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Alabama head coach Nick Saban. (Associated Press)<br>

Alabama head coach Nick Saban. (Associated Press)

Gazzolo Column: Only a Christmas miracle can save Tide this season

Last Modified: Monday, December 02, 2013 5:54 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

Ding dong, the wicked witch of college football is dead.

Well, at least dying.

Alabama is the Jason of the BCS era, almost impossible to kill.

But it does appear the house finally fell on the Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide last Saturday in the form of a 100-plus yard return of a missed field goal.

While not impossible, it does seem hard to find a way for Bama to get back into the title chase.

The Tide is fourth in the BCS mess, which seems to please anybody who ever rooted for LSU.

And while Tiger fans may have cheered what seems for now to be the death of the Alabama dynasty, look out, strange things happen this time of year. Remember, LSU won the mythical national title once with two losses.

But the Tide appear locked out by their own conference.

Missouri and Auburn will play for the SEC championship this weekend. The winner will likely end up as the top one-loss team in the country. Alabama would need both Florida State and Ohio State to lose just to get back into the conversation.

Unlikely, but not impossible.

The winner of the SEC title probably needs one of those teams to lose to have a chance at keeping the conference’s run at national championships going. The SEC has won the last seven, which means, of course, its fans think the conference winner must play for the title.

A good portion of the rest of the nation disagrees.

However, Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs has already come firing just moments after his team stunned Alabama.

He said it would be “un-American” for a one-loss SEC club not to play for a national championship.

Jacobs told USA Today it would be a “disservice to the nation if we got left out.”

Somehow I think the Republic would survive.

Jacobs better not be counting his chickens before they hatch, or is it putting all his eggs in one basket?

Either way, Auburn first has to beat Missouri, otherwise SEC fans will have to root for a team they didn’t believe a year ago was worthy of their interest.

I remember more than a few of the good ol’ boys saying it would be 10 years before Missouri and Texas A&M would play against the league’s elite.

Man, how time flies because that was one quick decade.

Maybe they were talking in dog years.

Mizzou is one bad quarter away from having run through the SEC undefeated in the regular season.

This all doesn’t mean the demise of the old SEC. It does show just how close things are in college football, though.

The SEC’s title runs have been helped in part by late upsets around the nation and a feeling the league is the best.

Looking at some of the numbers, that seems no longer to be as strong a case.

Florida and Georgia both lost games to ACC teams this season, and they were supposed to be two of the conference’s best.

Texas A&M shocked the old guard by beating Alabama last year. This year it is Missouri doing the same.

Two teams from the middle of the Big 12 pack have made a huge impact in the mighty SEC.

All this and we are a year away from a 4-team playoff that surely Alabama fans are begging for right now.

But that can’t save the Tide this year. Only another miracle or maybe even two can save Bama.

Then again, it is the holiday season so maybe miracles will happen.

• • •

Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com

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