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UofL and the BCS: How the Cards can still make a BCS bowl game

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Before discussing the possible scenarios that would put UofL in a BCS game, it is important to understand the American Athletic Conference Tie - Breaking Procedures.

Two-Way Tie

1. The winner of the head to head match-up will represent The American in the Bowl Championship Series.

2. If still tied, the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings will be the BCS representative.

Three-Way Tie

1. If one team defeated both other teams, then that team shall be the representative.

2. If still tied, and if two teams defeated the third team, the third team is eliminated. The remaining two teams revert to the two-team tie procedure.

3. If still tied, the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings will be the BCS representative.


Four-Way Tie

1. If one team defeated the other three teams, then that team shall be the representative

2. If still tied, and three of the four teams defeated the fourth team, the fourth team is eliminated. The remaining three teams revert to the three-way tie procedure.

3. If still tied, and two of the four teams defeated the other two teams, the latter two teams shall be eliminated. The two remaining teams shall revert to the two-team tie procedure.

4. If still tied, the highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings will be the BCS representative.

Now that we have the tie-breaking procedures out of the way, let's discuss some of the possible scenarios that could play out over the remainder of the season. Please note that all of the below scenarios assumes that Louisville wins the remaining games on its schedule.

Scenario #1 - UCF wins the remaining games on its schedule

If UCF does not lose any of its remaining games, then the Knights will win the American automatic bid regardless of what UofL does. With that said, there is a remote chance that UofL might be able to earn an at-large bid to the BCS. By rule, the BCS at large teams must be taken from the top 14 of the BCS ranking and only two teams per conference may be selected.

Louisville is currently ranked number 20 in the BCS standings. If the Cards can manage to climb into the top 14, then they will be eligible for a BCS at-large bid. Depending on who the other eligible at-large teams are, UofL might be an appealing choice for the Orange Bowl or even the Sugar Bowl. For example, if UofL's at-large competition is UCLA/Stanford out of the PAC 12 or Oklahoma St/Baylor out of the Big 12, then we might have a chance to snag a slot in the Orange Bowl. The logic here is that UofL would likely travel in better numbers to Miami than a team from California and matching UofL against a future ACC opponent might make for a compelling match-up than a non-traditional Big 12 team (i.e. a team not named Texas/Oklahoma).

I should point out that Fresno St and NIU present a very real problem to UofL getting an at-large bid in this scenario. Fresno St (#17) and NIU (#18) are ahead of both Louisville (#20) and UCF (#23) in the BCS standings. If either one of them wins out, they will be guaranteed an at-large bid if they finish ahead of a current AQ conference champion and finish inside the Top 16. That will reduce the number of at-large bids available and could make it much more difficult for Louisville to snag an AQ bid.

Scenario #2 - UCF loses 1 game

This scenario could be good news for the Cards or completely meaningless depending on what happens. Let's look at UCF's remaining schedule to see what has to happen for UofL to win the American's auto-bid.

Houston - If Houston beats UCF and the Cougar's only conference loss is to UofL, then there will be a three way tie for first place. UofL will win the three way tie-breaker based on BCS rank. If Houston beats UCF but loses twice in conference, then UCF will win the conference's AQ bid.

Temple - If Temple is UCF's only conference loss, then there will be a two-way tie for first place in the conference. UCF will win the AQ bid based on head-to-head result.

Rutgers- If Rutgers is UCF's only conference loss, then there will be a two-way tie for first place in the conference. UCF will win the AQ bid based on head-to-head result.

USF - If USF beats UCF and the Bull's only conference loss is to UofL, then there will be a three way tie for first place. UofL will win the three way tie-breaker based on BCS rank. If USF beats UCF but loses twice in conference, then UCF will win the conference's AQ bid.

SMU - If SMU wins out, then there will be a three way tie for first place. Because UofL and SMU do not play this season, the head-to-head component is skipped and UofL will win the tie-breaker based on BCS rank. If SMU beats UCF but loses twice in conference, then UCF will win the conference's AQ bid.

Scenario #3 - UCF loses two games

Under this scenario, UofL would be guaranteed to win the conference's autobid. UofL would have the head-to-head tie breaker over every other team except SMU. If SMU and UofL both finish with one conference loss, then UofL will win the BCS bid based on having a higher ranking in the BCS standings.

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