Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Hogs' road map to national title game
By ESPN.com staff
Thanks to my colleague at ESPN, Brad Edwards, I have a better feel for what it’s going to take for Arkansas to reach the Allstate BCS National Championship Game.
And to all you Hog fans who’ve been asking, it’s going to take some doing.
The first thing that has to happen is Arkansas winning these next two games, including winning at No. 1 LSU on Nov. 25. The Hogs won impressively last week over Tennessee. It would be in their best interests to pin another big score on Mississippi State this weekend in Little Rock.
We’re at that point in the season when the voters in the two human polls are keeping track of everything.
To have a chance to climb into one of those top two spots in the final BCS standings, Arkansas will need to be SEC champions.
I don’t see any way the Hogs get in the national title game without winning the SEC title, even if they do take down LSU in Baton Rouge.
Alabama, on the other hand, could potentially get there without winning the SEC title. The Crimson Tide were No. 3 this week in the BCS standings and the Hogs were No. 6.
So what Arkansas needs is for Alabama to either lose to Auburn on Nov. 26 or look extremely shaky in winning, causing the voters to drop the Crimson Tide a spot or two in the polls.
As Edwards points out, both Georgia and LSU set the bar very high for what a good team should do to Auburn. The game being played at Jordan-Hare Stadium makes it a little different, but Alabama probably needs to win convincingly next week in the Iron Bowl to keep from losing a lot of voter support.
All of this is important because in a three-way Western Division tie, the head-to-head tiebreaker between the two highest-ranked teams in the BCS standings on Nov. 27 will determine who goes to Atlanta.
Arkansas needs LSU to remain ahead of Alabama in that scenario. If Arkansas and Alabama are the top two teams at that point, the Crimson Tide would go based on their 38-14 win over Arkansas back in September.
So, in short, Hog fans need to be rooting hard for Alabama to slip up against Auburn or play a very sloppy game and win.
If it does work out for the Hogs that they get to the SEC championship game, they would benefit from Georgia really rolling it up these next two weeks against Kentucky and Georgia Tech and being a top-10 team when they meet in Atlanta.
That way, Arkansas gets a little extra pop in the computers and among the voters by beating a second straight top-10 foe before those final BCS standings come out.
Then, it’s probably going to come down to Oregon, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Arkansas for those top two spots in the final BCS standings, and the Hogs would need to move ahead of at least two of those teams in the polls on the strength of back-to-back victories over No. 1 LSU and a potential top-10 Georgia team.
Oregon losing in the Pac-12 championship game would certainly help, and the ideal scenario then for the Hogs would be Oklahoma State beating Oklahoma and handing the Sooners their second loss.
Then, unbeaten Oklahoma State (there is no Big 12 championship game this year) and one-loss SEC champion Arkansas would likely be the top two teams remaining, even though a one-loss LSU team with its high computer numbers wouldn’t be completely out of the picture.
Obviously, a lot of things need to happen for the Hogs to reach the national title game on Jan. 9.
But, hey, at least there’s a road map out there for you now, Hogs fans.