Latest Team Rankings
Free Rivals Alerts
|College Teams||High Schools|
December 2, 2013
Breakdown: Every BCS scenario for Alabama
Alabama is all but guaranteed a spot in a Bowl Championship Series game.
Which game? Well, any of them.
According to ESPN BCS analyst Brad Edwards, scenarios exist for Alabama to play in any of the five BCS games, including a razor-thin chance to earn a spot in the BCS title game. Alabama is No. 4 in the BCS standings, and with no games left, it is expected to be at No. 4 or better when the final standings are released next week. The top four teams will be guaranteed spots in BCS games.
Where the Crimson Tide ends up varies widely and will be predicated on the outcome of several games this weekend.
"Alabama is the biggest X-factor in all of the BCS equations as far as filling out the (nonchampionship) bowl spots," Edwards said in an interview with the Tuscaloosa News on Monday. "Because more than likely, they will finish No. 4 because of that, so someone has to take them."
Here are Alabama's BCS scenarios, in order of the most likely to the least likely:
If Florida State, a 29-point favorite over Duke, and Ohio State, a 6-point favorite over Michigan State, take care of business in their respective championship games on Saturday, the Orange Bowl would be Alabama's most likely destination.
The Orange Bowl has the first pick among the BCS at-large teams this year.
When it comes to setting teams, the first order of business for the Orange would be filling its vacated ACC "host" spot, replacing championship-bound FSU. The BCS games have taken care of their host conferences historically, picking a second team from that conference as an at-large. If the Orange Bowl follows that, as expected, it would take Clemson. After that, it has the first pick of at-large teams. Alabama would be the most attractive option, and it's hard to envision a bowl committee that was forced to take Northern Illinois with the last pick last year passing on a chance at the Crimson Tide.
As of Monday, the Orange Bowl's other options would be two teams that would be in the BCS automatically by rule: Northern Illinois - which still has a MAC championship game - and the American Athletic Conference champion, either Central Florida or Cincinnati.
Edwards said UCF could be considered because of its proximity to Miami, but Alabama to Miami is the most likely. He wouldn't go so far as to call it a slam dunk.
"If it gets to the Orange Bowl, the Orange Bowl could get stuck taking (Alabama)," Edwards said. "I'm not sure they really want them - they were there last year and you would think they would have significantly fewer fans travel coming off a devastating loss than you would a year ago when they were playing for a national championship.
"But their only other options at that point might be UCF and Northern Illinois and that would lead them to take Alabama." There is a caveat: If NIU loses to Bowling Green in the MAC championship game, that boots NIU out of BCS contention and opens up a BCS at-large spot for a major conference team such as Baylor or Oregon. That, in turn, creates whole new set of scenarios (we'll get to those later).
The path to New Orleans is simple.
Alabama would be all but a shoo-in to play in the Sugar if either Florida State or Ohio State loses its conference championship game on Saturday.
An FSU or OSU loss would push the Auburn/Missouri winner into the BCS championship, leaving the Sugar with its SEC host tie-in empty. The Sugar would get a chance to replace the SEC champion with another SEC team before the other games pick at-large teams. Since the top four teams in the BCS are guaranteed a spot in a BCS game and only two teams per conference can play in BCS games, that leaves Alabama as the only possible SEC replacement.
The Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl scenarios are far and away the most likely, but the three long-shot scenarios are led by a sliver of a chance for Pasadena. But that scenario would be at the hands of a big loss, voters and computers.
This would all come down to Michigan State, which takes on Ohio State in this weekend's Big Ten championship. If Michigan State loses to Ohio State and the Buckeyes play for the national title, Michigan State would fall in as the Rose Bowl's likely Big 10 replacement. However, if the Spartans are not still among the top 14 in the BCS standings, they would not qualify for a BCS game, leaving the Rose Bowl with no eligible Big Ten replacement. In that case, the Rose would get to pick an at-large team outside of its host conference, and Alabama would be in play.
In that scenario, Alabama would play against the Pac-12 champion, either Stanford or Arizona State.
Edwards said that for Michigan State to fall out of the top 14 and create an opening for Alabama, it would take an overwhelming loss to Ohio State.
"I would think more than likely (MSU) would stay in (the top 14) unless they just get embarrassed," Edwards said. "If Ohio State blows them out, I can see them falling far enough in the polls to drop out of the top 14, and if that happens, then the Rose Bowl would actually pick before the Orange Bowl with an opportunity to take Alabama. And I think the Rose probably would take Alabama, that would be the highest ranked team they could get."
BCS National Championship
Don't get too excited; this scenario requires Ohio State to lose to Michigan State along with what would be considered the biggest upset in the BCS era, No. 1 Florida State losing to Duke. According to 5Dimes.com, Duke is almost a 34-to-1 underdog to beat FSU in Saturday's ACC Championship. Michigan State is 1.8-to-1.
To put a number on the unlikelihood of those two things happening, using those figures, it would make Alabama's chances to play for a national championship at 1.02 percent.
Since Las Vegas would build its own edge into those lines, the "true" value of those upsets would likely drive that number well below one percent.
"Athletically, the difference between (FSU) and Duke, this is pretty much like NFL vs. college," Edwards said.
If the next-to-impossible happened, Edwards said it would be between Alabama and Oklahoma State - assuming it beats Oklahoma this weekend - for the right to play the SEC Champion for the national title.
"If Florida State, Ohio State and Oklahoma State all lose on Saturday, then Alabama is in the national championship game," Edwards said.
If Oklahoma State wins, making it the Big 12 champion with one loss, Edwards expect Alabama and Oklahoma State to be "very similar" in the computer element of the BCS formula, meaning it would come down to where the teams landed in the human polls.
"And it would come down to a question of if the voters want to see who they think is the better team in the game, which I would guess like two years ago most would think is Alabama," Edwards said. "Or do they want not so much reward a team that won a conference title, I'm not so sure that's as much of a deal at this point, but the fact that they would be giving Alabama a second chance for the third year in a row, especially with it being Alabama and Oklahoma State head to head (for a spot in the title game) again. I can see voters saying, you know what, it's Oklahoma State's turn."
What's in Alabama's favor is comparing the losses; Alabama would have a loss against 11-1 Auburn while Oklahoma State's loss was to 5-7 West Virginia.
Yes, there is a way where the Fiesta Bowl, which gets the last pick of at-large teams, somehow lands Alabama.
First, Northern Illinois would need to lose in the MAC championship game, therefore losing its automatic bid in the BCS. If NIU qualifies, it would likely be considered the least attractive option and would fall to the Fiesta Bowl.
However, if NIU loses, it opens the door for a higher profile team to earn a BCS at-large spot. Edwards said the leading teams in play in that scenario would be Oregon and Baylor. In that case, the Orange, which picks first, could consider taking Oregon or Baylor to face Clemson over Alabama, which just made the trip to Miami in January. The next pick would be the Sugar Bowl. If it does not want an SEC-SEC matchup with the SEC champion and Alabama, it could pass on the Crimson Tide and take the American Athletic Conference champ, UCF or Cincinnati.
That would send Alabama to the Fiesta to face the Big 12 champion, either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State.
How about Iron Bowl II?
There are two different ways this could happen. The first is the matchup in the BCS title game, a highly unlikely scenario given the losses required to make that happen for Alabama. The second scenario would be in the Sugar Bowl. It would take Florida State winning, Ohio State winning and Auburn winning the SEC championship for starters. From there, it's the same as the Fiesta Bowl scenario above - NIU losing and the Orange passing on Alabama.
"If Northern Illinois is out of the equation, there would be one more at large out there," Edwards said. "(The Orange) could take a Baylor, they could take an Oregon, they could do that and it would leave the Sugar with that choice."
That puts Auburn into the Sugar Bowl's lap. The question is whether the SEC would be OK with a rematch or if it would try to nudge the Sugar Bowl to not put the two teams together again.
"To make Auburn play Alabama again, I don't think the SEC office would want to see that," Edwards said. "I think the SEC would jump in. First of all, the Orange Bowl would have to flat-out pass up on Alabama."