A part of me has always loved watching chaos unfold in sports. It's one of the reasons why I love March Madness. I also love to root for chaos when it comes to the BCS, because I hate the BCS. The more the system shows its flaws, the better.
That last bit is especially true this year because my Gators have effectively been out of the BCS race since mid-October. The team I root for is immune to the process, so let's burn this thing to the ground. Here's the most plausible chaos scenario I can think of.
National Title Game
A lot of people think that the most chaos-y scenario is a Boise State-TCU championship game. I don't think anyone wants to see that, including the fans of those teams because they wouldn't get to beat a brand name team once there. It's the anarchist's dream, right?
No so fast, my friend. Having one of those two play a 12-0 dream season of dominance and get shut out of the BCS is the more chaotic possibility. With how the polls are looking, it'll be TCU on the outside looking in if one doesn't get a golden ticket. That fact means the Frogs' perfect season would get rewarded with a trip to Las Vegas to play a .500 Pac-10 team. Think we'd ever hear the end of that?
The ACC is, as always, only getting one team. It doesn't matter a whole lot who wins, but the choice here is NC State. The Wolfpack must beat Maryland to win the Atlantic division, which is totally doable. Then, it must beat Virginia Tech, a team it led 17-0 before collapsing in the fourth quarter to lose 41-30 earlier this year. That is also doable. The point is to keep the ACC's national brands of Virginia Tech and Florida State out of the Orange Bowl.
The craziest thing possible would be to have Nebraska lose to Colorado, Missouri beat Kansas, and then Missouri to defeat the South champ for the league title. Texas A&M is technically not out of it, but if Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State and the Aggies beat Texas to make a three-way tie, the BCS standings determine the champ. There's no way three-loss A&M would be ahead of two-loss OU and OSU.
Ultimately, I don't think Nebraska is going to lose to Colorado. So, I'll go with having Oklahoma win out to secure the automatic bid, even though most of the nation now rolls its eyes at the prospects of OU being in the BCS.
How much do you believe in Cincinnati's ability to pull off an upset? That really determines how much wreckage we can cause in this conference. I'm going to say the Bearcats can do it, as their destruction of Rutgers last week might mean the light turned on, and the game I'm targeting is home for them (where they've played much better, generally).
So: The Wannstache gags away the final two games at home to West Virginia and at Cincy. That's possible, right? Plus, let's have UConn beat Cincy at home, then go to Tampa and put away USF. By virtue of a tiebreaker, we then get an 8-4, bland as all get out UConn team in the BCS. There's no big (ish) name like Pitt or West Virginia. You don't get the teary-eyed Syracuse redemption story (which I don't think is possible anyway, but I'm too lazy to look it up to be sure).
You get UConn, which holds no national interest in football yet is in the same state as ESPN. Therefore the WWL would bombard us with cheeky references to them all bowl season, together with a thousand replays of a sappy Tom Rinaldi segment on Randy Edsall. Sometimes chaos hurts, but it's worth it in the end.
With three one-loss teams in the top ten and nary a ranked opponent between them, this conference has the least possibility of disorder. In fact, the best way to get national chaos is for perfect order in the conference: all three teams win their final games. Wisconsin goes to the Rose Bowl, Ohio State sits there as a fantastically attractive at-large candidate, and Michigan State will be shut out despite an 11-1 record. Sounds good to me.
Oregon can sew up the conference title with a single win in either of its final two games, and I don't see the Ducks losing to Oregon State. Because the goal is to get deserving teams left out, let's go ahead and have Oregon win out and take the automatic bid. So will Stanford, since the Cardinal only has the Beavers to go.
This is an easy one, right? South Carolina flops against Clemson in a look-ahead game to the one in Atlanta. Auburn beats Alabama but loses the conference title game to South Carolina. In addition, let's have LSU beat Arkansas. That way some BCS bowl will have to decide whether to take one-loss Auburn, which is devastated about losing the biggest game of the year and has the Cam Newton cloud hanging over it, or one-loss LSU, who lost to Auburn.
Boise State and TCU win out. I think that's obvious by now.
The BCS Bowls
When all of this dust settles, I think we get a national title game match up of Oregon and Boise State. All of the one-loss teams I've laid out have some kind of glaring flaw. Auburn, LSU, Stanford, Ohio State, and Michigan State all will not have won their conferences. Plus the computer polls hate Wisconsin, and TCU will be there as a buffer for the Broncos.
That game would also be seen as a rematch of last year's LeGarrette Blount punch game, even though this is a new year. Everyone hates rematches.
The Rose Bowl has Wisconsin automatically and gets first choice at an at-large because Oregon is in the title game. It could throw a wrench into all of this by taking TCU and fulfilling its non-AQ requirement, but pitting 11-1 Stanford against 11-1 Wisconsin would be too much to resist. Games such as that are like a narcotic to the Rose Bowl committee. Stanford goes first.
The Sugar Bowl is first in the rotation for getting an at-large. It already as South Carolina. Would it consider picking LSU? They'd get the hometown team, and it wouldn't be a regular season rematch. That'd be delicious, but I think they go for Ohio State, who brings a small army of fans to every bowl game and prevents an all-SEC game.
Next is the Orange Bowl. It already has NC State, who, let's just say, won't be bringing a small army of fans. It turns to the SEC to get Auburn, who is too enticing to pass up. Newton may be the Heisman winner, the Plainsmen beat LSU, and it's been years since Auburn went to a BCS bowl. Tiger fans would buy up all the tickets in about half an hour.
Finally, you've got the poor Fiesta Bowl. It gets Oklahoma automatically, and it has no choice but to select the
albatross Big East champ UConn.
The slate, in bullet form:
- National Championship Game: Oregon vs. Boise State
- Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Stanford
- Sugar Bowl: South Carolina vs. Ohio State
- Orange Bowl: NC State vs. Auburn
- Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. UConn
TCU is 12-0 and out. Michigan State and LSU are 11-1 and out, and Oklahoma State's best season ever gets no BCS love.
Yet, UConn is 8-4 and in. South Carolina is 9-4 and in. NC State is 10-3 and in. The people who don't like Boise State are ready to riot, and the title game is seen as some kind of a rematch. TCU fans and all other non-AQ sympathizers are ready to burn down everything for banishing the Frogs to Vegas. The Sugar Bowl has a rematch of Lou Holtz-era Outback Bowls. The Orange Bowl and Fiesta Bowls are primed for unwatchable blowouts.
My work here is done.