Win out and Alabama will play for the national championship.
That’s the skinny from the first release of the Bowl Championship Series standings Sunday afternoon. Ranked second behind Florida in the BCS, the Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0 SEC) stand atop the only poll not included in the formula.
The Associated Press poll, no longer a component in determining the national championship matchup, pushed Alabama past the Gators. Unimpressed with Florida’s narrow 23-20 win over Arkansas coupled with the Tide’s 20-6 win over South Carolina, the media pushed Alabama to No. 1.
Florida, the defending national champion, started the season with all 59 AP voters predicting a repeat. Each week Alabama gained believers and Saturday’s results pushed Nick Saban’s team over the top with 39 voting for the Tide.
But since the AP isn’t a factor in the BCS, it’s little more than window dressing in the long run.
The two polls that, combined with six computer rankings, make up the BCS formula — the USA Today coaches poll and the Harris poll — had the Tide behind the Gators.
The Tide did pick up eight more first-place votes in the coaches poll compared to just one a week ago and 33 Harris voters picked Alabama as opposed to the 77 who went with Florida.
Regardless of what this first round of BCS standings say, the path to the national title game appears simple. Alabama and Florida, should they both win their remaining regular season games, would play what amounts to a national semifinal in the SEC championship game for the second straight year.
The Gators won that matchup last season before knocking off Oklahoma in the national title game.
There is a theory gaining momentum that believes Alabama and Florida could be far enough ahead of everyone else in the BCS that even the loser of the SEC championship game would remain second in the standings and set up a title game rematch.