July 12, 2009

Roundtable: Who will return to a BCS bowl?

At the College Football Roundtable, we ask each member of the coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in the sport.

Today's question: Which teams that played in a BCS bowl last season will be in a BCS bowl this season?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
If you believe in trends, don't count on more than three teams that were in BCS bowl games last year to duplicate that feat this season. Since 2004, BCS games have included no more than three teams that were in BCS games the previous year. But I anticipate this is a season to buck the trend. In '03, five teams (USC, Miami, Florida State, Ohio State and Oklahoma) returned to BCS games after reaching one in '02. My picks for teams to make consecutive BCS appearances this year are Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Ohio State and USC. USC has participated in a BCS bowl game in each of the past seven seasons, and that's one trend I'm not ready to buck.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
I think Florida, Texas and Oklahoma are mortal locks to be in BCS bowl games after the season. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if Florida is playing one of those two squads in the BCS title game in Pasadena, Calif. I also think Ohio State, USC and Virginia Tech will make return visits, though I don't feel as strongly about the Buckeyes, Trojans and Hokies. Despite those teams' flaws, I'm just not sure if there are any teams better in the Big Ten, Pac-10 or ACC.

David Fox's answer:
Let's start with who's not going to be in a BCS game again: Utah won't have to worry about being in the national championship picture because the Utes lost too much on offense to go undefeated again. Cincinnati has as good a chance as anyone to win the Big East, but the Bearcats' rebuilt defense scares me. Alabama will tussle with LSU and Ole Miss to win the SEC West, but a new quarterback and a retooled offensive line should cost the Tide a game or two. Other than those three teams, I can see all of last season's BCS teams returning to the big stage. I'll keep putting USC in the Rose Bowl until the Trojans stop going there. Florida will be in a BCS game even if the Gators slip up and miss the national championship game. Virginia Tech always seems to find a way to win the ACC. And Ohio State/Penn State and Texas/Oklahoma are prohibitive favorites in their respective two-bid conferences.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
I think there will be a lot of familiar faces in BCS games this season and I mean familiar from last season. I think there could be as many as eight teams making return BCS visits from last season all but Cincinnati and Utah. I'd be willing to wager that Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, USC, Ohio State and Virginia Tech are back in the BCS this season, and I wouldn't be surprised if Penn State and Alabama also make return visits. The SEC is going to get two teams, so the question is whether the second team is Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss or Georgia. I also think the Big Ten gets two, and I believe Penn State will be that second team. And if Boise State beats Oregon on Sept. 3, I think Boise State will end up in the BCS. If Boise loses, I think it opens the door for a Mountain West team, even if that team has one loss. As for the Big East champ, that's as wide open a race as there is.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I'm most confident about the chances that Florida, Texas and Oklahoma return to BCS games. I'm guessing Florida will return to the national championship game to face the winner of the Texas-Oklahoma showdown. The Texas-Oklahoma loser probably will finish 11-1 and earn an at-large BCS invitation. The BCS should have plenty of other familiar names this season. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if USC returns to a BCS game. I know the Trojans are breaking in all sorts of new starters on defense and that they must face California and Oregon on the road, but it's hard to bet against a team that already has won at least a share of seven straight Pac-10 titles. Virginia Tech definitely looks like the best team in the ACC, so I bet the Hokies return to the Orange Bowl. Ohio State and Penn State went to BCS games last year, but I'm guessing only one returns this season. Ohio State must play Penn State at Happy Valley, but I still like the Buckeyes' chances of winning the Big Ten. Penn State has too many holes on the offensive line and at receiver. And don't be surprised if Alabama's back in a BCS game. I'm worried about Alabama's quarterback situation and its offensive line, but the Tide's defense could be as good as any in the country. Cincinnati and Utah are the only two BCS teams from last year that seem to have little chance of getting back this year. The Big East is wide open with no clear-cut favorite, but Cincinnati has too many holes on defense to win a second consecutive league title. Utah should be good again, but the Utes won't go undefeated without Brian Johnson.


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