LSU remained No. 1 and Alabama and Arkansas moved up to Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, in the BCS standings that were released on Sunday, marking the first time since three teams from the same conference have shared the medal stand.
Barring the kind of upsets that went down last week and caused this whole trifecta all but locks up an all-SEC national title game. And like the BCS itself, the math on this one is so screwy that Einstein couldn’t have imagined this SEC-nario.
Arkansas, which lost to Alabama earlier this season, can force a three-way tie atop the SEC West by beating LSU on Saturday. Because all three hail from the SEC West, they cannot play one another in SEC championship game.
So who does? Since they have rock-paper-scissored one another, the eighth tiebreaker says the highest-ranked team in the BCS would be crowned SEC West champions. The reward is a Dec. 3 date with a surging Georgia squad in the “neutral site” GeorgiaDome; the consolation prize for No. 2 would be an almost-sure spot in the BCS national title game in New Orleans. Who says second place is just the first loser?
The No. 3 team would find itself in more a precarious position between the penthouse and outhouse. If Georgia wins the SEC title game, No. 3 would likely become No. 2 and make the trip to the Louisiana SuperDome, the SEC football’s version of Graceland. But the Bulldogs also would earn a BCS bowl bid, which would set up a bizarre conflict between the BCS and SEC rulebooks.
The SEC awards its title game winner an automatic bid to one of the five BCS bowl games. The BCS says a conference can have no more than two representatives in those bowls. So if Georgia gets one and the SEC still has the top two teams, No. 2 could be demoted to the Capitol One Bowl.
The $64,000 (more like million) question then becomes how to rank them if Arkansas beats LSU. No. 2 Alabama might seem like the obvious choice to take over the top spot if it can beat Auburn in the Iron Bowl, but Arkansas would have a solid shot since its victory over LSU would be fresh on the minds of pollsters. The Razorbacks also would score points with the computers by beating the team with the toughest strength of schedule in the nation, but with the three teams sharing so many common opponents, the BCS’s mainframe might blow a fuse.
Of course, all of this is based on there being no more shakeups at the top like last week’s wild ones. Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State in double overtime and only tumbled from No. 2 to 4, but the Cowboys still have to get through Oklahoma, which got beat by Baylor and fell out of contention, not to mention the Big 12 title game. Virginia Tech edged North Carolina on Thursday and made a quantum leap to No. 5, but the Hokies still have to play Clemson in the ACC title game if they can get passed rival Virginia on Saturday. No. 6 Stanford, No. 7 Boise State and No. 9 and undefeated Houston would have to get a lot of help to move into the top two.
In another ironic twist, the SEC’s record of five straight league champions also being crowned national champs could be snapped while its streak of BCS title winners would extend to six. And should Arkansas come out on top, it would be the seventh SEC school and 10th different SEC team to hoist the hardware since the old Bowl Coalition started in 1992.
Not to beat a dead Buckeye, but the rest of the nation can turn their attention to the roundball now. The SEC can handle the football from here.