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What we learned: SEC's BCS run looks over, ACC Coastal up for grabs

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College football's reigning king was knocked from his throne on Saturday by Sir Johnny Football, the Conquerer from the neighboring Kingdom of College Station. Given this rare defeat by Sir Nick from the House of Saban, the narrative begins. Not only will Sir Nick be denied another national championship, none of the 13 kingdoms that surround Tuscaloosa, known as the Southeastern Conference, will hoist a crystal football when the season ends on Jan. 7.

At least that's the narrative today.

Here's my counter narrative. Stuff happens.

So what did we learn over the weekend?

SEC's streak over? Not so fast

Sure, it looks like at least two of the three undefeated teams (Kansas State, Oregon, Notre Dame) at the top of the new BCS Standings are bound to stay perfect and squeeze the SEC out. But don't forget: This is the BCS where truth is stranger than fiction.

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Have you forgotten 2006? Florida was ranked No. 4 with a loss (to Auburn) when Championship Saturday rolled around. Undefeated Ohio State was No. 1, undefeated USC was No. 2, once beaten (by Ohio State) Michigan was 3. UCLA knocked off USC and Florida jumped over idle Michigan into the No. 2 spot. Florida then dominated Ohio State in the BCS championship game. That started the SEC's string of six straight titles.

And what about 2007? LSU was 10-2 after losing to Arkansas the day after Thanksgiving. It was ranked No. 7 on championship Saturday. No shot of getting there, right? But LSU beat Tennessee in the SEC Championship game, No. 1 Missouri lost to Oklahoma and No. 2 West Virginia lost to Pittsburgh. Ohio State moved to No. 1 and LSU jumped from No. 7 to No. 2 in the final BCS Standings. LSU again took Ohio State to the woodshed.

And finally, what about Alabama in 2011? No way Alabama should be in the mix after losing at home to LSU on the first Saturday of November. The national championship game between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Oklahoma State was all but set. It was the people's choice. But Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State 37-31 in double overtime. Alabama was moved into the No. 2 position in the final BCS standings and made the most of it, winning 21-0.

The point is that there are three football weekends left. On paper it looks like the SEC really has no shot. But let's see. Like I said: Stuff happens.

Time for Dooley, Chizik to move on

Dooley, the son of Hall of Fame coach Vince Dooley, is 1-13 in his last 14 SEC games, which includes Saturday's four-overtime loss (51-48) to Missouri at home. I was in Auburn Saturday night for a showdown with No. 5 Georgia and the Tigers didn't even put up a fight. It was 28-0 after Georgia's first four possessions and Mark Richt mercifully took his foot off the accelerator. Auburn is a bad, bad football team, one of the worst I've seen among the big six programs (Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee). Auburn has no choice but to make a change. Now I don't know who the new Auburn coach will be, but I feel confident in writing that it will NOT be Bobby Petrino. The Tennessee hire will be fascinating. I keep hearing Jon Gruden's name, but I don't know why. Tennessee is a tough job.

Apparently no one wants to win the ACC Coastal

Miami (Fla.) was sitting in the driver's seat when it simply gave a game away to Virginia, 41-40, on Saturday. Now Georgia Tech (4-3), Miami (4-3), and Duke (3-3) all have a shot at winning the division. Georgia Tech hosts Duke to close out its ACC schedule. Miami plays Duke next week. If Georgia Tech and Miami both beat Duke to finish 5-3, then Miami wins the tiebreaker because of its 42-36 win at Georgia Tech on Sept. 22. If Duke wins both games then the Blue Devils win the division. Duke (6-4) has already qualified for its first bowl game since 1994.

Texas vs. Texas A&M for the Cotton Bowl

After watching Johnny Manziel lead Texas A&M to a 29-24 upset of No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, I just think the Aggies really need to get rewarded. They'll finish 10-2 if they beat Sam Houston State and Missouri. I think it's a stretch to get Texas A&M into an at-large BCS spot, although the excitement around Manziel and the program could get one of the BCS boys interested. But what would be fun is seeing the Aggies play their old rivals, the Longhorns, in the Cotton Bowl. In just its first year in the SEC, Texas A&M has said good bye to big brother and beaten the biggest, baddest kid on the SEC block. Think you would sell all the tickets to that one?

BCS Bowl projections

BCS championship: No. 1 Oregon vs. No. 2 Kansas State. I know this runs counterintuitive to my lead note, but it's hard to see either one of these teams losing. Notre Dame would be the odd man out.

Rose Bowl: Big Ten champ (Nebraska) vs. Notre Dame. Oregon, by virtue of beating No. 13 Stanford, No. 16 Oregon State, and winning a rematch with Southern California in the Pac-12 championship game, jumps over Kansas State in No. 1 in the final BCS Standings. That means the Rose Bowl gets to pick first to replace Oregon. No way the white suits in Pasadena pass on a 12-0 Notre Dame team.

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. SEC (at-large). Word has filtered down to me that the Fiesta Bowl wants an SEC at-large team if the SEC champion goes to the Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma, if it finishes 10-2, is the likely other choice.

Sugar Bowl: SEC Champion (Georgia or Alabama) vs. Clemson. Clemson (9-1) would need to beat South Carolina on Nov. 24 in Death Valley and finish 11-1. Clemson would love to go back to the Orange to atone for the shellacking it got from West Virginia. But Florida State, which Clemson has already played and lost to, will be here as the ACC champ.

Orange Bowl: ACC champion (Florida State) vs. Big East champ (Louisville). Louisville got beat by Syracuse last week, but I still think the Cardinals will emerge from the Big East.

Watch The Tony Barnhart Show on Tuesday at 9 p.m. on The CBS Sports Network.


Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to CBSSports.com. He is a college football analyst for CBS Sports and The CBS Sports Network. Prior to joining CBS he was the national college football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 24 years. He has written five books on college football.
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