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SEC Championship Game: Got Rematch?

There have been plenty of comments about how the SEC Championship Game could probably serve as the national title game this year, though you won't hear many fans who remember the same conversation about Michigan-Ohio State in 2006 joining that conversation. In that year, there were calls for a rematch from ESPN and others; the experts this year are more willing to go out on the "could it happen" limb than on the "should it." In fact, Tony Barnhart seems against it even as he makes a strong case that it could happen.

It means that if Texas loses to Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game, the SEC championship game loser, if it is a really tight game, has a real chance to finish No. 2 in the final BCS Standings. That's because the computers will still love them because their only loss this season was to a team ranked in the top two.

It will all come down to the human voters and how far they drop the SEC championship game loser. If the loser of that game only drops to No. 3 or No. 4 in the human polls, then it can finish No. 2 in the BCS standings because of the computers. So it could be that a 12-0 TCU, a 12-0 Cincinnati and a 13-0 Boise State get squeezed out.

So avoinding a rematch in the championship game rests in the hands of the Harris Poll. Heaven help us.

My thoughts on this subject have actually been out there now for about three years, dating back to that Ohio State defeat of Michigan in 2006.

It could cause chaos if Michigan won. Would the true champ be Michigan, who fell three points short in Columbus but then beat Ohio State on neutral field in the dessert? Or Ohio State, who beat Michigan in their first face-off and then lost (probably narrowly) in Glendale? ...

It's been decided on the field. You don't get a second bite at the apple.

When we had two bloggers each representing Florida and Alabama on Team Speed Kills Now on Tuesday night, there seemed to be something approaching a consensus that the BCS should take another team no matter what happens Saturday. I don't think it would be fair to call the decision unanimous, but there wasn't a lot of enthusiasm about the teams playing again even if the team favored by a particular blogger lost.

You can understand why the idea would be appealing. After all, if Alabama and Florida prove Saturday that they are the two best teams in the country, why shouldn't they play in the matchup for the national title? It's supposed to be No. 1 vs. No. 2. That should apply whether or not a team is the "conference champion," which when you come to think of it is kind of an arbitrary designation anyway.

A rematch for the national title is not unprecedented, even for one of the two teams that will play Saturday. Florida defeated Florida State for the 1996 championship not long after the Seminoles won the regular season-ending rivalry game with the Gators. But there were a couple of differences between this game and that one, most notably that Florida played another game after the initial showdown with Florida State (the SEC Championship against Alabama).

But there are many reasons not to have a rematch. I mentioned the most important one in that three-year-old post: Who is really the champion? Florida defeated Florida State by 32 in the Sugar Bowl that year after having lost to the Seminoles by three during the regular season. But suppose one team wins this weekend in Atlanta by three and then the other team wins in Pasadena by two. We know to whom the crystal football will be presented. How, though, do you reconcile the differing results with no game in between? Best two out of three?

That doesn't even get into the issues of how difficult it is to defeat the same team twice, much less twice in a row; those who will argue that conference champion isn't an arbitrary title and that you should have to be the best team in your league to be the best team in the country; and a general sense that someone else should get the chance to try to defeat the would-be champion.

Of course, all of this will be moot if Texas defeats Nebraska on Saturday, as they did in 1996. Of course, then it was the Cornhuskers who simply needed a win to play Florida State for the national title ...