TUSCALOOSA _ It’s official, the University of Alabama football team is two victories away from playing for another national championship.
It's official, Damion Square and the Crimson Tide control their own destiny regarding the national championship.
With the release of Bowl Championship Series standings Sunday night, Alabama and Notre Dame are the two teams that know if they win, they’re in. It’s that simple.
The Fighting Irish (11-0), which doesn’t play in a conference, will close its regular season Saturday night at Southern California (7 p.m. ABC).
Alabama, of course, still has to face its biggest rival when it hosts Auburn earlier in the day (2:30 p.m., CBS), and can clinch a spot against No. 3 Georgia in the SEC Championship on Dec. 1 (3 p.m., CBS).
The Crimson Tide and Tigers have combined to win the last three national titles, and for the fifth straight year the game will play a key part in determining which teams will play for the crystal football. Alabama dominated last year’s meeting 42-14, but was edged 28-27 the last time they played at Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2010.
“It’s the West, it’s all our hopes and dreams, and also, it’s Auburn,” Barrett Jones said after Saturday’s 49-0 victory against Western Carolina.
After No. 1 Kansas State lost to Baylor 52-24, and No. 2 Oregon was upset by No. 13 Stanford 17-14, the senior center was seen celebrating with scores of cheering and emotional Crimson Tide fans along The Strip late Saturday night – which now part of a popular YouTube video.
Early lines have Alabama a 34-point favorite.
An Alabama win could make the SEC Championship the toughest ticket in that game’s history, and the potential matchup with Notre Dame would likely draw huge ratings. The two storied programs are tied for the most Associated Press national titles with eight.
The reigning champions have been given a second chance ... again.
“We know what’s ahead,” senior defensive end Damion Square said. “We have played against these guys previously. We know it means a lot to them and they know that it means a lot to us, so we are going to have come and play to our standard. We are going to play a good Iron Bowl for the fans.”
Earlier in the day, Notre Dame was a unanimous No. 1 selection in the Associated Press poll, which is not part of the BCS formula, and had the top spot in both the coaches’ and Harris poll. Alabama was No. 2 in all three polls.
No. 3 Georgia is the only other team that likely controls its own destiny, but 10-1 Florida might have an argument because its only loss was 17-9 to the Bulldogs, while Georgia was routed by South Carolina, 35-7. The computer services used to compile the BCS standings are bullish on the Gators, as well.
The Bulldogs close their regular season next week against rival Georgia Tech (11 a.m., ESPN), and Florida is at Florida State (2:30 p.m., ABC).
Oregon (10-1), Kansas State (10-1), and LSU (9-2) are all still alive for the BCS title game, but need a lot of help. Ohio State (11-0) is not eligible due to NCAA penalties.
"Who would have ever expected both No. 1 and No. 2 to be upset on the same day?" BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said in a statement. "We've had three different No. 1 teams in the past three weeks. While some dreams have been shattered, other new hopes of a national championship have been ignited. Yesterday was another banner day for the greatest regular season in all of sports. And even more fun is ahead."
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