Possible seventh straight SEC title back in picture

Just when college football was chortling over the fact that this could be the year of an actual national championship game without an SEC participant, setback Saturday flipped the BCS script again.

Down went Kansas State, bludgeoned by Baylor in Waco. Down went Oregon, losing in overtime — it’s really time to change the college overtime — to Stanford. Those two defeats allowed Notre Dame to climb the BCS ladder to the No. 1 spot, followed by (yes) Alabama at No. 2.

All Alabama has to do is beat lowly Auburn on Saturday, then beat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game the following Saturday for a chance to defend its title. Here’s the thing: Georgia is No. 1 in the BCS standings. So if the Bulldogs beat Georgia Tech this Saturday, then upset Alabama in Atlanta, Mark Richt’s team could very well be playing for the national title.

As for Notre Dame, the Irish finish up at a reeling Southern Cal this Saturday. USC coach Lane Kiffin, after avoiding the media by slipping out the back door after his Trojans lost 38-28 to UCLA on Saturday, announced Sunday that quarterback Matt Barkley will miss the Irish game with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder. That’s the same injury that kept UK’s Maxwell Smith out of the Florida game earlier this year.

A Bama-Notre Dame title game would be a ratings blockbuster, no doubt. And I don’t mind this Notre Dame team, with its emphasis on defense and the pugnacious Brian Kelly as its coach. Give the Irish credit, the lone undefeated team still standing. But Bama is still standing, as well, and with it the possibility of a seventh straight SEC national crown.

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