Dawgs in BCS: Where Are We Going?

ATHENS - Dean Legge takes a long look at Georgia's BCS options.

After it became clear Georgia was not going to play for the SEC title, and that they were once again going to top Georgia Tech, all of the bowl scenarios became clearer – or did they? Yes, Georgia was in the BCS as of Saturday night, but going where? Georgia, as everyone knows, won't know where it's going until Sunday, but this article should give you, the reader, an idea of who to cheer for in order for the Dawgs to go to your favorite BCS bowl.

Getting to the National Title Game:

Georgia would need West Virginia and Missouri to lose. It's that simple. Even though the Dawgs would not be guaranteed a spot at that time, it's likely that they would fight Ohio State in the National Title game in New Orleans. Georgia is ranked behind Missouri, West Virginia and Ohio State – and while a Missouri loss to Oklahoma may be possible (if not probable) most just can't see West Virginia losing this weekend at home to Pitt. Still, if both of those things happened Georgia would play for the National Title.

Kansas, with its loss Saturday night, is likely too far away to climb up over the Dawgs – as they don't play again. Virginia Tech, who must beat Boston College before even getting into the BCS bowl system, would need Georgia to somehow fall without playing, which is not going to happen. LSU would have to beat Tennessee and have everything in front happen the same way Georgia does, and then would still have to jump the Dawgs. If West Virginia and Missouri lose Georgia will be ranked #2 in both the Harris and Coaches Poll, and those polls matter most this late in the year.

Getting to the Sugar Bowl

There is no plausable way Georgia can play in the Sugar Bowl. Each BCS bowl must take a specific champion from each conference. Because the SEC champion will not be playing in the National Title Game, the Sugar Bowl will not take Georgia to play LSU or Tennessee. It can not do so according to the BCS bylaws.

Getting to the Orange Bowl

Many are fixated on the notion that the Orange Bowl would be "losing" West Virginia and therefore get to replace them in that bowl – that is not the case. While the SEC champs is obligated to play in the Sugar; the Big Ten and Pac-10 champs are obligated to play in the Rose; the ACC champs are obligated to play in the Orange; and the Big XII winners obligated to play in the Fiesta the Big East is not obligated to play in any particular bowl game. They, somewhat like Notre Dame, "float". In section 2 of the "Team-Selection Procedure" of the BCS there is no mention of the Big East being designated to play in the Orange Bowl, therefore those thinking the Orange gets the first replacement pick as a result of that are incorrect.

The second hurdle to the Orange Bowl is a potential re-match with Virginia Tech. Section 5 of the "Team-Selection Procedure" of the BCS states the following:

After the completion of the selection process as described in paragraphs 1-4, the Conferences and Notre Dame may, but are not required to, adjust the parings to take into consideration he following:

C. whether the same two teams will play against each other in a bowl game for the same consecutive two years.

As everyone knows, Georgia beat Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last December. That doesn't mean the Orange won't want Georgia – it just means they have an "out" if they don't want a rematch. But, the Orange, as it turns out, does have the first pick after the conference champions have been selected, and while it's hard to think they would pass on Georgia – it's very possible they won't want a rematch from last year.

If Boston College wins the ACC it seems very plausible to think that Georgia would play the Eagles in Miami. It would be an attractive match-up, but ticket sales are always a concern for the Orange Bowl. If Boston College wins, Georgia may not be as attractive ticket-wise compared to, say, Kansas, who would likely bring everyone – including Toto – to the game.

Getting to the Rose Bowl

In order for Georgia to play in the Rose Bowl several things would need to happen, but it all hinges on one thing – Missouri's fate. The outcome of the Big XII championship will probably factor more in where Georgia plays than any other game this weekend. If Missouri loses to Oklahoma Georgia will probably play in the Rose Bowl. Why? A Missouri loss would send Ohio State to the National Title Game, leaving a spot open for an at-large team, and Georgia is the most attractive (more on that later).

Still, the Rose Bowl has made clear over the years how eager they are to have a Big Ten-Pac-10 match-up. Only once, in 2003, has the Rose not taken an available Big Ten team (Iowa) in place of another team (Oklahoma). That year the Orange yanked Iowa out from underneath the Rose. All other Rose match-ups since 1999 have been Big Ten-Pac-10 – if possible.

That not withstanding, the Big East champion (West Virginia) is not contractually obligated to any bowl and therefore no bowl would have the right to replace the Mountaineers. If Ohio State played in the NCG the Rose Bowl would be the only bowl game with the ability to select an at-large team to fill the spot of the Buckeyes. The Rose could not select a conference champion – as we have gone over before – so they would have to pick from other at-large teams:

Missouri (Only if they lose in the Big XII title game)
Illinois (Only if they are ranked in the top 14 of the final BCS Standings)
West Virginia (Only if they fail to get to the NCG)

Illinois could prevent Georgia from going to the Rose Bowl. Ranked #15 in the BCS right now, Illinois could still qualify as an at-large team if Arizona State or Tennessee loses this week. Still, that would mean the Rose would be picking a team not ranked in the top ten over a team ranked in the top five, which is a heck of a reach. If Tennessee wins the SEC, Virginia Tech wins the ACC and Arizona State beats Arizona, Georgia seems destined for Pasadena provided that Ohio State must be replaced.

Getting to the Fiesta Bowl

While any BCS game is attractive – the Rose being the most attractive considering how difficult it is to get in it – the Fiesta remains the only major bowl Georgia has never played in, and therefore never won. The Dawgs have swept what was once the "Big Four" bowls – winning the Rose, Orange, Cotton and Sugar in the past. The BCS swapped out the Cotton for the Fiesta, but because of the relative newness and distance of the Fiesta, Georgia's never made it – that could change this season.

If Missouri plays in the NCG that means the Fiesta would have the ability to replace them with an at-large team. If the Rose Bowl does not select Georgia as its replacement, or if the Rose does not have the ability to replace Georgia because Ohio State did not reach the NCG, then the Fiesta would have the first replacement selection, and would likely take the Dawgs.

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