Only one man stands between an LSU-Alabama rematch in the BCS title game.
Here a hint: He's 44.
Mike Gundy will need to be at his persuasive best, both on the field and to the national media and his brotherhood of coaches, on why his Oklahoma State Cowboys should break up the all-SEC party in New Orleans.
Week 14 BCS Standings projections:
1. LSU, 2. Alabama, 3. Oklahoma State, 4. Virginia Tech, 5. Stanford, 6. Boise State, 7. Houston, 8. Arkansas, 9. Oklahoma, 10. Oregon, 11. Kansas State, 12. South Carolina, 13. Georgia, 14. Michigan State, 15. Wisconsin, 16. Michigan, 17. Baylor, 18. TCU.
To bump Alabama out of the BCS title game, Oklahoma State not only needs to beat Oklahoma impressively in Bedlam next Saturday to secure the Big 12 title, it has to make a case as to why its overtime loss to Iowa State last week should be overlooked. The Pokes will have to convince enough of the 174 voters in the coaches and Harris polls to make a flip-flop to jump to No. 2.
Yep, bump out Alabama, not LSU. So does that mean the Tigers' SEC title game against Georgia is practically a bye?
You have questions, lots of questions. As much as answers are possible one week from the end of the regular season, we have answers.
So here goes:
1. Can LSU lose to Georgia and still play for the BCS title?
In a word, probably. Unless the Tigers are beaten badly by Georgia, the voters won't be willing to drop them past No. 2, which would mean three SEC teams in BCS bowls this year.
2. Isn't there a rule restricting each conference to only two BCS bids?
Yes, but there was a loophole that was added during the 2007 season, in typical BCS making-stuff-up-as-we-go fashion. That year, a scenario developed in the Big 12 similar to this year's in the SEC, and a new stipulation was added that when the top two ranked teams are at-large entries from the same conference, that conference's champion still gets a guaranteed BCS bowl bid.
3. So if Georgia can't spoil the all-SEC rematch, only Oklahoma State can?
Yes. Neither Stanford nor Virginia Tech will gain enough support from the voters - plus computer ratings points - to leapfrog Alabama. The Cardinal are finished with the regular season and Virginia Tech will be playing a now three-loss Clemson in the ACC title game. Houston and Boise are not even in the conversation.
4. How likely is Oklahoma State to jump Alabama anyway?
Not likely. The scenario is different from 2006 in that OSU is currently behind not just Alabama but also Stanford and Virginia Tech in both polls. It will require a huge change of heart from a majority of those voters to push OSU all the way up to No. 2 and forget that it lost to a 6-5 Iowa State team. As of this week, that sentiment isn't there.
5. If Stanford isn't going to the title game, is it assured of a BCS bowl spot?
That's in the affirmative. There is no scenario where Stanford could be squeezed out of a BCS bid. If OSU loses and OU earns the Big 12's automatic bid, Stanford will be no worse than fourth in the final BCS standings, thus guaranteeing a BCS spot. If OSU wins, Stanford will take one of the four at-large bids, likely headed to the Fiesta Bowl.
6. Is it certain a BCS spot will go to a team from a non-AQ conference?
If Houston beats Southern Miss in the Conference USA title game, the Cougars will be the first team from that conference to earn a BCS bid. If the Cougars lose, TCU may claim that spot only if it finishes in the top 16 of the final BCS standings. The Horned Frogs are projected to be at No. 18 this week, but they're likely to just sneak in by getting ahead of Houston (if it loses) and the Big Ten title game loser.
7. Alabama, Stanford, Houston/TCU ... that leaves one more BCS spot. Who gets it?
The chic talk has it going to Michigan, after its 40-34 win over Ohio State that ended a seven-game losing streak in the rivalry, but that overlooks one thing - Michigan needs to be in the top 14 to even be considered. Well, the Wolverines are projected to be at No. 16 this week, still two spots on the outside looking in. But make no mistake, if Michigan is eligible, it'll be picked, likely as the Sugar Bowl's first selection.
8. So what needs to happen for Michigan?
First, Georgia must lose to LSU. If Georgia wins the SEC title and takes the third BCS bid for the SEC, there is no scenario where Michigan would get a BCS bid. Michigan can count on jumping Georgia and the Big Ten title game loser to squeeze into the top 14, but it has one more team to worry about: Baylor. If the Bears beat Texas next week, they might jump the Wolverines, keeping them out of the top 14.
9. Can Oklahoma State still get a BCS bid if it loses to OU in Bedlam?
Possibly, but only if Michigan isn't eligible or if neither Houston nor TCU earns a BCS spot. If the Pokes win Bedlam, Michigan isn't eligible and no non-AQ team qualifies for a BCS spot, this is the only way for Boise State to swoop in and grab a BCS spot.
10. Then that means the Orange Bowl is doomed to another ACC-Big East matchup?
Looks that way, unless ... West Virginia claims the Big East title, then the Sugar Bowl might consider a Michigan-WVU matchup (call it the RichRod Bowl). The Mountaineers will need to win at South Florida and have Cincinnati defeat UConn to take the Big East's BCS bid. If Cincy loses, then the Big East bid goes to 7-5 Louisville, a prospect that must have the Orange Bowl reps shudder in their orange blazers down in South Florida.
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.