Sunday, November 13, 2011

Even if Arkansas beats LSU, Bama not automatically in the SEC Championship Game

I stand corrected on the original post. Scroll down for an update.

On social media sites, there is a huge amount of chatter regarding what happens if Arkansas beats LSU on November 25. The story-line is as follows: “In the case of a three-way tie for the SEC West, the highest ranked team in the BCS goes to the SEC Championship Game.”

I hate to be the bearer of bad news for my fellow Tide faithful, but this is only partially correct.  Here are the procedures for resolving two- and three-team ties in the two SEC Divisions:

Two-team tie-breaker procedure

    1. Head-to-head competition between the two tied teams.
    2. Records of the tied teams within the division.
    3. Records against the team within the division with the best overall (divisional and non-divisional) Conference record and proceeding through the division. Multiple ties within the division will be broken from first to last.
    4. Complete record vs. all non-divisional opponents.
    5. Complete record vs. all common non-divisional teams if there be any.
    6. Record vs. common non-divisional opponent (if there be any) with the best overall Conference (divisional and non-divisional) record and proceeding through other common non-divisional teams based on their order of finish within their division.
    7. The tied team with the highest ranking in the Bowl Championship Series Standings following the last weekend of regular-season games shall be the divisional representative in the SEC Championship Game.

Three or more-team procedure

    1. (Once the tie has been reduced to two teams, go to the two-team tie-breaker format.)
    2. Combined head-to-head record among the tied teams.
    3. Record of the tied teams within the division.
    4. Records against the team within the division with the best overall (divisional and non-divisional) Conference record and proceeding through the division. Multiple ties within the division will be broken from first to last.
    5. Complete record vs. non-division teams.
    6. Complete record vs. all common non-divisional teams.
    7. Record vs. common non-divisional team with the best overall Conference (divisional and non-divisional) record and proceeding through other common non-divisional teams based on their order of finish within their division.
    8. The tied team with the highest ranking in the Bowl Championship Series Standings following the last weekend of regular-season games shall be the divisional representative in the SEC Championship Game, unless the second of the tied teams is ranked within five-or-fewer places of the highest ranked tied team. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the SEC Championship Game.

Note the emphasized text from Rule #8 of the three team SEC Tiebreaker procedure. If Alabama, LSU and Arkansas are all tied, the highest ranked team in the BCS is not automatically selected to play in the Championship Game. If Arkansas beats LSU and the loss sends them five or fewer spots below Alabama in the BCS rankings, LSU goes to Atlanta instead of Alabama by way of its victory over the Tide in Tuscaloosa on Nov 5.

Alabama is currently ranked No. 3 in the BCS standings. If Arkansas beats LSU, Alabama would move up to No. 2 behind Oklahoma State. The loss to Arkansas would have to put LSU at No. 7 or lower in order for Alabama to go to Atlanta. Arkansas would also move up in the standings, perhaps as high as No.5 or No. 4, and Alabama would own the tiebreaker based on its victory in September.

But it is unlikely that LSU would fall as far as No. 7 or lower unless the Razorbacks absolutely destroy the Bayou Bengals two weeks from now.

A better scenario for Alabama reaching the BCS Championship Game in New Orleans would be to have Oklahoma knock off Oklahoma State. This would likely have Alabama facing LSU in a rematch of the Showdown in T-Town, a scenario that would provoke outrage in fans of every other conference not named the SEC.

UPDATE: In the comments, Donnie points out that LSU would have to fall below Arkansas in the BCS standings for Alabama to go to Atlanta. Alabama owns the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Razorbacks and would go to the Championship Game if Arkansas beats LSU.

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2 comments :

Donnie Manis said...

Actually, LSU doesn't have to drop all the way to #7, they just have to drop below Arkansas. If that happens, Bama and Arkansas are the two highest rated teams for purposes of the "five-apart" rule, and of course Bama would win that tiebreaker.

Benny Tide said...

I might be crazy for saying this...but what does Alabama gain from playing in the SEC Championship? A chance to get upset by Georgia? Now I realize this post is a few days old so I'm hitting with newer information. But with the losses yesterday by the Sooners and the Ducks, combined with the Cowboys loss on Friday night, all Alabama has to do is win against Auburn and they should be set. That is, as long as LSU wins. If LSU gets upset, does the national championship become an Arkansas-LSU rematch? Or, do we then go to Atlanta and lose and get dismissed entirely? As sick as it might make us, we actually should root for LSU on Saturday.