OK Steve, what happens if Michigan Wins today?
I still don't think it's a lock. The reason being that Michigan goes to the Rose Bowl and USC goes to the Sugar, so one of the two "open" spots is in the Rose and they won't have two Big Ten teams there. That leaves only the Sugar and Fiesta to take Ohio State, and both Tempe (Texas) and Miami (Tennessee) have closer options that likely bring more fans and have more natural ties.
If Michigan loses close, they likely won't drop too far (TCU already lost, LSU and Georgia will play each other, as will FSU and Florida) and should still be in the top 12 (the polls aren't their problem -- the computers are, and that will go up with a close loss to OSU, as will SOS). Plus, as much as Buckeye fans will cringe, Michigan is more of a national name and aside from Notre Dame, there's no school bowl reps would like more to get their hands on -- especially the Rose Bowl (and Pasadena opens up to the Big Ten if OSU wins -- USC/Texas isn't nearly as attractive as USC/Michigan).
The ACC. Big East and Pac 10 will only get one bid to the BCS this year (forget Wazzu -- even if they beat Washington, which is a stretch, they couldn't even sell out their allotment for the ROSE BOWL last year and don't bring ratings -- no one will take them). So that leaves three leagues fighting for two bids ...
SEC - The loser of the LSU/Georgia title game is probably out, because Tennessee or Florida (if the Gators beat FSU) will be higher and more attractive. Plus, this is one of the two strongest leagues this year and should have 8 bowl eligible teams. For fans and ratings and those all-important dollars for BCS secondary bowls, only the Big Ten is a better bet.
BIG XII - Unless the north champ pulls a huge upset in the title game (in which case Oklahoma would probably pull a Nebraska and still go to the title game, automatically taking a second BCS bid), their only candidate is Texas. The Horns are heavy on influential alumni and computer rankings, but they just haven't beaten that many good teams and their league is the weakest of the three.
BIG TEN - See above -- if OSU is our second contender, I don't like our chances. I do like Michigan's if they lose close, simply because the Rose Bowl hasn't had a Big Ten team in a couple years and would love to grab the Wolverines. The strength of conference and 8 bowl-elighble teams (should we
win) argument also comes into play.
We'll see what happens after this weekend -- and those league title games always have the possibility of screwing everything up with teams like Ole Miss or K-State. But I honestly think that if NU upholds its part tomorrow and wins, there will be a place for us with some heavy arm-twisting from the Big Ten.
In the five years of the BCS, we've gotten an extra bid three times -- more than any other league. We also have the best record (percentage and win wise) along with the SEC of BCS conferences in the history. Throw that in with the money factor (Michigan or OSU sells seats, brings ratings and brings prestige). After the title game, it's all about the money -- the Big Ten brings that and it's one of the reasons why the Irish would like to have that kind of ally on their side.
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