Everything always feels a lot worse that it really is the day after a crushing defeat. After reading the throw-in-the-towel-and-start Newsome post, I thought it might be useful to look at some bowl scenarios to highight why all is not lost. Everyone should remember is that this is college football and things never end up as they had previously seemed. Teams always lose games that you had projected as wins. Nobody should assume that the standings today will represent the standings two weekends from now. The consensus seems to be that PSU's best shot is the Outback, but I believe they have a chance to improve and make the Capital One. (I'm ruling out BCS bid btw because I just don't see it happening but in order to not violate my own rules, I guess it COULD happen under the "train wreck" scenario.)
Capital One: "Selects" the #2 B10 team vs #2 (really 3) SEC team. The belief is that this will be the loser of the Iowa/OSU game next week. Assuming that PSU wins out, a few not unrealistic scenarios could unfold for PSU to make the Capital One. All of these also leave out Wisconsin who I believe will end up with 2 losses but is least attractive. The "Select" portion here is very imporant because most scenarios require PSU to get chosen over a team that beat us - may or may not be realistic. The likely opponent will not be the loser of the Alabama/Florida game who will get BCS bids - my guess would be LSU who I believe would be a great opponent. This is the next best thing to a BCS bid. A win would turn the season from mediocre to very good.
- Very possible: Iowa loses to OSU but wins the final game against Minnesota. PSU and Iowa tie for 2nd. I would guess that the Capital One would PREFER PSU but may be pressured to take Iowa. Either way, there's no guarantee Iowa gets the Cap One under this scenario. They would have lost 2/3 last games and probably be ranked lower than PSU.
- Reasonably possible: A Stanzi-less Iowa gets crushed by OSU and faces a Minnesota team that potentially needs a win to become bowl eligible. All PSU fans know what happens when the team is thinking MNC and loses a devastating game late (see '99). Iowa loses last 3 games, PSU wins out and makes the Cap One as the #2 team in the Big 10.
- Less likely: OSU beats Stanzi-less Iowa and then loses to Michigan OR Iowa beats OSU and wins out. Capital One selects from PSU/OSU who both have 2 losses. Considering they haven't been to Orlando in while, the Capital One would love to get OSU here I believe. I really don't see Iowa winning next week and I know UM has been playing very poorly but this game is at Ann Arbor and crazier thing have happened in rivalry games. Keep in mind, OSU just lost to Purdue so while they appeared invincible yesterday, they're no juggernaut.
- Least likely: OSU and Iowa finish top 15 BCS, OSU gets BCS selection again and everyone in the B10 moves up one slot.
Outback: Selects #3 B10 team vs #3/4 SEC. Nobody wants to play in the Outback but most would agree that at least it is a New Years Day bowl and against a quality opponent. There are no guarantees that PSU gets the Outback but assuming they win out (which by no means do I think is a guarantee), this is the most likely destination. Likely opponent would be Auburn/Georgia.
Champs/Alamo: #4/5 B10 teams play ACC #4 or B12 #4/5. Since I believe this scenario requires another PSU loss, I don't want to discuss. On the plus side, my wife went to VTech and I could possibly make a nice trip to Fla and settle a long standing family dispute. Downside is that it's the Champs Bowl and nobody gives a rats ass about it (nor should they). Other possible opponents include: UNC, Clemson, practically any ACC team since they're all about tied, Okla. State, Nebraska, Texas Tech.
The summary is that while it FEELS like all is lost today the reality is that if PSU wins out and finishes with 2 regular season losses, they have a decent chance at getting quality opponent to finish the season. No matter how good the opponent, I like our team's chances with the reigns let loose and a senior QB in his last game. So cheer up and let's hope the guys rebound to CRUSH Indiana and Mich State!