This weekend's SEC championship begs the question -- can the Auburn Tigers lose and still make the BCS title game?
There is a precedent.
In 2003, Oklahoma was undefeated entering the Big 12 Championship and drawing hype as one of the best college football teams in history. The Sooners were averaging 48.3 points per game, posted blowout wins against Texas A&M (77-0), Texas (65-13) and Oklahoma State (52-9), and had non-conference wins against Alabama and UCLA.
But in the Big 12 title game, Kansas State shocked football fans with a 35-7 upset of the Sooners. Still, Oklahoma went to the BCS title game as the No. 1 team. They lost to No. 2 LSU in the championship.
The Cornhuskers started the season 11-0, breezing through their non-conference slate and their Big 12 schedule. That is, until they trekked to Colorado for their regular-season finale. The Huskers were dropped by the Buffs, which sent Colorado to the Big 12 title game instead of Nebraska.
While Nebraska initially dropped in the polls after its loss, by the time the final BCS standings were released, the Huskers rose back up to No. 2. Nebraska went to the BCS championship, losing to Miami (FL) at the Rose Bowl.
And then there’s the wacky, topsy-turvy, does-anyone-want-to-claim-the-title 2007 season
The Tigers lost once in the middle of the season (at Kentucky) and then fell again at home to Arkansas two games before bowl season. But they still won the SEC West, went to the SEC title game and beat Tennessee to win the conference. Despite their two losses, the number of other top contenders that fell late in the year paved the way for LSU to head to the BCS title game, where they faced -- who else? -- the next team on this list.
2007 Ohio State
Unlike LSU, Ohio State had a perfect season heading into mid-November. But the No. 1 Buckeyes were stunned at home by an unranked Illinois team, a loss that sent them tumbling down the rankings. Ohio State rebounded to beat Michigan in the regular season finale, and like LSU, benefitted from the late losses of other contending teams.
In a BCS championship matchup of teams with three losses between them, No. 2 LSU topped No. 1 Ohio State to become the first BCS champion with two losses.
One thing to keep in mind, though, when considering whether Auburn could follow a similar path to these other BCS title contenders – none of these teams had an undefeated TCU team waiting in the wings for a slip-up.