While the entire Southeastern Conference is focused on the Alabama Crimson Tide and whether or not Nick Saban’s bunch can win out and sustain the SEC’s BCS dominance, there’s another intriguing battle shaping up in the SEC with BCS implications. The Auburn Tigers and Missouri Tigers are leading the charge for a second SEC BCS berth, and the South Carolina Gamecocks and Johnny Manziel’s Texas A&M Aggies aren’t far behind.
You see, not only has the SEC won the last seven BCS National Championship Games, they’ve also placed multiple teams from the conference into BCS games in each of those seasons. This season, Alabama finds themselves comfortably in the BCS equation regardless of whether or not they can survive an Iron Bowl matchup with the resurgent Auburn Tigers, but after that, the conference’s hopes of taking home a supplementary BCS check are distinctively murkier.
Right now, Auburn and Missouri lead the way as one-loss teams. Auburn is ranked No. 7 in the BCS standings while Missouri comes in at No. 9. Meanwhile, South Carolina and Texas A&M are sitting with two losses and file in directly behind their one-loss counterparts in the BCS at No. 10 and 11, respectively.
And while there’s a distinguishable gap between the one-loss squads and the two-loss teams, each team has a significant roadblock left on their schedule that could also serve as an opportunity to impress the human voters and assimilate themselves with the cyborg voters. The Auburn Tigers host the 25th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs this weekend before the Death Star rolls into Jordan-Hare Stadium for the Iron Bowl Nov. 30.
Meanwhile, the other Tigers in Columbia have to square off against their SEC West counterpart Texas A&M (who also plays the LSU Tigers next weekend) in the final week of the season in a game that serves as a de facto eliminator. Then, in the other Columbia, the Gamecocks host the rival Clemson Tigers, another Top 10 team, in the final week of the season. And, of course, there’s that whole SEC Championship Game.
With the Auburn Tigers sitting at No. 7 in the BCS and facing two ranked opponents to close out the year, should they win out, they’d be essentially guaranteed a BCS berth–as well as an SEC title shot–in Gus Malzahn’s first season at the helm, while simultaneously ending the conference’s streak of national titles. However, a second loss seems likely in the Iron Bowl (sorry, Auburn).
South Carolina is the sneaky team to watch in it all. Two SEC losses actually position themselves in a situation that allows them to avoid the SEC championship game, which would likely deal them a third loss and eliminate them from BCS consideration.
If the Gamecocks can run the table and beat Clemson at home to end the regular season, and Missouri were to win out and then lose in the SEC title game to Alabama, South Carolina and Missouri would both be sitting with two losses, and, as you may remember, SC has a handy head-to-head win over Mizzou.
Texas A&M could run into a similar scenario in the SEC West. They are on the outside of the divisional title race, but if they close out the year with a pair of strong victories over ranked opponents on the road, they’ll be able to climb in the rankings. Not to mention, they are own the biggest wildcard of all in the fact that they have Johnny Manziel, a huge fanbase and are, arguably, the biggest draw for the BCS.
Of course, the final scenario is that there is no second SEC team in the BCS, although that seems unlikely. Essentially, Auburn would have to lose out, Texas A&M would have to lose to LSU and then beat Missouri, South Carolina would have to lose again and Missouri would probably have to lose, not only to Texas A&M, but again in the SEC title game.
The possibilities are seemingly infinite, complicated, and somewhat arbitrary given that they have virtually no bearing on who the best team in college football is. However, with a BCS paycheck and all the exposure that goes with a berth on the line, it should lead to an entertaining close to the season.
As for my prediction, I’m certain of absolutely nothing in life outside of death, taxes and Alabama. So I say just give the Crimson Tide two BCS berths.