Just one week remains in regular season, and some odd bowl scenarios still exist:
— Stanford could still play in the national championship game: It’s a long, long shot, but let’s assume Georgia beats LSU convincingly (say, 38-10), Clemson beats Virginia Tech and Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State. Presto: Stanford vs. Alabama could be in national championship, even though neither won a conference title.
— LSU could lose the SEC title game but still play in national championship game. If LSU loses a close game to Georgia (say 21-14), the Tigers, with their strong computer ranking, probably would drop only to No. 2 in the final BCS standings and play Alabama in the national championship game, even though neither won the SEC championship. That scenario would also put three SEC teams into BCS games, because, as the SEC champ, Georgia would also be guaranteed a BCS berth based on a BCS rule passed in 2007.
— Michigan is a good bet to play in the Sugar Bowl, but only if LSU beats Georgia. Michigan, which has finished its regular season, is currently 16th in the BCS standings, and a team must finish in the top 14 to qualify for a BCS berth. However, the two teams in the Big Ten title game – Wisconsin and Michigan State – are just ahead of Michigan State in this week’s BCS standings, and the loser figures to drop behind the Wolverines in the BCS standings. Georgia is also ahead of Michigan this week, but would fall behind if it loses to LSU. That would push Michigan up to No. 14, qualifying it for a BCS berth, and the large Michigan following is attractive to BCS games.
— Stanford is likely to get a berth in the Fiesta Bowl, and if it maintains its current spot at No. 4 in the BCS standings, the Cardinal would be guaranteed a BCS berth based on BCS rules. Even if it drops to No. 5 next week, the Cardinal still seems to be in line for the Fiesta Bowl.
— Cal could land in the Alamo Bowl, the Holiday Bowl or the Sun Bowl, but the most likely destination is the Dec. 28 Holiday Bowl in San Diego, where the Bears would play a Big 12 team, probably Missouri or Texas.
Utah and Cal are both 7-5 overall and 4-5 in the conference, but Cal’s 4-5 is not the same as Utah’s 4-5, because the Bears played all three Pac-12 teams currently ranked in the top 10 – Oregon, Stanford and USC – and Utah played only one – USC.
— UCLA (6-6) could go to the Rose Bowl or could be left out of the postseason altogether. If the Bruins beat Oregon in the Pac-12 title game in Eugene on Friday, it will play the Big Ten champion in the Rose Bowl. If it loses, as expected, UCLA would be 6-7, and because teams need a winning record to qualify for a bowl, the Bruins would need an NCAA waiver to be eligible for the postseason. They are likely to get that waiver, and probably would play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at San Francisco’s AT&T Park. It appears UCLA needs to beat Oregon for Rick Neuheisel to retain his job, and even that may not be enough.
— BOWL PROJECTIONS:
National championship: LSU vs. Alabama
Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Wisconsin
Fiesta Bowl: Stanford vs. Oklahoma State
Sugar Bowl: Michigan vs. Houston.
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia
Alamo Bowl: Washington vs. Kansas State
Holiday Bowl: Cal vs. Missouri
Sun Bowl: Utah vs. Georgia Tech
Las Vegas Bowl: Arizona State vs. TCU
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: UCLA vs. Northwestern.
The Heisman Hustle: The Heisman Trophy race will be determined in Saturday’s Baylor-Texas game. If Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III has a big game in that nationally-televised contest, he probably will win. Otherwise, it likely will be Alabama running back Trent Richardson, with Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck still in contention in what shapes up as a three-player race. Houston’s Case Keenum seems destined for a fourth-place finish. Keenum, Griffin and Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson would all break the single-season record for pass efficiency if they maintain their current numbers.