That Alabama lost really wasn’t shocking. Surprising, sure, but not shocking. The Crimson Tide are tremendously talented, exceedingly well coached, but as LSU showed last week, vulnerable.
The Tide’s run of 10 weeks at No. 1 in the AP college football poll ended Sunday with Oregon moving into the top spot and Alabama falling to fourth. Also, in the new BCS standings, Alabama fell to fourth behind Kansas State, Oregon, and Notre Dame.
No, what was shocking about Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M beating Alabama, 29-24, in Tuscaloosa on Saturday was that for the first time in years the Southeastern Conference was no longer in control of college football.
It’s been a while since that wasn’t the case. The SEC’s streak of BCS titles started in 2006, and since then, the SEC has never had to worry about what was going on in other conferences. The SEC championship game in some years was a de facto national semifinal. In others, it was the last hurdle to clear before the BCS title game.
Now the SEC has been relegated to watching and hoping.
‘‘Two of the three national championship teams that I coached lost a game,’’ Tide coach Nick Saban said, counting one at LSU. ‘‘This team still has an opportunity to win the West and go to the SEC championship game and win a championship. There’s still a lot for this team to play for.’’
The Ducks, Wildcats, and Fighting Irish have potentially tough games on their schedules. There’s still a good chance Alabama (9-1) and No. 5 Georgia (9-1) will meet for the SEC championship with only one loss apiece.
If two of those top three drop a game, the SEC is on deck, and there’s no reason to think the Tide or the Bulldogs can’t win the BCS title game if they get there.
Kelly makes pitch
Brian Kelly made his case Sunday for a top-two spot in the polls that would allow the Fighting Irish (10-0) to play for a national championship. Oregon and Kansas State may be getting a lot of attention with their high-powered offenses, but Kelly said Notre Dame’s defense is every bit as impressive. ‘‘Each team has their own distinctions. The distinction of this football team is it’s the No. 1 scoring defense in the country,’’ he said . . . Auburn coach Gene Chizik said he feels confident he can his program around. The Tigers have slipped from a national title team two years ago to 2-8 and winless in the SEC. Chizik said Sunday the way this season has gone ‘‘prompts you to really go back and start all over and evaluate’’ every aspect of the program . . . Conference commissioners will meet Monday, hoping to decide whether to have a six- or seven-game format for the new playoff system. Support has waned for adding a seventh marquee bowl game to the semifinal rotation. But there is still a strong possibility some automatic entry to the system will be given to the Big East and four other conferences now without a bowl of their own. ‘‘Whether it’s seven games or six games, the commitment to access that was established at the Chicago meeting, I’m confident, is still in place,’’ Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson said Sunday from Denver, where the commissioners’ regular meeting with the BCS presidential oversight committee is being held.