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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Think you've mastered the BCS scenarios? You're probably wrong

Here's a guide to some of the possible permutations and what they might mean.

November 23, 2011|Chris Dufresne
  • Louisiana State wide receiver Jarvis Landry celebrates with fans following the Tigers' victory over Tennessee on Oct. 15. A victory over Arkansas on Friday could be enough to get LSU into the BCS title game.
Louisiana State wide receiver Jarvis Landry celebrates with fans following… (Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images )

There are no dumb questions about the Bowl Championship Series — only dumbfounding answers.

We've hired the consulting firm of "Threet, Blind & Mice" to help sift through the myriad scenarios and oddities in this year's demolition derby race for the various hood ornaments and door prizes.

Topic: A team that does not win its conference cannot play for the national championship.

Wrong.

A lot of people think the BCS changed this rule in 2001 after Nebraska weaseled into the national title game without winning the Big 12 Conference North.

The commissioners resisted this rule-change urge in the event there was no recourse to but to accept a non-champion.

It happened in 2003, when Oklahoma was crushed in the Big 12 title game by Kansas State but still ended up No. 1 in the BCS standings.

It could happen again this year. Alabama is No. 2 in the BCS standings and on title course despite the fact it will not win the Southeastern Conference West if Louisiana State defeats Arkansas on Friday.

And get this: Louisiana State could beat Arkansas, lose the SEC title game to Georgia, and still play in the BCS title game as a non-champion.

The SEC conference champion and national champion could be different schools.

If Arkansas beats Louisiana State, there will be a three-way tie in the SEC West.

Which team goes to the SEC title game?

The BCS standings are used unless the top two teams are within five position spots. Then it goes to head to head.

Example I: Arkansas beats Louisiana State and the BCS standings are Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana State. Alabama gets the bid because it defeated Arkansas.

Example II: Arkansas beats Louisiana State and the BCS standings are Arkansas, Louisiana State and Alabama. Arkansas gets the bid because it beat Louisiana State.

Topic: Only two teams from one conference can play in BCS bowls.

True, um, sort of.

The BCS had to re-write this rule midseason a few years back when a scenario developed that is very much in play this year.

Let's say Louisiana State loses to Georgia in the SEC title game but Alabama and Louisiana State are still 1-2 in the BCS standings. Georgia would go to the Sugar Bowl and two non-champions would play for the national title.

Topic: USC's probation is hurting Stanford's chances of reaching the national title game.

Wrong.

Stanford's home loss to Oregon hurt the Cardinal's chances. Stanford gets credit in the BCS standings for defeating USC. The Trojans' numbers are calculated in the BSC computers. The BCS operators are just required to remove USC from their final standings order.

That USC isn't allowed to be ranked in the USA Today and Harris polls doesn't matter. Voters have eyeballs. They are allowed to measure any team's victory or defeat against USC in their evaluation process.

USC is No. 10 in the Associated Press poll, which is not a part of the BCS. Standing at No. 4 in this week's Harris poll, Stanford is certainly getting credit for a road win at USC.

Topic: Why is Arizona State rooting for Utah to defeat Colorado on Friday?

Because the Pac-12 Conference South race, with USC ineligible this year, is a mess.

Arizona State had the South clinched until three straight defeats brought Utah and UCLA back into play.

Arizona State now needs to finish in a three-way tie to advance. That requires a Sun Devils win over California, Utah defeating Colorado and UCLA losing to USC.

In a three-way tie, UCLA is eliminated by having the worst record within the division. It then goes to head to head, and Arizona State beat Utah.

Utah, which started 0-4 in league play, clinches the South if it parlays a win over Colorado with Arizona State and UCLA defeats.

If UCLA beats USC, the Bruins clinch the division outright — and would even if USC was not on probation.

UCLA also clinches if Colorado upsets Utah on Friday.

UCLA could finish the season at 6-7 — with a loss in a Pac-12 title game — and have to petition the NCAA for a bowl waiver.

Topic: Boise State, at No. 7 in the BCS, one spot ahead of Houston, is a lock for a major bowl bid.

Wrong.

The automatic bid goes to the highest-rated non-automatic-qualifying conference "champion" ranked in the top 12. Texas Christian, not Boise State, won the Mountain West Conference this year. Houston will get the bid if it wins two games and clinches Conference USA.

Topic: Texas Christian is out of the BCS mix.

Wrong.

Texas Christian, No. 20 this week, will finish 10-2 after it beats Nevada Las Vegas. Texas Christian will earn the BCS bid if Houston loses and the Horned Frogs finish ahead of the Cougars in the top 16 of the final standings.

Normally, a non-AQ has to finish top 12, but also receives a bid if its champion is in the top 16 and ranked higher than an AQ-league champion.

You see any Big East Conference schools ranked this week?

Topic: BCS No. 15 Michigan will be a BCS at-large pick if it finishes 10-2 after a win over Ohio State.

Probably, but the Wolverines must finish in the BCS top 14.

Topic: Notre Dame (8-3) has no shot at a BCS at-large bid.

Wrong.

An upset over BCS No.6 Stanford this week would put Notre Dame right on the BCS cut line. Notre Dame is No. 22 and would need to jump eight spots up to 14 to be considered, or 18 in certain scenarios (See: Page 9, Article 6, Section "B" of BCS guide).

Topic: To clinch the Big East, Rutgers needs to beat Connecticut and have West Virginia and Louisville lose.

OK, but outside Piscataway, who cares?

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

twitter.com/dufresnelatimes

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