The problem for Alabama is that the Crimson Tide lives for the national championship, and Bama needed to win the SEC title and go to New Orleans to play number one Penn State. That found Alabama fans in the unusual position of having to cheer for Auburn to upset Georgia.
One devoted Bama follower had this scenario explained to him. After some thought, he said, “We’ve got plenty of national championships. I can’t be for Auburn.”
As it turned out, the Tide was able to have its cake and eat it, too. Auburn and Georgia tied, and that was all Alabama needed. The particularly happy ending was the goalline stand and beating Penn State and bringing another national championship trophy to Tuscaloosa.
More recently, in a scenario that has been mentioned frequently, Alabama lost a regular season game to LSU, 9-6, in overtime and needed some help to make it to the BCS National Championship Game in (déjà vu!) New Orleans. Oklahoma State was ranked second behind LSU and the Cowboys seemed unlikely to lose. But a miracle! Against Iowa State, a team that would finish with a losing record, Oklahoma State ost in double ovrtime, 37-31.
Alabama went to the Louisiana Superdome and in the rematch with LSU blasted the Tigers, 21-0, to win the 2011 national championship.
In 2012, Bama again needed help. A lot of help after losing to Texas A&M and falling from first to fourth in the rankings. The Tide needed two of the top three teams – Notre Dame, Kansas State, and Oregon – to lose, and time was running out. On Nov. 17, Stanford upset Oregon, 17-14, and Baylor blasted Kansas State, 52-24.
The BCS had its dream match-up, the two biggest names in college football, Alabama vs. Notre Dame. The dream continued for Bama in Miami, but was a nightmare for the Fighting Irish as the Crimson Tide won another national championship with a 42-14 victory.
So why the ancient history?
Because Alabama may need some help.
No one knows what the new College Football Playoff Selection Committee might do, but a sure bet is that a one-loss SEC champion would be in the final four. Right now the Ole Miss Rebels and the Mississippi State Bulldogs are undefeated, and Bama can’t do anything about the Rebels, who defeated the Tide in Oxford, 23-17.
There are at least two scenarios that might put Alabama in the inaugural playoff. The obvious is for Ole Miss to lose two games and Bama to win out, including the SEC Championship Game. The other is for both the Rebels and the Tide to win out so that Ole Miss was undefeated and SEC champion and Bama’s only loss was to that team, as in 2011. The second is a litle more risky, even though the Tide is ranked fourth in this week’s polls that don’t matter.
It is for that reason that Alabama followers now begin cheering for other teams, bginning this week with Ole Miss at LSU. The amazing thing is that because of past events, Tide fans actually believe that what needs to happen will happen.
Which brings us to this Saturday’s Almost Perfect Picks.
Alabama (6-1 overall, 3-1 SEC) at Tennessee (3-4, 0-3) at 7:30 p.m. EDT (6:30 central time) on ESPN2 -- Regardless of scenario, there is one certain constant: Bama cannot afford another loss. The Vols are rebuilding, but still haven’t reached the point of where they were in, say, 2009, when Lane Kiffin was head coach. The Tide probably won’t be as good as it was in the 59-0 win over Texas A&M, but will be good enough to handle Tennessee. Alabama 42, Tennessee 10.
Ole Miss (7-0, 4-0) at LSU (6-2, 2-2) at 6:15 p.m. CDT on ESPN – It is hard to look past that beating the Fighting Tigers took at Auburn (7-41), but that was before Leonard Fournette began looking like the Heisman Trophy candidate he thought he was and probably will be in a year or two. There also is the momory of the Rebels beating LSU last year. Still, we need it. LSU 28, Ole Miss 24.
South Carolina (4-3, 2-3) at Auburn (5-1, 2-1) at 6:30 p.m. CDT on SEC Network – Among the usual doormats in the SEC are Kentucky and Mississippi State, but in their last conference games South Carolina lost to the Wildcats and Auburn lost to the Bulldogs. South Carolina certainly has not lived up to pre-season expectations and has a particularly porous defense. Auburn 49, South Carolina 17.
Mississippi State (6-0, 3-0) at Kentucky (5-2, 2-2) at 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 central) on CBS – These usual weak sisters were the selection for CBS this year as the Bulldogs are ranked first in the nation. Kentucky lost to Florida and was pummelled by LSU. The Wildcats lead this series 21-20 but it will be even after this weekend. Mississippi State 42, Kentucky 10.
Vanderbilt (2-5, 0-4) at Missouri (5-2, 2-1) at 3 p.m. CDT on SEC Network – Vandy is missing its James Franklin (now coaching at Penn State) much more than Mizzou is missing its James Franklin (who was quarterback for the Tigers until being injured in his senior season last year). It’s hard to know what to make of Missouri, but it’s not difficult to know what to make of Vandy. Missouri 42, Vanderbilt 6.
UAB (4-3) at Arkansas (3-4, 0-4) at 11 a.m. CDT on SEC Network – Arkansas is winless in the SEC (again), but unbeaten against outside competition. Everyone agrees the Razorbacks are improving. UAB also is improved. Arkansas 45, UAB 17.
Florida, Georgia, and Texas A&M have bye weeks.
For the year, the predictions have been correct 57 times, wrong 12 times. But we warn you against using them for betting purposes. Against the spread and the over-under, the APP panel has managed only 62-41.