After the fall from grace suffered this past weekend by previously unbeatens Missouri and Michigan State, the University of Alabama football team is primed to seriously contend for a BCS bowl and, possibly, the national championship game.
For the Tide, it is really now a four-game season. Beat LSU in Baton Rouge, win against Mississippi State at home and control the phenomenon that is the 2010 incarnation of the Auburn Tigers in Tuscaloosa, and they'll play for the SEC championship against a team that will have at least two losses.
That means, in all probability, that the Crimson Tide will finish the season 12-1.
Where will that leave them in the BCS standings? Does the Tide need all the non-BCS conference teams ahead of them to lose to ensure a berth in the championship game?
At this juncture, Oregon, Auburn, TCU, Boise and Utah stand ahead of Alabama in the BCS standings. At least one of those teams will, absolutely, suffer a loss before season's end since Utah and TCU face off next week.
Both of those teams face cupcakes the rest of the way and the winner of their match up should remain undefeated.
Oregon faces Washington, Cal, Arizona and finishes with Oregon State. Only the last two could pose a substantial threat to the Ducks run for a national title game appearance.
And an Oregon win plus the Tide winning all the remaining contests plus the SEC title would put the team back in the BCS championship game even with the one loss against possibly one of the undefeated non-BCS teams.
Boise plays a decent Hawaii squad next weekend; after that, the only team that seems to have a chance against the Broncos is No. 23 Nevada on Nov. 26. We feel that Boise is the most vulnerable of the remaining unbeatens.
That leaves Auburn. Alabama should tame that tiger.
Thus, if most thing stay the way they are now, by the time the BCS bowl berths come out in December, we should see an Oregon team at No. 1, Alabama at No. 2 since it will beat a higher ranked team late in the season, TCU or Utah in at third (we think Utah here) and Boise still in fourth.
That is the scenario if the two remaining mid-majors have no defeats. A loss by either of them (TCU/Utah or Boise) would definitely help the Tide, but it should not be needed.
Factoring in possibly four wins out of the last five games against ranked opponents (and one of those teams maybe ranked No. 1 in the BCS at the time of the loss), Alabama will sport the resume that will push a one-loss Tide team ahead of any potential unbeaten mid-major out there.
Thus, to help their BCS formula, the Crimson Tide should be pulling for South Carolina to beat Arkansas and Florida, Mississippi State beat both Arkansas and Ole Miss, and for Auburn to remain undefeated until the Iron Bowl and LSU to run the table after the loss to the Tide this coming weekend.
Voters could even, of course, would see a 'Bama victory in the rubber match against South Carolina in the SEC championship game as the true image of the team rather than the one that lost to the Gamecocks a few weeks ago and move the Tide up a notch or two on their ballots.
Of course, with two, possibly three undefeateds ahead of them, the Crimson Tide may need all the help they can garner.
But the best course is to just win out; the rest will take care of itself.