Commentary

Expect Horns to face Crimson Tide

Originally Published: December 5, 2009
By Brad Edwards | Special to ESPN.com

When the final BCS standings come out Sunday night at 8 ET, expect Alabama to be a near-unanimous No. 1. Despite Texas' struggles in the Big 12 championship game, the Longhorns look very safe for No. 2.

Although there should be a significant drop-off in points from the Crimson Tide to No. 2 Texas, there will be another big drop down to the next teams. Projections indicate TCU edging Cincinnati for third and Florida coming in at No. 5.

The Longhorns' narrow 13-12 win over Nebraska will give Texas a boost in the computers because that part of the BCS formula doesn't consider margin of victory. Cincinnati and Texas will be close in the computers, but the Horns will be way ahead of the Horned Frogs. TCU won't be helped by not playing this week and Clemson's loss to Georgia Tech in the ACC title game.

The human element of the BCS formula is where there could be some movement. But the gap looks too big for Cincinnati or TCU to hurdle Texas. Nearly two-thirds of the 173 voters would have to vote the Horned Frogs and Bearcats in front of the Horns on their ballots to put Texas in real danger.

It would be shocking to see the Longhorns lose that much ground in the polls. In other words, Texas has nothing to worry about. The Horns will end up No. 2 and face Alabama in the Citi BCS National Championship Game.

As for how the rest of the BCS bowls will shake out, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl holds the key. The Fiesta has a history of taking a maverick approach. The bowl loves to create matchups that haven't been done before. Expect more of the same Sunday.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has the first pick and will take Florida. The Fiesta Bowl has the next at-large pick. Expect TCU to be that selection. The FedEx Orange Bowl should take Iowa next, but it would not shock me if Penn State is picked instead of the Hawkeyes.

The Fiesta Bowl would have the next selection. The Fiesta will be able to create the first matchup of undefeated teams in a BCS bowl game other than the title game. Look for the Fiesta to take Boise State over Cincinnati. The Broncos travel well and would bring a host of fans to Glendale, Ariz. That would leave the Sugar Bowl to select Cincinnati to face Florida.

Brad Edwards coordinates the college football research for ESPN and is an analyst for "College GameDay" on ESPN Radio each Saturday throughout the season.

• Analyzes college football and the BCS as part of ESPN's Stats & Information Group
• Analyst for both College GameDay on ESPN Radio and the ESPN College Football app