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Tackling the BCS

I've heard from readers asking about Virginia Tech's chances at making a Bowl Championship Series game. So I'll try to lay out some projections here to answer those questions.

Unlike the past two seasons -- when the Hokies earned automatic BCS berths as conference champions -- this season Virginia Tech only has a sliver-thin shot at BCS bowl. The chances aren't good. The Hokies are aligned for a Chick-fil-A Bowl berth, and in fact, I'd say it's very unlikely Virginia Tech makes a BCS game.

But allow me to, hopefully, make things a little clearer about why that is. I've drafted my bowl projections. I should say, first off, that all this could change with upsets this weekend. But sitting here on Thursday morning, I've tried to best explain how the BCS appears to break down and why it seems like the Hokies are going to be left out.

BCS Title Game

Alabama vs. Texas

This is pretty easy to break down. The winner of the Florida-Alabama game will play the No. 2 team in the BCS standings. Texas is currently behind both of those teams in the BCS standings. Texas plays Nebraska in the Big 12 title game on Saturday. I'm predicting that the Longhorns will win that game, and thus earn a trip to the BCS championship. (If Texas loses, well, that would throw a wrench into everyone's BCS picks; I don't think that will happen.)

The Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 have tie-ins with the Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl, respectively. If those bowl games lose a team from their host conference, they get the first choice of a replacement team. Keep this in mind for later on in the selection process.

Rose Bowl

Ohio State vs. Oregon

Like this BCS title game, this is pretty simple to project. The winner of the Big Ten plays the winner of the Pac-10.

The Buckeyes won the Big Ten; it was their fifth year in a row winning or sharing the conference crown.

Now for the other team in the game. The winner of Thursday night's game between Oregon and Oregon State will determine the Pac-10 champion. I'm picking the Ducks to win at what's sure to be a raucous Autzen Stadium.

Orange Bowl

Georgia Tech vs. Texas Christian

Here's where some variables start to come into play. The Orange Bowl receives the ACC champion plus an at-large selection.

The winner of the Georgia Tech-Clemson game on Saturday will get the Orange Bowl bid as the ACC champion. I'm picking the Yellow Jackets.

This season, the Orange Bowl has the first at-large pick after the replacement picks. At No. 4, TCU would be seem to be an appealing choice. TCU is part of the Mountain West Conference, a non-automatic qualifying league for the BCS. But as the highest-ranked non-automatic qualifier, TCU would actually become an automatically qualifying team.

It could be an appealing matchup to have Georgia Tech Coach Paul Johnson's spread-option offense pitted against a TCU defense led by Coach Gary Patterson, regarded as one of college football's top defensive minds.

Fiesta Bowl

Boise State vs. Iowa

The Fiesta Bowl is in the most interesting position of all the BCS games.

Assuming Texas plays in the BCS title game, the Fiesta would have the second replacement pick. But with Oklahoma State's loss to Oklahoma last Saturday, there is no team from its host Big 12 conference that would be a viable option for the bowl.

The Fiesta Bowl could take a second non-automatic qualifier, Boise State of the Western Athletic Conference.The Broncos are No. 6 in the current BCS ratings and undefeated (12-0) with only New Mexico State remaining on their schedule. And the Broncos are no stranger to Glendale, Ariz. Boise State provided one of the most memorable moments in college football history with its riveting overtime win against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

The Fiesta Bowl has the second at-large selection after the replacement picks. Among the leading candidates would seem to be Iowa and Penn State. The Hawkeyes had a remarkable season and seemed poised for an undefeated run if not for injuries to quarterback Ricky Stanzi. Meanwhile, Penn State is one of college football's blue-blooded programs and has one of the largest and best-traveling fan bases in the country -- and money talks, especially in the BCS.

If Virginia Tech were to make a BCS game, the Fiesta Bowl would seem to be its best and perhaps its only real option. The Hokies have to hope that the Fiesta Bowl overlooks Boise State because TCU is already representing the non-automatic qualifiers this season.

Sugar Bowl

Florida vs. Cincinnati

The Sugar Bowl will get a replacement pick because either Alabama or Florida will be playing in the BCS title game. I've picked Alabama to play for the national championship, so that means the Gators would make the trip to New Orleans.

The Sugar Bowl has the final at-large selection this year. Cincinnati plays Pittsburgh on Saturday, with the winner becoming the Big East's representative in the BCS. I'm picking the Bearcats to win that game, making them an automatic qualifier for the BCS. They could fit in the Sugar Bowl.

By Mark Viera  |  December 3, 2009; 11:17 AM ET
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Next: A 'Chalk Talk' with Greenberg


what gives the hokies the best chance? a boise state loss?

Posted by: follybeach | December 3, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Actually, the bowls that lose conference champs to the BCS title game get the first replacement picks.

Assuming the SEC winner winds up #1 in the final BCS standings, the open slots in the five bowls in the following order:


Posted by: redskinsfreak | December 3, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

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