The Race for No. 2 (DEC. 3, 2006)

So how did this all happen, you ask? Well, at the end, the voters just simply don’t want to have a rematch between Ohio State and Michigan. They were going to give USC the chance to face the Buckeyes. And when the Trojans failed, they were looking for all kinds of reasons to deliver the Gators.

Did Florida look impressive in its win over Arkansas? No. The Gators again won ugly, this time the beneficiary of an all-time bonehead play by Arkansas’ Reggie Fish to pull out the victory. But style points no longer matter at this juncture. Since Michigan finished up its schedule two weeks ago — with a loss — the Wolverines have no rebuttal.

We can beat the dead horse to death (wait, is that the right metaphor?) — the BCS system is improved but still highly flawed. The voters, like jurors in a trial, were given specific instructions but they chose to ignore them. They were supposed to only rank teams in order, but they took into consideration two things that had nothing to do with the simple criteria: 1) The rematch factor; 2) Michigan failing to win its conference.

The voters were so turned off by a potential rematch, they were ready to get ABM (Anybody But Michigan) into the title game against Ohio State — first, it was USC, now, it’s Florida. But that should never have been a consideration. And the Wolverines were also punished for not winning the Big Ten. Winning a conference championship is not currently a pre-requisite for a spot in the title game, but a lot of voters decided to make up their own rule as they go.

The trickle-down effect is that the Rose Bowl backdoored into an attractive — and traditional — matchup between Michigan and USC. LSU scored an at-large berth in the Sugar Bowl against another at-large, Notre Dame. The Orange Bowl gets the unlikely pairing of Wake Forest and Louisville and the Fiesta will have Oklahoma and upstart Boise State.

The BCS has West Virginia to thank for dodging another bit of controversy. The Mountaineers’ triple-overtime victory over Rutgers provided safe passage for Louisville into the Orange Bowl. Otherwise, had Rutgers won the Big East, a 11-1 Louisville team ranked No. 6 in the final BCS standings would’ve been passed up for an at-large berth in favor of two-loss, No. 11 Notre Dame.

With this bowl alignment, 9 of the top 11 teams in the final BCS standings will be playing in BCS bowls, plus the ACC champion Wake Forest. The only top 10 teams excluded are Wisconsin and Auburn, which are kept out because the respective conferences, by rule, cannot send a third team to a BCS bowl.

BCS Bowl Lineup

  • National championship – Ohio State vs. Florida

  • Fiesta Bowl – Oklahoma vs. Boise State

  • Rose Bowl – Michigan vs. USC

  • Sugar Bowl – *LSU vs. *Notre Dame

  • Orange Bowl – Wake Forest vs. Louisville

* At-large selections

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