NEW YORK (AP) – No surprise in the Fiesta Bowl: It’s No. 1 Miami vs. No. 2 Ohio State in the BCS national title game matching major college football’s only undefeated teams.
The final Bowl Championship Series standings released yesterday were just a formality in determining the title game since the Hurricanes (12-0) and Buckeyes (13-0) had already accepted bids to the Jan. 3 Fiesta Bowl.
But the three other BCS games took on a surprising look when the Orange Bowl pulled off a coup with a Rose Bowl-like matchup of No. 3 Iowa vs. No. 5 Southern Cal. on Jan. 2.
Washington State, the Pac-10 champion, will play Big 12 champion Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. The Sugar Bowl on the same day will match SEC champion Georgia against ACC champion Florida State, a game featuring Bulldogs coach Mark Richt against his former boss, Bobby Bowden.
Now that BCS bowl mystery has been cleared up, Notre Dame (10-2) ends up as the biggest loser. With Iowa and Southern Cal. chosen as the at-large teams, the Irish will play in the Gator Bowl against North Carolina State.
Each BCS game team receives about $13 million, which is split among conference members. Notre Dame, as an independent, would have kept all the money. The Gator Bowl payout is $1.6 million per team.
While each of the BCS games has regional tie-ins, the selection rules allowed the Orange Bowl to end up without one of six conference champions. In doing so, the Orange Bowl is perhaps the most marquee bowl game outside the Fiesta Bowl.
The Hawkeyes (11-1) and Trojans (10-2) feature two of the top quarterbacks in the nation. Brad Banks led Iowa to a share of the Big Ten title, while Carson Palmer directed USC to a co-Pac-10 championship with Washington State.
“It’s ironic to have co-champs from the Big Ten and Pac-10 playing together on another coast,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “But with the BCS, things change. What a great matchup, though. Two tremendous quarterbacks. Southern Cal. may have the sexier name, but we think it will be a great game.”
By finishing fourth in the BCS standings, Southern Cal. was guaranteed a BCS game, while Iowa was the only one-loss team available since Georgia was tied to the Sugar Bowl.
The Orange Bowl landed Iowa-Southern Cal. thanks to a BCS rule concerning payouts. Since the Orange has a slightly higher payout than the Sugar, it got to pick the Trojans.
Here’s how: After the Fiesta Bowl matchup was made, the Orange had the next pick because its anchor team – Big East champion Miami – wasn’t available. It chose Iowa.
The Rose Bowl, which lost Big Ten champion Ohio State, went for Oklahoma (11-2) to play Pac-10 champion Washington State (10-2). The Sugar, which had its anchor team in Georgia, then wanted Southern Cal. But so did the Orange.
In that case, according to BCS rules, the bowl with the higher payoff gets first preference. So the Orange went for Southern Cal. and Iowa.
“Traditionally, we want to go to the Rose bowl,” Ferentz said. “But with the BCS, the traditions have been broken.”