Unlocking the BCS for Clemson

While it's not probable, it's not out of the question for the Clemson football team to get to a BCS bowl this year. Read on to find out just how it could happen.

Believe it or not, after reaching nine regular season wins and moving up in the most recent BCS poll after beating South Carolina this past Saturday, the Tigers do have a chance to get to a BCS bowl this season.

That's right, this season.

The Tigers are currently ranked 16th in the latest BCS standings and have the minimum nine wins required for consideration by the BCS Selection committee.

In fact, a handful of teams remain under consideration to participate in the five games that comprise the Bowl Championship Series according to a press release sent out by the BCS selection committee Tuesday afternoon.

Those teams are: Boston College, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Southern California, UCLA, LSU, Tennessee, Ohio State, West Virginia, BYU, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois and Kansas.

Keep in mind these teams are battling for 10 spots. Also keep in mind that no conference can have more than two teams in the BCS.

In addition, West Virginia (Big East champions) and Ohio State (Big Ten champions) have already clinched automatic bids and Georgia has essentially positioned itself as at-large bid even though it will not play in the SEC Championship game.

Georgia, which is currently ranked No. 4 in the BCS appears to be a lock to an at-large entry.

Looking at the above list of teams, there will be a natural elimination of a handful of those schools this weekend.

Only two of the three Big 12 schools (Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri) can make into the BCS, which likely means the loser of the Big 12 championship game is out of the BCS mix and No. 5 Kansas is in along with the Championship game winner is in as an at-large.

Also, with Georgia all but securing another at-large bid, the loser of the SEC championship game is also out.

In addition, with three Pac 10 schools in contention, you can remove one of those teams from the mix as well - Southern Cal, Arizona State and UCLA (likely UCLA as the Bruins have to beat Southern Cal and have Arizona State lose to Arizona to claim the Pac 10 title).

In the ACC, the loser of the Saturday's championship game in Jacksonville is likely out of the mix for a BCS bid as well, especially if that team is Boston College.

Assuming Virginia Tech beats Boston College, that leaves 12 schools battling for 10 spots.

So how does Clemson become one of those 10 teams? While the scenarios are not likely to happen, in a year that has seen some of the biggest upsets in the history of college football take place, don't rule it out just yet.

Keep in mind 10 of the top 16 teams in the current BCS standings still have games left to be played, which means there could be significant movement in the final regular season BCS poll released Sunday.

But to find the answer to that all important question, "what has to happen in order for Clemson to get into the BCS?" you have to look directly ahead of the Tigers in the current BCS standings.

Here's what essentially has to happen in order for Clemson to have a chance:

1) NO. 6 VIRGINIA TECH BEATS NO. 11 BOSTON COLLEGE - the thought here is if Boston College loses, it will fall below Clemson in the BCS rankings and thus fall out of consideration for a BCS bid. Also, it wouldn't hurt to have Virginia Tech to win this game in convincing fashion. Even if Boston College did not fall below the Tigers, there is still the distinct possibility the BCS selection committee would select Clemson over the Eagles should the scenarios below also work out.

2) WASHINGTON WINS AT NO. 12 HAWAII - in a normal year this wouldn't sound all that bad. The problem is Hawaii is currently 11-0 and possesses an offense that leads the country in scoring at over 47 points per game. The Warriors are also ranked No. 12 in the BCS, meaning despite the fact they come from the WAC, they are ranked high enough to gobble up an at-large berth. Meanwhile the Huskies are 4-8 but have beaten Boise State and California and nearly pulled off an upset against Southern Cal. If Washington were to win, Hawaii would fall down below Clemson in the BCS rankings and out of consideration for a BCS bowl. For the record, Washington is listed as a 14-point underdog enter this game Saturday.

3) ARIZONA WINS AT NO. 13 ARIZONA STATE - Assuming Southern California beats UCLA, an Arizona State loss to Arizona would insure just one team from the Pac 10 gets into the BCS - the Pac 10 champion which would be Southern Cal. The thought here is that with a loss, Arizona State would fall to 9-3 on the season and slip just behind Clemson in the BCS rankings. Arizona, which is Arizona State's biggest rival, is currently listed as a 9-point underdog to the Sun Devils.

Assuming all of those things happen, the BCS selection committee would then have the option of selecting the Tigers as an at-large team given that Clemson would likely be ranked among the top 12 teams in the BCS standings.

In all likelihood, that would mean the Tigers would play against the SEC champion in the Sugar Bowl as this year the Sugar Bowl chooses last among the four BCS bowl games (excluding the National Championship game of course).

Remember the four BCS bowls outside of the National Championship game have conference tie ins- the Atlantic Coast Conference-Orange Bowl, the Big Ten Conference-Rose Bowl, the Big 12 Conference-Fiesta Bowl, the Pac-10 Conference-Rose Bowl, and the Southeastern Conference-Sugar Bowl.

The Tigers cannot be selected as an at-large team for the Orange Bowl and would be passed on by the other bowls due to higher ranked teams being available.

Clemson's chances of getting into the BCS go up dramatically with both a loss by Hawaii and Arizona State Saturday. If just one of those teams were to lose instead of two, and pending what happens with other teams playing Saturday, the Tigers would have to hope the Sugar Bowl would pick Clemson over Illinois or possibly another team that loses Saturday.

The problem there is Clemson is currently ranked behind the Illini in the BCS standings and Illinois also has a road win over then-No. 1 ranked Ohio State earlier this year.

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