Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Where to?

So many different bowl possibilities for the Dawgs at this point. Lose to Georgia Tech on Saturday and we could be in the Nugget Bowl (again), the Outback, or possibly the Cotton, given so many terrible records in the SEC West. Take care of business on the Flats, and at worst, we’d go to Orlando or Dallas.

Don’t want to speak too soon about a BCS bid, but it seems like everyone else is, so why not. With some help from Kentucky, we’d be able to properly earn our spot, but most of the talk right now presumes an at-large invitation. A win over Tech, however, by no means guarantees a BCS slot. If, for example, Tennessee beats LSU in a close game, and LSU only falls to #3 or #4, the Bayou Bengals would still get an automatic BCS bid, and the Dawgs would be locked out by the limit of two teams per conference. Even if LSU falls to #5 or lower, they could still be selected above UGA, and we’d likely be headed to the Citrus.

Still, the Sugar seems most likely, and there’s even a possible outcome that could land Georgia in each of the other BCS bowls, including the National Championship Game:

1. Sugar Bowl

Front door:
Kentucky beats Tennessee
Georgia beats LSU to earn automatic bid to Sugar (unless…see scenario #5 below)

Back door:
Tennessee beats Kentucky.
Georgia beats Tech.
LSU beats both Arkansas and Tennessee.
With the first pick of the BCS draft in order to replace #1 LSU, the Sugar would almost certainly take the Dawgs because of SEC ties.

Prediction for UGA’s opponent in this scenario: Kansas. I know everybody says Hawai'i, but bear with me. In scenarios #2-#5 below, I outline possibilities, but here, I'll explain my overall prediction for how the BCS shakes out:
Rose - Ohio State v. Southern Cal
Sugar - Georgia v. Kansas
Fiesta - Oklahoma v. Boston College
Orange - Virginia Tech v. Arizona State
National Championship - LSU v. West Virginia

I'm not convinced that Hawai'i can get past either Boise or Washington, but even if they win out, they could still be left out. There's a pretty good chance that, even with inevitable losses by teams ahead of them, Hawai'i could stay right where they are now at #15. The rules say Hawai'i gets an automatic bid on their own if they finish in the top 12. I think that is out of reach. If they get some help from a team ranked behind them winning a BCS conference, they could be as low as #16 to get an automatic bid. Best hopes for that to happen are Virginia (currently #16), Tennessee (currently #18), and UConn (currently #20). My guess is those first 2 would probably jump over Hawai'i by winning their conference, negating the "top 16" clause. So the Warriors should be huge Connecticut fans this week against WVU. The ACC championship may help Hawai'i, even if Virginia isn't in it. Only the top 14 are eligible for at-large bids, if there are enough within that group to fill the balance of the 10 BCS slots. If Virginia Tech blows out Boston College (currently #14), BC would likely slip down, giving Hawai'i at least the #14 spot. If the automatic provisions don't work out for Hawai'i, and if BC wins the ACC or loses close, Hawai'i likely stays at #15, and they cannot be selected by a BCS bowl because the top 14 will be enough to fill the 10 slots.

I say Kansas beats Mizzou, but loses to Oklahoma in the Big XII title game, sending the Sooners to the Fiesta, but Kansas only drops to #4, so the Jayhawks are an automatic BCS qualifier, somewhere. LSU goes to the NCG to face WVU. Automatic tie-ins pit Ohio State against the Pac-10 champ, my guess being USC, who backdoors it into the Rose Bowl by beating Arizona State and benefiting from the Dennis Dixon injury causing Oregon to lose again. The ACC Champ, I'll say Virginia Tech, has to go to the Orange. Because the Sugar lost the #1 team, they pick next, taking Georgia. Then the predetermined yearly rotation of picks kicks in. Orange picks next. I think they take Arizona State, who finishes the season 10-2 with a solid win over rival Arizona. Next the Fiesta will have to choose between Kansas and BC, who remains at #14. All other top 14 teams (I'm guessing Mizzou, Texas, Florida, and Oregon) will be ineligible as two teams from their conference will already be in. Knowing that Kansas will have to be picked anyway so the Big XII will get their two-team BCS payout, the Fiesta picks BC, to avoid the rematch between Kansas and Oklahoma. That forces the Jayhawks into a January 1 showdown with the Dawgs in New Orleans.

Now back to other possible BCS scenarios for UGA...

2. Rose Bowl

Georgia beats Tech.
Tennessee beats both Kentucky and LSU, and LSU falls below #4.
Winner of Kansas/Missouri loses Big XII Championship.
WVU wins out to face Ohio State in the NCG.

In order to replace the Big Ten champion Buckeyes, the Rose would have the first pick among at-large teams and automatic qualifiers without a predetermined tie-in. They would like to pick another team from Ohio State's conference, but the next highest ranked team, Illinois (currently #17), would be ineligible if they stay that low since the cut-off for at-large teams is #14. The list of candidates for the Rose would look like this:
-UGA (2 losses but on a 6-game win streak with lots of national attention)
-LSU (2 losses, including their last game to a 3-loss team)
-A Big XII also-ran (the loser of Missouri/Kansas, the loser of the Big XII championship, and possibly a 10-2 Texas team who didn't win the South).
-Any number of also-rans in the Pac-10, but to pick one of them would create a rematch with whomever is the conference champion since they play a full round-robin season.
-An ACC or Big East also-ran.
-Possibly the winner of Hawaii/Boise State if they win again on December 1 (but maybe not; see #1 above)

If LSU is in the top 4, we're out (unless we rise to #3), so we might need LSU to lose to both Arkansas and Tennessee for this scenario to work. If LSU only loses the SECCG, and they fall to #5, Georgia and LSU’s respective pairs of losses and would look very similar, each losing to the Vols and a once-promising team with an eventual mediocre record. My guess is the Rose would take Georgia as the hotter team at the end. If Georgia finishes ahead of LSU and in the top 4, there would be no choice in the matter because Georgia would automatically qualify and LSU would be locked out.

If Texas wins out but misses the Big XII title game, they would have a resume similar to the Dawgs' in this scenario, but they've been going about it much more quietly. I think the play of Stafford and Moreno, along with the possibility of another Richt gimmick would give Georgia the nod. Plus, the polls already have Georgia much higher.

Prediction for UGA’s opponent in this scenario: Southern Cal, although it would be interesting if Arizona State is there to play the Dawgs, as this would set up a rematch in next September’s non-conference regular season matchup between the schools.

3. Orange Bowl

LSU loses to Arkansas but beats Tennessee.
WVU wins out.
Winner of Kansas/Missouri wins the Big XII to make it into the NCG against WVU.

Fiesta will likely take the loser of Kansas/Missouri or the loser of the Big XII championship game with their first pick to keep it in the B12 family.
The next pick goes to the Orange, whose list of choices would be similar to the list in scenario #2 above, with the exception of LSU, who would be staying close to home in the Sugar. Dawgs get to crank dat on South Beach.

Prediction for UGA’s opponent in this scenario:
Virginia Tech, in a rematch from last year’s bowl game.

4. Fiesta Bowl

LSU loses to Arkansas but beats Tennessee.
WVU wins out.
Winner of Kansas/Missouri wins the Big XII to make it into the NCG against WVU.

This is the same scenario as for #3 above, except this time the Fiesta decides to use their first pick, which they earned by losing the Big XII champ to the NCG, to go against its conference ties and takes Georgia over a Big XII also-ran with a recent loss.

Prediction for UGA’s opponent in this scenario: Missouri. This pick predicts the Tigers to lose to Kansas but still be available as an at-large team when the Fiesta makes their second pick. Could just as easily be Kansas, Texas or Oklahoma in that role. In this scenario, the Fiesta’s second pick would come after the Orange picks a team to face the ACC champ (probably the best-looking non-champion out of the Pac-10; my guess is ASU).

5. National Championship Game

USC and/or Arizona beats ASU.
Kentucky beats Tennessee.
Georgia beats Tech.
Winner of Kansas/Missouri loses Big XII Championship.
UConn and/or Pitt beats WVU.
Georgia beats LSU.

Add in some computer help in the form of wins by previous UGA opponents (namely, UF over FSU, South Carolina over Clemson, Okie State over Oklahoma, Vandy over WF, Ole Miss over Miss. State, Troy over MTSU), and the chances are that none of the current top six (except the idle Buckeyes) will stay ahead of Georgia. If UGA can win the SEC over the #1 team in the country, I can't imagine anyone presently behind us could jump the Dawgs.

Prediction for UGA’s opponent in this scenario:
Ohio State. This is the only possible matchup if enough of Georgia’s prayers are answered to get us to the big one. In a year of so many unlikely outcomes, this actually seems more feasible than I ever thought it could. Many of the games above are favored to go our way. The longest shot is for WVU to lose.

Obviously, these are just possibilities, and there could be other scenarios to put the Dawgs into each bowl. If there are flaws in my logic, please point them out in the comments. A lot of it is based on LD’s advice on rooting interests, so blame him if I’m wrong. I’m not holding my breath until January 7, but damn it’s fun to still be talking like this over Thanksgiving dinner.


Eric said...

Great analysis! I sat down determined last night to find a way for us to elbow into the NCG, and that's pretty much what I came up with. Now the prayers begin...


Anonymous said...

I think West Virginia is going to roll UConn, but I'd love to see the shocker just to further screw up the BCS.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Orange for the Dawgs. Doors are shut for the NCG and the Sugar (both the front and back), and it's unlikely the Rose or Fiesta can/will take UGA.

Barring the unthinkable Pitt upset, the only two NCG matchup possibilities are WVU v. Mizzou or WVU v. tOSU.

If Mizzou beats OU, they are in, and the Fiesta will take Kansas to replace them. Then, the Orange will take Georgia to face the VT/BC winner.

If we want the Rose, obviously we'd need Oklahoma to beat Mizzou, but we'd also need to keep Illinois from rising to the top 14 to gain at-large eligibility. If the Rose can pick the Illini to replace the New Orleans-bound Buckeyes, they will, and the Dawgs would then go to the Orange, facing the VT/BC winner.

To keep Illinois at bay, we probably need three of the following four things to happen:

-BC over VT
-Hawai'i over Washington
-Oregon over Oregon State
-Tennessee over LSU, which should vault the Vols over Illinois in the BCS standings.

The Texas and Virginia losses really hurt the chances of keeping Zook's team out.

There are a still a few theoretical ways we go to the Fiesta, but they are unlikely.

1. If Mizzou beats OU:
a. the Fiesta totally shits on the B12 to take 10-2 Georgia over 11-1 Kansas with their first pick; or
b. the Fiesta takes Kansas with their first pick, the Orange takes someone other than the Dawgs (Hawai'i or a lame Duck), then the Fiesta could take Georgia with their second pick.

2. If OU beats Mizzou, and Illinois goes to the Rose, and the Orange takes Kansas or Mizzou (or Hawai'i or Oregon) over the Dawgs, then the Fiesta could take UGA to face Oklahoma.

Bottom line, the good money is on Georgia to go to Miami.

LD said...

According to a BCS predictor site (BCSGURU), it looks like Illinois has only moved up to #15. BUT... Tennessee, Hawaii, Boston College immediately precede them, and all three play this week (and could lose). If any of the following doesn't happen, then the Rose might be out of the picture for us:

1) Tennessee over LSU (but LSU doesn't drop from 6th to below Illinois)
2) Hawaii over Washington
3) BC over VT (but VT doesn't drop from 7th to below Illinois)
4) Oklahoma over Missouri (or if Missouri wins, Oklahoma doesn't drop from #10 to below Illinois).
5) Arizona State over Arizona (or if Arizona wins, ASU doesn't drop from #9 to below Illinois)
6) USC over UCLA (or if UCLA wins, USC doesn't drop from #8 to below Illinois)

The one about Oklahoma above is doubly important - because it'd but Ohio State in the BCS NCG. If Missouri wins, we'd need both Oklahoma to remain ahead of Illinois AND WVU to lose to Pittsburgh.

Potentially, Oregon could jump above Illinois with a big win over Oregon State. Nobody else behind Illinois has a game remaining.

So yeah, the Rose Bowl is probably a much longer shot (mostly because of the Oregon and Texas losses). Orange is probably 75% chance or better.

Biggest screwed up part of the BCS? Missouri could go from #1 in the penultimate standings to out of the BCS entirely by losing to Oklahoma. If OU wins, they get an automatic berth, but then if Missouri drops behind Kansas (who is in the #4 slot now and would get an automatic berth), Missouri is out entirely (just a week after beating Kansas).

Anonymous said...

I think if Mizzou loses to OU, the voters would still keep them higher than Kansas because of the head-to-head, but it's certainly possible that 2-loss Mizzou would fall below 1-loss, still-in-top-4 Kansas and be locked out.