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July 10, 2011

Roundtable: Who will return to a BCS bowl?

At the College Football Roundtable, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport. We have two roundtables this week - one Saturday and one today.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Which teams that played in a BCS bowl last season will be in a BCS bowl this season?

Tom Dienhart's answer:
Count on Oklahoma, TCU, Wisconsin, Stanford and Oregon returning to BCS action. The Ducks may be the shakiest choice, as it's impossible to tell if the program will be distracted by a likely NCAA investigation.

David Fox's answer:
Only fans of one BCS team from last season can safely start pricing tickets to Pasadena, New Orleans, Miami or Glendale - Oklahoma. Everyone else must wait. Although the past two preseason No. 1s did not reach a BCS game, the Sooners, the presumptive preseason No. 1 this season, look like a BCS team. Even if Oklahoma doesn't win the Big 12, the Sooners will go to the BCS as an at-large if they are eligible. After that, I don't see any sure bets. Oregon has the Willie Lyles controversy hanging over it, and Stanford has an unproven coach. But someone has to win the Pac-12, and they're still the favorites. Wisconsin may be the best team in the Big Ten, but the Badgers have their weaknesses, too. How will Russell Wilson meld with the existing team? Will he do it in time for the Nebraska game Oct. 1? In the ACC, Florida State is entering the season with plenty of fanfare, but this has been Virginia Tech's league of late. I could see them sneaking back in. Still, that, Oklahoma is the only team I feel confident will return to the BCS.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
It wouldn't shock me if only one team from last season returns to the BCS this season - Oklahoma. OU should win the Big 12 again, and the Sooners will go into the season as one of the favorites to get to the national title game. I would put Oregon, Stanford and Wisconsin in the second tier - a legit chance for a BCS bowl, assuming some questions are answered in the affirmative. Oregon should go into the season as the Pac-12 favorite, but the offseason tumult and rebuilt lines are reasons to worry. Can Stanford thrive without Jim Harbaugh (as well as two key assistants)? And is Russell Wilson going to be enough of a spark to get Wisconsin to the top of the Big Ten? As for the remaining six teams, I think fans of Arkansas, Auburn, Connecticut, Ohio State, TCU and Virginia Tech should start thinking about a "regular" bowl visit. Heck, any kind of bowl for UConn this season should be cause for a celebration.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I think Oklahoma's a good bet to make it back to a BCS game. I wouldn't be surprised if the Sooners are ranked first in each of the major preseason polls. I wouldn't be surprised if Oregon and Stanford make it back to a BCS game, either. I expect Oregon to win the Pac-12, and Andrew Luck's presence would make Stanford an attractive BCS at-large candidate. Wisconsin and Virginia Tech also have decent shots at returning to BCS games, though I'm not quite as confident about them as I am about Oklahoma, Oregon and Stanford. I think Wisconsin's the best team in the Big Ten this season, but as I mentioned in our roundtable discussion last week, I'd make Nebraska the slight favorite to win the conference because it plays in a weaker division and thus has an easier route to the championship game. While I expect Florida State to win the ACC, I think Virginia Tech might put together a good enough record to warrant an at-large selection.

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