Remember when Gundy said he probably would have to put Alabama ahead of Oklahoma State "right now." That was so last week. "There's no question Oklahoma State should be No. 2 right now," Gundy said Saturday night. Unlike Saban, Gundy doesn't have a vote in the USA Today poll. The actual voters aren't supposed to be guided by self-interest. They're not supposed to try to arrange a game they think might be more entertaining than a rematch of a game they've already seen. "People have to decide whether they want to see a 9-6 game or a 39-36 game," Gundy said in a burst of irrational exuberance. "This is the opportunity for people to find out how good the defense is in the SEC."
With every regular season and conference championship game settled, attention turns immediately to the BCS bowls. Matt Hayes projects the lineup: BCS National Championship Game: LSU vs. Alabama. No matter how distasteful two teams from the same conference looks, it's still the two best teams in the country. Enjoy what could be an epic game. Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford. Cowboys' loss at Iowa State too much to overcome in the human polls. Oklahoma State can still earn an Associated Press national title if Alabama beats LSU and the Cowboys hang a number on Stanford.
"At the end of the day, we don’t care what anybody says," Shepard said. "We’re 13-0. If we’ve got to play Bama, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma … we welcome anybody. We’re not scared of anybody." LSU senior offensive guard Will Blackwell said he didn’t think it was fair that Alabama would get a shot at the national title without winning its conference title. "But I’m not a voter, and my opinion doesn’t really matter," Blackwell said. "If we beat them again, we’ll be the best team there ever was."
A rematch looked to be inevitable. As LSU finished off its resounding victory over Georgia in the SEC title game Saturday afternoon, it seemed the Tigers were destined to face Alabama again in the BCS championship game. But all that might have changed Saturday night after Oklahoma State delivered an emphatic rout of Oklahoma, who had won Bedlam eight consecutive times going in. That, coupled with Virginia Tech's meltdown in the ACC championship game, plus a few peripheral events, might be enough to send the Cowboys to face LSU for the BCS title on Jan. 9 in New Orleans. The final BCS Standings, to be unveiled Sunday night at 8:15 p.m. ET, should feature a near photo-finish for No. 2 between OSU and Alabama, with the computers locking in the Cowboys at No. 2 and Alabama at No. 3. And then it would be up to the voters to render their final verdict.
Mike Slive, commissioner of the SEC, said he believes in the BCS system. "What I’d like to see is the two best teams in the country play each other for the national championship," Slive said on the Georgia Dome field after the league title game Saturday. And does Slive believe the two best teams are from the SEC? "I guess they are," he said.
For the most part, the characters played their roles perfectly, doing what they were expected to do in front of appreciative crowds. Just what the script called for on championship weekend, setting up tonight’s Bowl Championship Series selection show. What was missing was the drama, the anticipation - the fun parts of Selection Sunday each March when the NCAA Tournament field is announced. And what probably will be missing, for most of the country at least, is the eagerness of seeing No. 1 and No. 2 face off Jan. 9 in New Orleans. Why? Barring an aberration in the final polls and computer rankings, we’ve already seen it. Top-ranked LSU beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa last month, 9-6 in overtime, in a battle for supremacy in the SEC West.
In breaking down the cases for both teams, OSU has the advantage of making a big final impression and being a conference champion with wins against Oklahoma, Kansas State and Baylor. Alabama fans will point to lone loss by the Cowboys against 6-6 Iowa State, while its team fell to LSU in overtime. More will be know once the USA TODAY coaches poll and Harris Interactive polls are released Sunday afternoon. The final standings will be unveiled in the evening and until then there will be some nervous people in both Stillwater and Tuscaloosa.
TR: We've heard so much about the potential for a rematch. If you had the power to change the system, if you wish to in any way, how might you change it, Nick?
NS: I just think that everybody needs to decide what they want. If you want the best two teams in college football to play then there has to be a format to decide that. If you want a regional game that matches up people from different parts of the country you can't say let's have the best two teams play. It's not really up to me. I can't really be objective here. We do have a dog in this hunt. That's my opinion.
Sorry, 'Bama, the short stick should be yours. Gundy and Stoops are right. You had your shot at LSU and you lost. You should be out. It's as unfair as anything out there — other than not letting Oklahoma State have a crack at the Tigers too. An important element of the argument for letting Gundy and his Cowboys leapfrog Nick Saban's Crimson Tide is a human element worthy of reflection even if, based on how they assess these things, few computers or voting sports writers have taken note. On Thursday, Nov. 17, a plane carrying Oklahoma State women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna crashed in Arkansas, killing them and two others. This for a school that almost 11 years earlier had lost players and coaches from the men's basketball team in a plane crash in Colorado.
editor's note: 1. It's disgusting to try and use tragedy to make your case. 2. But if you really want to use that tactic, take a drive down 15th street in Tuscaloosa.
Three more wins against top 25 BCS teams. Three more victories against teams with winning records. Two more wins against teams .500 or better. A schedule featuring an average opponent that ranks 20 places better in the Sagarin rankings. Better victories against a tougher schedule. Now imagine Oklahoma State's name is Alabama's. Maybe that would do the trick. Maybe then folks could wrap their minds around the fact that Oklahoma State -- no more Chokie State -- has played a tougher schedule and has more quality victories than Alabama. How bout these Cowboys? The outright Big 12 champions very well could be the nation's second-best team. Oklahoma State made its case with a historic 44-10 Bedlam beatdown of No. 10-ranked Oklahoma Saturday night before a raucous Boone Stadium crowd of 58,141. Is Oklahoma State the nation's second-best team? This won't play well in SEC country: but, yes, I think so.
Oklahoma State began the day fifth in both the Harris and coaches’ polls. Virginia Tech's loss to Clemson in the ACC title game helped but perhaps not enough. If the computers stay basically the same, Palm says Okie State has to finish at least 19 points ahead of Alabama in each of the human polls to have a chance. Oklahoma State currently trails Alabama by 342 points in the Harris poll and 166 points in the coaches' poll. That essentially means the Cowboys are going to have to pass Stanford, which didn’t play, and Virginia Tech in the human polls. "I'm not sure one team ahead of [Oklahoma State] losing and one team putting up a big number [Clemson] is going to change the fact that everyone thought all along that LSU and Alabama were the two best teams," Palm said. "The voters would have to have an epiphany. That's basically what we're talking about."
"I certainly understand, if college football decides there should be two SEC teams playing for the national championship," Miles said. "It's a very special conference, very quality teams. I can tell you that they're a great team. We'll look forward to competing well against them."
The question of whether or not No. 2 Alabama should be penalized already has been answered. While No. 3 Oklahoma State beat its archrival No. 10 Oklahoma, 44-10, getting a last and very powerful word before the BCS judges, its rival for the Mercedes-Benz Superdome sideline opposite No. 1 LSU watched mutely from Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide didn't play Saturday because it's not a conference champion. That's a feeling with which the Cowboys are all too familiar. They had never won an outright conference championship. Ever. Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, who five days ago explained that it wouldn't be fair to rank his Cowboys ahead of the Tide, had a change of heart Saturday night. "They had their shot," Gundy said. "Just give us ours."
We head into Sunday night's selection show with two huge mysteries hovering over the BCS. First and foremost, will Alabama hold off Oklahoma State for the No. 2 spot in the national title game? I've done BCS projections below for both scenarios.
Were you watching Saturday night, Harris and Coaches' Poll voters? Did you see BCS No. 3 Oklahoma State (11-1) demolish its archrival Oklahoma (9-3) 44-10, and in doing so -- pay close attention to this part -- win its conference championship? You have a vexing decision to make Sunday morning, and be warned, if you choose wrong a certain multibillionaire may come after you. "If we don't get in the BCS [title game], if I have the power to do it, I'm going to have an investigation," Oklahoma State mega-booster T. Boone Pickens said after Saturday night's game. "After the way we handled OU tonight, I just can't imagine LSU playing Alabama twice. It looks like an SEC-closed system if that happens."
Now, the pressing issues will be of the off-the-field variety. No matter what the national title game matchup, a lot of people will be unhappy. For LSU's part, a rematch against Alabama isn't that big of a deal. "We would be honored to play them again," Miles said Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa. After today's game, SEC commissioner Mike Slive walked through the bowels of the Georgia Dome wearing a wide smile. Asked who he has at No. 2, he laughed. "I don't vote, baby," he said. Moments later, he greeted former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer, the godfather of the BCS. The man who created the system chatted with the man who has benefitted the most from it. If the polls hold, the SEC will win its sixth consecutive national title. (Which makes it even more odd that it was Slive -- and ACC commissioner John Swofford -- who were shot down when they proposed a plus-one system a few years ago that might have allowed another league to win a national title.)