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LSU locks up BCS title spot; Cowboys make case

LSU head coach Les Miles reacts after their 42-10 win over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011, in Atlanta. LSU head coach Les Miles reacts after their 42-10 win over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Stephen Morton)
By Ralph D. Russo
AP College Football Writer / December 4, 2011
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LSU did its part to make sure both the Tigers and Alabama get into the BCS national title game. Then Oklahoma State gave the voters a reason to rethink the rematch.

The top-ranked Tigers locked up a spot in the championship on Jan. 9 in New Orleans with a 42-10 victory against No. 12 Georgia in the Southeastern Conference title game in Atlanta on Saturday.

Oklahoma State followed that with a 44-10 blowout of rival Oklahoma in Stillwater.

"They had their shot," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said of Alabama. "Give us ours."

LSU (13-0) will be first in the BCS standings when they come out on Sunday. And this latest rout by the Tigers fortified Alabama's chances of holding on to the second spot and holding off Oklahoma State, which was third last week.

"I would certainly understand if college football decides it should be two SEC teams playing for the national championship," LSU coach Les Miles said. "It's a very special conference with very special teams."

The Tigers beat the Tide (11-1) 9-6 in overtime at Tuscaloosa, Ala., a month ago. Alabama is the only team in the country to stay within 13 points of LSU this season. Other than the Alabama game, the Tigers' closest game since September was a 24-point victory against Arkansas.

The Cowboys can claim to have more quality wins than the Tide -- Oklahoma State now has five victories against teams in the BCS top 25, Alabama has two -- but their double-overtime loss at Iowa State (6-6) two weeks ago has been a drag on their resume.

"I don't think there's any question Oklahoma State should play in the big game," Gundy said.

He added: "And if we'd have won this game 17-14, I don't know if I'd have said it. ... When you win by 34 points, we deserve the right."

Oklahoma State was fifth in both the Harris and coaches' polls, while Alabama was an overwhelming No. 2 behind LSU. The Cowboys caught another break when Virginia Tech, which was ahead of them in both those polls last week, was beaten 38-10 by Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.

If the voters need any help making their decisions, Oklahoma State provided a mass email titled The Case for Oklahoma State in the BCS Title Game, which hit sports writers' inboxes a little after 1 a.m. EST.

There's no doubt Oklahoma State will move up Sunday, but will it be enough to catch Alabama?

Clemson's surprisingly easy victory in the ACC title game send the Tigers to the Orange Bowl with their first conference title in 20 years.

Oregon locked up its spot in the Rose Bowl by winning the Pac-12 title game Friday night.

The Ducks will face Wisconsin, which beat Michigan State 42-39 in a memorable first Big Ten championship game. The Badgers will be making their second straight trip to the Rose Bowl. The Ducks are in it for the second time in three seasons, with a national championship game trip in between.

Championship Saturday started with an upset.

Case Keenum and No. 7 Houston were pounded 49-28 by Southern Mississippi in the Conference USA championship game, a loss that will cost the Cougars a spot in the BCS and the millions of dollars that goes with it.

The high-scoring Cougars needed to complete their perfect regular season and win the league to become this year's BCS buster, and the first team from C-USA to reach the BCS.

A BCS bid would have netted the league about $7 million dollars.

With Houston out of the picture, it TCU has a shot to go back to the BCS for a third consecutive season.

TCU, which beat lowly UNLV 56-9, would need to move into the top 16 in the final BCS standings on Sunday to earn an automatic bid, because the Big East's conference champion -- West Virginia -- will most likely not jump ahead of the Horned Frogs.

TCU was No. 18 in last week's BCS standings.

The Big East was first to resolve its title race Saturday. When Cincinnati beat Connecticut 35-27, it moved West Virginia into position to earn a BCS bid by winning a three-way tiebreaker between the Mountaineers, Cincinnati and Louisville.

The Mountaineers are likely heading to the Sugar or Orange bowl.

Houston's drop in BCS standings could also affect how the at-large bids shakeout on Saturday.

Stanford seems like a lock for an at-large to the Fiesta Bowl, and speculation was that Michigan would receive an at-large bid to the Sugar. But the idle Wolverines need to move into the top 14 of the final standings. They were 16th coming into the final weekend.

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AP BCS Projections

BCS championship game -- LSU vs. Alabama

Fiesta Bowl -- Oklahoma State vs. Stanford.

Rose Bowl -- Oregon vs. Wisconsin.

Orange Bowl -- Clemson vs. West Virginia.

Sugar Bowl -- Michigan vs. Kansas State.

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AP Sports Writers Jeff Latzke in Stillwater, Okla., and Paul Newberry in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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