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What if Oregon and Auburn lose?
TCU coach Gary Patterson was in the same position last year, with nothing to do on championship Saturday except watch the games and hope for a result that could send his Horned Frogs to the national title game.
TCU is third in the BCS standings and done with its regular season.
Oregon and Auburn, the top two teams, each need one more victory to complete perfect regular seasons and lock up spots in the national championship game on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz.
But what if Oregon State pulls off a huge upset in Corvallis and beats the top-ranked Ducks in the Civil War? Or South Carolina and the head ball coach Steve Spurrier spring a surprise and knock off Cam Newton and the second-ranked Tigers?
Let’s explore the possibilities.
_ Oregon loses, Auburn wins. This is easy. Losing to a 6-6 team on the last day of the regular season would be inexcusable and the Ducks would be tossed out of the BCS championship game. TCU would be a lock to move into that spot, despite the objections of teams like Stanford (fourth in the BCS standings) and Wisconsin (fifth).
Oregon would land in the Rose Bowl, essentially switching places with TCU.
_ Auburn loses, Oregon wins. Not so easy. It’s the great debate that has held college football hostage this season. TCU (or Boise State) were never going to jump ahead of undefeated teams from the power conferences. The real question is: Does a one-loss Southeastern Conference team belong in the title game instead of an unbeaten BCS buster?
If Auburn had lost a regular-season game, and finished 12-1 with an SEC championship, poll voters might have had time to forget about the one setback or dismiss it. If the Tigers lose to the Gamecocks on Saturday, they won’t even be conference champions.
“Is their reward to play for a better title against a better team?” BCS analyst Jerry Palm asked. Well, ultimately it comes down to the voters in the coaches’ and Harris polls, because even a loss to South Carolina could leave Auburn ahead of TCU in the computer rankings.
“The voters have had more respect for TCU, and Boise before they lost, than they ever had before,” Palm said.
And if Auburn does lose, by how much matters. A close loss could keep the door to the title game open, while a double-digit loss puts the Tigers in big trouble.
The other big loser in this scenario would be Arkansas, which would likely lose its chance to play in the Sugar Bowl. South Carolina would go instead, the Orange would most likely scoop up Auburn, Stanford would end up in the Rose with TCU playing Oregon for the crystal ball.
_ Auburn and Oregon both lose. Now the fun really starts. Only once, in 2007, have the top two teams in the BCS standings lost on championship weekend. TCU would be a lock, but who would the Frogs play? Stanford is fourth in the BCS standings, but the Cardinal lost to the Ducks. Instead of choosing between the two Pac-10 teams with the same record, voters could be inclined to go with fifth-place Wisconsin. The Badgers have been crushing their opponents lately.
The problem with that is, if the one-loss teams are stacked up against each other, Auburn has the best resume. The Tigers have five victories against teams in the BCS top 25. Oregon has two, while Stanford, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Boise State each have one. Ohio State? Zip.
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