Getting this in at about the last minute. Funny thing is I'll have to have next week's up on Monday, I'm leaving on vacation on Tuesday. (San Antonio & Austin, hopefully I'll get to the Texas-Kansas game next weekend. I guess if I'm wearing a Bronco t-shirt I'll have to call it "raw orange".)
And because it's quite late, I don't have any real comments. We're up to 48 already-eligible teams, with 68 total slots.
WAC: (3 slots)
In: Boise State, Idaho, Fresno State, Nevada
Out: Hawaii, San Jose State, Utah State, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech.
(BCS: Boise should win all of their remaining games and end up in the top 8. At that point, lots of other factors come into play.)
ACC: (9 slots)
In: Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia Tech
Out: Maryland, North Carolina State, Virginia
Bubble: North Carolina: I'd put them in, but I expect them to lose their next 2 and then be back on the bubble for the N.C. State game, so what would be the point? But I'm pretty sure they'll get the win they need.
Duke/Florida State/Wake Forest: Wake needs to beat both of the other 2 teams. Duke just needs 1 win, but Wake seems much more likely than Georgia Tech or Miami. Florida State needs to beat Wake (& Maryland), unless they're going to upset Florida. So one of these teams really should make it, but more than that seems like a stretch.
(BCS: Unlikely, I think. If Miami wins out, they'll be in the top 14, but they're not as big of a deal as they used to be. I would be surprised if the Fiesta Bowl picked them over a 12-0 Boise State.)
Big East: (6 slots)
In: Cincinnati, Pitt, Rutgers, USF, West Virginia
Bubble: Connecticut: They may have had another painful loss, but I'm almost more optimistic that they'll get the win over Notre Dame or USF that they need after that effort.
Syracuse: Still hanging around, they'd need wins against Rutgers at home, and Louisville and UConn on the road. None of those would be a shock, but all 3 is probably asking too much.
(BCS: No chance. No one would have any interest in Cincinnati or Pitt as an at-large, and no one else can get into the top 14.)
Big 10: (7 slots)
In: Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin
Out: Illinois, Indiana
Bubble: Michigan State: They need one more win, and beating Purdue is not certain by any means. But they certainly smacked around a MAC team this week.
Michigan: Ouch. (Wait, who feels sorry for Michigan?) They're probably out with Wisconsin and Ohio State left. Although you never know with rivalry games.
Purdue: They need to beat Michigan State and Indiana. I wouldn't say it's likely, but it's not impossible by any means.
(BCS: Not nearly as good as last week. The loser of the Ohio State-Iowa game will drop out of the top 14. It's certainly possible that a 2-loss Penn State or Iowa could wind up in the top 14 at the end, but I don't see the bowls beating down their doors. Iowa is not a high-profile school, and Penn State's best win would be...Minnesota? Northwestern? Michigan State?)
Big 12: (8 slots)
In: Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech
Out: Baylor, Colorado
Bubble: Kansas/Missouri/Iowa State/Kansas State: This giant muddle is pretty similar - they all need 1 more win, and looking at their schedule, they should be able to get it. But I just feel that somebody is going to gack it up and miss out, I'm just not sure which. Iowa State would be the smart bet to fail, but I might pick Kansas, who've already lost 3 in a row.
(BCS: Not without a big upset. Oklahoma State will be in the top 14 if they win out, but they're probably less attractive than Miami. Only if the bowls are just committed to taking anybody but a second non-AQ team.)
Pac-10: (6 slots)
In: Arizona, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, USC
Out: Washington, Washington State
Bubble: UCLA: Hey, they finally got a conference win! They just need to beat Arizona State (& Wazzu), and they'll have home field and momentum on their side. That's the way I would bet.
Arizona State: Need to beat UCLA and upset someone, probably Arizona. The USC game may turn out to have been their best shot.
(BCS: If Oregon and USC win out, USC would seem like a lock for the Fiesta Bowl. But I'm not sure that's going to happen, especially for USC. In that case, everything is up in the air.)
SEC: (9 slots)
In: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, South Carolina, Tennessee
Bubble: Mississippi: They need to beat Tennessee or win at Mississippi State. I expect them to do the latter, but it's not a sure thing.
Georgia: They need a win from Auburn, Kentucky or Georgia Tech. I'd expect them to get it done, but those aren't going to be easy games.
Mississippi State: OK, they're losing to Alabama. But beating Arkansas and Ole Miss will be enough, and I guess there's a chance it could happen.
Independents: (2+ slots)
In: Navy, Notre Dame
Bubble: Army: They need to win out - VMI and North Texas shouldn't be issues, but they haven't beaten Navy since 2001, and there's no real reason to expect anything different this year.
Conference USA: (5 slots)
In: Houston, Marshall, UCF
Out: Memphis, Rice, Tulane, UTEP
Bubble: East Carolina: Just have to beat UAB or Tulsa. Shouldn't be a problem.
Southern Miss: Only need 1 more win, but there are no easy games left.
SMU: All they need now is to beat UTEP or Tulane. That doesn't look too difficult.
Tulsa: Ouchie. That's got to hurt. Now they have to see if that will spur them on, or send them spiraling downward. They'll need to beat East Carolina or Southern Miss to get in.
UAB: They smacked around FAU, now should beat Memphis, and then they need to upset East Carolina or UCF. Probably won't happen, but it could.
(BCS: If Houston wins out and TCU and Boise both lose...they'll probably be passed by Utah anyway.)
MAC: (3 slots)
In: Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Temple
Out: Akron, Ball State, Buffalo, Eastern Michigan, Miami
Bubble: Bowling Green: Just has to beat a terrible Akron team & has another shot against Toledo anyway.
Western Michigan: Needs to beat Eastern Michigan & Ball State, but they have 1 combined win.
Kent State: Only needs 1 win, but Buffalo is not a pushover, and Temple is pretty unlikely.
Toledo: Needs to win out, and beating Bowling Green will be a challenge.
Mountain West: (5 slots)
In: BYU, TCU, Utah, Air Force
Out: Colorado State, New Mexico
Bubble: Wyoming: If they don't pull off an upset, they need to win at San Diego St. and Colorado St. That's doable, but not easy. Best bet for a fifth team, though.
San Diego State: Still alive despite the hammering by TCU. I don't expect them to get the 2 wins they need, though.
UNLV: They need to beat Air Force and San Diego State. I'd be very surprised if they did.
(BCS: If TCU wins out, they are likely to be ahead of Boise State and the presumptive pick.)
Sun Belt: (1 slot)
In: Louisiana-Monroe, Troy, MTSU
Out: Arkansas State, FAU, FIU, North Texas, Western Kentucky
Bubble: Louisiana-Lafayette: Beating Arkansas State was good, but they still need to take out one of the top 3 teams. If they can beat Kansas State, they certainly can do that, we'll see if they do.
At this point, I honestly think the most likely case for the at-large BCS bids is the SEC runner-up, USC, TCU and Boise State. Maybe I'm being naïve, but Boise's profile is high enough, and Penn State so generally uninspiring, that I think Boise would be the choice.
Working from those assumptions, at the moment I'd predict 4 open bowl slots. 2 of them are the Eaglebank Bowl's slots (8th ACC team and Army), but there are deals with the MAC and Conference USA for backups.
The 9th ACC team goes to the GMAC Bowl (I overlooked that one in last week's post), which has no backup, and is playing a MAC team, so it can't take another one. So that will almost certainly go to a Sun Belt team.
The other open spot is the last MWC slot, which will probably be the Humanitarian, as that's the only bowl they don't have a tie-in with in the future. If there are still 7-5 MAC or Sun Belt teams, they will have no options. Without getting into a lot of detail (for once), I think that's likely to be the case.
And now, this week's list of important bubble games, including those with BCS at-large implications:
Florida State at Wake Forest: Elimination game, plain and simple. (No, Florida State is not beating Florida.)
Michigan State at Purdue: A winner in/loser out game if Spartans win. It isn't so certain if it goes the other way, but that would be the smart bet.
Wyoming at San Diego State: Elimination game for all real purposes
Michigan at Wisconsin: Michigan needs 1 win, but isn't likely to get it.
Missouri at Kansas State: Somebody will clinch eligibility in this one.
Colorado at Iowa State: Cyclones have a much better chance of getting there win here than vs. Missouri next week
Utah at TCU: Hopefully, it will affect who gets the at-large BCS spots.
Nebraska at Kansas: If the Jayhawks don't get this one, they'll have a 5-game losing streak after Texas next week.
UNLV at Air Force: UNLV has a slim chance, but needs to win out.
Syracuse at Louisville: Loser is eliminated, winner clings to life.
Auburn at Georgia: Georgia needs to find one more win somewhere.
East Carolina at Tulsa: Winner clinches, loser still has a decent shot
Southern Miss at Marshall: See East Carolina at Tulsa
Tennessee at Ole Miss: Winner clinches, loser is probably good anyway.
Stanford at USC: Even USC isn't making a BCS game with 3 losses. If Stanford can beat Oregon...
UTEP at SMU: Uh-oh, SMU may be playing well enough that UTEP will beat them. (Trust me, that's how UTEP works.)
Louisiana-Lafayette at MTSU: Ragin' Cajuns need a win somewhere.