Breaking down the BCS

A conference-by-conference look at how the BCS bowl bids are shaking down.

ACC: After Virginia Tech beat Virginia, it all comes down to the Hokies' visit to Miami next week. The winner earns the ACC's BCS bowl bid.

Big East: Syracuse did the Big East a huge favor with its win over Boston College. The last thing the conference wanted was for the Eagles to win the Big East title and BCS bowl bid in their final season. With a four-team tie, the league creates a mini-division between BC, Pitt, Syracuse and WVU. With Pitt and Syracuse 2-1 against the other teams, BC and West Virginia are eliminated. Now, it comes down to BCS Standings, where 7-3 Pittsburgh -- with one game remaining against South Florida -- should be higher than 6-5 Syracuse. If so, the Panthers get the BCS bowl invite.

Big 12: It's Oklahoma vs. Colorado for the Big 12 Championship. If Oklahoma wins, there's a better than average chance it goes to the Orange Bowl. If Colorado wins, it goes to the Fiesta Bowl and the Sooners -- pending how far they'd slip in the polls -- would be left hoping for an at-large bid.

As for Texas, the Longhorns' best hope of landing an at-large bid is to see Cal lose to Southern Miss next week. While Texas could overtake the Bears in the BCS Standings without a loss by Cal, it's not likely.

Big Ten: Michigan has already clinched the Big Ten's Rose Bowl bid.

Pac-10: USC has already clinched the Pac-10's BCS bowl berth, but it wants more. If the Trojans beat UCLA next week, they are all but in the Orange Bowl. Should they lose, they're guaranteed a spot in the Rose Bowl. As for Cal, they remain in the driver's seat for an at-large bid if they win at Southern Miss next week.

SEC: Auburn meets Tennessee for the SEC Championship. If Auburn wins, there's a good chance they could be the odd team out if Oklahoma and USC are also undefeated. If that happens, the Tigers would go to the Sugar Bowl. If Tennessee wins, the Vols go to the Sugar Bowl and Auburn -- pending how far it slips in the polls -- would be left hoping for an at-large bid.

A couple other notes:

  • Utah remains in great position for a BCS at-large bid as it looks entrenched in the top 6, where it is guaranteed a spot as a non-BCS qualifier.

  • Boise State remains a long-shot to crash the party. The scenario? If Cal and Miami lose next week and the Broncos remain on top of Georgia, Boise State could climb to No. 6, which would mean that Texas would again be the odd team out because if Boise State and Utah are in the top 6, they're guaranteed spots as non-BCS qualifiers regardless of Texas moving into the top 4 (which under any other circumstance, would guarantee them a spot as a non-conference winner in the top 4, but the non-BCS qualifier rule takes precedence).