Florida's still on track for a Sugar Bowl berth if they lose the SEC Championship Game, but Notre Dame's destination is suddenly up in the air
And just like that, the second week of the BCS Standings changes everything, starting with the BCS National Championship Game itself. Remember, this is an attempt to project how the bowls would end up if the season ended today; other than assuming that the highest-ranked team will win its conference and/or division, we try to keep everything else as is.
Teams that have an automatic bid to a certain game are italicized.
BCS National Championship Game: Alabama vs. Kansas State
Fiesta: Oklahoma vs. Southern Cal
Orange: Florida State vs. Rutgers
Rose: Oregon vs. Michigan
Sugar: Florida vs. Notre Dame
The Sugar gets the first replacement bid and tabs Florida, assuming that the Gators don't get dismantled by Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. (I guessing they don't.) A blowout might get LSU the trip to New Orleans.
The Fiesta Bowl now faces a conundrum it could avoid if it were to have Kansas State: Does it take Notre Dame or not? The call is easy with Kansas State, which we might in other sports call a "small market" team, because the Irish bring marketing muscle that the Wildcats don't have. But with Kansas State out of the picture, the Fiesta gets the second and third picks (final replacement, first at-large) and can make its own match-up with whichever teams it likes.
That brings Oklahoma into play as a potential replacement for the lost Big 12 champion. But Oklahoma would be a rematch for Notre Dame. So would Southern Cal, the other great team that the Fiesta might like to have. And the other options for the Fiesta, with LSU, Georgia and other non-Big East automatic qualifiers all off the board, are not the greatest in the world.
In the end, I think that Notre Dame is the biggest team in the country when it comes to marketing power -- but a Notre Dame vs. Oregon State or Texas Tech match-up just doesn't have the juice that an Oklahoma vs. Southern Cal meeting does. So the Fiesta goes with that lineup instead.
The Sugar Bowl's choices are now Notre Dame and Rutgers, which is a pretty easy choice. (If the Fiesta goes with Notre Dame and someone else, the Sugar takes Oklahoma and Southern Cal is out of luck.) And the ESPN marketing department starts placing calls to Magic Jack in hopes of selling the Orange Bowl's advertising inventory.
Where does that leave the rest of the SEC? Probably somewhere like this:
Capital One: LSU
Cotton: Texas A&M
Chick-fil-A: South Carolina
Gator: Mississippi State
Music City: Tennessee
BBVA Compass: None eligible
Independence: None eligible
Georgia moves up to the Outback with South Carolina's blowout loss to Florida last week, but the two could just as easily switch places after the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. And then again after that. Really, it comes down to whether the Outback wants to go with Georgia again or circulate the inventory. Remember that South Carolina has the head-to-head win in its pocket, but that's not going to matter if the Gamecocks don't right the season.
There is one thing that could scramble the picture. If the Capital One decides to go with Georgia in this scenario, I think things could go bonkers. The Cotton will likely hold onto Texas A&M for dear life unless Mike Slive intervenes, so LSU could end up in the Outback -- it probably would, in fact, if for no other reason than South Carolina's loss to the Tigers and LSU's marketability edge. I don't think the Capital One will take South Carolina for a second year in a row without a compelling reason that the Gamecocks have not to this point provided.