At this point the odds of Louisville gaining a BCS berth are low. Let’s Take a Look At The Landscape and how it affects the Cards from getting a BCS berth.
Central Florida needs to win out OR TANK! Northern Illinois & Fresno State Need to Lose
Now the Cards actually need Central Florida to keep winning. There is a slim possibility that UCF could drop two of their final 4 games (Temple, Rutgers, South Florida, and SMU) but the Knights are too good to let that happen. Central Florida needs to finish ahead of Fresno St or Northern Illinois if both of those teams win out. If NIU and Fresno are in the Top 16 and ahead of UCF in the final poll one of those teams (the highest ranked) will have an automatic bid. If the Huskies or Bulldogs are in the Top 12 they get an automatic bid.
No matter what the scenario is, the Cards need Fresno & NIU to lose a game. There are a few opportunities out there, the first coming Wednesday night with Ball St vs. Northern Illinois. The Huskies also must face a tough Toledo team, and potentially a very strong Buffalo team in the MAC Championship. Fresno St must play a decent San Jose State team, and being that the game is a rivalry match-up anything can happen. Also Fresno will either have to beat a very tough Utah State team OR take down Boise State again in the Mountain West Championship game to run the table if they get past the Spartans. There is a lot of football left to be played.
Who are the Potential At-Large Schools?
There are 6 automatic berths in the BCS every year from the 6 major conferences, there are 10 places in the BCS system leaving 4 potential at large bids. An automatic non-AQ bid lowers the number of at-large spots available to just 3. Let’s take a look at who could potentially land the at-large spots and what they have ahead.
–Oregon did not expect to be in this position, but, the Ducks are sitting in the PAC-12 North hoping for an at-large. More than likely Oregon will get an at-large without playing in the conference championship. The PAC is a two-bid league with Stanford more than likely winning the title, or UCLA, Arizona St. or USC backdooring their way in through the PAC-12 title game as a Champion. The good news is that the PAC can send just two teams to the BCS. There are 5 possible teams who can get those two bids presently, but Oregon & Stanford are most likely.
–Clemson is in a nice position right now. They have a single loss (major blowout) to Florida State and they have some solid wins. Georgia Tech & South Carolina are potential pitfalls ahead, but I like Clemson to win both. If the Gamecocks and/or Yellowjackets could steal one the ACC would become a 1-bid league and that would be HUGE.
–SEC At-Large Contenders: Auburn, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas A&M only one additional team (assuming Alabama wins out) can enter the BCS from this group. Alabama plays Auburn, Missouri & Texas A&M play each other, and South Carolina has Clemson remaining. There is going to be some attrition, but the SEC is a 2-bid league the real question is who?
–Big Ten At-Large Contenders: Michigan St & Wisconsin. Ohio State should run away with this league. And that is a good thing for Louisville. Michigan State is playing very well lately but has a very tough close of the season of Nebraska, Northwestern, & Minnesota before the Spartans can think about getting into the Big Ten Championship game. IF Michigan State gets to the title game unscathed there could be a chance that Michigan State takes down the Buckeyes and steals a bid. But I think they’ll drop one before the championship game & also in the title game as well. Wisconsin is the more scary proposition. The Badgers have just Indiana, a good Minnesota team on the road, and Penn State. Being in the same division as Ohio State, UW will not have an opportunity to play in the Big Ten Championship game thus limiting their exposure to a loss. Minnesota beating Wisconsin would be HUGE.
–Big XII At-Large Contenders: Oklahoma State & Oklahoma. The Big XII is nuts, but Baylor is a clear favorite in this league. Oklahoma & OK State will play each other, but the Cowboys really have the toughest road to the end of the season: Texas, Baylor, and Oklahoma. OU on the other hand has just Iowa State, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State. Obviously anything can happen, but getting both of the Oklahoma’s a loss would be a big deal and keep the Big XII a single bid league…..Also keep an eye on Texas, they are finally playing well.
What needs to happen?
-Fans should accept that the SEC & PAC-12 are getting two teams in. That leaves just two spots for at-large schools from other conferences.
1) –Northern Illinois & Fresno State need to lose & UCF needs to win or Tank! (read details above) This is probably the biggest piece. If NIU or Fresno State receive an automatic bid the odds for an at-large bid go from low to almost non-existent (though not impossible).
2) –Clemson needs to lose to South Carolina and/or Georgia Tech. If Clemson loses to South Carolina it may put them at risk of losing the at-large bid it is assumed they currently will receive. If they drop to Georgia Tech then I think that puts Clemson out of the at-large picture.
3)–Oklahoma & Oklahoma State need to lose, the Big XII needs to be a 1-bid league: The Good news here is that Baylor is REALLY good & Oklahoma State has some tough games left. The bad news is that OU really doesn’t have much left at all and will need to be upset. Texas is also surging, but I’d be surprised if they can sneak in.
4) -Wisconsin & Michigan State needs to lose: Getting a Michigan State loss shouldn’t be a problem before now and the end of the season. Wisconsin on the other hand……it’s going to be tough.
-Louisville needs to move up the BCS Poll. The Cards need to continue to win and move up the polls to position themselves for the movement that is coming. Of the 4 items listed 3 MUST happen or the Cards will find themselves in Orlando before the New Year.