Commentary

Alabama makes its best case for BCS

Originally Published: November 26, 2011
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

AUBURN, Ala. -- Who needs next week's BCS Selection Sunday when you have this week's See Ya Saturday?

Seriously, who's kidding whom? Unless No. 1 LSU spends January abroad and No. 2 Alabama goes on Christmas break -- and doesn't return -- then we've got our Allstate BCS National Championship Game matchup.

[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
Marvin Gentry/US PresswireTrent Richardson carried Alabama with a 203-yard performance.

It all became 99.9 percent official Saturday afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium. That's when and where Alabama toyed with Auburn as if it were teasing a kitten with a ball of yarn.

"Y'all are going to get to see my vote," said Alabama coach Nick Saban, referring to his weekly top 25 ballot. "So now you're gonna know what it is."

And just in case there was any confusion, Saban was asked if he coached one of the two best teams in the country.

"Yeah," he said. "Yeah."

In other words: See ya, one-loss Oklahoma State … See ya, one-loss Virginia Tech … See ya, one-loss Stanford … See ya, undefeated Houston.

Hello, LSU and The Rematch.

"Everything I could dream of," said Bama defensive end Damion Square. "Whoever it may be -- if it's LSU -- I'd love to see LSU or whoever they may choose to put up there."

But if he had his choice of opponent?

Pause. Big smile.

"No comment," he said.

The scoreboard said Bama 42, Your Defending National Champions 14, but the Crimson Tide -- and the Tigers, too -- know the 28-point margin didn't describe the full width and breadth of this rout. It wasn't mercy-rule bad, but Auburn was never truly in this game.

This might seem like sacrilege, but this latest edition of the Iron Bowl was more glorified scrimmage than something worth bookmarking on your Bama-Auburn greatest hits list. It was necessary, but it wasn't memorable -- not in the way last season's Tigers-comeback-for-the-ages was memorable.

No, this was the ultimate business trip for Bama. The Crimson Tide made its sales call to the Loveliest Village on the Plains, closed the BCS deal and returned to Tuscaloosa, where they'll begin the countdown to Jan. 9.

And please, don't bother with the doomsday scenarios involving an LSU loss to Georgia in the SEC championship game. First of all, the chances of that happening are the same as Saban appearing in an episode of "Jersey Shore."

But even if it did happen, how could an Oklahoma State team that got beat by 27-point underdog Iowa State (and still has to play Oklahoma) leapfrog an LSU team that has beaten the Nos. 2 and 3 teams in the country (Bama and Arkansas)? Or a Crimson Tide team that lost to LSU less than a month ago by three points in overtime?

Answer: It can't. Not now.

"I'm very hungry for [the rematch]" said Bama running back Trent Richardson, who had more rushing yards (203) than Auburn had total offense (140). "Can't wait 'til we play them."

Added quarterback A.J. McCarron: "If you're a team in our situation, who wouldn't think they deserve to play in the national championship? As a team, we think we deserve it and hopefully we get the nod to do so."

[+] EnlargeNick Saban
Marvin Gentry/US PresswireNick Saban isn't shying away from the talk of a rematch with LSU.

There is no real BCS bedlam today because Auburn couldn't recreate the miracle of 2010, when it overcame a 24-point Alabama lead in Tuscaloosa. Those were the days of Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and a Tigers defense good enough to make the comeback hold up.

Newton is in the NFL now and the Auburn defense is younger than the Biebs. Not a good combo platter against an Alabama team with a grudge against AU and a jones for a rematch against the only program that defeated the Tide this season, LSU.

How overpowering was Alabama? Auburn had one first down in the first quarter. At halftime … the Tigers still had one first down. At the end of the third quarter they had a grand total of two.

The Tigers' only points came on a fumble recovery in the end zone and a kickoff return. Otherwise, there was a lot of cricket chirping when Auburn had the ball.

"Alabama is a great team," said Tigers offensive tackle Brandon Mosley.

Do you know how hard it is for an Auburn man to say that about Bama? But Mosley had no choice. The Crimson Tide dominated every meaningful statistical category in the game.

With Auburn loading the box with 7-8 players and part of the AU marching band -- all designed to stop Richardson from winning a Heisman on its watch -- Bama threw early and often. The Tide's first two scores were on TD passes from McCarron (including a flea flicker involving Richardson).

Richardson later scored on short pass from McCarron, and that was followed by two field goals (where were those in the LSU game?) and a Tide interception return for a touchdown.

"It wasn't perfect," said Saban.

But it was in the same suburb as perfection.

Afterward, as Crimson Tide players made their way toward the tunnel and the visitor's locker room, Bama fans began chanting three letters.

"L-S-U … L-S-U."

They could say what Bama's players had been forbidden to mention publicly. So obsessed was Saban with winning the Iron Bowl and avenging last year's 28-27 loss to Auburn that he wouldn't let his players watch Friday's LSU-Arkansas game.

"I told them, 'If you're going to watch the LSU game, go watch some Auburn film,'" said Saban.

A few players sneaked a few peeks. "I saw a second of it," said tight end Brad Smelley.

But that was it. Bama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker wouldn't even allow himself to consider the LSU what-ifs.

"We didn't think about it," he said.

Will he think about it now?

"Now?" said Fluker. "Yes, sir, now we do."

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter @GenoEspn.

Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter

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