The Big Ten has official tie-ins with the Rose, Capitol One, Outback, Gator, Insight, Meineke Car Care, Ticket City, and Little Caesar’s Pizza Pizza Bowls in that order. The only one we know that is a stone cold lock as of right now is that the winner of Saturday’s Big Ten championship game will go to the Rose Bowl. First, the biggest wild card right now is Michigan. The Wolverines are done with the regular season at 10-2. They are also currently No. 16 in the BCS poll. They must rise two spots to No. 14.
There is a good chance that they will move up as well. If Michigan State beats Wisconsin again the Badgers will fall from No. 15. If Georgia loses to LSU in the SEC title game they will fall as well. Michigan State is also at No. 13, but with their head-to-head win over Michigan they may stay ahead of of them in a close loss.
Another wild card is the SEC championship game. It is possible that LSU could lose, but still face Alabama in the BCS championship game and Georgia would get an unprecedented 3rd BCS spot for the SEC. Let me explain: The BCS is under contract to take the automatic qualifier of a conference champion (in that case Georgia) but they also must pair the top two teams in the BCS standings for the title game. If LSU loses a very close game to Georgia they may fall no lower than No. 2 while Alabama rises to No. 1. If current No. 3 Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma the chances become even better. You could have a very crazy scenario where Georgia beats LSU, Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, Clemson beats Virginia Tech, and Houston either loses to Southern Miss or doesn’t get enough heft to get into the top two. If all that happens, your choices for the title game are this:
1. LSU vs. Alabama, each with one loss
2. Alabama vs. Stanford, both not even as division winners in their conference
3. Houston (if they beat Southern Miss) vs. Alabama
In that first scenario, the SEC gets three teams into the BCS with Georgia stealing a bid. That leaves two at large bids. Stanford, still sitting at No. 4 automatically gets the third because they are a top 4 team that is not a conference champion (the old Kansas State rule). The fourth then goes to an undefeated Houston or TCU with two losses. How do the Horned Frogs fit in, you ask? If Houston loses, TCU gets a BCS berth as a non-automatic qualifier conference champion in the top 16 ranked ahead of an automatic qualifier conference champion. In this case, that is the Big East winner, who will likely be well behind TCU. Since it has to go to a conference champion, Boise State and Houston in this case would get passed over as non-champions. It is also possible that Southern Miss, currently at No. 24, could jump into the top 16 ahead of TCU with a win over Houston, thus earning a BCS bid themselves. Thisclause is invoked when a non-automatic qualifier conference champion is in the top 12 period or top 16 if they are ahead of an automatic qualifier conference champ (thanks, Big East).