Everything You Need to Know About 2011 College Football Bowls

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As of November 30th, 18 teams are eligible for BCS bowl games, but ten will qualify. The number is increased from 14 because 4 teams that are in the running to win their division are not ranked in the top 14 – Clemson, Louisville, Cincinnati, and West Virginia.

Confusing? Check out the video and I’ll break down for you.

Still confused? Watch it again…..

….. or this might help.…. Our own Dory LaBlanc has taken the time for those of you with ADD to lay it all out…

Starting with the Automatic Qualifiers:

The Rose Bowl (Big Ten Champion vs. Pac-12 Champion)

The Pac-12 and Big Ten are the conferences that have the berths in Pasadena. This is the first year both conference champions will be determined by a championship game.

In the new format, the Pac-12 championship game will be played at Autzen Field as #9 Oregon will host UCLA on Friday night. Oregon will be representing the North Division having handed division foe Stanford their only loss of the season, while UCLA will represent the South – since NCAA sanctions prohibit USC from participating in any post-season play. The Bruins fired head coach Rick Neuheisel on Monday following a 50-0 loss to the Trojans, and are completely overmatched by the Ducks. UCLA is 6-6 and has lost by an average of 37 points to ranked opponents.

The inaugural Big Ten Championship game will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and will feature #13 Michigan State from the Legends Division facing off against #15 Wisconsin, representing the -Leaders Division. This game is a re-match from an October 22nd contest that saw the Spartans beat the Badgers 37-31 on a Hail Mary pass as time expired. In all likelihood, because of where both schools stand in the BCS, the loser will be out of at-large contention.

Orange Bowl (ACC Champion vs. At-Large)

An invitation to the Orange Bowl is on the line in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte Saturday as the Virginia Tech Hokies from the Coastal Division host the Clemson Tigers of the Atlantic. Clemson has already defeated Va Tech once this year, by a score of 23-2 in Blacksburg on October 1st.

Fiesta Bowl (Big 12 Champion vs. At-Large)

Since losing Nebraska and Colorado, the Big 12 doesn’t have a championship game anymore, but this year’s champion will be determined by the winner of the #10 Oklahoma- #3 Oklahoma State (or Bedlam) game. If the Cowboys win, it is possible (although extremely unlikely due to BCS standings and averages) they jump ahead of Alabama into the #2 slot and head to the National Championship Game in New Orleans. In this instance, Oklahoma would probably fall out of the top 14, since they are at #10 in BCS standings heading into Bedlam. If OU wins, Oklahoma State will remain in the top 14 and would become an at-large bid, and the Sooners would take the Fiesta Bowl berth.

Sugar Bowl (SEC Champion vs. At-Large)

The undefeated LSU Tigers (#1) host the #14 Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta on Saturday. If the Bulldogs can pull off an upset they would take the SEC berth in the Sugar Bowl, Alabama would be idle at #2, and LSU would more than likely stay at #1. If this should happen, under the BCS guidelines the SEC would be eligible to have three schools in BCS bowls.

Big East [More on the Big East In-depth]

The Big East champion will be either be Louisville, Cincinnati, and West Virginia. Louisville is done for the season, but two games remain – West Virginia at USF and UConn at Cincy. The winner of the conference will be determined by one of the following scenarios (per Big East Bylaws):

If West Va loses to USF, Cincy wins Big East with win over UConn.

If West Va wins & Cincy loses, Louisville would win Big East by virtue of having a head-to-head tiebreaker over West Va.

If West Va & Cincy lose, Louisville wins Big East.

If West Va loses & Cincy wins, Cincy wins Big East by virtue of head-to-head tie-breaker over Louisville.

If West Va & Cincy both win, All three teams would be in a three-way tie with the winner being determined by the highest BCS ranked team, in this case West Virginia.

The Big East does not have a designated bowl, so they get selected by a bowl committee, just as an at-large does. This year, the bowl rotation for selecting will be Fiesta, Sugar, Orange. The Fiesta Bowl Committee will have the option of selecting either the Big East Champion or an At-large school. If the Fiesta Bowl chooses an At-Large, the Sugar Bowl would then have the option between the two, and so on.


If Houston defeats Southern Miss in the Conference USA Championship game on Saturday, they become an Automatic Qualifier under BCS guidelines, which state:

The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, or the Western Athletic Conference will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if either:

  1. A. Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings, or,
  2. B. Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.

No more than one such team from Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, and the Western Athletic Conference shall earn an automatic berth in any year. (Note: a second team may be eligible for at-large eligibility as noted below.) If two or more teams from those conferences satisfy the provisions for an automatic berth, then the team with the highest finish in the final BCS Standings will receive the automatic berth, and the remaining team or teams will be considered for at-large selection if it meets the criteria.

Because they do not have a designated bowl berth, Houston would be selected by a committee, the same way the Big East champion will be. If Georgia loses to LSU, the Sugar Bowl would have to select a team to replace LSU. The Sugar Bowl Committee will find Houston to be a huge draw since the game is played in New Orleans, and would benefit from selecting the Cougars. The selection order for at-large and Big East bids would then continue in the pre-determined order.

If the Cougars fall to Southern Miss they would become an At-Large team and would have to be selected by a bowl committee. One popular assumption is that Houston would be selected by the Sugar Bowl as an At-Large, for the same reason it would select them as an AQ.


If Houston wins the C-USA Championship, the first team selected by the Fiesta Bowl would more than likely be Stanford. Giving the Cardinal a bid would be favorable for the Fiesta Committee since it is located in Arizona and would have a large financial draw. Due to the popularity of Andrew Luck, Stanford would be selected over any Big East team.

Boise State Kansas State Michigan

All three teams will be fighting for the final At-Large bid, although, Michigan needs some help in order to become eligible. If Michigan can move into the top 14 due to losses to #14 Georgia and #15 Wisconsin, they will become eligible to be selected for a BCS Bowl. If this happens, the Wolverines would fare the best with the Orange Bowl Selection Committee due to the large financial gain in terms of alumni, travel, merchandise, etc.


If Georgia defeats LSU in the SEC Championship and Oklahoma State “jumps” Alabama in the #2 spot, Alabama would be out all together, due to BCS guidelines that prohibit a conference to have three representatives unless (as described above) two teams are in the national championship game and a third wins the conference.

Pat Mayo hosts RotoExperts’ Fantasy War Room, Thursdays at 8pm ET and The Sunday Scene at 9:30pm ET recapping the day’s NFL action. You may contact Pat @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @thepme.