Friday, May 12, 2006

New BS Logo, Sorry BCS

FOX Sports will be home to four of the five Bowl Championship Series Bowls starting this season. Only the Rose Bowl remains on ABC. The details of the BCS bowls on FOX are still uncertain but at least the logo is finished.

This season will mark the first "national title" game that will follow a week after the four BCS bowls. This not a playoff, for those who are not aware, it is merely another money game. The two teams will be picked from atop the BCS standings the same time the other bowl games will be announced. This year's BCS title game will be held at the site of the Fiesta Bowl, the Arizona Cardinals new stadium in Glendale, AZ.

The hype of the new format is it will allow the "little-guy" a better shot at earning a BCS bid. The non-BCS conference champion with the highest BCS ranking will earn a bid to one of the 5 bowl games. However, it still has to be ranked among the top 14 in the BCS standings or at least be ranked ahead of one of the 6 BCS conference champions. Prior to this year, a non-BCS school had to be ranked sixth or higher. Only Utah was able to break the BCS barrier in the first eight years of existence of the BCS. A combination of a preseason ranking, decent schedule and undefeated season propelled the Utes to a No. 6 ranking in 2004.

Three other non-BCS schools finished unbeaten but never had a shot at a BCS berth in those same eight years. Tulane, Marshall and Boise State all had unbeaten seasons in 1998, 1999, and 2004, respectively. This year there will be a legitimate chance for just about every unbeaten non-BCS team to earn a BCS berth.

There is no clear cut favorite among the ranks of the non-BCS, but most preseason magazines will probably rank TCU and Utah of the MWC among their top 25. Boise State and my choke-artist alma mater, Fresno State, are always considered favorites out of the WAC. UTEP and Tulsa are head and shoulders above anyone else in CUSA. The MAC will be a battle this year. There is no clear cut favorite in what should be a wide open race for the conference title. The Sun Belt, please but watch out for a decent Louisiana-Lafayette team. Navy has a somewhat easy slate but still has to play Notre Dame.

There are four non-BCS schools that have very manageable schedules: Boise State, TCU, Tulsa and Utah. BSU's toughest games are Oregon State, at Wyoming, at Utah, Fresno State and at Nevada, nothing daunting there. TCU's slate is not too bad either with Texas Tech, at Utah, and at Colorado State providing the most difficult challenges. Tulsa, by far, has the easiest schedule of the four. The Golden Hurricane's toughest games are at BYU and at Navy. Utah, in my opinion, will have the best shot at earning a BCS bowl. Beating UCLA on the road the start the year, should catch the nation's attention and solidify the Utes probable top 25 ranking. After UCLA, the Utes' schedule only has 4 games against 2005 bowl teams and all four will be played in Salt Lake City.

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