Well, as predicted, the Big Ten is growing to 14 schools starting in 2014. Maryland announced today they are leaving the ACC for their new conference and Rutgers will make their announcement any day now. My first response was…wow. My second response was…why? Of all the schools the Big Ten could have snagged, and believe me, that’s pretty much any school in the country, they pick up Maryland and Rutgers? They could have had Syracuse, Louisville, Virginia Tech, North Carolina…plenty of top tier universities to choose from. But Maryland and Rutgers have accepted the offers, so no going back now.
So this no doubt means one program will join the Leaders division and one will join the Legends division and they will likely be cross-division rivals who play each other every season. Probably the worst manufactured rivalry since Utah-Colorado, but hey, you do what you got to do. The real question in all of this is, what’s next?
For the ACC it means replacing one program. Uconn, best be near a phone today, you’re getting a call. Without question Uconn will be in the ACC by the end of next week. That takes them back up to 14 schools starting next season as well. The SEC is already at 14 schools. The Big East will be back down to 10 until Navy comes on board. The Big 12 will still be 10 and the Pac 12 will still be 12. I anticipate the Big East making a play for Air Force and BYU to replace their two departures. But if I’m BYU I hold out for the Big 12 who will pick me up along with Louisville.
However it shakes out, it is looking like 14 is the new 12 when it comes to number of teams in your conference. I think the Pac-12 is stuck at 12 simply because of geography. I think the Big 12 might only make it back to 12, not 14. But the SEC, Big Ten and ACC will all be at 14. One plus is it significantly lowers the chances of a rematch for the conference championship. You only play 2 of the 7 teams in the other division during the regular season. So hopefully that eliminates that possibility.
In other news, the SEC is almost guaranteed a spot in the national championship now, having the #2, #3 and #4 teams in the BCS. Want to know something really wild? We might have another SEC rematch for the title. Here’s how it happens.
1. USC beats Notre Dame (very unlikely with Barkley out)
2. Florida and Georgia both beat rivals Florida State and Georgia Tech (no problem for Georgia, bigger problem for Florida)
3. Georgia beats Alabama (or Texas A&M, I know, longshot) in the SEC championship game (probably a 50/50 shot)
If all that goes down, your final BCS rankings will have Georgia at #1 and Florida at #2. REMATCH! I know, I don’t want to see it either. Considering there are only two weeks left, there are actually quite a few paths teams can take into the championship game.
Oregon: if UCLA can beat Stanford, then UCLA plays Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game. If UCLA cannot beat Stanford, then next week UCLA plays Stanford again for the Pac-12 championship (talk about lame right there). If Oregon beats Oregon State and UCLA and finishes 12-1, they could make serious gains in the polls and especially computer rankings.
Kansas State: sorry boys, you’re just out of it altogether. You need literally Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Oregon to all lose another game. And you need to beat Texas. Consider them out of the running.
Notre Dame: just beat USC. Barkley is out so that should be much easier. But then again, his TD total nearly matches his INT total, so maybe they would prefer playing against Barkley.
Alabama: beat Auburn, beat Georgia. That’s it.
Georgia: beat Georgia Tech, beat Alabama. That’s it.
Florida: Pray that you beat Florida State. Pray that Georgia loses to Georgia Tech. Pray that Georgia beats Alabama. Pray that Oregon State beats Oregon. Pray that USC beats Notre Dame. Going to take a lot of faith for the Gators to get there.
Florida State: beat Florida and hope USC beats Notre Dame. Crush Georgia Tech, North Carolina or Miami, whoever you play in the ACC championship. Hope Oregon State beats Oregon.
Did I miss anyone? That should just about cover it. So how do I see it playing out? As we all know, once I make a prediction, you can take that to the bank as definitely not happening. So here is what I think happens:
1. Notre Dame beats USC and finishes #1.
2. Alabama and Georgia both beat their rivals to close the season and meet for the SEC championship. Alabama wins and finishes #2.
3. Florida gets manhandled by Florida State who goes on to roll in the ACC championship.
4. Oregon beats Oregon State, but Stanford beats UCLA and they play again for the Pac-12 title where UCLA wins. Stanford and UCLA both finish with 3 losses. UCLA goes to the Rose Bowl.
5. Kansas State loses to Texas and Oklahoma wins the Big 12.
My projected final rankings after the conference championship games looks like this:
1. Notre Dame 12-0
2. Alabama 12-1
3. Oregon 11-1
4. Florida State 12-1
5. Georgia 11-2
6. Florida 10-2
7. LSU 10-2
8. Texas A&M 10-2
9. Clemson 11-1
10. Stanford 10-3
11. Kansas State 10-2
12. Oklahoma 10-2
13. Nebraska 11-2
14. UCLA 10-3
Does it really matter after that? So this means for the BCS bowls:
Championship: Notre Dame vs. Alabama
Rose Bowl: UCLA vs. Nebraska
Sugar Bowl: Georgia vs. Clemson
Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Rutgers
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Oregon
And I really hope the Cotton Bowl goes with Texas and Texas A&M. That would be epic. Anyway, that’s my certain to not come to pass prediction. We’ll see how it goes!