I really don't feel that terrible after the Alabama loss, but I can't figure out why. Maybe any loss when you have aspirations to become a National Championship team immediately puts you into the grieving process. If that's the case, then consider this the bargaining phase.
What would have to happen for Texas A&M to get back in the race for a National Championship? I think we all know it involves at least a trip to the SEC Championship Game. It's either that or a comedy of errors from teams like Oregon, Ohio State, and Clemson. So barring another scenario where two SEC representatives comprise the championship game, let's look at what it would take to get the Aggies into the SEC Championship game.
The BCS rankings haven't come out yet, but I think we will be sitting somewhere between #9 and #12 when they do. Our schedule is extremely winnable from here, and we have what should be another top #20 opponent on the board (Ole Miss) before we head into Baton Rouge to play LSU. The only way we can make it to the SEC Championship game at this point is to hope for a 3-way tie in the SEC West among LSU, Alabama, and Texas A&M. For this scenario to work out, LSU has to beat Alabama, and we have to march into Death Valley and knock off LSU. Tall order. If there is a 3-way tie, the following rules determine who gets into the SEC Championship game:
1. (Once the tie has been reduced to two teams, go to the two-team tie-breaker format.)
2. Combined head-to-head record among the tied teams.
3. Record of the tied teams within the division.
4. Records against the team within the division with the best overall (divisional and non-divisional) Conference record and proceeding through the division. Multiple ties within the division will be broken from first to last.
5. Complete record vs. non-division teams.
6. Complete record vs. all common non-divisional teams.
7. Record vs. common non-divisional team with the best overall Conference (divisional and non-divisional) record and proceeding through other common non-divisional teams based on their order of finish within their division.
8. The tied team with the highest ranking in the Bowl Championship Series Standings following the last weekend of regular-season games shall be the divisional representative in the SEC Championship Game, unless the second of the tied teams is ranked within five-or-fewer places of the highest ranked tied team. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the SEC Championship Game.
The first part is the most difficult. The three-way tie has to be reduced to a two-way tie, which means we and LSU have to be sitting in the top two BCS positions among the three.
Then, rule #8 comes into play. We would own the head-to-head match-up with the Tigers, and as long as we are within 5 positions of them in the BCS standings, we get the nod to head to Atlanta.
Here is how this has to play out, and where the standings should be after each phase:
- LSU beats Alabama Nov 9th.
This should put LSU at #2 or #3 in the BCS standings behind Oregon, and probably Clemson. They also will have had to beat Georgia by then, so I am thinking #2, but will keep them at #3. Ohio State has almost no quality opponents, so I doubt they are still ahead. Stanford might be ahead but I will assume Oregon handles them on Nov 7th, and is solidly at #1. If Georgia handles FSU before this point, then they will be top 5, and slide us solidly into the top 10. I'm also going to assume Baylor beats Oklahoma, but that is certainly up for debate.
If everything goes right, the standings after Nov 9th look like this:
1. Oregon (9-0)
2. Clemson (9-0)
3. LSU (9-0)
4. Ohio State (9-0)
5. Alabama (8-1)
6. Oklahoma State (9-0)
7. Baylor (9-0)
8. Louisville (9-0)
9. Oklahoma (9-0)
10. Stanford (8-1)
11. Texas A&M (8-1)
12. South Carolina (8-1)
13. Florida State (8-1)
- Texas A&M beats LSU Nov 23rd.
After this weekend is when things need to shake up. Let's jump forward to November 23rd. As of that day, Baylor will have played Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, knocking one of them off. The Big 12 seems to be set up to cannibalize itself this year, so only one will make it up top.
Based on the games played between Nov 9th and Nov 23rd, this is how I see the rankings shaking out:
1. Oregon (11-0)
2. Clemson (11-0)
3. Oklahoma State (11-0)
4. Ohio State (11-0)
5. Oklahoma (11-0)
6. Louisville (maybe, but c'mon, who do they play? This is 2011 Boise State) (11-0)
7. LSU (10-1)
8/9. A&M - Alabama (10-1)
10-12. Baylor/South Carolina/Stanford (10-1)
At this point it's a voter / computer race. In order for us to completely leapfrog Alabama in the rankings we probably have to beat LSU convincingly. Call that +20 pts. I don't know if it can be done, but I think it's the only thing that gets us back on track. When LSU beat Alabama in 2011, they dropped Alabama 3 spots, but LSU was #1 at the time.
In 2011, Oregon lost the opener to Virginia Tech. They dropped from preseason #3 to #13. They crawled all the way back to #4 before losing another game. They had climbed in front of every other 1 loss team, and that is exactly what we need to do here.
South Carolina plays Clemson at the end of the Season, and Oklahoma plays Oklahoma State. If SC can knock off Clemson, and OK State knocks out OU, this is where things get interesting. The lack of a championship game could hurt the Big 12 again, but we'll see. It might actually help them.
Texas A&M can't make it back into contention on their own at this point. The Aggies need a little help, controlling only the games in front of them. BTHO out of SMU, then hopefully make a big run this year. Pasadena might be a far reach, but a BCS bowl isn't.
I had to make a lot of assumptions to get here, so let me know if you have other thoughts in the comments.