Auburn's historic comeback against Alabama in yesterday's Iron Bowl gives the Tigers the inside track to the BCS National Championship Game. But Auburn's bowl projections still might not include a BCS bowl.
Auburn has just one game remaining, against South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game, and the Tigers will assuredly advance to the BCS National Championship Game with a win. (They will also earn the SEC's automatic BCS berth, which might pave LSU's path to the Sugar Bowl.) But should the Tigers lose in Atlanta, it becomes a bit harder to predict which bowl they will end up in.
There's no doubt that a one-loss Auburn would still remain in the top 14 of the BCS standings and qualify for an at-large BCS berth. But the Tigers wouldn't have an automatic berth in that scenario. And South Carolina earning an automatic BCS berth for the first time, combined with LSU's large fan base making the Bayou Bengals an attractive choice for the BCS bowl selection committees, might combine to squeeze out a team with an undefeated regular season — and, in Cam Newton, the nation's most exciting player and the probable Heisman Trophy winner.
And then there's the doomsday scenario: the chance that Newton, the subject of an NCAA investigation that is now more than a month long, could be ruled ineligible after a loss. While a 12-1 Auburn team without Cam Newton would pretty clearly be a less appealing draw than an 11-1 LSU team, an Auburn team without Cam Newton and with the potential for a slate of vacated wins might lead to a unprecedented scenario in the BCS era.