With the results of yesterday's games finally in the books, we've got a pretty good idea of where the Cyclones might head for a post-season berth. We'll walk you through each potential destination and the current probability of the Cyclones being chosen by each bowl game.
According to the latest SBNation BCS projections, the top of the BCS rankings should look like this:
Week 14 BCS Standings projections:
1. LSU, 2. Alabama, 3. Oklahoma State, 4. Virginia Tech, 5. Stanford, 6. Boise State, 7. Houston, 8. Arkansas, 9. Oklahoma, 10. Oregon, 11. Kansas State, 12. South Carolina, 13. Georgia, 14. Michigan State, 15. Wisconsin, 16. Michigan, 17. Baylor, 18. TCU.
Which would cause the "Big 5" games to shake out as such:
BCS Championship: 1. LSU vs. 2. Alabama
Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Michigan State
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. LOLBIGEAST
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. AT-LARGE
Sugar Bowl: Stanford vs. Houston
With the Big East, ACC, Big 10, and Pac-12 spots all guaranteed to the Rose and Orange Bowls this year, the remaining at-large pick order goes something like this:
Sugar Bowl - (Pick to replace LSU)
Fiesta Bowl - (Pick to oppose Big 12 Champ)
Sugar Bowl - (Gets stuck with Houston)
So unless the Fiesta Bowl goes nuts and decides that they want to burn their at-large pick on Houston (or the Sugar overlooks Stanford in favor of K-State or Oklahoma), it looks like only one Big 12 team will make a BCS game. The Fiesta Bowl isn't going to pick two Big XII schools for their matchup.
With that in mind, here is the current Big XII Bowl Choosing Order:
1. FIESTA (Conference Champion)
8. TICKETCITY (C-USA unable to provide team, defaults to Big 12)
Sadly, there's only so far up this list that Iowa State will be able to climb, but the Bowl committees have a lot of leniency in choosing their teams - in 2009, a 6-win Iowa State team was chosen ahead of an 8-4 Mizzou team by the Insight Bowl committee. Even with that reality, Iowa State won't overtake Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, or Texas on this list no matter what transpires next weekend.
THE LONG SHOT - HOLIDAY BOWL San Diego, 12/28
There's a lot that would have to happen for this Bowl destination to become a reality. Iowa State would have to upset Kansas State, Baylor would have to lose to Texas, and a 7-5 Iowa State team would have to be chosen ahead of an 8-4 Baylor squad. (Which will likely depend on how well RG3 bounces back from last night's concussion.) It's not completely out of the question, but I wouldn't tell the kids they're going to SeaWorld just yet.
Probable Opponents: California (7-5), Utah (7-5), Washington (7-5),
THE SEC SCREWJOB - MEINEKE CAR CARE OF TEXAS BOWL Houston, 12/31
Here's the most likely scenario. Iowa State loses to Kansas State on Saturday, finishes the season at 6-6, and Baylor & Texas get picked for the Insight & Holiday Bowls, respectively. This leaves the Texas and the Pinstripe left for 7-5 Missouri, 6-6 ISU, and 6-6 Texas A&M. And this is where the Big XII leans on the Bowl Committees to deliver the ultimate Texas Screwjob: convincing the Texas Bowl to choose Iowa State ahead of Texas A&M despite College Station being less than a two hour drive from Houston.
If it works though, it becomes a slick bit of revenge. Mizzou has to go freeze their asses of in NYC on New Year's Eve before departing for the SEC East, (Ha, have fun with that!) and poor little Texas A&M falls from a pre-season Top 10 to a three-hour drive down to Dallas for the TicketCity Bowl. The difference between a Texas Bowl berth and a TicketCity Bowl berth? Half a Million Dollars.
The Big 12 team here goes up against the 6th pick from the Big 10. (7th, if Michigan gets that last At-Large BCS Spot.) The 6th best record in the Big Ten, at 7-5, is.... Iowa. And no, stop thinking that right now. There's no way that a bowl game willingly takes that small of a TV market share. Just be happy that Michigan is the trendy pick to face off with Oklahoma State in the Fiesta, and get ready for someone from this 6-6 mess:
Probable Opponents: Northwestern (6-6), Ohio State (6-6), Purdue (6-6), Illinois (6-6)
NYC ON NYE - PINSTRIPE BOWL New York City, 12/31
You'll see a lot of people projecting us into this bowl, because a lot of writers will just rank teams by their records and plug them into bowls. Not the warmest destination in the world, (and NYC on New Year's Eve can get pricey if you don't do it right), but I wasn't joking a week and a half ago when I said we'd even be happy to go to NYC this year. On the bright side, it has the highest payout of any of the lower tier bowls, with a 2 million dollar payout per team. (We do have a scoreboard and a South End Zone renovation to pay for.)
As for a potential opponent... What can I possibly say that hasn't been said about the Big East? There's only one week left in the season, 4 teams are bowl eligible, the entire conference still has the potential to become bowl eligible, and this is still the process to determine who goes to the Orange Bowl:
Cincinnati wins and West Virginia Loses: Cincinnati
West Virginia wins and Cincinnati Loses: Louisville
Cincinnati and West Virginia Both Lose: Louisville
Cincinnati and West Virginia Both Win: 3-way Tiebreaker decided by BCS ranking
So to pretend we have any idea who might be the #4 pick out of the Big East is just foolish at this point. (Although it'll probably be more like #3, because you'd better believe the Champs Sports Bowl is taking Notre Dame over this hot mess of teams.) Let's just say... Rutgers? They're from New Jersey, right? Sure. Let's go with that.
Potential Opponents: Rutgers, Literally any other team from the Big East.
"LOL JANUARY BOWL GAME" - TICKETCITY BOWL Dallas, 1/2
If we fall past the Pinstripe, we are all but guaranteed a January game in the Cotton Bowl. (And yes, I realize the ridiculousness in calling the Ticketcity Bowl a 'January Bowl Game.') This spot would normally be filled by a C-USA team, but they won't be able to fill the spot, and there's a deal in place where the Big 12 provides the team if C-USA is unable to.
The opponent? The same list of 6-6 Big Ten teams as in the Texas Bowl, only with the #6 pick already taken.
Probable Opponents: Northwestern (6-6), Purdue (6-6), Illinois (6-6)