Wow, I was *thisclose* to having to pull for Lane Kiffin at USC. Thanks to Stanford, now I don't have to.
When Texas A&M upset Alabama a weekend ago, the SEC needed some breaks if it was going to capture another national championship banner.
First, the league needed for Alabama to stay within the top four and not drop deeper down into the BCS standings well. That happened as Bama fell only to #4. Second, the SEC needed at least two of the three teams ahead of Alabama to lose over the course of the regular season’s final two weeks. And darned if two of those three didn’t lose on Saturday night!
1. Notre Dame — The Irish play at Southern Cal on Saturday, but the Trojans will be without starting quarterback Matt Barkley.
2. Alabama – The Tide finish the season at home against 3-8 Auburn and will then face…
3. Georgia – In the SEC Championship game. The Dawgs close out the season with a visit from Georgia Tech this weekend.
4. Florida -- The Gators face #10 Florida State in Tallahassee on Saturday. Whether starting quarterback Jeff Driskel will be back from an ankle injury remains a mystery this morning.
5. Oregon – The Ducks might be this year’s Alabama as there’s a chance they could lose their own Pac-12 North Division and still get voted into the national title game through a series of upsets and outside help.
6. Kansas State – The Wildcats are probably done, barring a long series of miracles.
LSU is ranked #7, Texas A&M #9, and South Carolina #12 in the latest standings.
As for the BCS Championship Game picture, it appears as though Notre Dame is in with a win over disappointing Southern Cal in LA. Then, barring a massive upset by either Auburn or Georgia Tech, the SEC Championship Game winner — either Alabama or Georgia — will most likely face the Irish in Miami with a chance to collect a seventh straight BCS crown for the SEC.
But if Notre Dame loses to Southern Cal, then things could get tricky. A one-loss SEC champ would reach Miami but who would that team face? If Florida downs Florida State, the Gators would make the most sense. Impressive on offense or not, UF would have come through the SEC with just one loss and knocked off rival FSU on the road.
But would voters who make up about two-thirds of the BCS formula really set up an SEC versus SEC title game for the second year in a row?
If Notre Dame loses, if the SEC produces a one-loss champ, and if Florida tops Florida State, we believe the voters might jump the Ducks above the Gators in order to prevent another all-SEC showdown. So even though Florida outranks Oregon right now, if both teams go unbeaten the rest of the way and if Notre Dame loses to open a slot in the BCS title game, we believe Oregon would be the most likely opponent for Alabama or Georgia in Miami, not the Gators.
Either way, the SEC went from the outside looking in to the inside looking out in one evening with the nation’s top two teams both falling on Saturday.
Unless there are massive upsets on the horizon, Mike Slive’s league looks like it’s in good shape to get another crack at the national crown. And with a break or two, it’s theoretically possible — though we think doubtful — that the league could put two teams in the BCS Championship.