Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
Thinking out loud as I ponder BYU's BCS chances...and could it be that a BCS bowl bid is as simple as this?:
BYU beats SDSU, Oregon State beats Oregon, and two of these three teams lose:
*these losses are more important than BC losing, since BC is the highest-ranked of the three teams.
Well, it's probably not that simple, and there are bound to be flaws with my thinking, but humor me:
8 of the 10 BCS spots have been secured (champions of the 6 BCS leagues, plus at-large teams from the Big 12 and SEC), leaving two holes to fill. The at-large pool is comprised of eligible, 9-win teams in the top 14 of the final BCS standings--unless fewer than 10 teams are eligible, then the pool is expanded to the top 18, and so on, in four-team blocks, until enough eligible teams are qualified.
6 teams ahead of #19 BYU in the BCS standings would be ineligible (i.e., they are from leagues with more than two teams in the top 18, and no conference may qualify more than 2 teams for a BCS bowl). Those teams (as of this moment) are: Oklahoma, Florida, Tennessee, Clemson, Oregon and Wisconsin. If Oklahoma and/or Tennessee win their conference championship games, Kansas (or Missouri) and LSU would not play in a BCS bowl. Either way, once a league has two teams in, you can count out any other team from that conference.
The current standings leave 12 potentially eligible teams ahead of BYU, but Arizona State, Hawaii, and perhaps Boston College could all drop behind BYU with losses, leaving as few as 9 eligible teams. Bears noting that BC could lose to Va Tech and not drop far enough--their computer numbers are so high; 8th in the latest standings (as I write this, BC leads Virginia Tech--which looks horrible, by the way. Imagining Va Tech in a BCS bowl game makes me ill).
Current eligible teams in top 14: 11 (including Arizona State, Hawaii and Boston College—if two of the three lose, that could drop the number of eligible teams to 9, necessitating the top 18 provision).
Illinois and BYU would be in the mix as eligible teams in the top 18, assuming BYU moves into the top 18 with a win. Depending on how far BC, ASU and Hawaii dropped, BCS reps would be looking at picking either a 3-loss team, or a 2-loss BYU team (if any confernece has two or more teams in the top 14, then two of those teams must be selected).
Of course, those are best-case scenarios. If two of the BC/ASU/Hawaii group win, BYU is out. If only one wins, things could get interesting...
I have not accounted for BYU's automatic qualification scenario, since chances of the needed combination of events are so remote.
I welcome examination of my rationale--I think I have a handle on things, but I could be missing something...