The voters in the coaches poll have spoken. But what they have said by placing Northern Illinios at No. 16 in today’s poll that will be used in compiling the final BCS standings remains open for discussion.
And the final word will not become public until tonight’s release of the final BCS standings (7:30 p.m., ESPN).
The bottom line is that Oklahoma (10-2) would be bumped from an at-large BCS bowl berth if Northern Illinois (12-1), the MAC champ, finishes 16th or higher in the final BCS standings. If that happens, the Sooners _ who envisioned playing Florida (11-1) in the Sugar Bowl on Saturday night _ would wind up in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington, with an anticipated matchup against LSU (10-2) or Texas A&M (10-2).
The situation is fluid and two BCS analysts, CBS’ Jerry Palm and ESPN’s Brad Edwards, have switched their bowl projections today. Both took Oklahoma out of the BCS mix in favor of Northern Illinois (12-1). But both cautioned that the margin will be razor thin. The Huskies will climb in the computer rankings based on their victory over Kent State (11-2) in the MAC title game. But the impact of voters in the coaches poll and the Harris poll figure to be crucial.Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops did his part to help his team, voting the Sooners at No. 6 and Northern Illinois at No. 24 in today’s final coaches poll. The ballots of voters were released on the USA Today website. Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren voted Oklahoma 11th and his team at No. 14.
If Oklahoma does not wind up in the Sugar Bowl, the omission would cost the Big 12 a $6.2 million windfall and would create a reshuffling of the league’s bowl slots. It would sent Texas to the Alamo Bowl to meet a Pac-12 foe (likely Oregon State), with lots of guessing on bowl placements after that. The Big 12 also would need to find a spot for one of its bowl-eligible teams (likely Iowa State) in a game that is not contractually tied to the Big 12.
The SEC slots are being solidified, with Georgia expected to play Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. That means A&M’s likely bowl destination will either be the Cotton Bowl against OU or the Chick-fil-A Bowl (in Atlanta) against Clemson.
Nothing, as this juncture, has been announced by the SEC in terms of bowl berths. But officials at the Capital One Bowl have announced Nebraska as the Big Ten representative in that contest.
Other Big 12 coaches joined Stoops in voting up the Sooners and voting down Northern Illinois. Baylor coach Art Briles placed Oklahoma at No. 6 and Northern Illinois at No. 19 on his ballot. West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen had OU at No. 9, with Northern Illinois at No. 24. The ballot of Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville mirrored where both teams finished in today’s coaches’ poll: OU at No. 11 and Northern Illinois at No. 16.Kent State coach Darrell Hazel, whose team lost to Northern Illinios in the MAC title game, voted Oklahoma at No. 11 and Northern Illinois at No. 17 on his ballot.
_ Jimmy Burch