The Southeastern Conference (SEC) is widely regarded as the best college football conference. Currently, five of the top 10, six of the top 12 and three of the top four rated teams in the BCS standings hail from the SEC. Additionally, teams from the SEC have won seven consecutive BCS National Championship Games. Plus two teams from the SEC have received BCS bids each year since 2007 when the Bowl Championship Series was expanded to five games. Depending on what happens the next two weeks, it’s possible that both streaks could be in jeopardy.
The first thing that must occur is a Notre Dame win, assuring the Fighting Irish of a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. Then, Georgia beats Alabama, but both Florida and South Carolina lose to their ACC rivals, No. 10 Florida State and No. 11 Clemson. Current No. 5 Oregon defeats No. 15 Oregon State, and goes on to defeat UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Losses by Alabama and Florida, which would be upsets but not stunning upsets, move the Ducks up to No. 3 without any help from the computers. But the losses by Carolina and Florida have an impact on the computer rankings, and it is enough to move the Ducks past the Bulldogs. The BCS National Championship Game becomes Notre Dame vs. Oregon, and it becomes impossible for the National Championship streak to continue, because the SEC doesn’t get to play for the title.
The streak of getting two teams into the BCS also ends. It may seem unlikely that a conference that absolutely dominates the rankings, with storied programs and coaches that are household names doesn’t get a second invitation, but it is possible and here’s how.
The Fighting Irish are an independent, so when they are selected to play in the BCS National Championship Game, no compensating pick goes to the bowl from which they are pulled. When Oregon goes as number two, The Pasadena Tournament of Roses selects a Pac-12 team to play in the Rose Bowl Game. Then the order this year is Fiesta, Sugar and Orange, and with the next choice, the Fiesta Bowl selects Clemson, at 11-1 to play Kansas State. The Sugar Bowl is up next, and they cannot select a second SEC team so after careful deliberation, Oklahoma is chosen to face Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The Orange Bowl is between Florida State and the Big East Conference Champion. So while the SEC dominates the rankings, the way the chips fall leaves the SEC out of the BCS National Championship Game, and with only one BCS bid.
If you’ve followed our bowl projections the last few weeks, you may have seen some of our bowl-ed calls, and then the rationale. While we think that a few of those games will actually happen, we consider both parts of this prediction to be very, very, unlikely, but definitely possible.