When Chris Davis ran back a missed Alabama field goal from under his goalposts all the way to the other end zone, he did his part to end the Crimson Tide's two-year reign as BCS champions. When Missouri defeated Texas A&M later, it's now nearly official.
Incredibly, Alabama is not quite finished as a contender for the 2013 BCS title game. The Tide are projected to drop to No. 4 in the next BCS standings and are in need of a semi-miracle to make it to Pasadena. But that path is not entirely closed.
This is what needs to happen: Both Florida State and Ohio State will have to lose their respective conference championship games, while Baylor and Oklahoma State will also have to lose their regular-season finales to hand the Big 12 title to three-loss Texas. If all that takes place, then 'Bama might edge Michigan State for a second all-SEC BCS final in three years.
|Projected BCS Standings|
|2||Ohio State||12-0||Big Ten||3|
|6||Oklahoma State||10-1||Big 12||7|
|10||Michigan State||11-1||Big Ten||11|
Why would Baylor and Oklahoma State also have to lose? You can't count on anything with the plethora of one-loss teams in the mix. There's the human element to consider as well: Voters simply might not be willing to sign off on another all-SEC BCS title game if they can help it, especially if the other team is a conference champion.
For now, the most intriguing question is whether Ohio State will hang on to its No. 2 spot over Auburn.
For this week, yes, but thanks to a boost in the computers, Auburn will make it uncomfortably close for the Buckeyes. And next week, there is a realistic, but slim, chance for the winning Tigers to leapfrog Ohio State if it scores an unimpressive victory over Michigan State that causes massive voter defection.
But most likely, if both Florida State and Ohio State win their respective conference title games, the SEC's seven-year stranglehold on the BCS title will be over. The last BCS championship game not to feature an SEC team was also held in Pasadena, when Vince Young and Texas ended USC's dynasty in the epic 2006 Rose Bowl.
Alabama's own dynasty ending should be a boon for the Orange Bowl, which will no doubt grab the Tide to replace Florida State in the game. Then the intrigue begins.
If Michigan State stays in the Top 14 even after a loss to Ohio State, the Rose Bowl is expected to stay loyal to the Big Ten and grab the Spartans, leaving the Orange Bowl with the next pick. The choices will be down to two-loss Clemson and two-loss Oregon, and also Baylor if it beats Texas but does not win the Big 12.
Hardest hit by the BCS arrangement since its inception and with its recent games filled with duds, the Orange Bowl just might opt for the attractive Alabama-Oregon matchup that for much of the season was projected to be the BCS title game. That's won't be a bad consolation prize.
|Projected BCS Bowl Matchups|
|BCS Championship||Florida State vs. Ohio State|
|Rose Bowl||Stanford vs. Michigan State|
|Orange Bowl||Alabama vs. Oregon|
|Sugar Bowl||Auburn vs. Central Florida|
|Fiesta Bowl||Oklahoma State vs. Northern Illinois|
|Projected as at end of season|
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