This Saturday's LSU vs. Alabama matchup, which is already being far too prematurely dubbed the "Game of the Century" - marking the second such game we've had so far since 2000 - will have a decided impact on the forthcoming bowl season and the BCS championship game which culminates it. LSU and Alabama, as we all know, sit at numbers one and two respectively in the BCS standings but, by virtue of being in the same conference division, cannot possibly play in the BCS national championship game. That has led many to treat this game as some sort of de facto national title matchup, presuming that the winner here will go on to play in and win the BCS championship match.
That, frankly, is a bit too boring for me. I do not want my college football season decided in week ten. I want absolutely heart wrenching, media firestorm inducing, collective hand wringing chaos, and I think this weekend could be the weekend during which such begins.
With Clemson, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma all losing in recent weeks, we are now left with four unbeaten teams from automatically qualifying BCS conferences: LSU and Alabama from the SEC, Stanford from the Pac 12, and Oklahoma State from the Big XII. Also undefeated are a pair of potential "BCS Busters", a term far more cliched than "game of the century", in undefeated Boise State and Houston.
If we assume that everyone who is winning now will continue winning and presume that all more highly ranked teams will defeat all more lowly ranked teams, then LSU will play - and defeat - Oklahoma State in the BCS National Title Game.
There, that's it. Case closed. Season's over.
Of course you, I, and everyone else who gives half of a damn about this sport will continue watching the season long after its outcome is clearly destined, but I do believe that we will, under such a circumstance, wonder what could have been. So let's do that; let's talk about what can become of this.
Let's say LSU wins. Let's give them, their #1 ranking, their incredible good luck streak, their freakish athletes, and their batshit head coach the collective benefit of the doubt and say they squeak one out over the Tide in Tuscaloosa. Alabama then goes on to run the table, predictably on the back of Trent Richardson, to finish 11-1.
But, during that final week of football, where Alabama predictably drags Auburn's limp carcass around Jordan-Hare Stadium for a half-hour, LSU ups and loses to another team in the BCS' top-ten, Arkansas.
This, of course, presumes that Arkansas does win this weekend's other matchup between two top-ten teams as they face South Carolina before the Alabama-LSU game, but that's a given in this game.
So where are we then? We're in the position that Texas Tech, Texas, and Oklahoma found themselves in in 2008, is where. We will have an 11-1 LSU, an 11-1 Arkansas, and an 11-1 Alabama in a logically impossible three way tie (X can be greater than Y, and Y can be greater than Z, but Z cannot be greater than X). By rule, whoever leads in the BCS standings would be given the nod to represent the West in the SEC Title game. I have no reason to conclude that Arkansas, assuming they win by a fairly normal margin, would take on the Gamecocks in Atlanta.
If Stanford and Oklahoma State can win out, something which cannot be treated as a given considering that the they have Oregon and Oklahoma remaining on their respective schedules, then the logical conclusion is that the Cardinal will face the Cowboys in one of the least watched BCS Championship Games ever. But if either of them are to lose, you'd then have the pesky Broncos of Boise State in the driver seat for a championship bid (never you mind the fact that the only better-than-decent team they've played this season is Georgia).
But let's say Boise State pulls a Boise State and does something like lose to UNLV or Wyoming, Stanford loses to Oregon, and Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma. What would we have then?
We'd have Arkansas or South Carolina playing Houston in the BCS Title Game. Or maybe Clemson. Or maybe even Nebraska. But the long and short of it is that we'd have convoluted, chaotic nonsense, with nearly a dozen teams all clamoring for their legitimacy as a contendor to, amidst a cloud of appropriately-colored confetti, lift the crystal football at the end of the college football season, while we fans sit around and wonder just why it is exactly that our favorite brand of our favorite sport can't get with the picture and move to a damned playoff system already.
Suffice it to say that the rest of the season could either be very, very interesting, or woefully predictable. All of that begins this Saturday.