The losing hangover from the weekend is still kicking my rear this morning, so you'll have to forgive me if things are a little groggy. Like, for a minute there, I thought Boise State's best bowl opportunity was the Las Vegas Bowl. Again! I mean, what is this? 2010?
Las Vegas Bowl
Yes, this is our new reality. The Vegas Bowl, the same bowl that Boise State used for a safety bowl last season, is the Broncos' most attractive option at this point. How and why? Let me explain, with the help of Chadd Cripe's bowl breakdown.
But Boise State is the highest-ranked non-BCS team in the BCS standings! What gives?
For a non-BCS team to earn an automatic bid to a BCS bowl, that team has to finish in the Top 16 (check) and has to win its conference (nope). So unless TCU loses at home to either UNLV or Colorado State, the Broncos are out of luck.
How about one of those at-large berths? Wouldn't a BCS bowl love to have the Broncos?
The Broncos would be eligible for an at-large berth if they remain in the Top 14 of the BCS standings, and then all it would take is a selection committee that had no interest whatsoever in traditional Big Six conference teams. Not likely. Four teams can be chosen from the at-large pool, and that pool will consist of a second team from the SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten, and Big 12, plus the top non-BCS team, plus a possible ACC runner-up, thrown in for comedic effect. So while the Broncos would technically be eligible, they won't exactly be the first choice.
Does the Mountain West force its bowls to take certain teams?
Nope. Mountain West bowls get to pick bowl eligible teams from the conference however they want. The picking order goes Las Vegas Bowl, Poinsettia Bowl, Independence Bowl, and New Mexico Bowl.
Hey, the Poinsettia Bowl! That sounds nice!
Well, the P-Bowl would be nice except that it gets first choice among WAC schools and will most certainly choose Nevada. No one wants a Boise State - Nevada rematch.
OK, what other options are there?
Well, if the Vegas Bowl and Poinsettia Bowl don't work out, then the Broncos would be left with the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, the day after Christmas.
Yeah. Tell me about it.
So how do we make sure that doesn't happen?
The Vegas Bowl will have its pick between TCU and Boise State, and among other factors, the bowl will want to have lots of fan excitement, lots of fan travel, and lots of fan spending for whatever team it chooses. The Broncos have traveled very well to Vegas in the past year, so the Broncos would seem to have the edge at this point. It also wouldn't hurt if Bronco Nation was all like "Yeah! Las Vegas! I had forgot what Caesar's Palace looked like anyway!" and less like "Might as well be that Potato Bowl."
Fine. When is this Vegas Bowl being played so I can begrudgingly book my air travel?
Possible Vegas Bowl opponents
The Vegas Bowl pits a Mountain West team against the fifth choice from the Pac-12. There are currently six bowl-eligible teams with a chance for two more to become bowl eligible by season's end (USC is not one of those teams because it is on bowl probation).
Utah is one of the Pac-12's bowl eliglble, and you can bet that if the Utes get chosen for this one that the Broncos will not be. Bowls aren't typically fond of rematches of blowouts.
The BCS bowls, if the season ended today
Here are my projections for how the BCS bowls might look this week. Feel free to judge the matchups and complain about how Boise State would be a better opponent in all of these games. Conference champions and, therefore, fixed picks are in bold (except the Big East champ, which doesn't get guaranteed anywhere).
- BCS national championship game = LSU vs. Oklahoma State
- Rose Bowl = Oregon vs. Michigan State
- Sugar Bowl = Alabama vs. Houston
- Fiesta Bowl = Oklahoma vs. Stanford
- Orange Bowl = Clemson vs. Cincinnati
Let's have a playoff!
How nice would it be if Boise State could still be in the running for a national championship after losing by one point to one of the nation's best teams? Why, something like that would almost make too much sense. What follows is an NCAA postseason according to my favorite playoff format (16 teams, 11 conference champions, five at-larges, seeds from the AP). Conference champs are in italics, even the WAC one.
- No. 1 LSU vs. No. 16 Arkansas State
- No. 2 Oklahoma State vs. No. 15 Nevada
- No. 3 Alabama vs. No. 14 Northern Illinois
- No. 4 Oregon vs. No. 13 Cincinnati
- No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 Michigan State
- No. 6 Arkansas vs. No. 11 TCU
- No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 Houston
- No. 8 Stanford vs. No. 9 Virginia Tech
Boise State would be the first team left out in this scenario, but they'd like move into the playoff field after some attrition in the season's final couple weeks.
What bowl opponent do you want Boise State to face? How does the idea of another Vegas Bowl grab you? Share your thoughts in the comments.