Smooth move or last gasp?
That's the lasting image of Alabama's push for a national championship berth that could be slipping away overnight in the BCS. Jerry Palm says, for now, 'Bama looks solid at No. 2.
But let's review: The savvy Saban did his savvy best to be savvy Saturday morning, giving LSU its proper props. Even the mother of all TV hypefests may not help 'Bama as it sat on the sideline on the last day of the regular season. The intent, of course, was to expose Alabama as much as possible for two hours on national television.
What Saban failed to mention, or perhaps comprehend, was that Oklahoma State would be responsible for Bob Stoops's second-worst career loss. The Cowboys' 34-point over margin over Oklahoma on Saturday night was second only to OU’s 2005 BCS title game loss in the Orange Bowl. That 55-19 trounching at the hands of USC team that had to vacate its season because Reggie Bush was competing while ineligible.
Just to put a nice, neat bow on this season. Yeah, right. There is nothing but uncertainty as we wait for the final BCS standings Sunday night. Palm says Oklahoma State will have to make a significant leap in the human polls to pass Alabama. Consider the computers a wash. Alabama came into the day leading the Cowboys in that category, .9500-.9300.
Oklahoma State began the day fifth in both the Harris and coaches’ polls. Virginia Tech's loss to Clemson in the ACC title game helped but perhaps not enough. If the computers stay basically the same, Palm says Okie State has to finish at least 19 points ahead of Alabama in each of the human polls to have a chance. Oklahoma State currently trails Alabama by 342 points in the Harris poll and 166 points in the coaches' poll. That essentially means the Cowboys are going to have to pass Stanford, which didn’t play, and Virginia Tech in the human polls.
"I'm not sure one team ahead of [Oklahoma State] losing and one team putting up a big number [Clemson] is going to change the fact that everyone thought all along that LSU and Alabama were the two best teams," Palm said. "The voters would have to have an epiphany. That's basically what we're talking about."
That’s not to say the voters won’t change their minds. After watching one conference win five titles in a row, there could be such a thing as SEC Voter Fatigue.
The computers don’t know this was Stoops' second-worst loss. They don't know that Saban subtly was hyping his team on ESPN. A lot of the voters won’t either. Should it matter? Victory margin is largely factored out of the machines anyway. The circle argument will continue overnight until the final standings are released.
Computers don't know that Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy endorsed Alabama at No. 2 last week, then went on the stump for his team immediately after the OU game.
Computers don't know the minds of the Cowboys on the night of Nov. 18. That was less than a day two Cowboys women's basketball coaches lost their lives in a plane crash. The next night the Cowboys lost their only game to Iowa State. Should that matter?
Computers don't care a hoot about an LSU-Alabama rematch which would be the first of its kind in BCS history.
So what we're left with are these base arguments:
- Oklahoma State’s only loss in an 11-1 season came to unranked Iowa State on the road in overtime two weeks ago.
- Alabama’s only loss came to No. 1 LSU at home in overtime a month ago.
- Oklahoma State has an elite offense.
- Alabama has an elite defense.
- Oklahoma State won its conference.
- Alabama didn't win its division.
That's one man. So is CBSSports.com blogger Tom Fornelli, who may have provided the most compelling evidence this week. Fornelli posted blind resumes of all the contenders for No. 2. Oklahoma State got 80 percent of the vote.
But the computers don't care about that either.