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SEC in control of BCS standings after a weekend of upsets

A fitting image from a chaotic college football weekend came at Oregon's Autzen Stadium on Saturday. Southern California receiver Robert Woods paid homage to sideline guest LeBron James by tossing powder in the air.

Thanks to USC and other upset-minded programs around the country, the national title chances of several top teams disappeared like a cloud of dust.

Three of the top five teams lost this past weekend, the first time that has happened since October 2008. The developments overhauled the Bowl Championship Series race: a rematch of two SEC teams is now likely.

In BCS standings released Sunday, SEC West stalwarts No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Arkansas topped the rankings. It's an unprecedented show of power for one division in one league. BCS guru Jerry Palm said there was a 20 percent chance that the best-positioned non-SEC West interloper, Oklahoma State, could fight into the national title game.

"What I've been saying is for there to be a rematch, there pretty much had to be no other good choice," said Palm, who publishes collegebcs.com. "We've got to the point where people are looking at it and thinking: 'There really is no other good choice. Oklahoma State is the last hope for another good choice.' "

The Cowboys, now No. 4 in the BCS, kicked off a cat-bites-dog weekend by squandering a 17-point lead in a double-overtime loss at Iowa State on Friday.

That upset proved a harbinger for a weekend defined by them, as USC held off a furious charge to win at Oregon.

That game led right into Baylor's first victory over Oklahoma.

The place where the cheers rang the loudest was Tuscaloosa, Ala. A Crimson Tide victory at Auburn this week would basically assure Alabama a spot in the national title game.

"I really like their chances," Palm said.

Perhaps the most amazing part of the weekend's fallout is that three teams from the SEC West are atop the standings. That did not surprise Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen.

"To get in the top half of the SEC West, which we're trying to accomplish, means that you're a top 3 team," Mullen said Sunday.

Some separation between the three teams could happen this weekend, as Arkansas plays at LSU on Friday. With a victory, LSU would clinch a spot in the SEC title game, against Georgia.

How would the SEC West get settled if there's a three-way tie between LSU, Alabama and Arkansas? It would come down to the seventh criteria to determine who goes to the SEC title game, which is use of the BCS standings. The lowest-ranked team would be eliminated. If the second team is five spots or less from the top team, head-to-head result would then settle things.

AP poll: After a victory at FSU, No. 24 Virginia moved in for the first time since Dec. 2, 2007. FSU and Southern Miss dropped out.

SEC in control of BCS standings after a weekend of upsets 11/20/11 [Last modified: Sunday, November 20, 2011 11:59pm]
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