If Alabama Loses, the Title Streak Is Done

Crystal Logiudice-US PRESSWIRE

Not mathematically, but likely. And that's fine.

If LSU defeats Alabama this weekend, the SEC's national championship streak is likely over at seven.

For one, Florida State isn't losing again before bowl season. The rest of its schedule is at Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho, at Florida, and probably the Miami (FL) team it just destroyed last weekend. As much as I'd prefer it not to be true, that team is going 13-0.

Oregon is also likely to run the table from here on out. We'll basically know if the Ducks will go 13-0 a couple days before kickoff, as they play Stanford on Thursday. After that is Utah, at Arizona, Oregon State, and someone from the weaker Pac-12 South division. It's not as sure a thing as FSU, but it's the only team left that has won every game by more than 14 points and its starting quarterback has yet to throw a pick. It's a really great team.

Ohio State and Baylor are still out there too, though I imagine with how down their conferences are, there's a chance a one-loss Bama squad could end up ranked ahead of an undefeated one of them. It's not a sure thing, though, and it can't be counted upon.

So again I say: it's likely that an Alabama loss this weekend ends the SEC's national championship streak. If it does end up doing that, it's nothing to worry too much about.

The streak is not going to last forever, even if it does continue for an eighth year. It simply can't. The important thing to focus on, really, is that it existed at all. No other conference can come close to touching it.

Besides, it has scraped by small margins anyway. Florida almost didn't even get to play for the title in 2006. LSU's two-loss title in 2007 is a black swan. If the BCS formula was run after the 2008 season's bowls, Utah almost certainly would have been No. 1. Had Cam Newton ended up reuniting with Dan Mullen at Mississippi State, then the streak easily could have ended in 2010.

When the SEC began considering expanding and staging a conference championship game, many voices spoke out against it in fear that a conference team wouldn't ever play for the national title again. The idea was that league teams already beat each other up enough that one more game for the top teams could be insurmountable.

Obviously, those fears were overblown. However, it does happen occasionally that the conference beats itself up too much to put a team in the national championship game. The last time it happened was 2005, and really, it would have happened in 2007 too if not for that season being completely bonkers. It's entirely possible that between the rash of injuries at Georgia, LSU's tough East draw, Missouri's rough schedule stretch in October, and an Alabama loss this weekend, it will have happened in 2013 as well.

Ultimately, that would probably be for the best. If the SEC's streak is going to end, wouldn't it be better if the SEC was the culprit? If you really must fight the conference wars still, losing the national championship game to someone from another conference is not as good of ammo as a case where the SEC proved to be too tough for anyone to get through unscathed. Not having a team in the title game would basically bump everyone down a bowl spot too, which would probably lead to more wins and therefore more talking points about the stiffness of competition within the league.

If the streak ends, SEC teams will still have the best collection of coaches in the country. If the streak ends, the SEC will still have the most devoted collection of fans in the nation. If the streak ends, the teams will still flood the tops of the recruiting rankings. If the streak ends, the conference will still be in prime shape to get a lot of teams in the playoff bowls thanks in part to some shrewd dealings between Mike Slive and the Orange Bowl.

Of course, the Tide could keep on rolling and put Nick Saban into the rarified air of four titles in five years. In no way am I counting out that possibility. However if Bama does falter on the way to the streak coming to an end, it'll be OK. It was always going to end, and it might as well end as a result of SEC teams doing it to each other.

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