After the win by Oklahoma State over Stanford on Monday night, there are many who are questioning whether Oklahoma State deserves a claim in sharing the National Title, especially where the AP Poll is concerned. While I admit to being a bit skeptical at first, their win pushed me in the direction of believing that Oklahoma State may in fact have a fair claim to a shared National Title.
If Alabama were to beat LSU by a larger margin, especially by more than 3 points, then that would open the door for Oklahoma State to step up with their claims since all three teams will have one-loss (Alabama would be 11-1, LSU would be 12-1, and Oklahoma State would be 12-1).
Aside from LSU beating Alabama and winning the BCS National Championship, there are a couple of factors that would weigh heavily on preventing Oklahoma State from having their claim considered legitimate.
First, LSU beat Alabama during the regular season by a score of 9-6 in OT at Tuscaloosa. This win by LSU is one that Oklahoma State has used heavily to argue for their spot in the National Title game over Alabama. But the truth this, this very same win could also be the reason that Oklahoma State is kept out of the talks of a shared National Title.
Secondly, the quality of losses do not favor Oklahoma State. I have read other articles about how West Virginia put up so many yards of offense on LSU but in the end, LSU still won. While Oklahoma State's loss came after some very tragic news, the simple fact is that in the record books, Oklahoma State still lost. Some may put an asterisk by the loss, but in the world of sports, a loss is a loss. Alabama's only loss has come at the hands of the #1 team in the nation. And should LSU lose, their only loss would have come at the hands of the #2 team in the nation.
If Alabama beats LSU by a margin of 10+ points, should Oklahoma State have a good chance of gaining the AP Poll's #1 spot?
Another factor weighing heavily against Oklahoma State is how LSU performed during the regular season. On Dec. 10th, LSU was 12-0 and SEC Champions. Come Jan. 9th, LSU may be 12-1 but still SEC Champions. This finish by LSU during the regular season could sway the AP voters. They may decide to reward LSU with a #1 or #2 finish since their regular season was so good. In 2003, LSU won the BCS national championship game but the AP poll ranked USC as #1, so both teams were recognized as National Champions.
Finally, Alabama's performance will weigh heavily on whether or not Oklahoma State has a fair claim. If Alabama wins the BCS National Championship game, they will be the National Champions according to the BCS polls. But in order to get a good number of voters in the AP Poll, Oklahoma State would benefit greatly if Alabama beats LSU by a margin larger than 3 points. This win would have many voters questioning the win by LSU over Alabama on Nov. 5th and could give Oklahoma State the swing it needs to get into the shared National Title talks.
At the end of the season, we will have two possible outcomes:
One is an undefeated LSU Tigers team, who is #1 in both the BCS and AP polls. A second outcome is a win by Alabama and therefore having 3 teams with one-loss records, giving the AP Poll a difficult time deciding who is number two.
Oklahoma State presented a very valid case to claiming a shared National Title with their win Monday night, but the cards right now are not stacked in their favor. A major defeat by Alabama would be the first step in the process of getting the AP's coveted #1 spot.