The key is being within striking distance, and three SEC teams are right there in the mix in the first BCS standings released Sunday night.
Auburn is the highest SEC team at No. 4, but LSU isn’t far behind at No. 6. Alabama is the highest one-loss team nationally at No. 8.
With Auburn and LSU playing this Saturday, one of those teams is going to drop. But the winner positions itself nicely as we point toward the month of November.
Oklahoma is No. 1 in the first BCS standings followed by Oregon at No. 2 and Boise State at No. 3.
If Oklahoma and Oregon both remain unbeaten, even an unbeaten SEC champion would have its work cut out to overtake either one. But voters in the two human polls have rewarded SEC teams in recent years when they work their way through that conference schedule and then go on to win the SEC championship game.
As a point of reference, Florida was No. 10 in the first BCS standings in 2008 and No. 6 in the first BCS standings in 2006 and navigated its way into the top two in the final standings, winning the national championship both years.
Auburn and LSU both will have a couple more chances to impress the voters against Top 10 teams, starting with each other this Saturday on the Plains. They also both still have to play Alabama.
The thing that could hurt a Western Division team this season is that it doesn’t appear the Eastern Division champion will be very highly ranked at all.
Each of the last two years, Alabama and Florida scored big points with the voters by beating each other in the SEC championship game when the other one was ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the BCS standings.
The Western Division champion won’t get that extra pop this season, because the Eastern Division champion is going to have two or three losses.
Nebraska and Ohio State both losing this past weekend was a big help to the SEC, especially if the league champion has one loss. Alabama is probably in the best shape if everybody in the SEC ends up having a loss, primarily because the Crimson Tide lost early enough to climb back up the standings.
Plus, Alabama still gets a shot at both Auburn and LSU.
Ideally, the SEC could use either Oregon or Oklahoma losing somewhere along the way.
An unbeaten Boise State would be a problem for the SEC, but not nearly as big a problem if both Oklahoma and Oregon are still unbeaten at season’s end.