What to Watch: Bowl Game Viewing Guide – New Year’s Edition

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida - Home of the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida – Home of the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship

The games are ordered by their on-paper most-likeliness to be a fun-to-watch game with up to three at each time slot. See here for an explanation. If there is no overlap in the games, a simple list is used. All times AZ.

FRIDAY, 12/30

Liberty Bowl: Georgia vs. TCU
10:00 AM, ESPN
Overtime Watch

Sun Bowl: North Carolina vs. #18 Stanford
12:00 PM, CBS
Upset Alert / Overtime Watch

Music City Bowl: Nebraska vs. #21 Tennessee
1:30 PM, ESPN

Orange Bowl: #11 Florida St. vs. #6 Michigan
6:00 PM, ESPN

SATURDAY, 12/31

MORNING

Citrus Bowl: #13 Louisville vs. #20 LSU
9:00 AM, ABC
Upset Alert / Overtime Watch

Gator Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky
9:00 PM, ESPN

MIDDAY

Peach Bowl: #1 Alabama vs. #4 Washington
1:00 PM, ESPN
College Football Playoff

NIGHT

Fiesta Bowl: #2 Clemson vs. #3 Ohio St.
5:00 PM, ESPN
College Football Playoff / Bowl of the Year / Overtime Watch

MONDAY, 1/2

MORNING

Hall of Fame Bowl: #17 Florida vs. Iowa
11:00 AM, ABC
Upset Alert / Overtime Watch

Cotton Bowl Classic: #15 Western Michigan vs. #8 Wisconsin
11:00 AM, ESPN
P5/G5 Showdown

AFTERNOON

The Rose Bowl Game: #5 Penn St. vs. #9 USC
3:00 PM, ESPN
Upset Alert / Overtime Watch

NIGHT

Sugar Bowl: #14 Auburn vs. #7 Oklahoma
6:30 PM, ESPN
Upset Alert / Overtime Watch

MONDAY, 1/9

College Football Playoff National Championship: #1 Alabama vs. #2 Clemson 
6:30 PM, ESPN

Fixing the BCS: Four-Team Playoff + Cotton Bowl

Since a four-team playoff will effectively remove two teams from the BCS picture, Proposal #4 (probably my favorite one), would include the Cotton Bowl as a BCS and possible semi-final game. It would (as in Proposal #2) be the home of the Big 12 champion and the Fiesta would take the top lower-tier conference champ/independent.

In practice, the Fiesta Bowl would probably be completely against this since the frequency with which they would host a semi-final game would be almost non-existent (except in 2012). A possible solution would be for the Fiesta and Cotton to alternate the Big 12 champ every other year.

Proposal #4: Four-Team Playoff with Cotton Bowl

  • Conference Champions will continue to play in traditional BCS tie-in games (Big 12 champ to Cotton, top lower-tier champ to Fiesta).
  • Teams ranked #1 and #2 will always automatically qualify for the playoff.
  • Conference champions ranked in the top six will automatically qualify for the playoff. If there are more than two conference champions ranked #3-#6, the two highest-ranked champs will qualify for the playoff.
  • Lower-tier conference champs must be ranked in the top 16 and upper-tier conference champs must be ranked in the top 20 to play in a BCS game.
  • The two BCS games with the highest-ranked conference champions will select from remaining teams ranked #3-#6. The highest-ranked conference champion will play the lowest-ranked additional selection and the lower-ranked conference champion will play the higher-ranked additional selection.
  • In the event that an independent or a team from a lower-tier conference is selected for a semi-final game, the bowl at the top of the BCS selection rotation will host the semi-final game.
  • The other BCS games will be selected following the procedures from proposal #1.
  • Since the Fiesta Bowl will usually host a lower-tier conference team, they will always have first pick in the rotation.

Here are all of this year’s BCS games based on this proposal.

Semi-Final #1: Orange #1 Florida St* #5 Stanford*
Semi-Final #2: Sugar #2 Auburn* #4 Michigan St*
The Rose Bowl Game #7 Ohio St** #10 Oregon**
Fiesta #15 UCF* #3 Alabama***
Cotton Bowl Classic #6 Baylor* #7 Ohio St***

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

And what past seasons would have looked like:

2012

Semi-Final #1: Fiesta #1 Notre Dame #6 Stanford*
Semi-Final #2: Sugar #2 Alabama* #5 Kansas St*
The Rose Bowl Game #4 Oregon** #16 Nebraska**
Orange #12 Florida St* #3 Florida***
Cotton Bowl Classic #11 Oklahoma** #15 Northern Illinois*

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

2011

Semi-Final #1: Sugar #1 LSU* #5 Oregon*
Semi-Final #2: Cotton Bowl Classic #3 Oklahoma St* #2 Alabama
The Rose Bowl Game #4 Stanford** #10 Wisconsin*
Fiesta #7 Boise St** #6 Arkansas***
Orange #15 Clemson* #8 Kansas St***

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

2010

Semi-Final #1: Sugar #1 Auburn* #3 TCU*
Semi-Final #2: The Rose Bowl Game #2 Oregon* #5 Wisconsin*
Fiesta #10 Boise St* #4 Stanford***
Orange #13 Virginia Tech* #6 Ohio St***
Cotton Bowl Classic #7 Oklahoma* #8 Arkansas***

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

2009

Semi-Final #1: Sugar #1 Alabama* #4 TCU*
Semi-Final #2: Cotton Bowl Classic #2 Texas* #3 Cincinnati*
The Rose Bowl Game #7 Oregon* #8 Ohio St*
Fiesta #6 Boise St* #5 Florida***
Orange #9 Georgia Tech* #10 Iowa***

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

Fixing the BCS: Four-Team Playoff

If you must have a playoff, here’s how to do it. Proposal #3 is a four-team playoff using the current BCS bowls as the semi-final sites with an additional game played for the national championship.

Proposal #3: Four-Team Playoff

  • Conference Champions will continue to play in traditional BCS tie-in games.
  • Teams ranked #1 and #2 will always automatically qualify for the playoff.
  • Conference champions ranked in the top six will automatically qualify for the playoff. If there are more than two conference champions ranked #3-#6, the two highest-ranked champs will qualify for the playoff.
  • Lower-tier conference champs must be ranked in the top 14 and upper-tier conference champs must be ranked in the top 16 to play in a BCS game.
  • The two BCS games with the highest-ranked conference champions will select from remaining teams ranked #3-#6. The highest-ranked conference champion will play the lowest-ranked additional selection and the lower-ranked conference champion will play the higher-ranked additional selection.
  • In the event that an independent or a team from a lower-tier conference is selected for a semi-final game, the bowl at the top of the BCS selection rotation will host the semi-final game.
  • The other BCS games will be selected following the procedures from proposal #1.

For example, this year, #1 and #2 are both conference champions. Therefore, the first semi-final location would be the Orange Bowl with Florida State and the other semi-final would be the Sugar Bowl with Auburn. The two BCS games that have the highest-ranked conference champs will be the semi-final sites. This will preserve some of the tradition of these games. The other two teams will be selected from the teams ranked #3-#6 with the higher-ranked team playing the lower-ranked champ and vice-versa. This year, that would mean that #4 Michigan State (Big Ten champ) and #5 Stanford (Pac-12 champ) would be the remaining teams in the playoff. Michigan State would go to the Sugar Bowl to play Auburn and Stanford to the Orange Bowl to play Florida State.

Here are all of this year’s BCS games based on this proposal.

Semi-Final #1: Orange Bowl #1 Florida St* #5 Stanford*
Semi-Final #2: Sugar Bowl #2 Auburn* #4 Michigan St*
The Rose Bowl Game #7 Ohio St** #10 Oregon**
Fiesta #6 Baylor* #3 Alabama***

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

And what past seasons would have looked like:

2012

Semi-Final #1: Fiesta #1 Notre Dame #6 Stanford*
Semi-Final #2: Sugar #2 Alabama* #5 Kansas St*
The Rose Bowl Game #4 Oregon** #16 Nebraska**
Orange #12 Florida St* #3 Florida***

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

2011

Semi-Final #1: Sugar #1 LSU* #5 Oregon*
Semi-Final #2: Fiesta #3 Oklahoma St* #2 Alabama
The Rose Bowl Game #4 Stanford** #10 Wisconsin*
Orange #15 Clemson* #6 Arkansas***

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

2010

Semi-Final #1: Sugar #1 Auburn* #3 TCU*
Semi-Final #2: The Rose Bowl Game #2 Oregon* #5 Wisconsin*
Orange #13 Virginia Tech* #4 Stanford***
Fiesta #7 Oklahoma* #10 Boise St*

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

2009

Semi-Final #1: Sugar #1 Alabama* #4 TCU*
Semi-Final #2: Fiesta #2 Texas* #3 Cincinnati*
The Rose Bowl Game #7 Oregon* #8 Ohio St*
Orange #9 Georgia Tech* #6 Boise St*

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

Fixing the BCS: Revised BCS + Cotton Bowl

For my second proposal, the revisions of the BCS would be similar to the first modifications, but would include the addition of the Cotton Bowl Classic as an additional BCS bowl game.

Proposal #2: Revised Six-Game BCS

  • Conference champions of the five lower-tier conferences (American, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt) must be in the top 16 of the BCS rankings to automatically qualify.
  • Conference champions of the five upper-tier conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC) must be in the top 20 of the BCS rankings to automatically qualify.
  • The Cotton Bowl would take the Big 12 champion.
  • The Fiesta Bowl would take back some of it’s “black sheep” traditions and take the top-ranked conference champion from the five lower-tier conferences.
  • No per-conference limit.
  • If a conference champion of the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, or SEC OR the highest ranked conference champion of the lower-tier conferences goes to the NCG, the highest ranked member of that conference (or group of conferences) in the top 16 would replace them in their conferences BCS tie-in bowl.
  • Once top-16 automatic-qualifiers have been placed and conference champions have been replaced, remaining BCS spots are awarded in order of ranking in the normal BCS selections order (2013-2014: Orange, Cotton, Sugar, Fiesta)
  • If a selection would result in two teams from the same conference in a BCS game other than the NCG, the next team available will be taken.

Revised Six-Game 2013-2014 BCS Bowls

BCS National Championship Game #1 Florida St* #2 Auburn*
The Rose Bowl Game #4 Michigan St* #5 Stanford*
Orange #12 Clemson** #7 Ohio St***
Cotton Bowl Classic #6 Baylor* #8 Missouri***
Sugar #3 Alabama** #10 Oregon***
Fiesta #15 UCF* #9 South Carolina***

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

How past seasons would have looked:

2012

BCS National Championship Game #1 Notre Dame #2 Alabama*
The Rose Bowl Game #6 Stanford* #9 Texas A&M***
Fiesta #15 Northern Illinois* #4 Oregon***
Sugar #3 Florida** #11 Oklahoma***
Orange #12 Florida St** #7 Georgia***
Cotton Bowl Classic #5 Kansas St* #8 LSU***

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

2011

BCS National Championship Game #1 LSU* #2 Alabama
The Rose Bowl Game #5 Oregon* #10 Wisconsin*
Fiesta #4 Stanford*** #7 Boise St***
Sugar #6 Arkansas** #8 Kansas St***
Orange #15 Clemson* #9 South Carolina***
Cotton Bowl Classic #3 Oklahoma St* #11 Virginia Tech*

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

2010

BCS National Championship Game #1 Auburn* #2 Oregon*
The Rose Bowl Game #4 Stanford** #5 Wisconsin*
Sugar #8 Arkansas** #6 Ohio St***
Orange #13 Virginia Tech* #9 Michigan St***
Cotton Bowl Classic #7 Oklahoma* #10 Boise St*
Fiesta #3 TCU* #11 LSU***

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

2009

BCS National Championship Game #1 Alabama* #2 Texas*
The Rose Bowl Game #7 Oregon* #8 Ohio St*
Orange #9 Georgia Tech* #6 Boise St*
Cotton Bowl Classic #4 TCU* #10 Iowa***
Sugar #5 Florida** #11 Virginia Tech***
Fiesta #3 Cincinnati* #12 LSU***

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

Fixing the BCS: Revised BCS

I am not a huge fan of the new College Football Playoff Committee. I am not entirely opposed to a playoff, but I don’t think the BCS is a bad thing, I think it just needs some tweaking.

Before I unveil my proposals, I do think the formula needs modified ever so slightly.

  1. The Coaches’ Poll needs to either be eliminated or given less weight in the formula. See my reasons here.
  2. The computer rankings need to be evaluated every two to four years. I would propose that the ranking system that is most often thrown out for being highest or lowest would be replaced by a different system. [This year, Richard Billingsley’s rankings were eliminated 80 times out of 275 rankings (29% of the time).]

Proposal #1: A Revised BCS System

In my proposed revised BCS system only a few changes will be made. The BCS formula will be used to rank teams 1-25 as it does now. However:

  • Conference champions of the five lower-tier conferences (American, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt) must be in the top 14 of the BCS rankings to automatically qualify, and conference champions of the upper-tier conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big 10, Pac-12, and SEC) must be ranked in the top 16 to automatically qualify. This year, that would mean no UCF in the Fiesta Bowl. I don’t dislike UCF, but it seems silly to me that seven teams that have been deemed “better” will not go to a BCS game, but because UCF plays in a weak conference, they will.
  • No per-conference limit. Currently, only two teams per conference are allowed to play in a BCS bowl (including the national championship game). This seems to penalize teams for playing in stronger conferences, so my new system would eliminate that provision.
  • If a conference champion of the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, or SEC goes to the NCG, the highest ranked member of that conference in the top 14 would replace them in their conferences BCS tie-in bowl.
  • Once top-14 automatic-qualifiers have been placed and conference champions have been replaced, remaining BCS spots are awarded in order of ranking in the normal BCS selections order (2013-2014: Orange, Sugar, Fiesta)
  • If a selection would result in two teams from the same conference in a BCS game other than the NCG, the next team available will be taken.

UPDATE: Corrected some mistakes.

Here are this years projections based on my modifications (using the current formula):

BCS National Championship Game #1 Florida St* #2 Auburn*
The Rose Bowl Game #4 Michigan St* #5 Stanford*
Orange #12 Clemson** #7 Ohio St***
Sugar #3 Alabama** #10 Oregon***
Fiesta #6 Baylor* #8 Missouri***

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

The NCG, Rose, and Orange Bowl games would remain the same. The top-14 provision would keep UCF out, the no per-conference would allow Missouri to be eligible. Clemson and Alabama would still replace Florida State and Auburn, respectively, and Ohio State, Missouri, and Oregon would become the “at large” selections.

I don’t know about you, but I’d definitely rather see Baylor against Missouri than the Golden Knights.

UPDATE: Here are what the BCS bowls from the last few years would look like. The revised system would have made a big impact on the 2009 games with three lower-tier conference champions being ranked in the top 14.

2012

BCS National Championship Game #1 Notre Dame #2 Alabama*
The Rose Bowl Game #6 Stanford* #8 LSU***
Fiesta #5 Kansas St* #4 Oregon***
Sugar #3 Florida** #11 Oklahoma***
Orange #12 Florida St* #7 Georgia***

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

2011

BCS National Championship Game #1 LSU* #2 Alabama
The Rose Bowl Game #5 Oregon* #10 Wisconsin*
Fiesta #3 Oklahoma St* #4 Stanford***
Sugar #6 Arkansas** #7 Boise St***
Orange #15 Clemson* #8 Kansas St***

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

2010

BCS National Championship Game #1 Auburn* #2 Oregon*
The Rose Bowl Game #4 Stanford** #5 Wisconsin*
Sugar #8 Arkansas** #3 TCU*
Orange #13 Virginia Tech* #6 Ohio St***
Fiesta #7 Oklahoma* #10 Boise St*

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

2009

BCS National Championship Game #1 Alabama* #2 Texas*
The Rose Bowl Game #7 Oregon* #8 Ohio St*
Orange #9 Georgia Tech* #4 TCU*
Sugar #5 Florida** #6 Boise St*
Fiesta #3 Cincinnati* #10 Iowa***

*Conference Champion
**Conference Champion Replacement
***”At-Large” Selection

Preseason #1 and the National Championship

With the recent releases of the preseason AP and Coaches’ polls, I began to wonder if being ranked #1 by a preseason poll was any indicator of national championship success. Below are the preseason #1s for the last 11 seasons.

Year Preseason #1
2012 USC (AP) / LSU (Coaches’)
2011 Oklahoma
2010 Alabama
2009 Florida
2008 Georgia
2007 USC
2006 Ohio St
2005 USC
2004 USC
2003 Oklahoma
2002 Miami

Now here are the final rankings for each of the preseason number ones (AP final ranking on left, Coaches’ on right).

Year Final Rankings
2012 USC (Not Ranked) / LSU (#12)
2011 Oklahoma (#16/#15)
2010 Alabama (#10/#11)
2009 Florida (#3)
2008 Georgia (#13/#10)
2007 USC (#3/#2)
2006 Ohio St (#2)
2005 USC (#2)
2004 USC (#1)
2003 Oklahoma (#3)
2002 Miami (#2)

Now here is what I found extremely interesting. Looking at the last 11 years, before the inception of the stand-alone BCS national championship game, the preseason #1 played for the national championship every season (2002-2006). However, since the BCS added a separate national championship game following the 2007 season, not a single preseason #1 has played in the national championship game.

Furthermore, with the exception of the 2004 USC team who vacated their win due to NCAA violations, during the last 11 seasons, no preseason #1 has won a national championship.

From 2002-2006, the preseason #1 (excluding 2004 USC) dropped, on average, 1.25 spots from the preseason to the final poll. But since the stand-along BCS NCG, the preseason #1 (excluding the catastrophe that was the 2012 USC team) has dropped an average of 7.9 spots from the preseason to the final poll. Overall over the last 11 years, the preseason #1 has dropped an average of 5.1 spots by the end of the bowl season.

Under the old system, the Crimson Tide would play in the national championship in the Rose Bowl and probably lose. But to all those who are growing weary of Alabama, worry not. Due to the addition of the separate NCG, the preseason #1 ranking will be a curse to them. In all likelihood, they will finish around #9 in the polls and a different SEC team (Georgia?) will be the final BCS national champions.

Sources: ESPN, Wikipedia