CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Same old, same old: SEC is center of BCS universe

Alabama struggled? Big deal. Auburn got incredibly lucky? Doesn't matter. The winner of their Nov. 30 game could end up in title game.

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Corey Grant, Quan Bray, Melvin Ray

Auburn running back Corey Grant, right, celebrates with teammates Quan Bray, left, and Melvin Ray after scoring a touchdown in Saturday's 43-38 win over Georgia. The Tigers still have a chance of making the BCS title game heading into their showdown with top-ranked Alabama on Nov. 30. (Dave Martin / Associated Press / November 16, 2013)

Alabama played lousy and Auburn got lucky, but nothing changes as another November starts to coalesce around SEC headquarters in Birmingham, Ala.

It's almost like the swallows returning to Capistrano.

When undefeated Auburn was left out of the BCS title game of 2004, a defiant Commissioner Mike Slive vowed it would never happen again.

He was wrong, but not for long.

Texas and USC played for the title after the 2005 season, but the SEC has since won seven straight national championships.

Since 2008, in fact, the hardware hasn't left the state of Alabama. The Crimson Tide won in 2009, followed by Auburn, followed by consecutive titles by Alabama.

The Crimson Tide looked sluggish in its 20-7 win at Mississippi State, but it had no impact on Alabama's quest to win a third straight title.

Auburn needed an all-time fluke touchdown catch to beat Georgia, but that win lifted the Tigers to 10-1 with a Nov. 30 showdown looming against the Crimson Tide.

Auburn, with a little help from the deflection gods, replaced Oregon and Missouri as the best-positioned one-loss team that can still win the national title.

Oregon is ahead of Auburn now in the BCS standings but won't be if Auburn defeats Alabama.

Don't bother comparing the defeats: Oregon lost by six points at then-No. 5 Stanford, and Auburn lost by 14 at then-No. 6 Louisiana State.

Blah . . . blah . . . blah.

The sun may set in the West, but the BCS standings set over Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Auburn's "win" should have made nervous all contenders outside of Tuscaloosa and Tallahassee.

Florida State's spot in the title game is secure so long as the Seminoles win out against Idaho, Florida and in the ACC title game.

But what happens if Auburn defeats Alabama in two weeks and ends up winning the SEC title with a 12-1 record?

Florida State would move up to No. 1, and then what?

The SEC would certainly argue its one-loss champion was more worthy than undefeated Baylor or Ohio State.

Unless you think Slive would say, "Nah, we've won enough, give the Big 12 a chance."

Sunday's BCS standings set the stage for an exciting closing act, with the top four teams lined up in order: Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor.

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