The Alabama Crimson Tide won the last two BCS National Championships with a loss on their record, giving even the loser of Saturday's Top 10 clash against the Texas A&M Aggies hope for the remainder of the 2013 season.
However, in the two previous seasons, a near-perfect storm played out in favor of the Tide. This year, the loser won't be so lucky.
Both the Aggies and the Tide are in nearly identical situations: A win will put them in the driver's seat to make it to Pasadena, Calif. for the BCS title game. From there, they will face similar schedules, with the toughest remaining tests coming against LSU and, potentially, Georgia in the Southeastern Conference title game.
The losing team will be put in a difficult situation, in which a borderline miracle must take place for them to make it to the promised land.
Unquestionably, the loser will have to win the remaining games on its schedule, including the contest with LSU. Alabama hosts LSU on Nov. 9 while Texas A&M will head to Baton Rouge, La. to play the Tigers on Nov. 23.
Next, the loser will likely need the winner to win out as well, mirroring Alabama's backdoor route to the title game from the 2011-12 season, setting up a rematch at the Rose Bowl for the crystal football.
That undefeated route will include taking the SEC West Division title and taking down SEC East Division favorite Georgia. If Georgia goes 12-1 and wins the SEC championship, the Bulldogs are almost guaranteed a BCS title shot over Saturday's loser.
But the way LSU and Georgia have been playing early this season, that scenario will be much easier said than done for both teams.
Even if the winner and loser do manage to go undefeated for the remainder of the season, taking down UGA and LSU along the way, the loser will still need a lot of help.
Oregon, Stanford, Ohio State, Clemson, Florida State and Louisville all look poised to potentially run the table.
Of course, Oregon and Stanford will play during the regular season, as will Florida State and Clemson.
This still leaves four teams capable of finishing the season undefeated.
Even if Ohio State falters, and the Pac-12 and ACC title hopefuls do as well, Louisville is almost guaranteed to go undefeated.
And even with their weak schedule, the Cardinals and their Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, could be slotted in the BCS title game ahead of a one-loss SEC team.
As the last two seasons have shown, anything can happen. However, there are just too many variables in play and too many contenders.
The loser of Saturday's game in College Station won't be completely out of the national title hunt, but they will be carrying on with a slingshot, while the other contenders tote high-powered rifles.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!