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CBS Sports Projects Stanford Cardinal Playing Oklahoma State Cowboys In The Fiesta Bowl

Boise State losing to Nevada does not assure that the Stanford Cardinal are headed to a BCS bowl bid. Not being an automatic qualifier really puts Jim Harbaugh’s team in a quandary. Their ticket sales aren’t the best (the Cardinal continue to struggle selling out their games despite being a top 10 team), and they don’t really light up the eyes of bowl sponsors when considering who.

That being said, Boise losing opens up an extra at-large bid for Stanford to keep an eye on. There are four at-large bids, and with the Broncos gone, the TCU Horned Frogs have the inside track to the Rose Bowl (a victory against 1-10 New Mexico today seems assured). The BCS runner-ups from the SEC and the Big Ten should get their automatic bids because teams like LSU, Arkansas, and Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State all have great fanbases that’ll ensure maximum ticket sales at their BCS bowl game.

But now there’s one bid left, and the Fiesta Bowl will likely be given the option of who to take last. Given the choice between a Big 12 at-large and a Pac-10 at-large, CBS Sports believes the Cardinal are the choice (also the weirdness of two Big 12 teams facing each other is probably illegal under some NCAA rule).

The Big 12 champion automatically goes to the Fiesta Bowl, so the way I see it playing out is Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma and then knocks off Nebraska in the in the Big 12 title game and lands here. The Fiesta Bowl gets the last at-large pick, so it will either be the Big East champion or a one-loss Stanford. The Orange Bowl is expected to pass on Stanford, so good news for the folks in Glendale because the Cardinal land here.

Here’s the methodology (presuming everyone wins out from this point on).
(1) If the Rose Bowl picks TCU as they are expected to do, the Sugar Bowl gets the next pick. They will almost certainly select the SEC runner-up considering the likely SEC Champion is headed to the BCS title game. They will also take the Big Ten at-large bid to ensure the best possible crowd at their game.
(2) The Orange Bowl will get the next selection. They’re obligated to take the ACC champion. Given the choice between Stanford (who are about 3000 miles away from Miami), the Big 12 runner-up (if they somehow make the top 12 of the BCS as they need to do) and the Big East champ, it seems pretty elementary to keep the East Coast bias flowing.
(3) The Fiesta Bowl has to take the Big 12 champion. That would leave the door open for Stanford, as they’d be the only team left that satisfies the at-large requirements.

Of course, all of this means nothing if the Cardinal don’t take care of business and beat the Oregon St. Beavers tomorrow. But Stanford’s prospects are looking brighter as they move further up the totem pole.