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SEC teams in thick of BCS title chase

That creaking sound you heard late Saturday night was the door opening a little bit wider for the SEC in the BCS national championship race.

The SEC got exactly what it needed the past two weeks, first with Ohio State and Nebraska going down two Saturdays ago, then with Oklahoma tumbling at Missouri this Saturday.

Auburn, now the SEC's only unbeaten team after knocking off LSU 24-17, is in great shape. Auburn was No. 4 in the BCS standings last week and could move up into the top two spots when the new standings are announced Sunday night.

At this point, it looks pretty cut-and-dried for Gene Chizik's Tigers. If they win out, they're going to get a chance to play in the BCS National Championship Game.

With one loss, Alabama doesn't control its own destiny the way Auburn does, but the Crimson Tide are poised to make a move if they can win out, which includes that showdown with Auburn on Nov. 26.

Alabama was No. 8 last week in the BCS standings and will move up this week, too. The Crimson Tide still probably could use either Oregon or Michigan State losing, and, if that happens, they would be in excellent shape to make it back to the BCS title game as a one-loss SEC champion.

Alabama and Auburn need each other to keep winning. That way, the winner of their game the day after Thanksgiving is going to get a huge lift in the polls by beating another top-5 team that late in the season.

That's probably going to be more important for Alabama, because the Crimson Tide already have a loss.

LSU isn't completely out of the national championship chase, but the Tigers' hopes are hanging by a thread. For one, they're going to need Auburn to lose twice now if they're going to make it into even the SEC championship game.

They also would need just about everybody in front of them to lose: Oregon, Boise State, TCU, Michigan State and Missouri.

Still, they get Alabama at home in two weeks and certainly could ruin the Crimson Tide's hopes of repeating as national champions once and for all.

This last month is the hardest for teams positioned near the top of the BCS standings. Go back and look at how many teams have lost on those final two weekends in the past few years.

Auburn, after two tough games at home against nationally ranked foes, has to go on the road this coming weekend at Ole Miss in one of those games that has "trap" written all over it.

"This doesn't change anything for us," Chizik said. "It doesn't change the way we prepare. It doesn't change the way we talk to our team. It doesn't change the way we practice. It doesn't change anything.

"This is a step-by-step, day-by-day process, and I know that sounds like a coaching cliché, but that's what it is. We're not going to talk about where we end up ranking-wise. We are not going to talk about being 8-0. We are not going to talk about any of that. We are going to talk about Ole Miss starting [Sunday], and that's how we will proceed."