The Orange Bowl would become the first BCS bowl in seven years allowed consecutive picks for its matchup because of a little-known adjustment to the BCS system, CBSSports.com has learned.
If Florida State remains No. 2 and plays in the BCS title game, the Orange would be allowed back-to-back team selections because of an adjustment made by the bowls for this final four-year cycle. The bowl that hosted the previous year's championship game usually picks last the next season. The Orange -- site of last season's BCS title game -- would be picking "first" after contracted bowls are filled.
"The bowls suggested a rotation for this cycle," BCS/College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock told CBSSports.com. "They came up with the plan. We discussed their plan and concluded it did achieve their goals."
Those BCS officials looked over the past eight years and decided it would be more equitable to possibly position the Orange "first" in this year's selection process a season after hosting the title game. Again, that would only happen if the Orange lost its ACC anchor team -- a top-two Florida State as ACC champion playing in the BCS title game.
In that scenario, the Sugar would first be allowed to replace No. 1 Alabama. The Orange would then get both a replacement pick for FSU, most likely Clemson, then pick from among a pool of at-large teams.
Eligible teams would be among those to finish in the final 14 of the BCS, the American Athletic Conference champion or the top non-automatic qualifier team. At this point, those non-AQs would be either Northern Illinois or Fresno State.
The last bowl to make consecutive picks in the BCS selection process was the Sugar Bowl in 2006, according to Hancock. LSU was picked to replace Florida -- No. 2 in the BCS -- that year, followed by Notre Dame (at-large).
The champions of the Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12 and SEC are contracted to the Rose, Fiesta and Sugar Bowls unless those champions are involved in the BCS title game. The ACC champion is contracted to the Orange. Replacement picks are allowed in all those cases if those conferences' champions are ranked in the top two.
After those contracted bowls are filled, here is the selection order for the current four-year cycle:
After the 2010 season: Sugar, Orange, Fiesta
2011 season: Fiesta, Sugar, Orange
2012 season: Fiesta, Sugar , Orange
2013 season: Orange, Sugar, Fiesta
(Those three bowls alternate picks because the Rose Bowl game is automatically contracted to the Big Ten and Pac-12. The Rose did select TCU to play Wisconsin in 2010 due to a one-time provision.)
In the above scenario, no SEC team would be eligible for the Orange because the conference would have hit the BCS maximum of two.
As the BCS standings exist right now, these are possible BCS bowl matchups:
BCS title game (in Rose Bowl): Alabama vs. Florida State. Comment: Cut and dried if both win out.
Rose Bowl: Ohio State/Michigan State vs. Oregon/UCLA/Arizona State. Comment: Ohio State doesn't seem to be automatic if it plays the Spartans in the Big Ten title game. Oregon is the clear favorite in the Pac-12. It will have to defeat either UCLA or Arizona State in the Pac-12 title game.
Sugar Bowl: (SEC champ replacement) Texas A&M/Missouri/Auburn vs. (at-large) Central Florida/Michigan State/Ohio State/Baylor/Northern Illinois/Oklahoma State/Oklahoma. Comment: The possibility of Johnny Manziel ending his career in New Orleans has to be enticing for Bourbon Street vendors and the Sugar. That possibility only exists if the Aggies win out against LSU and Missouri. On the other side, an upset of Ohio State in the Big Ten title game puts the Buckeyes in play, the same for Baylor in the Big 12. Oklahoma is a remote possibility if it wins out. Oklahoma State might be in play with two losses. With one, it plays in the Fiesta Bowl.
The American champion has to be accounted for, so New Orleans might be the only landing place for Central Florida against that SEC opponent. It's hard to project the Sugar taking Fresno State. However, if an undefeated Northern Illinois passes the Bulldogs in the BCS standings, the Huskies might be an attractive David-vs.-Goliath matchup.
Orange: (ACC replacement) Clemson vs. (at large) Central Florida/Wisconsin/Michigan State/Fresno/Stanford/Ohio State/Alabama/Baylor/Northern Illinois/Oklahoma State/Oklahoma. Comment: In this scenario, neither SEC nor ACC opponents are in play for the Orange vs. Clemson. If Baylor doesn't win the Big 12, look for the Orange to take a hard look at the Bears. Miami (or Miami Gardens) is the Big 12 (and Big Eight's) ancestral bowl homeland.
Fiesta: (Big 12 champion) Baylor/Oklahoma State/Texas vs. Fresno State/Northern Illinois/Central Florida. Comment: Baylor vs. Fresno is most likely. Because the Fiesta has the last pick, there won't be much to pick from to pit against the Big 12 champion.