Since before they even played, there’s been talk of Alabama and LSU meeting in the title game for a rematch. Their contest was tight, at least by the numbers — no Alabama fan can be happy with the Tide’s performance and missed opportunities, but the final score of 9-6 in OT is a pretty shocking difference from the numbers either team racked up in the rest of their games.
BCS noticed, and didn’t punish Alabama much for the loss: they fell from #2 to #3, with Oklahoma State in the middle, and it stayed that way after last week. Oregon was at 4, and Oklahoma at 5.
Smart money said Bob Stoops and the Sooners would beat the Cowboys and push Alabama back to #2, but Christmas came early this week in the form of the unranked Iowa State Cyclones — who, even after their upset win, still have a losing record in the Big XII.
Previously 0-56-2 against teams in the top 6 of the AP, the Cyclones managed to push the game into double overtime before winning 37 to 31 in an unusual Friday night game.
But the weirdness wasn’t over yet, not by a long shot.
Earlier today, contender Oregon — who might’ve floated into #2 by a BCS unwilling to entertain an All-SEC title game — got bagged by USC. USC has no BCS rank, since they’re on probation, but AP ranks them at all of #18. In other words, it’s another pretty serious upset, and down go the Ducks because two-loss teams don’t play for championships. (Recall, of course, they lost to LSU in their opener.)
But the best is last: moments ago, #22 Baylor shocked the aforementioned Sooners with their second loss — the first ever win over Oklahoma for Baylor. They join Oregon in the two-loss-loser club, and the pool of legitimate title contenders gets that much smaller.
Who was behind Oklahoma, you ask? Why, the one-loss Arkansas team, naturally — who put a whipping on Mississippi State today, and will be rewarded for it.
Adding to the fun, Clemson collapsed vs. North Carolina State, to the tune of 37 to 13, which drops both Clemson and Virginia Tech, who lost to the Tigers back in October.
Just to lay it out more clearly, then, here’s the BCS going into this week, winners in bold and losers crossed out:
- LSU (undefeated)
Oklahoma State(first loss)
- Alabama (only loss was to LSU)
Oregon(second loss) Oklahoma(second loss)
- Arkansas (only loss was to Alabama)
Clemson(second loss today)
- Virginia Tech (only loss was Clemson on 10/1)
- Stanford (still playing Cal, but likely to win)
- Boise State (only loss was to then-unranked TCU)
This strongly implies that tomorrow’s BCS standings will start with LSU first, Alabama second, and Arkansas third (followed, I guess, by Stanford, Va. Tech, Boise, and Houston, but it hardly matters at this point).
It’s hard to see any other scenario unless someone puts their thumb on the scale. All three teams have one regular game left: Alabama plays Auburn next week, and Arkansas and LSU play each other. If Alabama and LSU both win — which is the most likely scenario — LSU plays for the SEC title against Georgia or South Carolina, and will win in a walk, but #2 will still be Alabama.
There’s too big of a gap between these three and the rest of the pack to see an easy path to anything but an all-SEC title matchup, which will doubtless send lots of non-Southerners into complete apoplexy. However, this might get us one step closer to a proper playoff in D-1 college football. Finally.