The Southeastern Conference clinched a sixth consecutive national championship in college football Sunday night.
Now it’s a matter of determining which team.
LSU and Alabama are No. 1 and No. 2 in the final Bowl Championship Series standings and will play in the BCS title game Jan. 9 at the Superdome in New Orleans. The BCS title will be a rematch of LSU’s 9-6 overtime victory Nov. 5 at Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium, which was a defensive masterpiece but not overly appealing to the casual football fan.
“If you just look at NFL games, you play all the teams in your division twice, and nobody seems to think too much about those rematches,” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Sunday night. “You always play teams in the playoffs that you played in the regular season, and sometimes the teams that play in the Super Bowl have played each other before, and all those games play out differently.
“There are so many great players on both teams, and I just think there is an opportunity for this game to have a completely different flavor.”
The Tigers improved to 13-0 Saturday with a 42-10 pummeling of Georgia in the SEC championship game, while the Crimson Tide stayed at home. Alabama had been projected in recent weeks to face LSU again, but Oklahoma State made things tighter Saturday night by routing Oklahoma 44-10 to win the Big 12 Conference championship.
Oklahoma State finished third in the BCS standings and will face Stanford, which finished fourth, on Jan. 2 at the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona. Alabama and Oklahoma State are each 11-1, but the Cowboys lost in double overtime to an Iowa State team that finished the regular season 6-6.
LSU coach Les Miles is welcoming another shot at Alabama and laughed Sunday night when asked if his Tigers would rather have the season end now.
“This team loves to play on the big stage,” Miles said. “They want to play on national television. They want to play in domes with the lights on, and they want to invite everybody.”
The Tigers are seeking their third national championship in the past nine seasons, while the Crimson Tide are after their second in three years. This is the first time two teams from the same conference will square off for the championship in the BCS era, which began in 1998 when Tennessee topped Florida State for the crown.
There are three components in determining the BCS standings — the USA Today poll, the Harris poll and an average of six computer rankings.
“The system that we have worked the way it did,” Saban said. “At one time this year in our division, we had LSU first, us second and Arkansas third in the whole national poll. There are those people out there who say, ‘You didn’t even win your conference.’
“Well, how come nobody was rated higher than the top three teams in our division, which is only six teams?”
Saban said Alabama’s practices for the BCS championship will start around Dec. 19.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...