AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 26: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates their 42-14 win over the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Restrain the jubilation for the time being because much can change in seven days, but Alabama has surged out to a commanding second place position in the BCS and a trip to New Orleans looks all but assured for the Crimson Tide at this point. The full standings per ESPN:
Oklahoma State actually gained on Alabama in the overall BCS standings, but that was fully expected. Pay it no mind. With Arkansas falling hard in Baton Rouge, OSU passed Arkansas on the ballot of every single voter in the Coaches' and Harris polls, which gave the Pokes a big boost but otherwise did nothing for the Tide given that Alabama was already ahead of the Hogs in both polls. Realistically, Oklahoma State was always going to make up some of the difference in that regard. Again, pay that no mind, it doesn't really matter.
The real shocker here, however, is that Alabama actually overtook Oklahoma State in the computer polls, .9500 to .9300. Part of that can be chalked up to the victories SEC East teams had in non-conference play this weekend against Georgia Tech, Clemson, and Wake Forest, and part is likely also due to Alabama's blowout win of Auburn (which was ranked in the BCS coming into the game) and the fact that Oklahoma State was idle. Whether Alabama can sustain those gains, however, in the face of an Oklahoma State win over Oklahoma remains to be seen, and in all likelihood a quality win over the Sooners would probably see the Pokes erase the gains made this weekend by the Crimson Tide and may even allow OSU to retake their previous lead in the computer polls. Even so, exactly zero people expected 'Bama to surge into a strong lead over Oklahoma State in the computer polls this past weekend, so this comes as a major surprise.
Moving forward, the real concern for Alabama, however, remains in the computer polls and it is based upon the strength of that which could give Oklahoma State a potential opportunity to reach New Orleans. If the Pokes can regain their previous lead in the computer polls, Oklahoma State can pass Alabama in the overall BCS standings without passing the Tide in either the Coaches' Poll or the Harris Poll. All that the Pokes need to do in that scenario is poach about 25% of the existing second place votes away from Alabama -- assuming they finish third in every other ballot -- to edge past the Tide in the overall BCS standings. Again, 'Bama can finish ahead of Oklahoma State in both the Coaches' Poll and the Harris Poll and yet still not make it to New Orleans so long as Oklahoma State regains their previous lead in the computer polls.
And it is in this regard that the presence of both Stanford and Virginia Tech are so important to the Crimson Tide. For every ballot that Stanford or Virginia Tech is voted above Oklahoma State, that is another second place vote that OSU must poach away from Alabama to make up the difference. Remember, the above 25% scenario assumes that Oklahoma State finishes third in every other ballot, and obviously for every ballot that places either Stanford or Virginia Tech (or both) ahead of the Cowboys simply blows that assumption out of the water. To that end, be pulling hard for a Virginia Tech win this weekend over Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.
Furthermore, keep in mind that the only real threat here is Oklahoma State. Stanford and Virginia Tech may be third and fourth in the human polls, but their scores in the computer polls are so weak that they have no chance whatsoever of passing the Crimson Tide. For better or for worse, the BCS National Championship Game on January 9th in the Superdome will either be LSU v. Alabama or LSU v. Oklahoma State. Everyone else is merely a spectator at this point.
All in all, Alabama finds itself in a surprisingly bullish position. Again, no one expected Alabama to surge ahead of Oklahoma State in the computer polls, and now going into the final weekend Oklahoma State must beat Oklahoma, move back ahead of the Tide in the computer polls, and then steal away enough second place votes from Alabama such that they can pass the Tide in the BCS. Hell had to freeze over to get Alabama back into national championship contention, and hell will probably have to freeze over again to prevent the Tide from getting a rematch with LSU. Is that possible? Yes, but the odds it happening seem exceedingly low. On the whole, OSU needs a win against Oklahoma (the Pokes opened as a three-point favorite), a screw-job of 1966 and 1977 proportions in the human polls, and for the computer polls to immensely reward a victory over what would then be a 9-3 Oklahoma team at home.
Don't book that trip to New Orleans just yet, but sweet holy hell do the numbers ever look good a mere seven days away from decision day.