People who are tired of watching the SEC rack up National Championships could breathe a little easier after Auburn knocked off the two-time defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday evening. The loss dethroned Alabama from the No. 1 spot in the country, meaning that the highest seed left from the SEC is now Auburn at No. 3. You can debate all you want that the SEC is still the best conference in college football, and while you are probably right, the No. 1 spot in the country is now occupied by an ACC team and the No. 2 spot is taken by a Big Ten team.
Currently, Florida State and Ohio State appear to be on a collision course for the final BCS National Championship, but there is still an entire weekend of football left to be played. And while the SEC may no longer control its own destiny to reach an eighth straight championship game, Auburn, Missouri and yes possibly even Alabama could all make it to the 2014 National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl and run the SEC's streak to eight titles in a row.
What needs to happen though for the SEC?
The path for Auburn and Missouri is pretty simple. Win Saturday in Atlanta and then turn on your television sets Saturday night and become the biggest Duke and Michigan State fans ever.
The Blue Devils will take on Florida State in the ACC Championship Game, and although they are nearly four touchdown underdogs in the game, Duke has clearly shown that they are the team that belongs next to Florida State playing for the ACC title. These Blue Devils have not been on this big of a stage before, but they have won eight straight games to reach this point in their season and want to prove that they are not a fluke. A win over Florida State would propel the Blue Devils to the Orange Bowl, and would open a spot up in the National Championship Game for whichever Tigers can win the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
The Buckeyes of Ohio State, the nation's No. 2 team in the latest BCS rankings, face a much more formidable opponent in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday night. For Auburn and Missouri fans, if you're banking on a team losing this weekend, Ohio State is likely your best bet. Their opponent, the Michigan State Spartans, come in with one of the toughest defenses in the entire nation. Five of the Spartans' last six opponents failed to even score a touchdown against the Michigan State defense.
Ohio State is certainly deserving of the No. 2 spot in the country, just because of how impressive their winning streak is, but they showed Saturday against Michigan that they are certainly vulnerable. If they play that same way against Michigan State this Saturday night, the Buckeyes will not be headed to the National Championship Game.
It is unlikely that Auburn or Missouri would jump to No. 2 just for winning the SEC Championship. They would have to win in very convincing fashion to do so, and even then it may not be enough. Both these Tigers teams are going to need some help to make it to Pasadena to play for a National Championship, but it is certainly not out of the question that the SEC may be represented in this final BCS title game.
What about Alabama?
Good news for the fans in Tuscaloosa, technically the quest for the three-peat is not over. The Crimson Tide would need a lot of help to reach the National Championship Game, but for now the dream lives on.
Just think about Alabama's last two titles. Did the Crimson Tide play in the SEC Championship Game when they won in 2011? No, they got back to the No. 2 ranking in the country though when Iowa State pulled off a very improbably upset over Oklahoma State.
Last year, the Tide were defeated by Texas A&M near the end of the year, but were propelled back into the National Championship Game when Stanford upset Oregon and Baylor upset Kansas State.
This year is probably the least likely scenario for Alabama to make it back to a third straight title game, but it certainly could happen. Each of the last two seasons Alabama fans have been left dismayed after a tough loss to a tough SEC opponent, but each year ended with the Coach Saban holding up that beautiful crystal football.
If Florida State and Ohio State both lose Saturday night in their respective title games, that certainly opens the door for the SEC champion to play in the BCS National Championship Game, but it also opens the door for the Crimson Tide.
Things are not over for the SEC quite yet. All they need is a little help to get back into the National Championship picture.
Who knows? We may even see an all-SEC Championship once again.
Or maybe even a game between the two teams who have combined to win the last four National Championship Games, Alabama and Auburn.
Now that would be an Iron Bowl for the ages.
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