Fiesta Bowl, Saturday, Jan. 1 (Big 12 champ vs. at-large) -- What it will take for Texas to play in Tempe: A USC loss vs. UCLA. There's still only one realistic scenario that puts Texas in the Fiesta: USC, which is already guaranteed a BCS spot as winner of the PAC-10, loses to UCLA and drops out of the national title game. Texas passes Cal in the BCS rankings and thus earns an automatic bid as a BCS conference non-champ in the top 3/4 of the final rankings. That would set up a No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Auburn national championship game in the Orange Bowl (and a USC-Michigan Rose Bowl), giving the Fiesta first pick among the at-larges. The Fiesta would take Texas. What Orangebloods should root for: USC to lose to UCLA this weekend AND for Texas to overtake Cal in the BCS rankings AND Oklahoma to earn the No. 1 spot in the final BCS rankings.
Sugar Bowl, Monday, Jan. 3 (SEC champ vs. at-large) -- What it will take for Texas to play in New Orleans: A USC loss vs. UCLA. This scenario is only slightly different from the Fiesta Bowl scenario described above. It would also require a USC loss to UCLA, but with Auburn elevated to No. 1 and Oklahoma No. 2 in the final BCS standings. (Texas, of course, would still need to overtake Cal in the rankings.) That would set up the Sugar with the first pick of the at-larges (because it lost its host team Auburn as the No. 1 team in the championship game), and the Sugar would take Texas to face either the ACC or Big East champ (depending on who the Fiesta Bowl picked to take on Utah as OU's replacement). What Orangebloods should root for: USC to lose to UCLA this weekend AND for Texas to overtake Cal in the BCS rankings AND Auburn to earn the No. 1 spot in the final BCS rankings through a combination of beating Tennessee badly and having OU struggle but win over Colorado.
Rose Bowl, Saturday, Jan. 1 (PAC-10 champ vs. Big 10 champ) -- What it will take for Texas to play in Pasadena: Texas to overtake Cal in the BCS standings. There are still two somewhat realistic scenarios that get Texas into The Granddaddy of Them All, but they are both predicated on UT overtaking Cal. The first is simple: the final BCS rankings look just like they do today except that the Horns and the Golden Bears switch places and thus Texas earns an automatic berth and Cal is out of the BCS. That would put the Rose in position to pick UT as its replacement for No. 1 USC, which would be playing in the national title game. A first-ever Texas-Michigan match-up, in the Rose Bowl no less! It could also happen like this: Oklahoma wins the Big 12 Championship Game but falls behind Auburn in the BCS standings and thus ends up in the Fiesta while Texas overtakes Cal in the BCS standings. That scenario would eliminate any pressure on the Rose to allow the Fiesta to take Texas to keep the Fiesta's traditional Big 12 tie-in because the Sooners, denied a title shoot, would automatically earn the Tempe berth. What Orangebloods should root for: A Cal loss to Southern Miss this weekend (an unimpressive win might also do the trick), allowing Texas to overtake Berkeley in the BCS OR a really poor showing, but still a win, by Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game.
Cotton Bowl, Saturday, Jan. 1 (Big 12 No. 2 vs. SEC No. 3) -- What it will take for Texas to play in Dallas: Texas to remain in BCS no-man's land at No. 5, sandwiched in-between No. 4 Cal and No. 6 Utah. The Horns moved to within .0013 in the BCS standings of the Golden Bears this week, so given that margin it's possible that Texas will overtake Cal next week regardless of what happens in Hattiesburg this Saturday. There are so many factors at work that we simply won't know until the BCS Selection Show on Sunday at 4 p.m. But if the rankings remain the same, the Horns will have a date with an SEC team -- probably Tennessee -- at 10 a.m. on New Year's Day. As we mentioned last week, the absolute worst-case scenario is for Texas to pass Cal into the No. 4 spot in the BCS, but Oklahoma loses the Big 12 Championship Game to Colorado, giving the Big 12 automatic bid to the Buffs, but OU only drops to No. 3 in the final BCS rankings, earning an automatic at-large over UT.