. They need to fill the stadium as best they can, and Iowa simply has a greater ability to do that than Cincinnati, Boise State or TCU. I think the Fiesta Bowl makes the safest move from where they stand and picks Iowa second.
3) Next up, the Orange Bowl gets to consider who they would like to play, Clemson or Georgia Tech. If Clemson wins the ACC Championship, then TCU is clearly not an option. The Frogs already won on the road in the rain over Clemson and there’s no reason to revisit it. But if Georgia Tech, a one-point favorite, wins the ACC, TCU would be an appealing choice along with Cincinnati. If the Fiesta Bowl passes on Iowa the first time around, the Orange Bowl would also have to strongly consider the Hawkeyes.
If Cincinnati wins their final game (effectively the Big East Championship at Pittsburgh), I think the Orange Bowl would make the most geographically reasonable pick and take the Bearcats. However, if the one-point underdog Pittsburgh Panthers pull off an upset, we’re very likely to see SuperFrog in Miami. The difference between Pitt and TCU is too great to pass up the No. 3 team. I think Cincinnati will pull through and claim an Orange Bowl bid.
4) If the Frogs fall this far, there is no way the Fiesta doesn’t scoop them up here. The Fiesta representatives seem the most interested in TCU, but I think financially they have to take Iowa first. If they land both, there will be a celebration Sunday in Arizona.
If the Fiesta Bowl takes a risk by selecting TCU with the second overall pick, I can see the Orange Bowl gladly taking the Hawkeyes. That would leave Cincinnati or Boise as possible opponents in the Fiesta Bowl. While putting any two of the three small schools (TCU, Boise St. or Cincinnati) against each other would be a nightmare as far as filling the stands and getting sponsor money goes, if they had no choice, Cincinnati would be the pick. It would at least set up a new matchup of undefeated teams. If Pittsburgh wins, there would be no choice but TCU vs. Boise State, round two, in the Fiesta Bowl.
5) Finally, the Sugar Bowl is left with another easy pick – this time, because there is no other choice. If Cincinnati or TCU are still around, they have to be selected here. If not, the only other teams that have a realistic shot at a BCS game are Iowa and Boise State. Three of those four will have been selected at this point, so the remaining team, most likely Boise State, would get the most appealing bowl matchup against Florida or Alabama.
I believe the Fiesta Bowl is most interested in TCU and will do what they have to in order to assure they get the Frogs. If they know the Orange Bowl will take us third if they pass the first time, I think they will take a risk and pick TCU second. I could also see them taking Iowa first with the knowledge they can pick the Horned Frogs later on. We will not see the exact order Sunday, as they just announce the games once they’re finalized, not the picks.
It is TCU’s turn to knock down the BCS door, and they’ll do so in Glendale, Ariz.
1) The National Championship takes the BCS No. 1 and No. 2 teams.
2) The other bowls are filled in with their automatic qualifiers based on conference championships (Rose: Pac 10 and Big 10, Orange: ACC, Sugar: SEC, Fiesta: Big 12), as long as they are not the BCS No. 1 or No. 2.
3) The bowls that lose one of their automatic qualifiers to the championship get the next two picks of eligible teams. If Texas wins, it would likely mean Sugar would have first pick, followed by Fiesta.
4) After that, the order of the final three picks rotates yearly. This year, it’s Orange, Fiesta then Sugar.
5) The Big East Champion (Cincinnati/Pittsburgh winner) and the highest ranked non-automatic qualifying team in the top 12 (TCU) are guaranteed a BCS bid somewhere in the final five picks.
Josh Davis is a junior news-editorial major from Highland Park.<