Everyone is hurrying up to turn the shovels with dirt in an attempt to bury Alabama. But it won't do any good. Alabama is going to play for the national title despite the haters out there that were so happy that they lost. And, contrary to what is being said, they don't "need help." They only need to run the table. They don't need anyone to lose that isn't already going to lose.
And while I'm making bold predictions, here's another. Their opponent will not be Boise. Here's how it happens.
ESPN released a BCS projection on Monday one week ahead of when the real first release is set to happen. The projections, to everyone's surprise, showed Boise a temporary No. 1 and showed Alabama having slid all the way to No. 10. But Alabama's road back to Glendale is not nearly as lengthy or rocky as some of the talking heads will have you believe. Here's how it happens.
First, it should be reminded that Alabama doesn't need to reach No. 1, just No. 2. So they need to move eight spots. They hold the power to remove two of those obstacles in Auburn and LSU. Bama will most likely be favored in each of those games even though LSU is a night game at Death Valley.
Saban is just a better coach than Miles and he coached at LSU, so he knows what's up with that. The last time Bama went there, they came out victorious. As for Auburn, that will be at Bryant-Denny and we know how the Tide performs there. So that's two obstacles removed.
OU and Nebraska could each lose a game between now and the end of the season. But even if they don't, one will definitely knock the other off if they both reach the Big 12 Championship game. So there's another one, possibly two obstacles removed.
Michigan State is currently sitting right in front of Alabama. Alabama is only .008 behind them in this ESPN projection. Alabama will easily leapfrog them as the ranked teams keep showing up on Alabama's strength of schedule. Besides, Michigan State hasn't had an undefeated season since the 1950s (I heard) so whether they lose or Alabama leapfrogs them, they will be sitting below Alabama soon anyway.
But there is another problem holding Michigan State behind. There is the issue of the fact that Ohio State is ranked higher than them and, because they don't play each other this year, there is no chance for Sparty to knock Ohio State off.
Between the two of them, Ohio State has the best chance to appear in Glendale. And if they do, there is a zero chance that Michigan State will appear with them. Two teams from the same league would be frowned on more than a Boise State appearance.
Thus, Alabama will gain another spot without anyone having to lose other than those that play each other. In other words, still no help needed.
So let's assume that we get to December 4, conference championship Saturday, and if Alabama runs the table, they will be sitting at worst in seventh place and that's assuming that Ohio State, Oregon, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Boise, and TCU all haven't lost.
And since Florida lost to LSU, the odds are very good that good ole Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks will be the opponent for the Tide in Atlanta in what will be the mostly highly watched and talked about game of the year by the talking heads.
And let's say Alabama comes into the game with a destroyer attitude like they did with Florida last year and tears apart the highly ranked SEC East champ South Carolina in a game to "set the record straight."
Think about it...South Carolina won't have home field advantage this time, has no experience in the SEC title game hoopla (while Bama will have been three times straight), Stephen Garcia will not have a second "game of his life", and Saban will have revenge on his mind.
If you don't believe this, just think back and remember the buzz coming out of last year's game when Bama dominated Florida and made Tebow cry. There were many that thought Texas didn't deserve to be in the title game. But nobody after seeing what Bama did to Florida was doubting the Tide. The same will happen if this year's game goes down like I described.
Meanwhile, either Nebraska or Oklahoma is losing the same day in the Big 12 title game. And the pollsters will have the opportunity to really reshuffle the deck one last time.
Besides the fact that ESPN and CBS both have big contracts with the SEC and the fact that the SEC has obviously set itself on a higher standard by winning the last four title games, and the computer bump that will occur from winning another game against a highly ranked team, here's what else the voters will have to weigh on a team by team basis...
The Buckeyes are 0-9 against the SEC. Because they don't play a conference championship game, they'll have 12 wins, the exact same as Alabama. But Alabama's 12 wins will be a better body of work. A 12-win Alabama leapfrogs a 12-win Ohio State. The computers are hating Ohio State for some reason which won't help their cause.
Oklahoma (or Nebraska)
Texas is having a down year in a conference already considered inferior to the SEC and more so this year. The coming departure of Nebraska and Colorado leaving the league with 10 teams combined with the talk of demise of the league all summer didn't help their prestige either.
Therefore, most voters would consider the Big 12 champ to be less worthy than the SEC champ in either case...even if the SEC champ has a loss on the resume. Consider that (Ch)Oklahoma has lost their last four BCS bowls and Nebraska's SOS is hardly better than Boise's.
Boise and TCU
By sesaon's end, Boise and TCU will have the two worst SOS among top ten teams. A 12-win defending champion Alabama with wins over seven ranked teams along the way will leapfrog both Boise and TCU. Their fans hate it but know it to be true.
So there are the final four spots that Alabama will jump with an impressive win in the SEC title game...all without anyone else having to beat a team in front of them. Alabama will play Oregon who is currently No. 2 and will become No. 1 if they keep winning as Boise's SOS will sink them in the computers.
But if Oregon loses a game before the end of the season, there's an even better chance for Alabama to punch their ticket to Glendale as even one less obstacle remains.
If Oregon does lose, Bama will play the Nebraska/Oklahoma winner provided that team is undefeated. A 13 win Big 12 team is more worthy than a 12 win Big Ten, or a 12-win Boise or TCU team (and remember the computers are not being kind to Ohio State and in the current BCS projection Ohio State is behind Oklahoma).
In fact, if OU, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Oregon all suffer losses before season's end, I still predict Boise won't be Alabama's opponent but it will be TCU provided that TCU dominates Utah or Boise has a squeaker along the way. There are no less than seven things that have to happen for Boise to play in the title game. They won't all happen. But that's another article.
Finally, one last stray thought. There's a big wild card here that nobody is talking about yet but will if they stay undefeated. If for some reason Auburn beats Bama, goes undefeated, and wins the SEC (which means they will have 13 wins), there's not a chance in the world that the BCS powers would screw them again like 2003.
Mike Slive is one of the two most powerful players in college football. He will personally see to it that this doesn't occur. Take that to the bank. But I think Auburn will lose to Bama and one more so it won't end up mattering. But if I'm wrong and they do win out, they will get the chance.
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