The stunning upset of the No. 8 Texas A&M Aggies over the No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide shook up the BCS rankings Saturday, moving Alabama out of the prime position for a spot in the BCS title game.
The Tide, ranked No. 1 in the BCS rankings heading into Saturday’s game, fell to No. 4 after its loss to the Aggies. With the loss, Alabama’s chances at giving the Southeastern Conference a seventh-consecutive national title have greatly diminished.
Even with the blemish on its record, however, Alabama still has a slim chance to make the BCS National Championship game in Miami. To do that, the Tide obviously needs to remain undefeated for the rest of the season.
The fact that Alabama will likely have a matchup against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship certainly won’t hinder its title hopes, either. It would be best for Alabama if the Bulldogs also remain with only one loss heading into the SEC championship – it would be more impressive for the Tide to beat a one-loss, top-five opponent than otherwise.
For that to happen, however, Alabama will need to be able to rebound from its loss to the Aggies.
“This team can still accomplish a lot,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “We have two games left. Everyone needs to recommit themselves to playing a little better.”
The fact that two of the top three teams don’t have a conference championship may also work in the Tide’s favor. Alabama will have another chance to impress voters in Atlanta, Ga., while these teams remain out of sight, idle. It may be enough for Alabama to jump a spot.
Even if that scenario plays out, however unlikely, Alabama’s chances of making the national title game remain largely in the hands of the nation’s three remaining undefeated teams: No. 1 Kansas State, No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Notre Dame.
Alabama’s chances of making the national title would be much greater if two of the three remaining unbeaten teams simply lose before the season ends. If that should happen, Alabama, likely the highest-ranked one-loss team in the nation, may find itself right back in the title hunt.
Oregon, arguably the best of the remaining unbeaten teams, also has the toughest remaining schedule of the three. The Ducks will have to finish out the regular season against two top-15 opponents in the Stanford Cardinals and the Oregon State Beavers.
On top of that, the Ducks will have to win their conference championship game, either against the UCLA Bruins or the USC Trojans.
No. 1 Kansas State has an easier road to Miami: They need only finish out the regular season undefeated against an unranked Baylor and the No. 17 Texas Longhorns. Notre Dame is in a similar position to the Wildcats. The Fighting Irish will finish out the regular season against an unranked Wake Forest and travel to face USC at the end of the season.
Unlike last year, Alabama doesn’t need a miracle to make the trip to Miami – it only needs to remain unbeaten, and have two of the top three teams lose a game. That is certainly possible, as each of the top three has at least one more ranked team on each of their schedules.
For Alabama to make the title game, however, all of the things it can’t control, like whether any of the top three teams lose, can’t be on the Tide’s mind. The only thing Alabama can do in regard to its national title hopes is to avoid another loss and focus on each game that comes its way.
“Two of the three national championship teams that I’ve coached both lost a game,” Saban said. “…There is still a lot for this team to play for, and a lot for them to set their mind to and recommit themselves to.”