- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The fall from No. 1 wasn't drastic, but it could be far enough to make the difference in the University of Alabama returning to the national championship game. The Crimson Tide, coming off an upset at the hands of Texas A&M, fell to No. 4 in the newest Bowl Championship Series standings released Sunday night.
Alabama (9-1, 6-1) will likely have to win out, beat No. 5 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game and see some combination of No. 1 Kansas State, No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Notre Dame lose.
The Crimson Tide don't have the benefit of a strong strength of schedule to fall back on, even with the only loss of the season coming to No. 8 Texas A&M. UA ranks 41st in the country in cumulative opposition. Kansas State is 33rd, Oregon 26th and Notre Dame 19th. As far as other one-loss teams are concerned, Alabama has the edge, at least in the voters' minds. No. 6 Florida won't compete in the SEC championship and Florida State is a lackluster No. 10 with the computers docking the Seminoles for a weak strength of schedule. No. 11 Clemson, No. 19 Louisville, No. 20 Louisiana Tech and No. 22 Rutgers are the only other teams with one loss in the BCS standings.
The Crimson Tide are No. 4 in the Harris Interactive College Football Poll and No. 5 in the USA Today coaches’ poll, which are the other two pieces of the BCS standings formula. The computers give Alabama an average ranking of No. 5. UA comes in at No. 4 in the Associated Press poll.
Alabama's resume includes four solid victories, three coming away from Bryant-Denny Stadium:
a 41-14 neutral-site win vs. No. 21 Michigan
a 44-13 win at Tennessee
a 38-7 win over Mississippi State
a 21-17 win at No. 7 LSU
Alabama has no remaining games against BCS-ranked teams in the regular season. UA's last chance for a signature win will come in Atlanta against the Bulldogs, who have Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern on their schedule the next two weeks.
Alabama has games against a pair of sub-.500 teams against Western Carolina (1-9) and Auburn (2-8) remaining.
20hDerek Tyson and Tom VanHaaren