So, now we're at the actual bubble bursting phase of the season. At this point, there are 69 bowl-eligible teams, with 68 bowl spots out there. At the moment, I'd put Louisiana-Lafayette on the outside, but their bubble hasn't burst yet. The key factor is going to be how many teams from the non-AQ conferences wind up at 7-5 or better, and keep 6-6 teams with nowhere to go (cough, Notre Dame, cough) at home.
The BCS situation, as we all know, seems to come down to the Oklahoma State-Oklahoma game this week. If the Cowboys win, they're going to the Fiesta Bowl, and if not, Boise will get the last BCS at-large spot after they win out.
WAC: (3 slots)
In: Boise State, Idaho, Fresno State, Nevada
Out: Hawaii, San Jose State, Utah State, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech.
Analysis: If the Broncos don't get into a BCS game, there really isn't a good alternative out there this season. The best option would probably be Navy in the Texas Bowl. (See the Big 12 for more on that.) But whichever WAC team doesn't get a conference slot will have at least 7 wins and should find an open game available.
ACC: (9 slots)
In: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia Tech
Out: Maryland, North Carolina State, Virginia, Wake Forest
Bubble: Duke: Had hope for awhile last week. They're favored against Wake Forest, but on the other hand, it IS Duke.
Analysis: Only real scenario I see for their getting a BCS at-large is Clemson pulling an upset in the ACC championship, and Georgia Tech being attractive to someone. Barring that, they won't fill their slot in the GMAC Bowl, and the Eaglebank slot depends on Duke.
Big East: (6 slots)
In: Cincinnati, Pitt, Rutgers, USF, West Virginia
Out: Louisville, Syracuse
Bubble: Connecticut: They'd have to lose their last 2 not to get in, and with Syracuse this week, I really don't see that. If they wind up at 6-6, though, they may lose out to a 6-6 Notre Dame, although I'm not entirely sure how that works.
Analysis: There's no way the Cincinatti-Pitt loser is getting an at-large spot even if they're in the top 14. The Big East should have all of their slots covered, but if a 6-6 UConn or Notre Dame is left out, there may not be a spot out there for them.
Big 10: (7 slots)
In: Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin
Out: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Purdue
Analysis: Unless there is a weird situation, either Iowa or Penn State should get a BCS at-large berth. That will leave the Pizza Bowl slot unfilled.
Big 12: (8 slots)
In: Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech
Out: Baylor, Colorado, Kansas State
Bubble: Kansas: Between the 5-game losing streak and the Mangino controversy, it's really hard to see them beating Missouri this week. But, rivalry game, so who knows.
Analysis: An Oklahoma State win gets them an at-large slot. If Kansas loses, as expected, the Texas Bowl slot will be open. So if Oklahoma State loses and Kansas wins, there will be an extra team. The 6-6 teams would be Texas A&M, Kansas and Iowa State - it's generally assumed that Iowa State will be the odd team out.
Pac-10: (6 slots)
In: Arizona, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC
Out: Arizona State, Washington, Washington State
Analysis: I don't see a scenario where they get an at-large. I'm not even sure they'll have a second team in the BCS Top 14. So they will have an extra team. UCLA needs to beat USC to get to 7 wins, Arizona has Arizona State and USC left and needs one. I'd assume UCLA is the most likely to be left out in any case.
SEC: (9 slots)
In: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee
Out: Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
Analysis: The SEC Championship Game loser will get the Sugar Bowl berth and they will exactly cover their bowl slots. Nothing interesting here.
Independents: (2+ slots)
In: Navy, Notre Dame
Bubble: Army: Have to upset Navy on Dec. 12th to go to the Eaglebank Bowl. (See C-USA for more on this.)
Analysis: Notre Dame needs to beat Stanford this week to get to 7-5. If they do that, they'll get one of the Big East slots, possibly even the Gator Bowl over the Cincy-Pitt loser. If not, they need UConn to lose 1 game, or hope there aren't enough 7-5 teams from the MAC and Sun Belt.
Conference USA: (5 slots)
In: East Carolina, Houston, Marshall, Southern Miss, SMU, UCF
Out: Memphis, Rice, Tulane, Tulsa, UTEP
Bubble: UAB: They need to upset UCF, and even then would only be at 6-6.
Analysis: If Marshall (at UTEP) and SMU (vs. Tulane) win this week, they'll be 6 teams at 7-5 or better. The problem this creates is that they'll have to wait until the Army-Navy game to see if their backup spot in the Eaglebank Bowl will be there or not. I don't know what that means in relation to the bowls with open slots if they get down to 6-6 teams. Can they take one of them with a 7-5 C-USA team in limbo? It may be that if UAB pulls the upset, they can leave them hanging, and send the 6th team to an open slot.
MAC: (3 slots)
In: Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Temple
Out: Akron, Ball State, Buffalo, Eastern Michigan, Miami, Western Michigan
Bubble: Kent State/Toledo - They can get eligible, but they'll be 6-6 and there won't be spots for them. Their bubbles are pre-popped.
Analysis: They have 4 teams with 7 wins, and Bowling Green can get there with a win over Toledo. If Duke loses, one of them will go to the Eaglebank. They probably can't take the Pizza or GMAC slots since the other slots are MAC teams. If it gets down to that, I'd expect a swap with another bowl. But they could take possible spots in the Humanitarian, Texas or New Mexico bowls.
Mountain West: (5 slots)
In: BYU, TCU, Utah, Air Force
Out: Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Bubble: Wyoming: All they need to do is beat Colorado State, and they have no excuse for not doing that.
Analysis: TCU will be in a BCS game, so they will have 1 or 2 unfilled slots - the Humanitarian and New Mexico.
Sun Belt: (1 slot)
In: Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Troy, MTSU
Out: Arkansas State, FAU, FIU, North Texas, Western Kentucky
Analysis: Troy's won the conference, and MTSU already has 8 wins. ULM (vs. MTSU) and ULL (vs. Troy) can get to 7 wins this week, in theory.
To summarize, at this point (putting Okla. St. in the BCS), there are 7 open slots (Pizza, GMAC, Eaglebank (2), Texas, Humanitarian and New Mexico), and so far 3 are taken by 7-win teams (one each from the MAC, Sun Belt and WAC). There are 5 6-win teams without spots (2 from the Sun Belt, one each from the MAC, C-USA and Pac-10), but they all have games left to play. We'll see what develops.
And this week's games of import:
Wake Forest at Duke: Lots of people rooting against Duke, but that's nothing new. Wait, in football?
Kansas at Missouri: Well, it's not like Missouri has been that consistent, either.
Syracuse at UConn: Seriously, UConn losing this one would just be cruel.
Wyoming at Colorado State: C'mon, New Mexico was 0-10 and they beat Colorado State! Wyoming has to do it.
UAB at UCF: May not ultimately mean much, but even getting eligible would be big for the Blazers after starting 2-5.
Nevada at Boise State: We all know about this one, right?
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma: An Oklahoma State loss means the Texas Bowl isn't open, but also that the WAC doesn't have an extra team, so from a numerical POV it's a wash. But who cares about that?
Notre Dame at Stanford: This could be a good game, or it could get ugly real fast.
MTSU at Louisiana-Monroe, Troy at Louisiana-Lafayette: If the home teams win, there's a good chance they'll get to go somewhere.
Marshall at UTEP, Tulane at SMU: Can they get to 7 wins, and complicate the hell out of things?
Arizona at Arizona State, UCLA at USC: If the road teams win, they're definitely going somewhere.