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Boise State's BCS chances explained

The Broncos are in the unenviable position of hoping to be picked by a group of BCS bowl executives who probably hate the idea of them. But all hope is not lost. There are real, actual, plausible scenarios by which the Boise State Broncos could go BCS bowling, and most of these scenarios don't even involve scandalous extortion. Keep those wallets greased just in case, though.

Scenario No. 1: Michigan fails to reach No. 14 in BCS standings

In this scenario, the BCS is left to choose between Boise State and a Big 12 at-large team, which will be the Bedlam loser or Kansas State. Decisions, decisions.

Fiesta Bowl

Bsulogosmall_medium Oklahomastatelogosmall_medium Boise State vs. Oklahoma State

Boise State competing with a Big 12 at-large school is as good as it's going to get for the Broncos' BCS chances. As such, hope and pray that Michigan doesn't get at-large eligible by reaching the Top 14 in the BCS standings. If the Wolverines do so, they will go to a BCS bowl because BCS bowls loves teams that were good in the 1990s.

Here are the BCS standings with my Beautiful Mind doodles.


Michigan is done playing regular season football, but there are a handful of teams ahead of them in the BCS standings that have one game left on the schedule. Wisconsin (No. 15), Georgia (No. 14), Michigan State (No. 13), and Oklahoma (No. 10) all have loseable games on Saturday (Wisconsin plays Michigan State for the Big Ten championship). Though I don't pretend to know how the BCS computers work although I imagine it's a little like Minesweeper on drugs, the best case for the Broncos would be for Georgia to lose by a little to LSU in the SEC championship, Michigan State to lose by a little in the Big Ten championship, and Oklahoma to get blown out and not fall below Michigan in the polls. Speaking of Bob Stoops laying an egg in a big game ...

Scenario No. 2: Oklahoma gets blown out by Oklahoma State on Saturday

Why would this be a good thing for the Broncos? Because it would be hilarious, first and foremost. But also because a big Oklahoma loss might hurt the Sooners' chances of being picked as an at-large team by a BCS bowl. 

If this happens and Michigan stays out of the No. 14 slot, then the BCS would likely be choosing between Boise State and Kansas State for the final berth, which I feel is a little like choosing between filet mignon and McNuggets. Although the BCS loves anything from McDonald's.

Scenario No. 3: The Sugar Bowl takes Stanford, the Fiesta hates Houston

Assuming LSU and Alabama play for the national championship, the Sugar Bowl will have first choice among available teams to play in its bowl. The thought is that the Sugar would take Michigan because the Wolverines are sexy in ways that Idaho folk don't get. But what if Michigan isn't available? 

Stanford might be next. The Cardinal are guaranteed an at-large berth if they stay at No. 4, despite the fact that they might actually be a terrible football team. Once the Sugar Bowl chooses its SEC replacement, the picking / pecking order goes Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange. The Fiesta will already have a Big 12 champion and likely would not want to pick a Big 12 at-large and have a rematch. So the choice would be among Boise State, Houston, and the Big East champ. 

Here's how I would choose. Full disclosure: I'm a homer.

Conference champions and, therefore, fixed picks are in bold. FYI: The Big East champ has no guaranteed spot.

National championship

Lsulogosmall_medium Alabamalogosmall_medium LSU vs. Alabama

Rose Bowl

Oregonlogosmall_medium Wisconsinlogosmall_medium Oregon vs. Wisconsin

Sugar Bowl

Stanfordlogosmall_medium Westvirginialogosmall_medium Stanford vs. West Virginia

Fiesta Bowl

Oklahomastatelogosmall_medium Bsulogosmall_medium Oklahoma State vs. Boise State

Orange Bowl

Vtlogosmall_medium Houston-logo-small_medium Virginia Tech vs. Houston

Very bad things we don't want to happen

  • Virginia Tech loses to Clemson in the ACC championship game. This would put the Hokies in the at-large pool and make more competition for the Broncos. 
  • Georgia beats LSU in the SEC championship game. Provided LSU remains in the Top Two, which everyone and their mother assumes, the SEC would send three teams to the BCS and Boise State's hopes would pretty much be shot.
  • UCLA beats Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game. Ha! Just seeing if you were paying attention. This will never happen in a million years.

Other bad things that may or may not hurt the Broncos are if Houston loses in the CUSA championship game and TCU climbs two spots to No. 16 in the standings. This would guarantee the Horned Frogs a BCS bowl. Also, if Oklahoma State makes it to No. 2 in the final BCS standings, then Alabama would fall into the at-large pool and render this entire post obsolete. 

And if BCS bowl options fail ...

Boise State to the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl

Vegas Bowl

Bsulogosmall_medium Arizonastatelogosmall_medium Boise State vs. Arizona State

If a BCS bowl isn't an option, the Broncos would really like to land back at Vegas, never mind the fact that BSU might be living out BYU's life from the mid 2000s. The opponent in the Vegas Bowl is the No. 5 choice from the Pac-12, which people assume to be the Arizona State Sun Devils, holders of a 6-6 record and four-game losing streak and just-fired head coach Dennis Erickson. And yes, despite that last sentence, this is Boise State's best option.

For Boise State to go to Vegas, the bowl would have to choose the Broncos over TCU. So start mudslinging, Bronco fans.

Boise State to the Poinsettia Bowl

Poinsettia Bowl

Bsulogosmall_medium Latechlogosmall_medium  Boise State vs. Louisiana Tech

Both Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards have predicted that the Broncos will land here in some sort of Karl Benson dreamscape. Bronco Nation is vehemently opposed to a game against a WAC team, but if Boise State falls out of the Vegas Bowl picture, the P-Bowl is going to jump all over this matchup.

Boise State to purgatory / Shreveport

Independence Bowl

Bsulogosmall_medium Northcarolinalogosmall_medium Boise State vs. North Carolina

Let's say there is some sort of clerical error and the Broncos are not picked by either the Vegas or the Poinsettia Bowls. Lucky for the Independence Bowl then because it will get to pair the Broncos against a really bad ACC team. On the day after Christmas. In Shreveport. Barf!

Let's have a playoff!

The postseason choice of sane people is to put all the top teams in college football into a bracket and have them settle things on the field. Crazy pills? Maybe so, but it seems to work pretty well for the rest of the free world. Here is the first round of matchups using 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.

  • LSU vs. Louisiana Tech
  • Alabama vs. Northern Illinois
  • Oklahoma State vs. Arkansas State
  • Stanford vs. West Virginia
  • Virginia Tech vs. TCU
  • Arkansas vs. Georgia
  • Houston vs. Michigan State
  • Oregon vs. Boise State

Your turn

How are you feeling about Boise State's BCS bowl chances? Are you still holding onto the dream? What scenarios are you hoping for this weekend? Share your thoughts in the comments.