People are smiling in Tuscaloosa and Athens tonight -- and, barring an unpleasant surprise, the release of the BCS standings Sunday should give the more reason to celebrate
The end of the SEC's reign over college football ended up lasting all of one week. While it won't be an SEC team at No. 1 when the rankings come out Sunday, Alabama should be slotted in at No. 2 in the BCS, and Georgia will be high enough that the Dawgs would be favorites to make the championship game should they knock off the Tide in Atlanta.
The first part of the equation for the SEC is pretty simple and relies on the rules of poll momentum: When the No. 1 team falls (as Kansas State did in spectacular fashion at Baylor) and the No. 2 team also falls (as Oregon did moments later in overtime against Stanford), then No. 3 and likely No. 4 each move up a couple of spots. Notre Dame will be No. 1 -- the first time in years of coming "back to glory" that the Irish will have earned the statement -- and Alabama will come up No. 2.
But that's where the certainty ends, and in a way that could profoundly affect Georgia's hopes. If Georgia moves up to No. 3, it will be in prime position to go to the BCS Championship Game if it defeats Alabama. But if the Dawgs' movement is stunted -- particularly by Oregon -- then there could be complications. Oregon needs a UCLA win against Stanford next week to get to the Pac-12 Championship Game, but if that happens, the rankings could really matter.
Consider this scenario: Georgia wins solidly but not overwhelmingly against Georgia Tech. The Ducks blow out Oregon State in the Civil War, then destroys UCLA while Georgia edges Alabama, perhaps on a controversial call. While it might seem relatively clear to SEC fans, it might not seem like that to poll voters, who will still be thinking POINTS! Particularly if Oregon's already ahead of Georgia when all of that starts, it might be difficult to overcome it.
If Georgia does become No. 3 on Sunday, though, the SEC Championship Game will once again be a play-in for the national title bout as long as both the Dawgs and the Tide continue to win. In other words, back to normal in the SEC's quest for its seventh consecutive crystal football.