Reexamining the Bowl Picture

A couple weeks ago, I took some time to take my first stab at the bowl picture, and where ND would land.  Now that things seem quite a bit more clear, it is time to take yet another look at things.

First it is time to take a look at the BCS picture so we can properly find out where the Irish may fall:

BCS Championship: Texas vs. Florida
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Oregon
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Pittsburgh
Fiesta Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Boise State
Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. TCU

This is somewhat similar to what I had last time around.  Major changes this time though is that we now know Ohio State has clinched the Big Ten championship and will be Rose Bowl bound.  Also, the Big Ten at large bid seems to have fallen apart that I initially gave to Penn State and I have now given their spot to Pittsburgh.

The way I see it, Pitt is flat out playing too well to ignore.  While Penn State is an obvious bigger draw for tickets, how in the world can you take Joe Pa’s crew when they are on the edge of BCS at-large eligibility (#14) while Pitt is in the top ten.  In the mix though is Oklahoma State, and the Fiesta may just try to take them in to replace Texas if they play continue to play well.

The games that will affect these new projections will be: Penn State vs. Michigan State this week, Pitt vs. Cincinnati next week, and OK State vs OU next week.

The PSU/MSU game has all the makings of a trap game.  MSU is at home and they haven’t been playing half bad all season.  Regardless though, I don’t see PSU making a big enough statement to boost their ranking much higher, and this is there last chance to do so.  Unless PSU can blowout MSU, they are likely out of the mix.

If OK State were to beat OU, their ranking will likely get a boost up; however, if they were to fall they will fall out of the running completely.  Right now, I can’t see OU losing that game at all, meaning OK State will likely fall out of the running.

Pitt/Cincinnati is an interesting case.  I could very well see both of these teams making the BCS regardless of the outcome; however, things would get dicey if OK State manages to beat OU.  In that case, I can’t see two Big East teams going BCS bound as the Fiesta will likely tow the Big XII conference line.  However, if OU does indeed win, neither team is going to take a very big hit in their rankings.  Except both teams to be BCS bound this season.

Now what does this mean for the Irish?

Well, initially I felt the Gator Bowl was all but lost for the Irish after falling to Pitt, and if you remember I projected that if the Irish feel out of the Gator Bowl, the Cotton Bowl would snatch the Irish up over an SEC team as this is the last year they can do so until new contracts are made.

Now that chaos has completely shaken up the BCS top 10 though, the Gator will likely not be taking the second best Big East team, but the third best since two Big East teams are likely BCS bound.  In this case, that means the choice the Gator has is between West Virginia and Notre Dame and Notre Dame will win that battle.

Although that is completely dependent on ND winning a game.  West Virginia will likely end 8-4, and I can’t see ND being taken if drop their last two games, falling to 6-6 (oh dear God not again…).  The Irish can still likely edge out West Virginia at 7-5.

Of course, if the BCS doesn’t take two Big East teams, that will mean the Gator will take either Pitt or Cincy, and there is no way you could justify the Irish going over either even if they win out and finish 8-4.  If that happens, ND could very well be Cotton Bowl bound.  However, they have to be good enough to replace Ole Miss who will likely finish out at 8-4.  Unlike the Gator, I’m not completely confident that the Cotton would replace ND over Ole Miss if the Irish finish 7-5.  It isn’t out of the realm of the possibility, but not as definite a selection for sure.

With all that being said, since my current projections this week have two Big East teams in the BCS, and the fact I think ND will still win one out of their last two, I project the following for ND:

Gator Bowl: Miami vs ND

I’ll revisit the bowl picture once again next week as I’m sure everything will be turned completely on its head once again.