Assessing VT’s Chances for a BCS Bid

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Around the TSL offices, the big question fans were asking us leading up to
the Miami game was what we thought VT’s chances were of catching Texas in the
BCS. Our answer was the same every time: “We’re not talking about that
until after the Miami game.” It’s now officially “after the Miami
game,” and though VT’s shot at a national title has gone by the boards,
they still have a chance at a BCS game.

Despite Virginia Tech’s 27-7 loss to Miami on Saturday night, the Hokies
still have a chance to get an at-large bid to one of the four BCS games. Tech
dropped to eighth in the Harris Poll, the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and the
Associated Press Poll. The Harris Poll and Coaches’ Poll count in the BCS
Standings. In the Coaches’ Poll, Tech is just 23 points behind #6 Penn State
and 8 points behind #7 Notre Dame. If the Hokies can win out, they can make up a
lot of ground.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the remaining regular-season
schedules of the teams in competition with Virginia Tech for a BCS bid.

Remaining
Schedules of BCS Contenders

Rank
Team Schedule
1
USC

at Cal, #20 Fresno St., #14 UCLA
2
Texas

Kansas, at Texas A&M
3
Miami

at Wake Forest, #24 Georgia Tech, UVA
4
Alabama

#5 LSU, at #15 Auburn
5
LSU

at #4 Alabama, at Ole Miss, Arkansas
6
Penn St.

at Michigan State
7
Notre Dame

Navy, Syracuse, at Stanford
8
Virginia Tech

at UVA, UNC
9
Georgia

#15 Auburn, Kentucky, at #24 Georgia Tech
10
Ohio State

Northwestern, at #21 Michigan

A BCS bid is awarded to the winner of the ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten,
Pac-10 and SEC. The remaining two teams are chosen from a pool of highly ranked
teams that did not win their conference. If the Hokies win out, they have a
chance to be one of those teams. The schedules above do not include possible
conference championship game matchups in the Big 12, SEC and ACC.

Penn State has only one remaining game on their regular season schedule.
Their last game is against Michigan State, a game the Nittany Lions are expected
to win. If things go as expected, they will end the regular season with just one
Big Ten loss, to Michigan. Ohio State can still tie Penn State for the Big Ten
title, but Penn State would receive the BCS bid because they won the
head-to-head matchup. The Big Ten doesn’t appear to have a second team worthy
of gaining a BCS bid.

It appears that West Virginia will win out and represent the Big East in the
BCS. The Mountaineers have remaining games against Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and
South Florida. None of those teams are expected to beat WVU, and the more games
WVU wins, the better it is for Virginia Tech in terms of BCS points.

USC stands atop the Pac-10, with Oregon and UCLA standing one game behind
them. The Trojans still face Cal and UCLA, but they are expected to win out. The
Pac-10 does not appear to have the ability to put a second team in the BCS,
unless UCLA wins the conference and USC is picked as an at-large with one loss.

Texas looks poised to win the Big 12. Their remaining regular season schedule
is weak, and they have already thrashed Colorado earlier in the year, and the
Buffaloes are their likely opponent in the Big 12 Championship Game. The Big 12
will not put a second team in a BCS Bowl.

Despite their loss to NC State, Florida State will represent the Atlantic
Division in the ACC Championship game. Miami is tied with Virginia Tech for the
lead in the Coastal Division, and the Canes own the tiebreaker. Virginia Tech
can sneak back into the ACC Championship game if they win out and Miami drops a
game. Miami is unlikely to lose at this point, and Florida State is unlikely to
beat Miami for the second time this season. FSU will have no chance for an
at-large bid with three losses, but a 10-1 Virginia Tech team will have a
chance.

If Florida State defeats Miami, the Seminoles will go to a BCS game. If the
final at-large bid came down to Virginia Tech and Miami, the BCS would likely
choose the Hurricanes, despite the fact that they would have two losses. Miami
means good TV ratings, which the BCS is not willing to overlook. In the BCS, TV
ratings are more important than ticket sales (unlike at lower-level bowls, where
ticket sales are paramount), and though Virginia Tech’s TV profile has improved
in recent years, the Canes are still perceived as a bigger TV draw.

The SEC, as usual, is a total mess. Alabama is undefeated, but they have a
struggling offense and must face LSU and Auburn to end the season. If they win
out in the regular season, they will face either Georgia or Florida in the SEC
Championship game. As it stands right now, no one in contention in the SEC East
(Georgia, Florida) looks capable of getting an at-large bid with an SEC
championship game loss. Both of those teams would have to win the SEC
Championship to go to the BCS.

The SEC West features Alabama (6-0 in SEC), Auburn (5-1) and LSU (4-1).
Auburn has two losses on the season, so unless they win the SEC Championship
game, they will not advance to the BCS. The only teams that appear to be able to
gain an at-large bid in the SEC West are Alabama and LSU.

Needless to say, the SEC still has some shaking out to do, with LSU-Alabama,
Alabama-Auburn and Auburn-Georgia still to be played. After that, there is still
the SEC Championship game.

The wildcard is Notre Dame. If the Irish win out, and they should, they will
receive an at-large bid to the BCS. There is no doubt about that. If they drop a
game, they are ineligible for the BCS with three losses. That would put them in
the Gator Bowl, with two teams from the BCS conferences getting an at-large bid.
Those teams would likely come from the SEC and the ACC.

The Hokies still have a good chance to go to a BCS game. Here are the things
that would improve their chances:

  • VT has to win out.
  • USC and Texas need to win out and play in the Rose Bowl.
  • Either Miami needs to lose in the regular season so Tech can
    play FSU for the ACC Championship, or the Canes need to win the ACC
    outright.
  • The SEC is complicated, but the best scenario is for Alabama to
    win out, because all other SEC teams would have at least two losses.
  • Lastly, a Notre Dame loss would help Tech’s chances.

The last item on the list may be the most important. If Notre Dame loses and is knocked out of BCS bowl contention, that would leave two at-large bids up for grabs, mostly among the ACC and SEC (and possibly the Big Ten, depending upon what Ohio State does from here on).

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