We enter the final few weeks of the regular season with one final hope to bust into the BCS from the non-AQ leagues. And it could be the final chapter in the illustrious history of a mid-major that has long been a thorn in the side of the college football establishment.
Louisiana Tech holds a 9-1 record heading into the final two games on their final WAC schedule. Their only loss came against the very Texas A&M team that went to Tuscaloosa last weekend and unseated the Crimson Tide from the pinnacle of the rankings. Sonny Dykes has built a legitimate contender, one that will be among the elite in the new-look Conference USA next season.
A few scenarios could potentially break the Bulldogs’ way to allow them to earn a big-time payday for them to share with their soon-to-scatter league foes. Here we’ll break down the possible avenues for Tech to reach the Promised Land.
First things first… Louisiana Tech must win consecutive showdowns against their two toughest conference opponents. Utah State and San Jose State, both currently 8-2, are no pushovers. Only with an 11-1 record will the Bulldogs stand an outside chance at busting through.
They also need to reach the top 16. Likely Oregon victories over Stanford and Oregon State should allow Louisiana Tech to climb to 18. Either UCLA or USC is destined to lose at least once since they still play one another. And then they need just one more team above them to lose.
Two scenarios, all too realistic, could get them into the top 16 and rated higher than a BCS-conference champ in the BCS standings. The SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and Big XII will undoubtedly see their champions ranked above the Bulldogs. Thus Tech’s hopes hinge on things shaking out properly in one of two AQ leagues — the Big Ten or the Big East.
HOW THE BIG EAST CAN COOPERATE…
Louisville is the biggest obstacle to Louisiana Tech’s inclusion in the BCS. Ranked #19, just ahead of the Bulldogs, the Cardinals will suppress their shot if they win out.
Tech must also beware Rutgers. Currently two spots behind the Bulldogs in the BCS standings, the Scarlet Knights could easily leapfrog Tech if they beat Louisville for the Big East crown.
So Bulldogs fans are now also Bearcats fans. Here are the events that must transpire in the Big East to uplift Louisiana Tech:
- Nov. 17 — Cincinnati defeats Rutgers in Week 12
- Nov. 23 — Cincinnati defeats South Florida in Week 13
- Nov. 29 — Rutgers defeats Louisville in Week 14
- Dec. 1 — Cincinnati defeats Connecticut in Week 14
This series of events would give Cincinnati the Big East crown, with the tiebreaker over Rutgers and Louisville eliminated with two conference losses. At 10-2, the Bearcats would probably emerge in the top 25 of both human elements of the BCS. But the computers already rate all three Big East contenders below Tech, and it is unlikely that pollsters or the computers would rate Cincinnati higher than the Bulldogs.
HOW THE BIG TEN CAN COOPERATE…
Thanks to sanctions against Ohio State and Penn State, the Big Ten could send a 3- or even a 4-loss team to Pasadena as the conference representative in the Rose Bowl. Tech will be rooting for two teams to cannibalize the Big Ten: Ohio State and Iowa.
The Buckeyes still play Wisconsin and Michigan; the Badgers already wrapped up the Leaders Division berth in Indianapolis, and a 4-loss Wolverine squad could also play for the league title.
More likely, though, is that Nebraska will emerge as the Legends representative in Indy. Had Penn State held on to defeat the Cornhuskers last week, the Bulldogs might very well be approaching BCS position already. But instead there are two hopes left to upset Nebraska… Minnesota this weekend, and a season finale against new Big Ten rival Iowa.
Could a Big Ten champ really finish behind the WAC champion?! One more loss for the three remaining eligible contenders would launch the Bulldogs into BCS position. Here’s how it very well might happen:
- Nov. 17 — Ohio State defeats Wisconsin in Week 12
- Nov. 23 — Iowa defeats Nebraska in Week 13
- Nov. 24 — Ohio State defeats Michigan in Week 13
- Dec. 1 — Wisconsin defeats Nebraska in Big Ten Championship
This would send 9-4 Wisconsin to a third straight Rose Bowl. Nebraska would be neutralized, Michigan would be eliminated from the picture, and the Badgers wouldn’t rate highly enough to overtake Louisiana Tech in the standings.
So, Bulldogs fans, you want nothing more than to see the Bearcats and Badgers joining your team in the BCS this season. For either — or both, for extra comfort — hold the key to big-time salvation in a big-time bowl game.