Late Saturday night, far from the glow of Alabama-LSU or OSU-Kansas State or Oregon-Southern Cal, OU’s chances for a BCS bowl bid went up. San Diego State beat Boise State, and that was no small thing for the Sooners.
Boise State was No. 19 in the BCS rankings last week, and if the Broncos had won out, they were likely to do two things: 1) rise into the top 16; and 2) move past either the highest-rated Big Ten team or the highest-rated Big East team. Both Nebraska and Louisville would have had to lose to be passed by Boise State, but either was certainly possible, if not likely.
If the highest-ranked mid-major is in the top 16 and is ranked higher than any of the automatic qualifiers to the BCS, that mid-major gets one of the four BCS at-large selections.
Now, the highest-ranked mid-major is Louisiana Tech, and with the Bulldogs finishing with Texas State, Utah State and San Jose State, they aren’t likely to get to No. 16.
What does that mean for the Sooners? An extra BCS slot available.
* One BCS spot will go to the SEC. Florida or LSU or maybe the Georgia/Alabama loser in the SEC title game.
* One BCS spot will go to Notre Dame.
With the Big Ten and Big East void of quality teams, much less BCS contenders, the remaining two BCS at-large teams will come from this pool:
1. A 10-2 Big 12 team, most likely the Sooners, though Texas still could get there. If the Big 12 doesn’t have a 10-2 team, it’s chances are remote for making the BCS.
2. Either Florida State or Clemson from the ACC. Whichever doesn’t win the conference. The Seminoles play Florida and the Tigers play South Carolina, so either or both is a candidate to slide.
3. The Pac-12 runnerup, provided Oregon makes the Big Bowl. If the Ducks get to the Big Bowl, the Rose Bowl would snap up a Pac-12 team as a replacement. But a team must be ranked in the top 14 to quality.
Currently, Oregon State is 13th, Stanford 16th, UCLA 17th and Southern Cal 21st. Here are their finishing schedules:
Oregon State: at Stanford in a virtual BCS elimination game, California, Oregon, Nicholls State. The Beavers likely would stay top-14 if they go 3-1.
Stanford: Oregon State, at Oregon, at UCLA in another virtual BCS elimination game. The Cardinal has a tough road.
UCLA: at Washington, Southern Cal, Stanford. The easiest remaining schedule of the Pac-12 contenders. Win out, and UCLA will be well-stocked to make the Rose Bowl.
Southern Cal: Arizona State, at UCLA, Notre Dame. The Trojans will be hard-pressed to win out but could sneak back into the top 14 if they do so.
If the Pac-12 has a top-14 team other than Oregon, and Oregon goes to the Big Bowl, the Rose Bowl will snatch up that team.
So here’s the bowl scenario for the Sooners, should they win out:
* If Kansas State wins the Big 12 but does not go to the Big Bowl, OU likely will play in the Sugar Bowl. Perhaps against Florida.
* If Kansas State makes the Big Bowl, OU would be scooped up by the Fiesta Bowl and could have a rematch against Notre Dame. The Sugar Bowl would have first pick, if Alabama stays No. 1, and conceivably could take Notre Dame, but that would leave the Fiesta to take an SEC team. A Notre Dame-Clemson Sugar Bowl would be a little unsettling for the Sugar, which is bound with the SEC.
* Of course, if the Sooners don’t win out, they could slip to the Alamo Bowl. The Cotton might have its eyes on Texas, unless the Longhorns totally fall apart.