Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bama Loves ‘Em Some Iowa State

By: @LivingCrimson

Reese Strickland/Getty ImagesRoll, Cyclones, Roll!  Bama is back in the BCS picture.

Unranked Iowa State upset #2 Oklahoma State 37-31 in double overtime Friday night. The Clones showed up with some gutsy offensive playcalling, a defense that forced five turnovers, and a big storm of BCS chaos.

As Michael Casagrande reported, the Tide’s LT Barrett Jones tweeted “Absolute mayhem in Hotel Capstone. Everyone in the halls hugging each other. Now WE control our destiny!”

One UofA student tweeted “Heard all the people from the RV's in the parking lot cheering from 7 floors up in my room!! #IOWASTATE #ROLLTIDE”.

What does all this mean for Bama’s chances to make the BCS national championship game, or the SEC championship game for that matter?

Logically Alabama will move up to #2 and obviously must win its two remaining regular season games against Georgia Southern and #24 Auburn. Dominating those opponents and winning convincingly would be the best way for the Tide to maintain a #2 BCS rank. If Bama were to fall below second place, any chance for the BCS National Championship Game would be lost.

The last BCS rankings to determine the #1 and #2 teams will be released the Sunday after the SEC Championship Game. Which teams stand between the Crimson Tide and the crystal trophy?


LSU


#1 LSU and #11 Houston now stand as the lone undefeateds in the BCS Top 25. Conference USA Houston’s signature win is UCLA, so not much chance of advancement for the Cougars unless several teams ahead of them crash and burn over the next three weeks.

To finish out the regular season, LSU must face Ole Miss today and Arkansas next week. Les Miles has never had an undefeated season in his head coaching career and has lost two of his last three games versus Bobby Petrino’s Hogs. If LSU fell to Arkansas, the SEC West would have a three-way tie between Alabama, Arkansas and LSU. In that event, the SEC rules for divisional tie-breaker would determine the team to advance to the SEC Championship Game.

For Bama to be the SEC West team in Atlanta:

  1. LSU must fall below both Alabama and Arkansas in the BCS rankings;
  2. Alabama and Arkansas must stay within five rankings of each other for the head-to-head results to kick in;
  3. By virtue of Alabama’s win over Arkansas, the Tide would advance to the SEC title game.

If LSU beats Arkansas, then Bama’s route to New Orleans will depend on the rise and fall of several other teams.


Oklahoma


#5 Oklahoma and #4 Oregon are tied in the BCS computer rankings. The human polls moved Oregon ahead of Oklahoma in just the last week. However, Oklahoma faces three tough games to finish out the regular season (#22 Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma State), which should restore Oklahoma’s lead over Oregon if the Sooners win out.

In fact, an Oklahoma win over Baylor and then Iowa State (which beat #2 Oklahoma State) will likely be enough to move the Sooners ahead of Alabama in the polls. A win over Oklahoma State would probably make the lead ironclad.

There is no longer a Big 12 conference championship game, but that fact should not affect the strength of schedule for the Sooners this year.

If LSU wins out the regular season and the SEC title game, my expectation would be to see Oklahoma in the BCS championship game.


Oregon


#4 Oregon faces two remaining regular season games, at home today against USC and next week against Oregon State. USC spoiled #4 Stanford’s chances at the BCS title game. An Oregon win over the Trojans will probably keep the Ducks ahead of Oklahoma in the polls for another week, but not be enough of a boon to keep Oregon ahead for the duration if Oklahoma wins its remaining games.

Chip Kelly has won both matches versus Oregon State in his tenure. The rivalry is intense though and the outcome is never certain. If Oregon loses to Oregon State, it would still advance to the Pac-12 championship game by virtue of its win over Stanford. However, if the Ducks lose to USC and Oregon State, then Stanford would advance to the Pac-12 game.

If Oregon wins out and advances to the Pac-12 conference game, it will face UCLA or Arizona State (or an outside chance of Utah) (USC the leader cannot advance due to NCAA sanctions). UCLA is currently in the catbird seat to advance, and there’s the rub. If UCLA defeats Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, then the Bruins defeat by Houston in the regular season comes into play in the BCS rankings. The BCS would probably move Houston up to Oregon’s spot in the top 5.


Clemson


#7 Clemson and #8 Virginia Tech are longshots to be considered for the BCS championship game. Clemson’s most likely opponent in the ACC conference championship game will be Virginia Tech. If Clemson beats North Carolina State today, #12 South Carolina next week and then Virginia Tech, the Tigers have the most opportunity to advance into the top 5 of the polls. If LSU wins out in the regular season and the SEC title game, AND Oklahoma and Oregon lose in a big way, Clemson potentially could advance over Alabama into the #2 spot if the human polls don’t want to see a Bama-LSU rematch.


Georgia


#14 Georgia has two regular season games left, at home today versus Kentucky and next week at Georgia Tech. Assuming a win over Kentucky, Georgia will represent the SEC East in the SEC Championship Game.

If Georgia beats LSU in Atlanta, it’s highly unlikely Alabama would have any chance to make the BCS title game unless the other one-loss contenders failed in key games before December 3rd. Too many questions about the Tide’s “quality” opponents would prevent the human polls from keeping Bama in the top 2.


Playoffs


The camp supporting a playoff system in college football would probably like to see an Alabama-LSU rematch to boost its argument against the BCS system. My co-blogger @GulfCoastTider has an excellent article about the 2013 demise of the current bowl structure.

Depending on the strength of this view, the human polls could conceivably keep Bama in the #2 spot in the rankings despite any outcomes in the other one-loss team games. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Tide boasts a Heisman contender in Trent Richardson and the best defense in college football in 25 years.

All of the above is conjecture and can change rapidly over the next three weeks. The Tide must continue to focus on the things it can control, win its games and let the season speak for itself. And continue to carry the torch for the little team that could, the Iowa State Cyclones.

More Bama updates on Twitter @LivingCrimson

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