ANYONE FOR A TITLE GAME?
A review of the what-if scenarios of the national championship melee created by Notre Dame's loss to Miami (page 24) suggests that Alabama could end up as this season's hard-luck team. Even if the Crimson Tide beats Auburn on Saturday and Miami in the Sugar Bowl to complete an unbeaten, untied season, in all likelihood Alabama would still need a Notre Dame win over Colorado in the Orange Bowl to claim the title.
Tide fans have seen this act before. Alabama had perfect seasons in 1945 and 1966 but was not awarded the national crown. The '66 voting was particularly galling. Alabama finished an 11-0 season with a 34-7 rout of Nebraska in the Sugar Bowl, but wound up third in the polls, behind Notre Dame and Michigan State. Both of those teams were 9-0-1 because of their 10-10 tie in East Lansing, and neither went to a bowl—the Irish because they had a policy against playing in bowls, the Spartans because the Big Ten didn't allow its champion to go to the Rose Bowl two years in a row.
Of course, Alabama may not even get an opportunity to complain this year. This Tide has not been overpowering, and coach Bill Curry is 0-9 against Auburn, which will be playing Alabama on the Tigers' home field for the first time ever.
Assuming Alabama beats Auburn, however, five teams would have a right to dream of a national championship. The Nebraska-Florida State winner in the Fiesta Bowl won't be one of them. The Cornhuskers had a weak schedule and lost to Colorado, while the Seminoles had those season-opening defeats to Southern Mississippi and Clemson. Besides Alabama, here are the other candidates:
? Colorado can render all the other bowls meaningless with a victory over Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl. A 12-0 record with impressive wins over Illinois. Washington, Oklahoma, Nebraska and the Irish should give the Buffaloes their first title, even if Alabama also finishes 12-0.
?Notre Dame could still repeat, but the Irish will need a big win over Colorado and help from the other contenders. Alabama would have to lose to Auburn, and Miami would have to fall in the Sugar Bowl.
? Miami, whose only loss is to Florida State, has, for the fifth year in a row, a shot at winning the title in a bowl game. This time Miami needs a convincing win in the Sugar Bowl while Notre Dame is beating Colorado in Miami.
?The other team with a chance—and a remote one it is—is Michigan, whose only blemish is a season-opening loss to the Irish. But sorry, Bo, the only way the Wolverines could take the title is if the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl both end in ties.
OLD SCHOOL TIES