The SEC, which has won college football’s past six national championships, will be shut out of this season’s title game if the latest Bowl Championship Series standings hold up.
Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M on Saturday dropped the Crimson Tide from No. 1 to No. 4 in the BCS standings, behind three undefeated teams — No. 1 Kansas State, No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Notre Dame — and ahead of No. 5 Georgia.
The top two teams in the final BCS standings, which will be released Dec. 2, meet for the national title Jan. 7 in Miami.
The latest standings, released Sunday night, hardly shut the door to the title game for the SEC. But for an SEC team to get there at this point apparently would require that two of the top three teams, all of which are 10-0, lose a game in the next few weeks.
If that happens, and if Georgia and Alabama win their final two regular-season games to carry 11-1 records into the SEC Championship game, the winner of the Dec. 1 game in the Georgia Dome could move into the BCS top two.
Georgia clinched an SEC title game berth by routing Auburn on Saturday. Alabama will be the Bulldogs’ opponent if the Crimson Tide beats Auburn on Nov. 24.
Alabama’s loss to A&M left the SEC without an undefeated team. Six one- or two-loss SEC teams are ranked Nos. 4 through 9 in this week’s BCS standings: Alabama (9-1), Georgia (9-1), Florida (9-1), LSU (8-2), Texas A&M (8-2) and South Carolina (8-2) in that order.
Georgia coach Mark Richt said he won’t dwell on scenarios that might or might not put the Bulldogs in the national title game.
“I’m not going to sit there and say, ‘If this, if that,’” Richt said. “We just know if we can keep winning, there’s a chance. But there will be who-knows-how-many teams thinking they still have a chance.”
If not Richt, plenty of other folks will be looking at the various permutations that could rearrange the BCS standings.
The three unbeaten teams atop the standings, all of which moved up one spot from last week, have some challenging games left on their regular-season schedules.
Kansas State has Big 12 games left against Baylor and Texas (No. 15 BCS). Oregon still must get by Stanford (No. 13), Oregon State (No. 16) and the Pac-12 Championship game. Notre Dame has games left against Wake Forest and USC (No. 18)
“If we win out,” Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said, “who knows what happens, who might lose? But we can’t worry about that stuff.”
The BCS standings include three components that count one-third each: the USA Today poll of current coaches; the Harris Interactive poll of former coaches, administrators and players and current and former media members; and an average of six computer polls.
Georgia is No. 4 in this week’s USA Today poll (up from No. 5 last week), No. 5 in the Harris poll (same as last week) and No. 6 in the computers (same as last week). Overall, the Bulldogs’ No. 5 position is the same as last week.
Alabama, No. 1 across the board last week, fell to No. 5 in USA Today, No. 4 in Harris and No. 5 in the computers.
Oregon is No. 1 in the USA Today and Harris polls but trails Kansas State in the BCS standings because of the computers, which rank the Ducks No. 4 and the Wildcats No. 2 (behind Notre Dame).
Also, in this week’s Associated Press poll, which is not part of the BCS formula, Alabama is No. 4 and Georgia No. 5. Oregon is AP’s No. 1.
Watch video highlights from UGA’s win over Auburn.
– Tim Tucker, AJC