Monday, November 30, 2009

MSU's Bowl Chances: Final Draft

By Sunday evening we'll know where Michigan State is going bowling. It could be San Antonio, it could be Phoenix or, if unlikely events converge, it could be Detroit.

Currently, there are just two big questions remaining. First, will the Big Ten get two teams in the BCS? If they do, then the Big Ten won't have enough teams to send one to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Under that scenario, the Alamo Bowl would pick between MSU and Minnesota, with MSU seen to be the favorite.

That scenario seems most likely. There are six conferences that automatically get BCS invites, and undefeated TCU will qualify for an automatic slot as a high-ranking mid-major. That leaves just three spots open. One goes to the loser of the SEC Championship, leaving two. The options remaining are a second team from the Big Ten, (likely) undefeated Boise State and, maybe if Cincy loses to Pitt, the Bearcats. Given how much the Fiesta Bowl wants Iowa, and how much the Orange Bowl wants Penn State, one of them will get picked.

That much is certain, unless Nebraska upsets Texas in the Big 12 championship. In that case, you've got to like Texas' odds of picking up an at-large spot, leaving a big-time bowl the option of choosing between Iowa, Penn State and Boise State.

Question two is more difficult: Who do you like between MSU and Minnesota? Both teams are 6-6 and Minnesota won the head-to-head matchup. On the other hand, MSU finished stronger and travels MUCH better.

Should the Big Ten only get one team in the BCS, I think George Perles and Lloyd Carr will find a way to talk the Insight Bowl folks into taking the Gophers, possibly by guaranteeing their entire ticket allocation. That way, they could have an in-state team and a possible MSU-Central rematch. Of course, if the Big Ten can't send a team to the Detroit game, there's a good-sized chance that Notre Dame might fall there as an at-large, and ND-Central would actually be a pretty good game.

As it stands, with no more games to be played by State and just one more week to go, the guess here is that MSU winds up in the Valero Alamo Bowl. I'll say that's an 85% chance, with a 10% chance we go Insight and 5% that we fall to Detroit.

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