2011 BCS Rankings Projections, Week 9: Get Ready for LSU-Alabama II

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 22: Barkevious Mingo #49 of the LSU Tigers sacks quarterback Clint Moseley #15 of the Auburn Tigers during the game at Tiger Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Could LSU play Alabama in the BCS title game? While the season's second round of BCS standings won't be out until 8:15 pm ET, projections show the game's loser may be able to force a rematch.

The biggest winner Saturday night after the miracle in Lansing and the debacle in Norman? The loser of the LSU-Alabama game in two weeks.

Losses by Oklahoma and Wisconsin reduced the ranks of the unbeatens to just eight, with only six having a realistic shot at the BCS title game (sorry K-State and Houston). An unimpressive victory by Boise State at home against Air Force could also potentially prove fatal for the Broncos' championship quest.

Projected BCS Standings, to be unveiled Sunday night on ESPN at 8:15 p.m. ET:

1. LSU, 2. Alabama, 3. Oklahoma State, 4. Clemson, 5. Stanford, 6. Boise State, 7. Arkansas, 8. Kansas State, 9. Oregon, 10. Oklahoma, 11. Nebraska, 12. Michigan State, 13. Wisconsin, 14. South Carolina, 15. Virginia Tech.

If Oklahoma State should stumble somewhere along the way, the possibility of a rematch between SEC West rivals LSU and Alabama in the BCS national championship game becomes very real. With games remaining against Baylor, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma, the Cowboys are far from a lock to finish the regular season undefeated.

The other remaining unbeaten teams - Clemson, Stanford, Boise State - are all at risk of being stuck behind the LSU-Alabama loser after the Nov. 5 showdown, if the game is well played and close. And you know what? Having an all-SEC BCS title game wouldn't be that terrible of an outcome.

A little more than halfway through this season, these two SEC behemoths have proved to be light years ahead of everyone else in college football. Neither has come close to losing and both play such suffocating defense that even the best offenses would be incapable of jumping out to a big lead against them. And if you can cast aside Les Miles' eccentricities for a moment, LSU and Alabama also have two of the best coaches in the business.

Before you bring up Ohio State-Michigan 2006 as a case against rematch, consider this also: The SEC today has far more credibility than the Big Ten did back then. The SEC has won the last five BCS championships in a row and is now generally accepted as the best conference in college football.

In the BCS universe, where two-thirds of the standings are determined by human impulses, perception IS reality. If the 59 coaches and 115 Harris voters decide they want to see LSU and Alabama go at it again in New Orleans (SEC country, coincidentally), they have the power to make it happen.

And they just might.

This Week's ...

Big Winners: 

* Big Ten: Though Wisconsin lost on a Hail Mary pass and is out of the national championship discussion, the conference is now well-positioned to earn two BCS berths. Besides the Badgers, Michigan State, Nebraska and even Michigan are in the picture as potential BCS bowl candidates. Remember, the bowls love the big schools that can bring a crowd, and the Big Ten is full of those. A two-loss Big Ten team is just about a lock for a BCS bid.

* Clemson: Losses by Oklahoma and Wisconsin potentially opened a path for the surprising Tigers to the BCS title game. With three winnable ACC games and a Palmetto showdown against a Marcus Lattimore-less South Carolina, Clemson now must be viewed as a darkhorse to go unbeaten and spoil that SEC rematch, should Oklahoma State falter.

* Pac-12: The Sooners' loss reduced the likelihood of two Big 12 representatives in BCS bowls, and with two strong contenders in Oregon and Stanford, the Pac-12 would be next in line to grab a second at-large berth after the SEC and Big Ten. The pull of Andrew Luck - the Heisman frontrunner and presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, should offset the fact that Stanford does not travel well.

Big Losers: 

* Boise State: Losses by Wisconsin and Oklahoma won't help the Broncos all that much, thanks to a lackluster win at home over Air Force. Because it plays in the non-AQ Mountain West, Boise State has absolutely no margin for error when it comes to impressing the voters to keep its position high in the BCS standings. With no games against ranked teams remaining, it's doubtful now that the Broncos would even stay ahead of the LSU-Alabama loser in the BCS standings in two weeks.

* Notre Dame: The Irish's home loss to sanctions-handicapped USC effectively ended any talk of their participation in a BCS bowl this season. Even if Notre Dame runs the table - a longshot given its season finale at Stanford - a 9-3 record won't be good enough in a land full of potential 11-1 and 10-2 teams from BCS conferences. The Irish's BCS drought will be reaching six seasons.

* Big East: West Virginia's embarrassing loss at Syracuse robbed the disintegrating conference just about its last bit of credibility. Cincinnati, a team that got blown out by SEC also-ran Tennessee, is now in sole possession of first place. The conference should consider itself lucky that it's somehow guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl through the 2013 season. After that, all bets are off, no matter how realignment shakes out.

Samuel Chi is the proprietor of BCSGuru.com and managing editor of RealClearSports. Sam's college football and BCS analysis, exclusively for SB Nation, will appear on Sundays and Mondays throughout the season. Follow him on Twitter at BCSGuru.

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