College Football and bowl season are about one thing: Making money. That is why there hasn’t been a playoff and why the one installed is a limited, disappointing ones. Teams from the AQ conferences: The SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 Pac-12 and still the Big East don’t want to give up on the nearly $200 million that will be paid out by the BCS to the conferences represented in the five BCS bowls.
Let us not forget Notre Dame, who are an independent school (now drifting towards the ACC, although they make much more sense in the Big Ten), but are a money making machine with its own network to support them. The Fighting Irish are guaranteed a spot in the BCS Championship game earning a unique $6.2 million BCS payout. It’s a $4.3 million bonus on top of the $1.9 million the team would receive if it failed to qualify for a BCS berth. They haven’t been to a BCS bowl since the 2006 season, losing to LSU in the Sugar Bowl.
Each AQ conference sends at least one team to a BCS bowl (no more than two, though) and earns $23.6 million in return. If a conference sends a second team, which will be the case for the SEC and the Pac-12 it receives an additional $6.2 million.
As we’ve mentioned, the SEC will reach the $29.8 pay threshold. Either Alabama or Georgia, playing for the SEC championship this weekend, will make it to the national championship game and face Notre Dame. The loser, in all likelihood, will drop down the BCS standings and miss out on a BCS Bowl, as funny as that sounds. That will probably put Florida in the best position to play in the Sugar Bowl.
The Pac-12 will also reach that maximum mark by sending two teams to a BCS Bowl. Either Stanford or UCLA will win the conference, and will get a ticket to the Rose Bowl. The loser won’t be reaching any big money bowls, because of Oregon, at 11-1, who will be guaranteed an at-large berth.
ACC, Big East Big Ten and Big 12 – will each receive at least $23.6 million for their automatic BCS berths. For the ACC, it’ll be either Florida State or Georgia Tech going to the Orange Bowl. For the Big 12, it’s going to be either Kansas State or Oklahoma, who still have one more game to play in the upcoming weekend, without a conference championship game, sending them to the Fiesta Bowl. For the Big Ten it’ll be either Wisconsin, who have lost in the last two Rose Bowl games, or Nebraska, who hasn’t played in a BCS Bowl since 2002. The Big East will fill one of the remaining berths with either Rutgers or Louisville.
That leaves another spot up for grab: The Big 12, ACC or the Big Ten will have it, along with the $6.2 million it represents. Or, or… the MAC. Kent State are 17th in the BCS standings and could lock up an automatic BCS bid with a victory over Northern Illinois this weekend. The top-ranked non-AQ team gets an automatic berth if it’s ranked in the top 16 and above an AQ conference champion. Louisville and Rutgers are both unranked, meaning the Golden Flashes will take the final spot with a climb to No. 16. If the team succeeds, the five non-AQ conferences will share $28.2 million, double their normal $14.1 million payout.
If Kent State lose or don’t move high enough in the rankings, Oklahoma look like the favorites to grab the final spot and help the Big 12 make more money, facing TCU on the final weekend of the regular season. Upset losses by Kansas State, Nebraska or Florida State could potentially lead to another major conference collecting the $6.2 million