TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 08: Trent Richardson #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide waits between downs against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Any discussion of Week 10's BCS standings has to center around the upcoming battle between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama. So let's do just that.
This Saturday's LSU-Alabama game is a biggie. How huge? Try this: It's only the 11th time since 1950 that the top two ranked teams met each other in a November or December regular-season game. Let's quickly see how the others went down:
* 1966 Notre Dame 10, Michigan State 10: Ara Parseghian refuses to go for the winning score, settling for the tie that gave the Irish the national title.
* 1967 USC 21, UCLA 20: USC's sensational junior O.J. Simpson rips off a memorable 64-yard touchdown run and the Trojans would go on to win the Rose Bowl and national championship.
* 1969 Texas 15, Arkansas 14: The Longhorns hold off Southwest Conference rival to win the final 1-vs.-2 showdown between two teams featuring exclusively white players.
* 1971 Nebraska 35, Oklahoma 31: The Huskers rally to repeat as national champs in a game that draws an estimated 55 million TV viewers.
* 1987 Oklahoma 17, Nebraska 7: The Sooners get the better of their Big Eight rival this time, but loses in the Orange Bowl to upstart Miami.
* 1988 Notre Dame 27, USC 10: The only game that fails to live up to the hype as the Irish pull away in the second half, going on to win their last national title.
* 1991 Miami 17, Florida State 16: Known as Wide Right I, it begins FSU's series of misery against the Hurricanes due to its kickers' inability to convert late-game field goals.
* 1993 Notre Dame 31 vs. Florida State 24: The Irish keep the Seminoles out of the end zone on the final drive, but go on to be shocked the following week by Boston College, allowing the 'Noles to win their first national title.
* 1996 Florida State 24, Florida 21: The Gators suffer a heartbreaker but somehow would get a rematch in the Sugar Bowl, which they win decisively to claim the national championship.
* 2006 Ohio State 42, Michigan 39: The only time in the BCS era that a No. 1 played No. 2 this late in a season but not in a conference championship game.
If history repeats itself, we should have not only a consequential game that settles the national title picture, but a hard-fought, nerve-wracking one as well. Of those 10 previous matchups, only one failed to deliver a close game (1988) and just once (1993) did the winner not go on to play for the national title in a bowl game.
But the one that we must analyze further is the 2006 game between Big Ten rivals Ohio State and Michigan, because it provides us a roadmap on what could potentially happen this season.
Played on Nov. 18, that game turned out to be an offensive slugfest and not decided until the Buckeyes recovered a Michigan onside kick in the final minutes. The latest version of college football's "Game of the Century" so impressed the voters that Michigan stayed at No. 2 in the BCS Standings even after the loss.
An Ohio State-Michigan rematch in Arizona looked inevitable except this: With two more weeks left to go and with Michigan having finished its schedule, it was not able to maintain voter support in the two polls. The Wolverines fell behind USC a week later and then, after the Trojans were upset by UCLA in the season's final weekend, they were jumped by Florida in the final BCS Standings.
What happened in 2006 was simply a case of the voters imposing their will. Deciding that they would not want to see a rematch in the BCS title game, they threw their support first behind USC, then Florida, after they had a couple of weeks to think things over. And it was a good thing, too, as both Big Ten teams were exposed after Florida buried Ohio State in the BCS title game and USC walloped Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
This year, the voters likely will be confronted with the same decision, though they'll have four weeks to chew on this. Make no mistake, since the 174 voters in the Coaches' Poll and Harris Poll control two-thirds of the BCS Standings, they can and will decide the participants for the final matchup - the computers are just there for show.
The conditions are certainly ripe for the potential of a rematch. With the ranks of unbeatens dwindling down to six, the loser of Saturday's game is guaranteed to stay very high in the BCS Standings - in the top five, to be sure. Should Oklahoma State and Stanford, both still facing teams ranked in the top 10, stumble in the season's final month, then the decision will come down to whether the voters want to see an LSU-Alabama rematch over a matchup featuring the SEC champion against a one-loss Pac-12 champ, one-loss Big 12 champ or undefeated Boise State.
How Saturday's game turn out will have profound influence on the answer to that question. And if this particular "Game of the Century" happens to live up to the terrific hype that's about to erupt, then the voters will have an agonizing decision on their hands.
Our BCS Impact Game of the Week:
LSU at Alabama (8 p.m. ET, CBS): What, you were expecting Utah State-Hawaii? This game will be taut and tense, featuring awesome defense. And also don't be surprised to see a trick play or three, as both coaches will be emptying their playbooks and saving nothing for later. Les Miles, sometimes maligned because of his eccentricities, is every bit as good a big-game coach as the more ballyhooed Nick Saban. They're 2-2 against each other since Saban took over in Tuscaloosa in 2007.
Other games with BCS ramifications:
- Texas A&M at Oklahoma (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
- South Carolina at Arkansas (7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)
- Kansas State at Oklahoma State (8 p.m. ET, ABC)
- Oregon at Washington (10:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net)
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.