TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs off the field after being defeated by the LSU Tigers 9-6 in overtime at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
LSU beat Alabama, but its path to the title isn't assured just yet. Where will the Tide land? Can Oklahoma State or Boise State take advantage? Here are your Week 11 BCS standings projections. UPDATE: Week 11 BCS standings now available here.
LSU hasn't won anything yet. Saturday night's "Game of the Century" lived up to its billing, at least defensively. The Bayou Bengals made enough big plays and rode their superior kicking game to a classic 9-6 win in overtime.
(Or as I tweeted: LSU 2, Alabama 2, LSU wins on PK, 1-0)
But this victory guarantees the Tigers nothing, particularly if they fail to follow up with a victory over Arkansas. In fact, a loss to Arkansas may cost LSU a trip to the SEC championship game, never mind the BCS national championship game.
This week's projected BCS Standings (to be unveiled Sunday at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN):
1. LSU, 2. Oklahoma State, 3. Alabama, 4. Stanford, 5. Boise State, 6. Oklahoma, 7. Arkansas, 8. Oregon, 9. Clemson, 10. Virginia Tech, 11. Houston, 12. Penn State, 13. Kansas State, 14. South Carolina, 15. Michigan State.
Largely going unnoticed Saturday night was Arkansas' 44-28 victory over South Carolina that had a huge impact on both SEC divisions. The loss by the Gamecocks put the SEC East in the hands of Georgia, which can win the division by beating Auburn and Kentucky. Arkansas, on the other hand, stays alive for a share of the SEC West title.
Should Arkansas win at LSU the night after Thanksgiving, there could be a three-way tie atop the SEC West, with all three teams having identical 11-1 records. In that case, you'll have to go to the bottom of the SEC tiebreaker to determine the winner: highest ranked in the BCS standings.
LSU has seen this movie before. In 2007, the Tigers were two wins away from the BCS title game but lost, 50-48, at home against Arkansas, in their regular-season finale. The Tigers only snuck back into the championship game after both Missouri and West Virginia lost the following week while they won the SEC title over Tennessee.
They might not be as lucky this year if they lose to Arkansas again - and the Hogs have won the Golden Boot three of the last four years. If that does happen, according to the quirky tiebreaker rules, LSU needs to stay ahead of Arkansas and no more than five spots behind Alabama in the BCS Standings to claim the West's spot in the SEC championship game.
As of tomorrow, three SEC West teams will be in the top seven of the BCS Standings, with Alabama coming in third. It will be close between Alabama and Stanford for the No. 3 spot, mostly depending on the voters, as Alabama will still be comfortably ahead of Stanford in the computer rankings. Stanford will be second in the Coaches Poll and third in the Harris Poll, and Alabama is unlikely to be lower than fourth in either poll.
What's not in doubt is that Alabama will be ahead of Boise State. The Broncos won big last week despite not playing, but with the outcome of the LSU-Alabama game, they might now be boxed out of the BCS title game, unless a series of upsets takes place in the final four weeks of the season. There is no conceivable scenario that they might jump any of the teams currently in front of them without these teams losing a game.
As for the rest of this week's ...
Oklahoma State - The Cowboys certainly haven't won anything yet, either, but they cleared a big hurdle by winning a shootout against Kansas State. The 52-45 victory also helped to provide a stark contrast to the defense-dominated SEC showdown, solidifying OSU's claim as the new No. 2 team in the BCS Standings. If they win out, the 'Pokes will be in their first BCS championship game no matter what happens elsewhere.
Georgia - Hot seat? What hot seat? After losing their first two games, Mark Richt's Bulldogs have won seven straight and are now in control of the SEC East. Georgia, with home wins over Auburn and Kentucky, will be back in its first SEC title game since 2005, when it defeated ... LSU.
Cincinnati - After their comeback victory at Pittsburgh, the Bearcats now have practically a two-game cushion on the rest of the Big East. If they can win three of their last four conference games (no matter in what combination), they will be in a BCS bowl for the second time in three years. That's certainly not what Brian Kelly had in mind when he ditched Cincinnati for Notre Dame two years ago.
Oklahoma - The Sooners had a double-whammy of sorts. The close LSU-Alabama more or less extinguished their BCS title hopes - the voters won't put OU ahead of Alabama, not when its loss was at home to a Texas Tech team that lost its subsequent two games by a combined 66 points. And the loss of Ryan Broyles to a torn ACL seriously damages the Sooners' prospects of beating Oklahoma State in the Bedlam for the Big 12 title.
Nebraska - A costly home loss to Northwestern may have knocked the 'Huskers out of the race for the Legends Division title. The winner of next week's Michigan State-Iowa game will control its own destiny for the division title, while Nebraska has no margin for error with Penn State, Michigan and Iowa still left on the schedule.
Penn State - Without a doubt, the most disturbing story in college football history came out of Not-So-Happy Valley on Saturday. The sex abuse charges against former Lions defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, and the school's alleged coverup of his activities while on campus, are far worse than anything that's tarnished college football - if some/all proved to be true. Joe Paterno may not have been implicated in any way, but you can't help but feeling that a regime change is in order - from the very top on down.
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.