Alabama can sit and watch

In yet another season of SEC dominance nationally, who would have guessed that a team that didn’t even win its division is probably in the best shape of anybody?

Alabama gets to sit at home this week, rest up, heal up -- and barring some unforeseen shake-up in the final BCS standings on Sunday -- will gladly accept an invitation to play in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game.

Not only that, but the Crimson Tide will have one more game to scout the team they will almost certainly face in New Orleans on Jan. 9.

LSU, No. 1 this week in the BCS standings, goes against Georgia on Saturday in the SEC championship game.

Something says Alabama’s Nick Saban will definitely be watching this game after saying a week ago he had no plans to watch the Arkansas-LSU game.

Who knows? He might even show up in Atlanta as a guest television analyst.

It’s an odd feeling for Alabama’s coaches and players, to not be preparing for a game this week. Plus, SEC championships are never anything to thumb your nose at, not when three top-10 teams nationally reside in your same division.

Sure, there’s a risk factor involved in playing another game when it comes to injuries or anything else.

But given the choice, Alabama would much rather be playing for an SEC championship as opposed to not playing for one.

Playing for championships has long been a part of Alabama’s DNA.

Nonetheless, when the Tide reflect on the 2011 season 10 or 15 years from now, they’re not going to remember who won the SEC title. What they’re going to remember is who won the national title.

And the way it looks now, Alabama is going to get a chance to win its second crystal trophy in the past three years without even playing in the SEC championship game.

Nothing is for certain, and there’s concern by some in SEC circles that voters will decide at the last minute that they simply don’t want to see an Alabama-LSU rematch and arrange their final ballots accordingly.

There might be some of that, but not enough to drop Alabama out of those top two spots in the final BCS standings.

Rest assured that you’re going to hear plenty of pundits over the next week ranting about how Alabama doesn’t deserve a chance to play in the national title game because the Crimson Tide couldn’t even win their own division.

They will tell you that winning your conference championship should be a prerequisite for having an opportunity to play for the national title.

Most of those same people probably want a national playoff, too, which is a contradiction. That’s because a playoff would almost certainly include teams that aren’t conference champions and would also give us rematches from time to time.

The purpose of the BCS is to match the two best teams in the country in a national title game. There’s nothing in the bylaws that says you have to win a conference title to be eligible.

I think we all agree at this point that LSU is clearly the No. 1 team. My question is this: If Alabama’s not No. 2, who is?

Alabama’s only loss was to LSU … by three points in overtime. The Crimson Tide have beaten everybody else they’ve played by 16 or more points. In their past seven games, their defense has given up just four touchdowns.

If anybody’s going to beat LSU in New Orleans on Jan. 9, it’s Alabama.

Nobody ever said the BCS system was perfect or even fair.

But it’s the system of record in college football, and while some might scream that Alabama is beating the system, all the Crimson Tide have done is play the game that somebody else created.

And the irony of all ironies is that they’re going to get to New Orleans without playing another game on the field.