Championship Weekend in college football is upon us. While we’re all talking about whether Auburn or Ohio State deserves a spot in the National Championship game, both the Buckeyes and the Tigers have games to prepare for this weekend. Games that will be as intense as they come (ok, maybe not for Auburn) with both teams facing off against top-ten opponents. The Big Ten and SEC Championships are just a pair of the games on the slate for this weekend. And at the end of it, the current rankings and expected outcomes won’t matter. Everything can change depending on this weekend’s results. There are hundreds of different what-if outcomes that could occur. This one is my favorite.
First, on Friday night:
Northern Illinois defeats Bowling Green in the MAC Championship and finishes their season undefeated. By BCS automatic qualifying rules, they will receive an automatic berth if they finish in the top 12 (which happens in this scenario), but they could also be an AQ team if they finish in the top 16 and are ranked higher than an AQ conference champion (say perhaps, the AAC).
Oklahoma defeats Oklahoma State, ruining the Cowboys opportunities for a Big 12 title.
Central Florida defeats Southern Methodist to claim the AAC’s AQ selection.
Texas defeats Baylor in a game that decides the Big 12 title after Oklahoma’s victory. Despite all the talk early in the season about Mack Brown’s job security, Texas returns to a BCS bowl with the Big 12 bid.
Missouri beats Auburn, ending all talk of War Eagle to the National Championship. Missouri earns the SEC automatic bid, which is technically a spot in the Sugar Bowl, but usually a National title berth. More on this later.
Arizona State beats Stanford and claims the Pac-12 bid to the Rose Bowl.
Duke does the unfathomable and defeats Florida State, not only knocking Florida State out of the National Championship picture, but also guaranteeing themselves a spot in the Orange Bowl.
Michigan State beats Ohio State and the Buckeyes’ National Championship hopes also crumble. Sparty receives the Big Ten automatic bid to the Rose Bowl.
I’m not even going to attempt to capture the full rankings following that mess, but a rough sketch would likely look something like:
3-8 (no order): Michigan State, Arizona State, Florida State, Ohio State, Auburn, South Carolina.
8-14ish: Northern Illinois, Oklahoma State, Duke, Oklahoma, Baylor, Oregon, Texas, UCF.
The National Championship, of course, features the number one and number two teams in the final rankings. Here, that is Missouri vs. Alabama.
Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Arizona State
Both teams receive AQ bids to the game due to being conference champions not ranked in the top two. In reality, this is probably the likeliest match up of the five. ASU is capable of taking down Stanford and MSU is a good possibility to be here even with a loss to Ohio State.
Orange Bowl: Duke
The Blue Devils are the AQ team out of the ACC after defeating Florida State in the ACC championship.
Fiesta Bowl: Texas
As the Big 12 champion, Texas receives an automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl. Mack Brown definitely gets to keep his job and the Fiesta Bowl is happy to get a team with a massive following (read: Moneymaker)
Sugar Bowl: Ohio State
The Sugar Bowl loses their AQ team, Missouri, the SEC champion, to the National Championship game. That allows them to make their selection before any others occur. Florida State would be a possibility here, but Ohio State likely is ranked higher following a loss to Michigan State versus FSU’s defeat to Duke. Ohio State returns to the Sugar Bowl, where their 2011 win was vacated due to violations surrounding the sale of team memorabilia by players.
Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Duke
The order of these selections rotates on a yearly basis. The Orange Bowl will be delighted to pick first after apparently being quite upset about having to take Northern Illinois last year. Florida State are the darlings of this bowl and the Orange Bowl won’t hesitate to snatch them and their high-profile quarterback up, even if it does mean a rematch of the ACC Championship.
Sugar Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Ohio State
Left with the forced decision between NIU and Central Florida, the Sugar Bowl likely selects the undefeated Huskies. Northern Illinois appeared in the Orange Bowl last year and the TV ratings withstood their small stature. They’ll struggle to sell their tickets yet again, but as we saw last year, there are ways to handle this.
Fiesta Bowl: Central Florida vs. Texas
Definitely not their first choice, but the Fiesta Bowl is forced to take AAC AQ Central Florida. If people thought OSU’s close call against Michigan was a flag of caution, UCF snuck by 2-9 South Florida 23-20 at home this past weekend. UCF did beat a tough Louisville team on the road earlier in the season and their lone lose was by three to South Carolina. What is crazy: it’s more surprising to see Texas in this game. The Longhorns could use a BCS win.
National Championship: Missouri vs. Alabama
The one-loss SEC vs. an undefeated-other is never resolved as the undefeateds both lose. Missouri reminds people about the other team in the SEC Championship and sends Auburn to a non-BCS bowl. Unfortunately for the Tigers (of Missouri), they’ll come up against an Alabama team that has spent a lot of time thinking about their loss to Auburn. The SEC goes from almost being shut out of the National Championship to clean sweeping it. Alabama wins by double-digits. Nick Saban stays winning.
Chaos is fun.