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BCS Bowl

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BCS Bowl

The Bowl Championship Series (BCS), in American football, is a selection system that creates five bowl match-ups involving ten of the top ranked teams in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), including an opportunity for the top two to compete in the BCS National Championship Game.

The BCS relies on a combination of polls and computer selection methods to determine relative team rankings, and to narrow the field to two teams to play in the BCS National Championship Game held after the other college bowl games. The American Football Coaches Association is contractually bound to vote the winner of this game as the BCS National Champion and the contract signed by each conference requires them to recognize the winner of the BCS National Championship game as the official and only Champion. The BCS was created to end split championships and for the Champion to win the title on the field between the two teams selected by the BCS. Despite this objective on one occasion it failed to produce a consensus champion, as the 2003 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with a split title.

The system also selects match-ups for the other prestigious BCS bowl games. The ten teams selected include the conference champion from each of the six Automatic Qualifying conferences plus four others. The BCS was created by formal agreement by those six conferences (the Atlantic Coast, Big East [now The American], Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-10 [now Pacific-12], and Southeastern conferences) and the three FBS independent schools, and has evolved to allow other conferences to participate to a lesser degree.

It has been in place since the 1998 season. Prior to the 2006 season eight teams competed in four BCS Bowls. The BCS replaced the Bowl Alliance, in place from 1995–1997, which had followed the Bowl Coalition, in place from 1992–1994. Prior to the Bowl Coalition's creation in 1992, the AP Poll's number one and two teams had met in a bowl game only 8 times in 56 seasons. Since the creation of the BCS in 1998 the AP's #1 and #2 teams have met 12 out of 15 seasons.

On June 26, 2012, it was announced that the Bowl Championship Series will be replaced by a four-team playoff, effective for the 2014–15 season, to be called the College Football Playoff.[1]

History leading to the creation of the BCS

The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) is the only NCAA-sponsored sport without an organized tournament to determine its champion.[2] Instead, the postseason has historically consisted of individual bowl games.

The bowl system began in 1902 with the East-West game in Pasadena, California. Held on New Year's Day in conjunction with the Tournament of Roses, this was an exhibition game between a highly rated team from the west coast and a team east of the Mississippi River. In this first game, representing the East, the University of Michigan Wolverines, No. 1 and undefeated, having not been so much as scored upon all season, defeated the West's Stanford University Indians (later renamed Cardinal) by a score of 49–0. The lopsided score led to Stanford calling for an end to the game during the third quarter, and also led to the post-season football game not being played again until 1916.

This was an ideal time for a postseason game, as fans could take off work or school during this holiday period to travel to the game. The game was renamed the Rose Bowl in the late 1920s due to the shape of the new stadium built in Pasadena. By the 1930s, the Cotton Bowl Classic, Orange Bowl, and the Sugar Bowl were also held on January 1 to showcase teams from other regions of the country.

By the 1940s, college football conferences began signing contracts that tied their championship team to a particular bowl. In 1947, the Big Ten Conference and the Pacific Coast Conference, a forerunner of today's Pacific-12 Conference, agreed to commit their champions to play in the Rose Bowl every year, an agreement that continued under the BCS. This system raised the possibility that the two top-ranked teams in the final poll would not play each other in a bowl game. Indeed, since the AP began releasing its final poll after the bowl games in 1968 the two top-ranked teams in the final regular-season AP Poll had only played each other in a bowl six times until special bowl arrangements began in 1992. Under the circumstances, it was somewhat routine to have a split national championships with the Coaches Poll. This has occurred on eleven different occasions (1954, 1957, 1965, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1991, 1997, 2003) since the two polls came to co-exist.

For example in 1991, the University of Miami Hurricanes and the University of Washington Huskies were considered the strongest teams in the nation. Since the Huskies were locked into the Rose Bowl as the Pacific-10 Conference champion against Big Ten champion Michigan, they could not play Miami, who played in the Orange Bowl. Both teams won their bowl games convincingly and shared the national championship, Miami winning the Associated Press poll and Washington earning the top spot in the Coaches Poll. A split national championship has happened on several occasions since then as well (1997, 2003). (See: NCAA Division I FBS National Football Championship for a compilation of past "national champions" since 1869.)

Other teams have won the national championship despite playing presumably weaker schedules than other championship contenders. The BYU Cougars ended the 1984 season as the only undefeated and untied team in the nation as a member of the Western Athletic Conference. The Cougars opened the season with a 20–14 victory over No. 3 Pittsburgh, and won the Holiday Bowl against a 6–5 Michigan team that had been ranked as high as No. 2 that season. As the No. 4 ranked team at the end of the regular season, the University of Washington Huskies were offered a slot against BYU in the Holiday Bowl; Washington declined, preferring instead to play in the more lucrative Orange Bowl where they beat No. 2 Oklahoma to complete a Pac-10 sweep of New Year's Day bowls (USC Rose and UCLA Fiesta). Washington (11–1) was voted No. 2 following the bowl season with their only blemish a late season loss at Pac-10 champ USC. Coupled with the 1983 season of 11 consecutive wins, BYU finished the 1984 season with a 24-game winning streak and was a near-unanimous choice as national champion in final polls.

To address these problems, five conferences, six bowl games, and leading independent Notre Dame joined forces to create the Bowl Coalition, which was intended to force a de facto "national championship game" between the top two teams. By entirely excluding all the other conferences, the Bowl Coalition also made it impossible for a non-Bowl Coalition team to win a national championship. This system was in place from the 1992 season through the 1994 season. While traditional tie-ins between conferences and bowls remained, a team would be released to play in another bowl if it was necessary to force a championship game. However, this system did not include the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions, as both were obligated to play in the Rose Bowl. The Coalition made several unsuccessful attempts to get the Tournament of Roses Association, which operates the Rose Bowl, to release the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions if necessary to force a championship game. In 1994, undefeated Penn State, from the Big Ten, played Oregon in the Rose Bowl while undefeated Nebraska played Miami in the Orange Bowl. In a system that paired top-ranked teams, Penn State would have played Nebraska for the national championship.

The Bowl Coalition was restructured into the Bowl Alliance for the 1995 season, involving five conferences (reduced to four for the 1996 season) and three bowls (Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange). The championship game rotated among these three bowls. It still did not, however, include the Pac-10 or Big Ten champions, the Rose Bowl, or any non-Bowl Alliance teams.

After a protracted round of negotiations, the Bowl Alliance was reformed into the Bowl Championship Series for the 1998 season; former Southeastern Conference commissioner Roy Kramer is considered to be the "father" of the BCS.[3] The Tournament of Roses Association agreed to release the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions if it was necessary to force a national championship game. In return, the Rose Bowl was added to the yearly national championship rotation, and the game was able to keep its coveted exclusive TV time slot on the afternoon of New Year's Day. However, beginning with the 2006 season, the BCS National Championship Game became a separate event played at the same site as a host bowl a week following New Year's Day. The new Bowl Championship Series not only included the Big Ten and the Pac-10 conferences but also teams from mid-major conferences, based on performance.

No mid-major team, however, or team from any conference outside of the 6 aligned conferences, has ever played in the BCS Championship Game, causing increasing controversy. This controversy has become even more intense in light of the 4–1 record that mid-major teams have against teams from the 6 automatic qualifying conferences in the BCS Bowl games they have been allowed to play in. The performances and perfect record of Texas Christian University in the 2010 season, and Boise State University in the season prior to that has also fueled the controversy surrounding the perceived inequalities that the BCS seems to perpetuate (see BCS Controversies below or in this more detailed separate article). However, little headway was made to institute an alternative system like a playoff tournament, given the entrenched vested economic interests in the various bowls, until after the 2011 season, which saw LSU and Alabama, both members of the SEC West division, play each other in the 2012 BCS Championship game, where 'Bama defeated LSU in a shutout win. Thereafter, acknowledging the many game, polling, and other related controversies, fans' complaints, and declining game viewership, among other factors, the NCAA decided to institute the College Football Playoff, which is to begin after the 2014 regular season.

Succession by College Football Playoff

Main article: College Football Playoff

The College Football Playoff will be the system used to choose the major Division I college football champion beginning with the 2014–2015 season. The four-team playoff will begin with two semifinal games, with the winners advancing to the national championship game, which will be bid on by different cities each year, akin to the Super Bowl or the Final Four. Cowboys Stadium will host the first national championship game under the new system on January 12, 2015.[4] This system will be in place through at least the 2025–2026 season per a contract with ESPN, which owns the rights to broadcast all games in the playoffs.[5]

Unlike the BCS, the new system will not use polls or computer rankings to select participants. A 13-member committee will choose the teams for the playoff and the other four top-tier bowl games, using a balloting procedure similar to the NCAA basketball tournament selection process. Several polls and rankings will continue, to provide insight for the selection committee, but they will function as suggestive or informative, and not determining factors as in the BCS system. [6] Other ranking systems (like the Playoff Poll[7]), PR campaigns, and lobbying and punditry techniques are likely to arise out of the new system. Initial committee members are reported to include former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, former USC athletic director Pat Haden, former Nebraska athletic director and coach Tom Osborne, former coach Tyrone Willingham, former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese, Barry Alvarez, Jeff Long, Oliver Luck, Dan Radakovich, Steve Wieberg, former NCAA executive vice president Tom Jernstedt, and former Air Force Academy superintendent Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Gould.[8]

Bowl games

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Locations of the BCS Bowl games

In the current BCS format, four bowl games and the National Championship Game are considered "BCS bowl games." The four bowl games are the Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, California, the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona and the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Florida. In the first eight seasons of the BCS contract, the championship game was rotated among the four bowls, with each bowl game hosting the national championship once every four years.

Starting with the 2007 BCS, the site of the game that served as the last game on January 1 (or if January 1 fell on a Sunday, January 2) in the BCS then served as the host facility of the new stand-alone BCS National Championship game played on January 8 of that year, one week following the playing of the traditional bowl game which would follow the Rose Bowl with the exception of the games to be played in 2010. There are also thirty non-BCS bowls.

Initial plans were for the additional BCS bowl game to be held at the site of that year's championship game, such that the additional, non-championship bowl be named after the original bowl (e.g. the Sugar Bowl when the championship is in New Orleans), and have the extra game just be called "The National Championship Game". Later, the BCS considered having cities bid to be the permanent site of the new BCS game, and to place the new game in the title rotation. In the end, the BCS opted for its original plan.

The University of Oklahoma is the only school to appear in all five BCS Bowls, playing in the 2007, 2008, and 2011 Fiesta Bowl, the 2004 Sugar Bowl, the 2001 and 2005 Orange Bowl, the 2003 Rose Bowl, and the 2009 BCS National Championship Game. Oklahoma’s record stands at 3–5 with a 1–3 record in National Title games. The University of Miami has appeared in every BCS bowl except for the standalone National Championship Game, although Miami did appear in the national championship when that designation was assigned to the original four bowls in rotation. Miami played in the 2001 Sugar Bowl, 2002 Rose Bowl (national championship), 2003 Fiesta Bowl (national championship), and 2004 Orange Bowl.


Initially, ABC held the rights to all four original BCS games, picking up the Fiesta and Orange Bowls from their former homes at CBS, and continuing their lengthy relationships with the Rose and Sugar Bowls. This relationship continued through the bowl games of January 2006.

Beginning with the 2006–07 season through the 2009–10 season, any BCS game (including the National Championship Game) hosted by the Fiesta, Orange or Sugar Bowls aired on the Fox Network while games hosted by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses were shown on ABC. Starting with the 2010–2011 season, ESPN has aired all BCS games, including the Rose Bowl. The TV deal expires with the January 2014 games; however, ESPN will maintain broadcast rights to the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl through 2026 as a part of separate deals with their organizers.[9][10]

Selection of teams

A set of rules is used to determine which teams compete in the BCS bowl games.[11]

Certain teams are given automatic berths depending on their BCS ranking and conference, as follows:

  • The top two teams are given automatic berths in the BCS National Championship Game.
  • The champion of an AQ Conference (ACC, Big 12, AAC, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC) is guaranteed an automatic BCS bowl bid.
  • Due to the "Notre Dame rule",[12] independent Notre Dame receives an automatic berth if it finishes in the top eight.
  • The highest-ranked champion of a non-AQ conference will receive an automatic berth if:
    • It is ranked in the top 12, or
    • Ranked in the top 16 and higher than at least one AQ conference champion.
  • No more than one such team from Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, and the Western Athletic Conference shall earn an automatic berth in any year. However, a second team from one of these conferences may qualify as a BCS at-large.
  • No more than two teams from any one conference may receive berths in BCS games unless two non-champions from an AQ conference finish as the top two teams in the final BCS standings, in which case they will meet in the National Title Game while their conference champion will play in their conference's BCS bowl game.
  • The third-ranked team will receive an automatic berth if it has not already received one, if it is a member of an AQ conference, and provided that its conference has not already earned two automatic berths, if there is room.
  • If the third-ranked team did not require a berth using the previous provision, then the fourth-ranked team will receive an automatic berth if it has not already received one, if it is a member of an AQ conference, and provided that its conference has not already earned two automatic berths, if there is room.

After the automatic berths have been granted, the remaining berths, known as "at-large" berths, are filled from a pool of teams who are ranked in the top 14 and have at least nine wins. The actual teams that are chosen for the at-large berths are determined by the individual bowl committees.

If fewer than 10 teams are eligible for selection, then an at-large team will be any Football Bowl Subdivision team that is bowl-eligible, has won at least nine regular-season games, and is among the top 18 teams in the final BCS Standings, though any at-large team ranked in the top 14 will be guaranteed a bid over at-large teams ranked lower than 14th. If fewer than 10 teams are eligible after expanding the at-large pool to the top 18 BCS-ranked teams, then the at-large pool will continue to be expanded by four additional positions in the BCS Standings until 10 or more teams are eligible. No team ranked lower than 14 has used this rule to earn an at-large bid, although several teams ranked lower than 14 have received a bid for winning their conference, as the rule was not in place in the early years of the BCS.

All AQ conferences except the AAC have contracts for their champions to participate in specific BCS bowl games. Unless their champion is involved in the BCS National Championship game, the conference tie-ins are:

  • Rose Bowl – Big Ten champion and Pac-12 champion
  • Fiesta Bowl – Big 12 champion
  • Orange Bowl – ACC champion
  • Sugar Bowl – SEC champion

The American Athletic Conference champion takes one of the remaining spots.

If the Pac-12 or Big Ten champion is picked for the BCS National Championship Game, then the Rose Bowl must choose the highest-ranked school from a non-AQ conference instead of the respective conference's #2 team if there is a non-AQ school ranked at least #4 in the final BCS standings. This was the case in 2010, when the #2 Oregon Ducks made it to the national championship, permitting the #3 TCU Horned Frogs to attend, and win, the 2011 Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl is permitted to override this provision if it has been taken within the previous four seasons.

All 11 conferences compete for an opportunity to earn AQ status. As agreed by all 11 conferences, the results of the 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 regular seasons were evaluated to determine which conferences earned automatic qualification. Three criteria were used: Rank of the highest-ranked team, rank of all conference teams, and number of teams in the top 25. The six conferences which met that standard are the current AQ conferences.

The 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons will be used to determine if another conference achieves automatic qualification, or a conference that currently has AQ status loses it, for the BCS games that will conclude the 2012 and 2013 seasons.


For the portions of the ranking that are determined by polls and computer-generated rankings, the BCS uses a series of Borda counts to arrive at its overall rankings. This is an example of using a voting system to generate a complete ordered list of winners from both human and computer-constructed votes. Obtaining a fair ranking system is a difficult mathematical problem and numerous algorithms have been proposed for ranking college football teams in particular. One example is the "random-walker rankings" studied by applied mathematicians Thomas Callaghan, Peter Mucha, and Mason Porter that employs the science of complex networks.


The BCS formula calculated the top 25 teams in poll format. After combining a number of factors, a final point total was created and the teams that received the 25 lowest scores were ranked in descending order. The factors were:

  • Poll average: Both the AP and ESPN-USA Today coaches polls were averaged to make a number which is the poll average.
  • Computer average: An average of the rankings of a team in three different computer polls were gathered (Jeff Sagarin/USA Today, Anderson-Hester/Seattle Times, and New York Times), with a 50% adjusted maximum deviation factor. (For instance, if the computers had ranked a team third, fifth, and twelfth, the poll which ranked the team twelfth would be adjusted to rank the team sixth.)
  • Strength of Schedule: This was the team's NCAA rank in strength of schedule divided by 25. A team's strength of schedule was calculated by win/loss record of opponents (66.6%) and cumulative win/loss record of team's opponents' opponents (33.3%). The team who played the toughest schedule was given .04 points, second toughest .08 points, and so on.

Margin of victory is a key component in the decision of the computer rankings to determine the BCS standings.

  • Losses: One point was added for every loss the team has suffered during the season. All games are counted, including Kickoff Classics and conference title games.[13]

Before the 1999–2000 season, five more computer rankings were added to the system: Richard Billingsley, Richard Dunkel, Kenneth Massey, Herman Matthews/Scripps Howard, and David Rothman. The lowest ranking was dropped and the remainder averaged.

Beginning in 2001, The Peter Wolfe and Wes Colley/Atlanta Journal-Constitution computer rankings were used in place of the NYT and Dunkel rankings. The change was made because the BCS wanted computer rankings that did not depend heavily on margin of victory.[14] The highest and lowest rankings were discarded, and the remainder averaged. A team's poll average, computer average, strength of schedule points, and losses were added to create a subtotal.

Also in 2001, a quality win component was added. If a team beat a team which was in the top 15 in the BCS standings, a range of 1.5 to .1 points was subtracted from their total. Beating the No. 1 ranked team resulted in a subtraction of 1.5-point, beating the No. 2 team resulted in a deduction of 1.4 points, and so on. Beating the No. 15 ranked team would have resulted in a deduction of .1 points. A team would only be awarded for a quality win once if it beat a Top 10 team more than once (such as in the regular season and a conference championship game), and quality wins were determined using a team's current subtotal, not the ranking when the game was played. The subtotal ranks were used to determine quality win deductions to create a team's final score.

The BCS continued to purge ranking systems which included margin of victory, causing the removal of the Matthews and Rothman ratings before the 2002 season. Sagarin provided a BCS-specific formula that did not include margin of victory, and the New York Times index returned in a form without margin of victory considerations. In addition, a new computer ranking, the Wesley Colley Matrix, was added.[15] The lowest ranking was dropped and the remaining six averaged. Also in 2002, the quality win component was modified such that the deduction for beating the No. 1 team in the BCS would be 1.0, declining by 0.1 increments until beating the 10th ranked team at 0.1. Teams on probation were not included in the BCS standings, but quality win points were given to teams who beat teams on probation as if they were ranked accordingly in the BCS.


In response to the controversy created by the voters in the AP poll naming USC as the No. 1 ranked team at the end of the year when the BCS system had selected LSU and Oklahoma to play for the title,[16] the formula was rewritten. Supporters of USC and the media in general criticized the fact that polls were not weighted more heavily than computer rankings and this criticism led to the new algorithm.

  • AP Poll (2004): A team's score in the AP poll will be divided by the maximum number of points any team can receive if all voting members rank the same team as Number 1.
  • Harris Interactive Poll (2005–present): A team's score in the Harris poll will be divided by the maximum number of points any team can receive if all voting members rank the same team as Number 1.[17]
  • Coaches' Poll: A team's score in the Coaches' poll will be divided by the maximum number of points any team can receive if all voting members rank the same team as Number 1.
  • Computer Average: The BCS used six ranking systems:

All three components – The Harris Interactive Poll, the USA Today Coaches Poll and the computer rankings – shall be added together and averaged for a team's ranking in the BCS standings. The team with the highest average shall rank first in the BCS standings.

This system places twice as much emphasis on polls than computer rankings (since there were two polls and an average of six computer rankings) and makes it highly unlikely that the top team in both polls would be denied a place in the title game, as it happened in the 2003–04 season.

The BCS formula for the 2005–06 season was the same as 2004–05, except that the Harris Interactive College Football Poll replaced the AP poll. [2] [3] The Harris Interactive College Football Poll's maximum point value was 2,825[19] and for the Coaches' Poll, it was 1,550. The Harris Interactive College Football Poll was created expressly to replace the AP Poll after the Associated Press refused the use of its poll as a component of the BCS formula following the 2004 season. Before the 2006–07 season, the maximum point value of the Harris Poll was increased to 2,850 and the USA Today/Coaches' Poll was increased to 1,575.

In the week of April 20, 2009, Bowl Championship Series commissioners were meeting for its annual spring meetings in Pasadena, California in conjunction with the Rose Bowl's staging the 2010 BCS title game. The commissioners considered a proposal from the Mountain West Conference, which would establish an eight-team playoff and provide better accesses to the four BCS bowl games for the five conferences that do not have automatic bids. The proposal also included a motion to replace the BCS rankings with a selection and a motion to change the automatic qualifier criteria to better reflect inter-conference performance. The BCS rejected the proposal in June 2009, citing a "lack of overall support" among the member conferences.[20][21][22] Additionally, the proposal was scrutinized by the U.S. Congress, which determined that the BCS was not in violation of any laws or constitutional amendments, although this has since been reconsidered and the BCS is currently under renewed federal anti-trust scrutiny from the Justice Department.[23]

In June 2012, the BCS conference commissioners made the announcement that "we have developed a consensus behind a four-team, seeded playoff."[24] This will take effect in 2014, as the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee in Washington, D.C. gave its final approval a few days later.[1]

History and schedule

The games are listed in chronological order, the rankings reflect the final BCS standings, and the win-loss data is prior to the BCS Bowls.

1998–99 season

These BCS bowl games were played following the 1998 regular season:

1999–2000 season

These BCS bowl games were played following the 1999 regular season:

2000–01 season

These BCS bowl games were played following the 2000 regular season:

2001–02 season

These BCS bowl games were played following the 2001 regular season:

2002–03 season

These BCS bowl games were played following the 2002 regular season:

2003–04 season

These BCS bowl games were played following the 2003 regular season:

‡ Though winning the BCS National Championship, the LSU Tigers were not consensus national champions. The USC Trojans ended the regular season ranked No. 3 in the final BCS standings, with three Coaches Poll voting coaches defecting from their agreement with the BCS to vote its designated game winner as champion, instead voting for USC.[26] USC was voted No. 1 in the Associated Press poll, and the AP awarded USC their National Championship. So, the 2003 Season ended with split champions which is what the BCS was organized to prevent. Because of this split championship, significant changes were made to the BCS formula for the 2004–05 season.

2004–05 season

These BCS bowl games were played following the 2004 regular season:

* USC would later vacate the win

2005–06 season

These BCS bowl games were played following the 2005 regular season:

* Penn State would later vacate the win.

2006–07 season

These BCS bowl games were played following the 2006 regular season:

2007–08 season

These BCS bowl games were played following the 2007 regular season:

2008–09 season

These BCS bowl games were played following the 2008 regular season:

2009–10 season

These BCS games were played following the 2009 regular season:

2010–11 season

The following BCS games were played following the 2010 regular season:


* Ohio State would later vacate the win

2011–12 season

The following BCS games were played following the 2011 regular season:

  • Monday, January 2, 2012 – Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio: No. 5 Oregon (11–2, Pac-12 Champion) 45 vs. No. 10 Wisconsin (11–2, Big Ten Champion) 38
  • Monday, January 2, 2012 – Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: No. 3 Oklahoma State (11–1, Big 12 Champion) 41 vs. No. 4 Stanford (11–1, Automatic "3–4 Rule"[32]) 38 (OT)
  • Tuesday, January 3, 2012 – Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 13 Michigan (10–2, At-Large) 23 vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech (11–2, At-Large) 20 (OT)
  • Wednesday, January 4, 2012 – Discover Orange Bowl: No. 23 West Virginia (9–3, Big East Champion) 70 vs. No. 15 Clemson (10–3, ACC Champion) 33
  • Monday, January 9, 2012 – Allstate BCS National Championship: No. 2 Alabama (11–1, BCS No. 2, Automatic) 21 vs. No. 1 LSU (13–0, BCS No. 1, SEC Champion) 0

2012–13 season

The following BCS games were played following the 2012 season:

  • Tuesday, January 1, 2013 – Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio: No. 6 Stanford (11–2, Pac-12 Champion) 20 vs. Wisconsin (8–5, Big Ten Champion) 14
  • Tuesday, January 1, 2013 – Discover Orange Bowl: No. 12 Florida State (11–2, ACC Champion) 31 vs. No. 15 NIU (12–1, MAC Champion, Automatic non-AQ) 10
  • Wednesday, January 2, 2013 – Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 21 Louisville (10–2, Big East Champion) 33 vs. No. 3 Florida (11–1, Automatic "3–4 Rule"[32]) 23
  • Thursday, January 3, 2013 – Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: No. 4 Oregon (11–1, At-Large) 35 vs. No. 5 Kansas State (11–1, Big 12 Champion) 17
  • Monday, January 7, 2013 – Discover BCS National Championship: No. 2 Alabama (12–1, BCS No. 2, SEC Champion) 42 vs. No. 1 Notre Dame (12–0, BCS No. 1, Automatic[28]) 14

2013–2014 season

The following BCS games are scheduled following the 2013 season:

  • Wednesday, January 1, 2014 – Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA)
  • Wednesday, January 1, 2014 – Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, AZ)
  • Thursday, January 2, 2014 – Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA)
  • Friday, January 3, 2014 – Orange Bowl (Miami Gardens, FL)
  • Monday, January 6, 2014 – Vizio BCS National Championship (Pasadena, CA)

BCS Bowl appearances by team

Appearances School W L Pct Games
9* Ohio State 6* 3 .667 Won 1999 Sugar Bowl
Won 2003 Fiesta Bowl+
Won 2004 Fiesta Bowl
Won 2006 Fiesta Bowl
Lost 2007 BCS National Championship Game
Lost 2008 BCS National Championship Game
Lost 2009 Fiesta Bowl
Won 2010 Rose Bowl
Won* 2011 Sugar Bowl (Vacated)
8 Oklahoma 3 5 .375 Won 2001 Orange Bowl+
Won 2003 Rose Bowl
Lost 2004 Sugar Bowl+
Lost 2005 Orange Bowl+
Lost 2007 Fiesta Bowl
Lost 2008 Fiesta Bowl
Lost 2009 BCS National Championship Game
Won 2011 Fiesta Bowl
7* USC 6* 1 .857 Won 2003 Orange Bowl
Won 2004 Rose Bowl
Won* 2005 Orange Bowl+ (Vacated)
Lost 2006 Rose Bowl+
Won 2007 Rose Bowl
Won 2008 Rose Bowl
Won 2009 Rose Bowl
7 Florida 5 2 .714 Won 1999 Orange Bowl
Lost 2001 Sugar Bowl
Won 2002 Orange Bowl
Won 2007 BCS National Championship Game
Won 2009 BCS National Championship Game
Won 2010 Sugar Bowl
Lost 2013 Sugar Bowl
7 Florida State 2 5 .286 Lost 1999 Fiesta Bowl+
Won 2000 Sugar Bowl+
Lost 2001 Orange Bowl+
Lost 2003 Sugar Bowl
Lost 2004 Orange Bowl
Lost 2006 Orange Bowl
Won 2013 Orange Bowl
6 Virginia Tech 1 5 .167 Lost 2000 Sugar Bowl+
Lost 2005 Sugar Bowl
Lost 2008 Orange Bowl
Won 2009 Orange Bowl
Lost 2011 Orange Bowl
Lost 2012 Sugar Bowl
5 LSU 4 1 .800 Won 2002 Sugar Bowl
Won 2004 Sugar Bowl+
Won 2007 Sugar Bowl
Won 2008 BCS National Championship Game
Lost 2012 BCS National Championship Game
5 Alabama 3 2 .600 Lost 2000 Orange Bowl
Lost 2009 Sugar Bowl
Won 2010 BCS National Championship Game
Won 2012 BCS National Championship Game
Won 2013 BCS National Championship Game
5 Oregon 3 2 .600 Won 2002 Fiesta Bowl
Lost 2010 Rose Bowl
Lost 2011 BCS National Championship Game
Won 2012 Rose Bowl
Won 2013 Fiesta Bowl
5 Michigan 2 3 .400 Won 2000 Orange Bowl
Lost 2004 Rose Bowl
Lost 2005 Rose Bowl
Lost 2007 Rose Bowl
Won 2012 Sugar Bowl
5 Wisconsin 2 3 .400 Won 1999 Rose Bowl
Won 2000 Rose Bowl
Lost 2011 Rose Bowl
Lost 2012 Rose Bowl
Lost 2013 Rose Bowl
4 Miami (FL) 3 1 .750 Won 2001 Sugar Bowl
Won 2002 Rose Bowl+
Lost 2003 Fiesta Bowl+
Won 2004 Orange Bowl
4 Texas 3 1 .750 Won 2005 Rose Bowl
Won 2006 Rose Bowl+
Won 2009 Fiesta Bowl
Lost 2010 BCS National Championship Game
4 Stanford 2 2 .500 Lost 2000 Rose Bowl
Won 2011 Orange Bowl
Lost 2012 Fiesta Bowl
Won 2013 Rose Bowl
4 Notre Dame 0 4 .000 Lost 2001 Fiesta Bowl
Lost 2006 Fiesta Bowl
Lost 2007 Sugar Bowl
Lost 2013 BCS National Championship Game
3 West Virginia 3 0 1.000 Won 2006 Sugar Bowl
Won 2008 Fiesta Bowl
Won 2012 Orange Bowl
3 Georgia 2 1 .667 Won 2003 Sugar Bowl
Lost 2006 Sugar Bowl
Won 2008 Sugar Bowl
2 Auburn 2 0 1.000 Won 2005 Sugar Bowl
Won 2011 BCS National Championship Game
2 Boise State 2 0 1.000 Won 2007 Fiesta Bowl
Won 2010 Fiesta Bowl
2 Louisville 2 0 1.000 Won 2007 Orange Bowl
Won 2013 Sugar Bowl
2 Utah 2 0 1.000 Won 2005 Fiesta Bowl
Won 2009 Sugar Bowl
2 Iowa 1 1 .500 Lost 2003 Orange Bowl
Won 2010 Orange Bowl
2 Nebraska 1 1 .500 Won 2000 Fiesta Bowl
Lost 2002 Rose Bowl+
2 Tennessee 1 1 .500 Won 1999 Fiesta Bowl+
Lost 2000 Fiesta Bowl
2 TCU 1 1 .500 Lost 2010 Fiesta Bowl
Won 2011 Rose Bowl
2* Penn State 1* 1 .500 Won* 2006 Orange Bowl (Vacated)
Lost 2009 Rose Bowl
2 Cincinnati 0 2 .000 Lost 2009 Orange Bowl
Lost 2010 Sugar Bowl
2 Illinois 0 2 .000 Lost 2002 Sugar Bowl
Lost 2008 Rose Bowl
2 Kansas State 0 2 .000 Lost 2004 Fiesta Bowl
Lost 2013 Fiesta Bowl
1 Kansas 1 0 1.000 Won 2008 Orange Bowl
1 Oklahoma State 1 0 1.000 Won 2012 Fiesta Bowl
1 Oregon State 1 0 1.000 Won 2001 Fiesta Bowl
1 Washington 1 0 1.000 Won 2001 Rose Bowl
1 Arkansas 0 1 .000 Lost 2011 Sugar Bowl
1 Clemson 0 1 .000 Lost 2012 Orange Bowl
1 Colorado 0 1 .000 Lost 2002 Fiesta Bowl
1 Connecticut 0 1 .000 Lost 2011 Fiesta Bowl
1 Georgia Tech 0 1 .000 Lost 2010 Orange Bowl
1 Hawaiʻi 0 1 .000 Lost 2008 Sugar Bowl
1 Maryland 0 1 .000 Lost 2002 Orange Bowl
1 NIU 0 1 .000 Lost 2013 Orange Bowl
1 Pittsburgh 0 1 .000 Lost 2005 Fiesta Bowl
1 Purdue 0 1 .000 Lost 2001 Rose Bowl
1 Syracuse 0 1 .000 Lost 1999 Orange Bowl
1 Texas A&M 0 1 .000 Lost 1999 Sugar Bowl
1 UCLA 0 1 .000 Lost 1999 Rose Bowl
1 Wake Forest 0 1 .000 Lost 2007 Orange Bowl
1 Washington State 0 1 .000 Lost 2003 Rose Bowl

+ Denotes BCS National Championship Game prior to 2007
* Win(s) vacated

BCS National Championship Game appearances by team

Appearances School W L Pct Games
4 Oklahoma 1 3 .250 Won 2001 Orange Bowl
Lost 2004 Sugar Bowl
Lost 2005 Orange Bowl
Lost 2009 BCS National Championship Game
3 Alabama 3 0 1.000 Won 2010 BCS National Championship Game
Won 2012 BCS National Championship Game
Won 2013 BCS National Championship Game
3 LSU 2 1 .666 Won 2004 Sugar Bowl
Won 2008 BCS National Championship Game
Lost 2012 BCS National Championship Game
3 Florida State 1 2 .333 Lost 1999 Fiesta Bowl
Won 2000 Sugar Bowl
Lost 2001 Orange Bowl
3 Ohio State 1 2 .333 Won 2003 Fiesta Bowl
Lost 2007 BCS National Championship Game
Lost 2008 BCS National Championship Game
2 Florida 2 0 1.000 Won 2007 BCS National Championship Game
Won 2009 BCS National Championship Game
2 Miami (FL) 1 1 .500 Won 2002 Rose Bowl
Lost 2003 Fiesta Bowl
2 Texas 1 1 .500 Won 2006 Rose Bowl
Lost 2010 BCS National Championship Game
2* USC 1* 1 .500 Won* 2005 Orange Bowl (Vacated)
Lost 2006 Rose Bowl
1 Auburn 1 0 1.000 Won 2011 BCS National Championship Game
1 Tennessee 1 0 1.000 Won 1999 Fiesta Bowl
1 Nebraska 0 1 .000 Lost 2002 Rose Bowl
1 Notre Dame 0 1 .000 Lost 2013 BCS National Championship Game
1 Oregon 0 1 .000 Lost 2011 BCS National Championship Game
1 Virginia Tech 0 1 .000 Lost 2000 Sugar Bowl

* Win(s) vacated

BCS Bowl appearances by conference

Conference Appearances W L Pct # Schools School(s)
Big Ten 26* 12* 14 .462 7 Ohio State (6*–3)
Michigan (2–3)
Wisconsin (2–3)
Penn State (1*–1)
Iowa (1–1)
Illinois (0–2)
Purdue (0–1)
SEC 25 17 8 .680 7 Florida (5–2)
LSU (4–1)
Alabama (3–2)
Georgia (2–1)
Auburn (2–0)
Tennessee (1–1)
Arkansas (0–1)
Pac-12 20* 13* 7 .650 7 USC (6*–1)
Oregon (3–2)
Stanford (2–2)
Oregon State (1–0)
Washington (1–0)
UCLA (0–1)
Washington State (0–1)
Big 12 20 9 11 .450 8 Oklahoma (3–5)
Texas (3–1)
Nebraska^ (1–1)
Kansas State (0–2)
Kansas (1–0)
Oklahoma State (1–0)
Colorado^ (0–1)
Texas A&M^ (0–1)
ACC 16 3 13 .133 6 Florida State (2–5)
Virginia Tech† (1–4)
Clemson (0–1)
Georgia Tech (0–1)
Maryland (0–1)
Wake Forest (0–1)
Big East 15 8 7 .533 8 Miami (FL)^ (3–1)
West Virginia^ (3–0)
Virginia Tech† (0–1)
Louisville (2–0)
Cincinnati (0–2)
Connecticut (0–1)
Pittsburgh (0–1)
Syracuse (0–1)
MWC 4 3 1 .750 2 Utah^ (2–0)
TCU (1–1)
Independent 4 0 4 .000 1 Notre Dame (0–4)
WAC 3 2 1 .667 2 Boise State (2–0)
Hawaiʻi (0–1)
MAC 1 0 1 .000 1 NIU (0–1)
C-USA 0 0 0 .000 0
Sun Belt 0 0 0 .000 0

^While Nebraska has been a member of both the Big 12 and Big Ten, it has only been to a BCS Bowl as a member of the Big 12.
^While Colorado has been a member of both the Big 12 and Pac-12, it has only been to a BCS Bowl as a member of the Big 12.
^While Miami has been a member of both the Big East and ACC, it has only been to a BCS Bowl as a member of the Big East.
^While Utah has been a member of both the Mountain West and Pac-12, it has only been to a BCS Bowl as a member of the Mountain West.
^While Texas A&M has been a member of both the Big 12 and SEC, it has only been to a BCS bowl as a member of the Big 12.
^While West Virginia has been a member of the Big East and Big 12, it has only been to a BCS bowl as a member of the Big East.

†Virginia Tech has been a member of both the Big East and ACC, and played in BCS bowl games for both conferences.

* USC's victory in the 2005 Orange Bowl has been vacated.
* Penn State's victory in the 2006 Orange Bowl has been vacated.
* Ohio State's victory in the 2011 Sugar Bowl has been vacated.

BCS National Championship Game appearances by conference

Conference Appearances W L Pct # Schools School(s)
SEC 10 9 1 .900 5 Alabama (3–0)
Auburn (1–0)
Florida (2–0)
LSU (2–1)
Tennessee (1–0)
Big 12 7 2 5 .286 3 Oklahoma (1–3)
Texas (1–1)
Nebraska (0–1)
ACC 3 1 2 .333 1 Florida State (1–2)
Big East 3 1 2 .333 2 Miami, FL (1–1)
Virginia Tech (0–1)
Big Ten 3 1 2 .333 1 Ohio State (1–2)
Pac-12 3* 1* 2 .333 2 USC (1*–1)
Oregon (0–1)
Independent 1 0 1 .000 1 Notre Dame (0–1)

† Both teams in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game were from the SEC.
* USC's victory in the 2005 Orange Bowl has been vacated.


Main article: BCS controversies


The primary criticism of the BCS centers around the validity of the annual BCS national championship pairings and its designated National Champions. Many critics focus on the BCS methodology itself, which employs subjective voting assessments, while others note the ability for undefeated teams to finish seasons without an opportunity to play in the national championship game. In fact, in the last 6 seasons of Division I FBS football, there have been more undefeated non-BCS champions than undefeated BCS champions. Other criticisms involve discrepancies in the allocation of monetary resources from BCS games, as well as the determination of non-championship BCS game participants, which need not comply with the BCS rankings themselves.[34] In the 2010–2011 bowl season, for example, the six automatic-qualifier (AQ) conferences were given $145.2 million in revenue from the BCS while the five non-AQ conferences received only $24.7 million.[35]

A recent survey conducted at the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute found that 63% of individuals interested in college football preferred a playoff system to the BCS, while only 26% favored the status quo.[36] President Barack Obama has been vocal about his opposition to the BCS. During an appearance on Monday Night Football during the 2008 presidential campaign season, ESPN's Chris Berman asked Obama to name one thing about sports he would like to change.[37] Obama responded that he did not like using computer rankings to determine bowl games, and he supported having a college football playoff for the top eight teams.[37] When Steve Kroft asked then-President-elect Obama about the subject during an interview on 60 Minutes, Obama reiterated his support of eight-team playoff; although he has said it is not a legislative priority.[38][39]

Longtime college football announcer Brent Musburger also voiced his support for a playoff in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. "My dream scenario – and it's not going to happen – would be to take eight conference champions, and only conference champions, and play the quarterfinals of a tournament on campuses in mid-December," Musburger said. "The four losers would remain bowl-eligible. The four winners would advance to semifinals on New Year's Day with exclusive TV windows. Then, like now, one week later, there would be the national championship game."[40]

Antitrust lawsuits

In 2008, a lawsuit was threatened due to the exclusion of teams from the non-automatic qualifying conferences in the BCS system.[41][42] Following Utah's win over Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced an inquiry into whether the BCS system violates federal anti-trust laws.[43][44] In 2009, senior Utah senator Orrin Hatch announced that he was exploring the possibility of a lawsuit against the BCS as an anti-competitive trust under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. On November 27, 2009 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram ran a story that said that Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, announced that he would hold anti-trust hearings on the BCS, again based on the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and its provisions outlawing non-competitive trusts, beginning in May 2010.[45] Meanwhile, various organizations, including the BCS, are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby the federal government both in support and in opposition to a college football playoff system.[46]

According to wire reports and information obtained by the Associated Press, Senator Orin Hatch received a letter from the justice department concerning the possibility of a legal review of the BCS. The letter, received on January 29, 2010, states that the Obama administration will explore options to establish a college football playoff including (a) an anti-trust lawsuit against the BCS, (b) legal action under Federal Trade Commission consumer protection laws, (c) encouragement of the NCAA to take control of the college football postseason, (d) the establishment of an agency to review the costs and benefits of adopting a playoff system, and (e) continued legislation in favor of a playoff system. Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich writes, "The administration shares your belief that the lack of a college football national championship playoff ...raises important questions affecting millions...." BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock responded to the letter that the BCS complies with all laws and is supported by the participating Division I universities.[47]

In April 2011, Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff announced he would file an antitrust lawsuit against the BCS for, "serious antitrust violations that are harming taxpayer-funded institutions to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars." The announcement followed the April 12, 2011 delivery of a letter to the US Department of Justice signed by 21 "high-profile" economists and antitrust experts asking for an investigation into the BCS' anticompetitive practices.[35]

Allegations of corruption and financial impropriety

The BCS bowls have been accused of promoting the BCS system because they and their executive officers greatly benefit financially from the system. Bowl executives, such as John Junker of the Fiesta Bowl, are often paid unusually high salaries for employees of non-profit organizations. To promote support for their bowls and the BCS system, these highly-paid executives allegedly give lavish gifts to politicians, collegiate sports executives, and university athletic directors.[48]

In response, a pro-playoff organization, called Playoff PAC, in September 2010 filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service. The complaint alleges that the top BCS bowls, with the exception of the Rose Bowl, routinely abuse favorable tax status by using charitable donations to give gifts and compensation to college athletic officials. In one example detailed in the complaint, the Orange Bowl treated its executive staff and invited college athletic directors to a four-day Royal Caribbean cruise in which no business meetings were held.[48]

Vacated wins

There have been several occasions where a team's victory in a BCS bowl game was subsequently vacated by NCAA sanctions.

  • USC's final appeals were exhausted in the Reggie Bush situation, with all penalties standing, including a two-year bowl ban and vacation of 14 wins, including a national championship and the entire following season. As a result, the BCS, in a first-time action, vacated the participation of USC in their 2004–2005 National Championship Game win and the 2005–2006 National Championship Game loss to Texas. The 2004–2005 BCS National Championship will remain permanently vacant.[49] This issue was further compounded by the Associated Press, whose writers vote on their own National Championship. That title was retained, with the AP staying consistent with similar policies with teams on postseason bans. (teams being penalised with postseason bans are still eligible for the AP National Championship.)
  • In December 2010, five Ohio State University players were implicated in an illegal-benefits scandal preceding the 2011 Sugar Bowl. Though the five players were suspended for five games apiece, not only was Ohio State still allowed to play in the 2011 Sugar Bowl, but so were the five players. After defeating Arkansas, the scandal grew, including open deception by Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. As a result, the school fined Tressel $250,000 and then forced him out as coach on July 11, 2011, Ohio State University vacated all of its wins in an effort to reduce their penalties.[50] The NCAA gave Ohio State 3 years probation and reduced their football scholarships by 3 per year for three years. The BCS has banned Ohio State from participating in any post season games for the 2012 season.[51] They also got stripped of the title, but it was not handed out to runners-up because the NCAA abandoned the BCS.
  • On July 23, 2012, as a result of an unprecedented action from the NCAA, the NCAA rendered vacant all wins from the Penn State program during the alleged 14-year cover-up (1998–2011) of the Jerry Sandusky's abuse scandal as outlined and accepted in the Freeh Report. Hence all Penn State victories from the 2005 season were vacated, including the 2006 Orange Bowl.


While there is substantial criticism aimed at the BCS system from coaches, media, and fans alike, there is also support for the system. Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News cites several advantages that the BCS has over a playoff system. Under the BCS, a single defeat is extremely detrimental to a team's prospects for a national championship,[52] although critics point out regularly that history shows non-AQ conference teams are hurt far more than AQ conference teams when they lose a game. Supporters contend that this creates a substantial incentive for teams to do their best to win every game. Under a playoff system, front-running teams could be in a position of safety at the end of the regular season and could pull or greatly reduce their use of top players in order to protect them from injuries or give them recovery time (this happens frequently in the NFL).[53] This may be less likely to happen under the BCS system where a team in the running for a No. 1 or No. 2 ranking at the end of the year would likely be punished in the polls for a loss, potentially eliminating them from contention.

While the BCS routinely involves controversy about which two teams are the top teams, in rare instances there is a clear-cut top two; the BCS ensures these top two will play each other for the championship. For example, USC and Texas in 2005 were the only undefeated teams; both teams were only tested a couple of times all season and mauled every other opponent they faced by large margins. Had this scenario occurred before the inception of the BCS, the teams would have been unable to play each other due to contractual obligations with the major bowls and there either would have been dual national champions. Under the BCS system however, these two teams got to play for the championship.[54]

The NCAA, the governing organization of most collegiate sports, has no official process for determining its FBS (Div. 1-A) champion. Instead, FBS champions are chosen by what the NCAA calls in its official list of champions "selecting organizations".[55]

According to its website, the BCS: " managed by the commissioners of the 11 NCAA Division I-A conferences, the director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame, and representatives of the bowl organizations. " a five-game arrangement for post-season college football that is designed to match the two top-rated teams in a national championship game and to create exciting and competitive match-ups between eight other highly regarded teams in four other games".[56]

BCS Buster

The term "BCS Buster" refers to any team other than Notre Dame not from an AQ conference that manages to earn a spot in a BCS bowl game.[57] These teams are often referred to as non-BCS when discussed outside of the post-season structure. Three teams have been BCS Busters twice: the University of Utah, Boise State University and Texas Christian University. As of the 2013 season two have joined Conferences with an automatic bid to a BCS Bowl (Utah to the Pacific-12 Conference and Texas Christian to the Big 12 Conference).

In 2012, Northern Illinois University of the Mid-American Conference became the first BCS Buster team from a conference other than the Mountain West or Western Athletic Conferences to play in a BCS Bowl game.

The record of non-Automatic Qualifying conference teams in BCS Bowls is one primary statistic used by those who challenge the assumption that BCS conference teams are inherently superior to non-AQ teams, as non-AQ teams have only lost two BCS Bowl game to a BCS AQ team (Hawaii lost the 2008 Sugar Bowl 41-10 to the University of Georgia and NIU lost the 2013 Orange Bowl to Florida State University) while winning 5. Boise State defeated TCU 17-10 in the highly controversial 2010 Fiesta Bowl which remains the first, and to date only, BCS Bowl pitting two non-AQ teams against each other rather than against a team from a BCS AQ Conference, making the complete record 5-3. This pairing was cited by critics as the BCS's attempt to prevent a loss (or potentially even two losses) to non-AQ teams in the same year, and as TCU defeated Wisconsin 21-19 in the 2011 Rose Bowl the next year those fears seemed to have been at least partly justified. The experience and results of the non-AQ teams in BCS bowl games has been cited as a strong objective example of a much closer parity between the AQ and non-AQ teams than most AQ teams and fans will admit.

With the exception of Notre Dame, it is generally extremely difficult for a non-AQ conference team to reach a BCS bowl, while it is much easier for an AQ conference team (see rules above) to do so due to the inherent bias built into the rules of the BCS system which guarantee a spot to the winner of each of the AQ Conferences. All AQ Conference teams must do is simply win their respective conference title and they are automatically invited to a BCS Bowl. This makes becoming a BCS Buster very noteworthy. Despite the fact that there have been a number of eligible non-AQ conference teams, only eight teams (from only five schools – Utah, TCU, Boise State, Hawaiʻi, and NIU) have succeeded in becoming BCS Busters. No team from a non-AQ conference has ever been in the BCS Championship, while a team from the SEC has been in—and won—the Championship game every year from 2006 to 2012. This consistent selection of one conference's teams (despite their success) has been one area of intense criticism of the BCS system and its exclusionary tendencies.

The University of Utah became the first BCS Buster in 2004 after an undefeated season, despite harder limits in place before the addition of a 5th bowl in 2006 made BCS Busters more commonplace. They also became the first team to repeat in 2008. The Utes played in the 2005 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl,[57] and beat their opponent, the Pittsburgh Panthers, 35–7. During the 2008 season, the Utes finished their regular season schedule undefeated (8–0 in the Mountain West Conference and 12–0 overall) and earned a berth in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama, winning 31–17. Both the number of Top 25 teams (4) and Top 10 teams (2) Utah defeated that year, equaled the number of such ranked teams defeated by eventual one-loss champion Florida. That season, no other team besides the Gators or Utes defeated four ranked teams. Ironically, the strength of schedule argument was often cited by those arguing that Utah did not deserve to be crowned National Champions. The Utes finished 2nd in the AP Poll and received 16 first place votes. In the 2011 season, the Utes began competing as members of the Pacific-12 Conference, one of the six conferences with an automatic BCS tie in.

In 2006, Boise State became the second BCS Buster after a 12–0 regular season and subsequent Fiesta Bowl berth against the Oklahoma Sooners. The Broncos won 43–42 in overtime in what many fans, pundits and others consider to be one of the best Bowl games in history.

In 2007, Hawaiʻi also finished the regular season at 12–0, but were defeated by the Georgia Bulldogs 41–10 in the Sugar Bowl. This was the first loss by a BCS Buster.

The 2009 season was the first in which two teams from non–AQ conferences earned BCS bowl berths. TCU, which finished the regular season 12–0 as champions of the Mountain West, earned the automatic BCS berth with a No. 4 finish in the final BCS rankings. Two slots behind the Horned Frogs were WAC champions Boise State, which finished at 13–0 for its second consecutive unbeaten regular season and fourth in six years. Boise State became the first and (so far) only BCS Buster to reach a BCS bowl game with an at-large selection. The Broncos defeated the Frogs 17–10 in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, which marked the first BCS matchup between non-AQ schools, and the first time in BCS history that two unbeaten teams met in a BCS game other than the title match. This pairing created considerable controversy as the AQ conferences and the selection committees were accused of cowardice, pairing the two BCS Busters against each other so that the risk of AQ conference teams losing was eliminated.

In 2010, TCU was the only non–AQ conference team to get a BCS bowl berth. Boise State was ranked in the top five for most of the season, but a late-season overtime loss to Nevada knocked the Broncos out of serious contention for a BCS bowl bid, despite their continuing eligibility. TCU would defeat Wisconsin 21–19 in the 2011 Rose Bowl, once again calling into question the claim of AQ conference superiority. There was a movement to lobby those voting in the AP poll, which is not bound to vote for the BCS Championship winner as the Coaches Poll is, to vote TCU first and split the National Championship. While TCU got a few first place votes, this effort did not change the outcome of the AP poll, and TCU ended up in the No. 2 spot in all of the final major polls. As Utah had already done, TCU soon joined a conference with an automatic BCS tie, namely the Big 12 Conference beginning with the 2012 season.

In 2012, NIU became the first BCS Buster with a regular-season loss. NIU was also the first BCS Buster to qualify automatically with a ranking between 13 and 16 (and higher ranked than at least one AQ-Conference Champion); NIU was ranked higher than two AQ-Conference Champions (Big Ten and Big East). They were selected for the 2013 Orange Bowl, where they were defeated by the Florida State Seminoles, 31-10.

BCS Busters are currently 5–3 in BCS bowls, and 4–2 in BCS bowls against opponents from AQ conferences. Utah and TCU joined AQ conferences after their repeated appearances as BCS Busters; Boise State, Hawaiʻi, and NIU have not (as of January 2013).

The following table shows all 18 teams that were eligible to become BCS Busters, including the eight that succeeded. (The entries are ordered by year and sorted according to the BCS Rank within each year.)

BCS Buster qualified automatically as a highly-ranked non-AQ Conference Champion
BCS Buster team earned at-large selection
* Team eligible for at-large selection at the time, but would have qualified automatically as a highly-ranked non-AQ Conference Champion under the post-2005 criterion
** Team eligible for at-large selection
Season Team Conference Regular Season
BCS Rank BCS Bowl Result Final Ranking
AP Coaches
1998 Tulane* C-USA 11–0 10 not chosen for a BCS bowl game 7 7
1999 Marshall* MAC 12–0 12 not chosen for a BCS bowl game 10 10
2003 Miami (OH)* MAC 11–1 11 not chosen for a BCS bowl game 10 12
2004 Utah MWC 11–0 6 Fiesta Bowl W Utah 35 Pittsburgh 7 4 5
2004 Boise State** WAC 11–0 9 not chosen for a BCS bowl game 12 13
2004 Louisville** C-USA 10–1 10 not chosen for a BCS bowl game 6 7
2006 Boise State WAC 12–0 8 Fiesta Bowl W Boise State 43 Oklahoma 42 5 6
2007 Hawai'i WAC 12–0 10 Sugar Bowl L Hawai'i 10 Georgia 41 19 17
2008 Utah MWC 12–0 6 Sugar Bowl W Utah 31 Alabama 17 2 4
2008 Boise State** WAC 12–0 9 not chosen for a BCS bowl game 11 13
2008 TCU** MWC 10–2 11 not chosen for a BCS bowl game 7 7
2009 TCU MWC 12–0 4 Fiesta Bowl L TCU 10 Boise State 17 6 6
2009 Boise State WAC 13–0 6 Fiesta Bowl W Boise State 17 TCU 10 4 4
2009 BYU** MWC 10–2 14 not chosen for a BCS bowl game 12 12
2010 TCU MWC 12–0 3 Rose Bowl W TCU 21 Wisconsin 19 2 2
2010 Boise State** WAC 11–1 10 not chosen for a BCS bowl game 9 7
2011 Boise State** MWC 11–1 7 not chosen for a BCS bowl game 8 6
2012 NIU MAC 12–1 15 Orange Bowl L NIU 10 Florida State 31

Locations of all AQ conference teams

A map of every university in the AQ Conferences.

Former logos

Original BCS Logo 1998–2005. An alternate version of this logo (used more often on television) had the ABC logo in lieu of the middle star.
BCS Logo 2006–2009. An alternate version of this logo (used more often on television) had the Fox logo in lieu of the stars.

See also


Further reading

External links

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