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But the Cowboys lost 37-31 in double OT to the so-so Cyclones (6-6), missing a potential game-winning field goal at the end of regulation by inches.

With no other undefeated teams left from the major conferences, Alabama returned to No. 2 and the debate grew ever-more heated.

On one side, Alabama supporters said it was simple: The system is supposed to match the best two teams, regardless of conference, and the Tide have been one of the two most dominant teams in the country.

On the other side, Oklahoma State supporters said the Cowboys accomplished more to get to 11-1 than the Tide, playing a tougher schedule and winning their conference.

Not enough voters were convinced — so it’s Tigers-Tide II.

Alabama claims 13 national championships overall and is one of the most decorated programs in the land. It’s won seven AP titles since the wire service started its poll in 1936.

LSU will be seeking its third BCS championship since 2003 at the Superdome — the site of its first two.

Saban won that title for LSU in ‘03. Current Tigers coach Les Miles matched his predecessor in 2007, winning a championship with a team that lost two games.

These talented Tigers, led by dynamic defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, have rarely even trailed against a schedule that included Oregon and West Virginia.

“This team loves the big stage,” Miles said.

Now Saban and Miles, who have been tussling for supremacy in the SEC West on the field and the recruiting trail, will square off for the ultimate prize.

And don’t dare suggest to either of them that it’s for anything less.

“I think whoever wins the game should be viewed as the national champion,” Saban said, echoing Miles’ sentiment. “Rather than rehash the system we should do research on what would make the system better in the future.”