While Tuscaloosa tries to pick itself up to figure out what went wrong for the Alabama Crimson Tide against Texas A&M in Week 11, hope is not lost for Nick Saban's team.
Sure, getting back into the BCS Championship Game is going to require a lot of help from outside forces, but does anyone really think that the three remaining unbeaten teams are so infallible that everyone else should just fight it out for the No. 4 spot?
Alabama has two regular-season games left, as well as the SEC Championship Game, assuming it gets past Auburn in two weeks. Notre Dame, Kansas State and Oregon, the three teams 'Bama is now chasing, also have two regular season games left.
Oregon could potentially have three games left before the bowl season starts. If the Ducks can knock off Stanford this Saturday, they would play in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
With so many dominoes still left in play, here is a look at what must happen for Alabama to get back into the BCS Title conversation, as well as the likelihood of it all playing out.
Alabama's Task Ahead
Remaining schedule: vs. West Carolina, vs. Auburn
As mentioned before if Alabama knocks off Auburn, or Texas A&M loses to Missouri, the Crimson Tide will be playing in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia.
Since that scenario seems highly likely right now given the way Auburn has looked all season, the Crimson Tide will be forced to win out. They will be heavily favored in their last two regular-season games.
The SEC Championship Game will be interesting, because Georgia has such a balanced attack on offense. Still, you would have to give Alabama the edge in that game because of its ferocious, attacking defense and the underrated ability of A.J. McCarron.
Nick Saban is not happy right now. When he is not happy, he makes sure that his players know it. When the players know Saban is not happy, they usually respond in a big way.
What Alabama Needs To Happen
Notre Dame's Remaining Schedule:vs. Wake Forest, at USC
Oregon's Remaining Schedule: vs. Stanford, at Oregon State, Pac-12 Championship Game (If Oregon defeats Stanford)
Kansas State's Remaining Schedule: at Baylor, vs. Texas
Since all three of these teams are going to be ahead of Alabama in the standings, the Crimson Tide will need at least two of them to lose if they want to get in the BCS Title conversation.
Notre Dame has the easiest path to an undefeated season. Wake Forest is a middle-of-the-road ACC team, and USC has been one of the least impressive and inconsistent ranked teams in the country.
Plus, the defense of the Fighting Irish does not give an inch. They had their clunker game against Pittsburgh two weeks ago, but unlike Alabama, they were able to escape with a victory. You have to figure they will be undefeated when the regular season ends.
Kansas State's road looks uncertain, just because we have no idea what to expect from Collin Klein moving forward. Head coach Bill Snyder was coy about the star quarterback's arm injury last week, but he was able to play against TCU.
Klein proceeded to have his worst game of the season, with just 195 total yards, two rushing touchdowns and an interception. If his mysterious injury lingers on the rest of the season, the Wildcats are in trouble.
Baylor can't stop anyone, but that offense is legit. Texas has had a nice bounce-back season, showing a lot of offensive prowess that can give Kansas State fits.
And finally there is Oregon. The Ducks have the most difficult remaining schedule, with potentially three games against ranked competition.
Stanford doesn't seem like the kind of team that can keep up with Oregon. The Cardinal are built on a strong defense and an offense that does just enough. They just don't have enough team speed to keep up with Oregon.
Oregon State is an intriguing matchup for the Ducks, simply because it is a rivalry game. On talent alone, the Ducks should blow the Beavers out of the water. But strange things tend to happen in rivalry games late in the season.
If the Ducks make it, the Pac-12 Championship Game will be against the winner of USC vs UCLA this weekend. We have seen what the Ducks can do against USC, as those two schools just played one of the most fun college football games of the year and combined for 113 points.
UCLA has flown under the radar all season, but this team is very good. The Bruins have an offense that can put up a lot of points, as well as showing a knack for making big plays on defense when it has to.
Alabama's Odds of Getting Into the BCS Title Game
Based on all the information at hand, you would have to say slim. If we were just talking about one team ahead of them needing to lose, that would be different.
But when you have three undefeated teams, the Crimson Tide need a lot of help. Sports is far from an exact science, so you would never say it's impossible, but if I were a betting man, I would look for Nick Saban's crew to be playing in the Sugar Bowl.
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