After last season's rematch, don't expect the polls to be kind to the SEC as we get deeper into the season. Certainly, the teams that are undefeated will be rewarded, but as teams start handing out losses to one another, don't expect pollsters to leave one-loss SEC teams within striking distance.
It won't be right, and it won't necessarily be fair, but with the massive backlash we watched unfold in 2011, there's very little doubt that the human element will do its best to avoid a repeat. Regardless of if the nation's two best teams reside in the SEC, the voters will work to avoid an All-SEC party in Miami.
Of the four teams in the Top 10, only one of them can emerge with a perfect record. LSU has dates with Alabama and South Carolina. The Bulldogs play the Gamecocks in October. And, of course, there's the December date in Atlanta for whoever emerges from their respective divisions.
But even if the SEC takes two 12-0 teams into Atlanta, only one can emerge as the 13-0 team destined for the BCS Championship Game.
For now, it is still much ado about nothing, as the games are a couple weeks out at the earliest, and there is a very real possibility that things will sort themselves out. One of the four teams could run the table and beat its opposition convincingly enough to warrant a tumble, and then all controversy would be avoided.
However, keep an eye on the way the situation plays out.
It is worth noting beforehand that there is a very real fear of the rematch. Last year, in the final ballots, we saw some very obvious pushing to avoid the rematch from voters. Oklahoma State's jump from fifth to third, leaping Stanford, was aided by voters slotting Alabama third—enough of a push to see the Cowboys close a monumental gap in total points.
This year, with so much at stake and a playoff still a few years away, it's worth paying attention to how voters handle Oregon, Florida State and the SEC. If you're anti-rematch, the best way to avoid that is for the Ducks or Seminoles to stay undefeated. Oregon still has dates with Stanford and USC that could trip them up, while Florida State has Florida looming as its big obstacle.
How a loss by Oregon or Florida State impacts its placement will be crucial, as compared to the SEC.
For 2012, after the frustration experienced a year ago, voters are prepared. Sure, LSU and Alabama are in the top two spots now. But come November 4th, don't expect the loser to have an easy road back to title contention.