Thanks to the ACC, the Big East, Cam Newton, and the twin midmajors of TCU and Boise State, we may have the wildest ending to the season imaginable. Here are a few scenarios.
In the Big East, the current front-runner for the title is Pittsburgh who, despite burping up a game to UConn on Thursday, is still a full game ahead of ALL SEVEN OTHER BIG EAST TEAMS at the time of this writing (based on number of conference losses: Pitt has one while all others have two). I'm not even going to attempt to count the permutations of that fiasco, but needless to say, there's probably still a way for 3-5 Cincinnati to end up as conference champ.
The Big East BCS representative will likely have an 8-4 record at best, and a 7-5 record at worst, and be unranked.
In the Coastal Division, Virginia Tech nurses a two-games lead over Miami and UNC. Let's just assume that VT will win the division and play in front of nobody in the ACC championship game.
In the Atlantic Division, FSU, Maryland, and NC State all haev 2 conference losses. FSU is technically in the lead with 4 wins over the others' 3, but all three remain in play.
FUN SCENARIO! Maryland wins the Atlantic and pulls their voodoo to win the ACC with a 10-3 record. (Most likely? VT winning at 11-2 despite losing to James Madison.)
FUN SCENARIO #2! North Carolina beats VT, who then loses to Miami or Virginia. UNC wins the tiebreaker to win the division. Nothing better than having your conference winner being the team that lost practically their entire starting defense the week before the season started.
This could still go a few ways, but let's assume he is ruled ineligible. This opens up a myriad of possibilities - none of which are pleasant but all of which make for some mighty fine entertainment. (Hey, we all rubberneck. Admit it.)
First, let's suppose that Auburn wins out. With an undefeated record and having won the division, do they get to play in the SEC championship game? If not, then who does? If they do, they could very well win the SEC and then be bowl-ineligible. The BCS bowls will obviously take an SEC team in their place (the money's too lucrative not to), but would it be the SEC runner up (Florida or South Carolina) who would likely be ranked about 15-ish, or would it be the West runner up (likely LSU)?
FUN SCENARIO! Auburn gets ruled ineligible and can't represent the West. Arkansas wins out, including beating LSU. Alabama still loses to Auburn (perhaps Auburn still played Newton just because they're Auburn and, why not?) Out of all that, ARKANSAS becomes your West champs and plays South Carolina, just as Holly predicted.
BCS RAMIFICATIONS. Suddenly, you could have an SEC rep in the BCS who is only about 15th in the polls - exactly the stuff we've been mocking the Big East and ACC for years about. Meanwhile, Auburn is still sitting somewhere in the top 10 and ineligible, mucking things up for everybody.
TCU / BOISE STATE
Both schools win out. With Auburn out of the national title picture, TCU gets the second slot vs. an undefeated Oregon (which looks like a great game on paper). Boise State is third in the BCS, with Stanford at #4.
Yet somehow, Boise State gets passed over for an at-large bid. The Rose Bowl takes Stanford to play vs. the Big 10 winner because the Rose Bowl is no longer obligated to take a mid-major in place of Oregon (thanks, TCU!). With three conference winners ranked 15ish or worse, there are PLENTY of BCS conference at-large teams available for the bowl games, resulting in at-large bids for the Big 10, SEC, PAC-10, and Big 12.
The BCS takes this moment to remind us that their sole job is to place #1 vs. #2 in a game - a fact obviously borne out by having undefeated #3 in the Las Vegas Bowl while two unranked teams (ACC and Big East) get the big-boy payouts thanks to thei illustrious 8-4 records. (Even the most ardent anti-Boise advocate would have to admit that this is patently unfair.)
The Big Ten offers some fun as well. Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin could all finish with 1-loss conference records, resulting in a three-way tie for the conference title. All three are close enough in ranking that there's still the possibility for any of them to have the highest BCS ranking, even if all three win out. But no matter how it happens, you're looking at the very real possibility of three top-10 teams in the Big Ten, with only two of them getting BCS berths and the third getting to watch the Big East and ACC reps on TV. This would resolve itself if the Big Ten had either a championship game or a full round-robin, but we'll have to wait a year on that.
Conversely, what if Boise St. does get an at-large bid? Would the Big Ten end up with only one of three top-ten teams in the BCS games? Most likely not, but the possibility is still there.
Follow this: Arkansas wins out in their conference schedule (MSU and LSU). Alabama drops one to either MSU or Auburn. Auburn is out. Again, this is the scenario that places Arkansas in the SECCG. The worst case would be Arkansas somehow finding a way to lose to UTEP in all this, which is entirely possible because UTEP will destroy any hope you ever had of making money in Vegas. South Carolina beats Florida as well, setting up an Arkansas / South Carolina SECCG. Add a possible Carolina loss to Clemson (because they always seem to do that), and it could be the most lackluster SECCG ever.
Meanwhile, Alabama or LSU could somehow stay top-10ish and not get to go to Atlanta (especially LSU).
ALTERNATE SEC SCENARIO: Auburn is ineligible and LSU beats Mississippi and Arkansas, thus representing the SEC West in Atlanta. Need I say more?
Not saying this will happen, but this could happen:
SEC: Arkansas (11-2)
Big Ten: Michigan State (11-1)
Big 12: Oklahoma State (12-1)
PAC-10: Oregon (12-0)
Big East: Cincinnati (7-5)
ACC: Maryland (10-3)
And to think that there's no guarantee that the Big Ten will have a one-loss team at all. But by my count, there are still over 30 teams that have a shot at winning a BCS conference championship (and every single Big East team has at least a slim possibility).
* - At the time of this writing, Cam Newton's situation was still fluid. I hold no guarantee that it hasn't changed between writing and publication. Adjust the scenarios as appropriate.