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December 2, 2011

Mailbag: More on the great rematch debate

The likely Alabama-LSU rematch for the national championship is a hot topic of conversation.

Some say they're the two best teams and thus should vie in New Orleans. Others are vehemently against a rematch.

But what if Georgia upsets LSU in the SEC championship game? How would that affect the proposed rematch? Would the national championship be decided by teams that aren't even conference champions?

That's something to ponder in this week's mailbag.

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What if ...

If Georgia pulls the upset in the SEC championship game, how does that impact the potential Alabama-LSU rematch? Wouldn't the two teams per conference limit apply to the BCS championship game?
John in Columbia, Mo.

The computer experts and math whizzes that study the BCS say LSU's lead in the BCS standings is so large that the Tigers will advance to the national championship game regardless of the outcome of the SEC championship game.

Furthermore, BCS rules state that a conference can have three teams in the BCS. That scenario: If the teams ranked first and second in the BCS do not earn a conference's automatic bid, they still play in the national title game and the conference champ also gets a BCS bid.

So, if Georgia upsets LSU, the Bulldogs go to the Sugar Bowl and Alabama and LSU figure to remain first and second in the BCS standings. Therefore, the SEC could have three teams in BCS bowls.

Like virtually everyone else, I expect LSU to beat Georgia. But I don't think a team that fails to win its conference championship should play for the national title.

We're told that Alabama and LSU are the two best teams, but without a playoff, how do we really know?

Yes, LSU has definitely earned its No. 1 ranking by beating Alabama, Oregon, West Virginia among others. But what if LSU loses to Georgia - a team that lost to Boise State? Now we're told that the loss shouldn't matter.

Alabama is almost assured of reaching the championship game. Its most impressive wins were over Arkansas and Penn State. Arkansas has beaten two teams with winning records - 7-5 Auburn and 10-2 South Carolina, which not at full strength against the Hogs. Penn State (9-3) just got trounced by Wisconsin 45-7. Some will argue that Penn State wasn't focused after Joe Paterno was removed as coach in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. That is a valid point.

Yet, the "outside influences" factor somehow doesn't seem to apply to Oklahoma State, which lost to Iowa State the same day the team learned the school's women's basketball coach and his top assistant had died in a plane crash.

Stanford's lone loss was to Oregon, which later was beaten by USC and also lost to LSU.

But do we know for certain that Alabama is better than Oregon. Or USC, for that matter? And what if Virginia Tech beats Clemson in the ACC championship game to avenge its only loss of the season?

What we do know is that LSU beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Personally, I'd rather see LSU (assuming the Tigers beat Georgia) have to win the national championship against an opponent it hasn't already beaten. But all indications are the national championship game participants already have been set.

Therefore, the short answer to your question: An upset in the SEC championship game will have absolutely no impact on an Alabama-LSU rematch.

[ Video: SEC title game preview: LSU vs. Georgia ]

Clear message

I've been reading all the hype surrounding the SEC vs. SEC matchup for the national title. I can't begin to count the ways this is insulting to everyone associated with college football. How can a team that didn't even win its division, much less its conference, play for any national title? If there is indeed an Alabama-LSU rematch, there will be a strong message sent by the BCS to all the other conferences that, "You all don't matter. We're about the SEC, always have been and always will be." I don't want to hear about how the conference realignment and "super-sized conferences" are going to forge a playoff. If this rematch happens, it will prove beyond a doubt that there is absolutely no desire in moving forward by the powers that be.
Marc in Memphis

You're preaching to the choir here, Marc.

Still, I can see the logic in an Alabama-LSU. I just disagree with it.

And though the SEC is indeed powerful, it hasn't always gotten preferential treatment in the BCS race. Remember, unbeaten Auburn was passed over in 2004.

On the other hand ...

Saying that you have to win your conference to be considered one of the two best teams in the country is silly. The two best teams, this year, are in the same conference, and the two best teams should play for the championship.
Steven in Olympia, Wash.

That's why America is great: Everybody can have an opinion.

But I'll respectfully disagree with yours.

Still, I am impressed that you, as a West Coast resident, favor an SEC rematch. Based on the responses I usually get from Pac-12 country, your neighbors would be appalled.

No second chance

I thought the regular season was a playoff. You get your shot, and if you lose, it's the next team's turn. Should the BCS title game be a rematch, I won't waste my time watching. Why give a team a second chance, especially for the national title?
Dean in Oklahoma City

Come on, Dean. Do you doubt the assertions of BCS mouthpiece Bill Hancock that the regular season is a playoff and that every game counts?

The Alabama-LSU game counted. It counted for an LSU victory and an Alabama defeat. It just doesn't count in the BCS standings.

I'm sure Hancock would come up with a more creative way to explain how it counts, but I cannot think of one.

Remember '06

If they put Alabama in the BCS championship game and the Crimson Tide happens to win, what does that prove? Nothing. They couldn't even score a touchdown at their place. Why would I watch an SEC rematch when I couldn't get one back in '06 (with Michigan-Ohio State)? That, my friend, is wrong. Give another one-loss team a chance to take LSU down.
John in Columbia, Tenn.

Well, if Oklahoma defeats Oklahoma State and Clemson defeats Virginia Tech, then the only one-loss teams will be Stanford and Boise State - and they didn't win conference championships, either.

Of course, Houston will be undefeated if it beats Southern Miss in the Conference USA championship game, but few outside of Houston think the Cougars should play for the national title.

The argument that Alabama should not play for the national championship isn't getting a lot of support. And should Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech lose, there would be no legitimate argument against Alabama.

Domino effect

So if Georgia wins in the SEC championship game, who gets left out of a BCS bowl?
Christopher in San Angelo, Texas

The bet here is Michigan, which I think will move up into the top 14 of the BCS standings after this weekend.

First, let's look at the probable matchups if LSU wins the SEC championship game.

The guess here is at Wisconsin defeats Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game, Oregon defeats UCLA in the Pac-12 championship game, Virginia Tech defeats Clemson in the ACC championship, Houston defeats Southern Miss in the Conference USA championship and Oklahoma State defeats Oklahoma in the Bedlam game.

If those predictions prove correct, the likely matchups would be Alabama-LSU in the BCS championship game, Oregon-Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, Oklahoma State-Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl, Virginia Tech vs. the Big East champion in the Orange and Houston-Michigan in the Sugar Bowl.

If Georgia wins the SEC title, the Bulldogs automatically go to the Sugar Bowl. If Houston finishes unbeaten, the Cougars will be guaranteed a place in a BCS game. The Sugar Bowl makes the most sense.

That would leave 10-2 Michigan on the outside looking in.

Heisman talk

It's time that Wisconsin RB Montee Ball got more national attention in the Heisman discussion. Why is he not getting the same press as Alabama's Trent Richardson?
James in Rockville, Mo.

I think Ball got overlooked early because so much of the Heisman attention was focused on Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson.

Frankly, Ball had some good - but hardly great - showings early. But he has rushed for more than 100 yards in seven of the past eight games and exceeded 200 yards twice; he has rushed for 1,622 yards - the second-highest total in the nation.

Heisman voters have noticed, too.

StiffArmTrophy.com, a website that tracks the Heisman Trophy, polls several Heisman voters each week to compile a list of leaders. Previously, Ball had been ranked no higher than 18th (in week five), but this week he's climbed to No. 6. And he could climb higher.

Ball has another chance to impress Heisman voters when Wisconsin faces Michigan State on Saturday night in the Big Ten championship game. Conversely, other contenders, such as Richardson, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and USC quarterback Matt Barkley, won't play again before the votes are due Dec. 5.

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Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.
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