Crimson Tide benefit from not playing

Oregon jumped Auburn to become the No. 1 team in the BCS standings, but Alabama might have been the biggest winner in college football this weekend.

And the Crimson Tide didn't even play on Saturday.

For the Crimson Tide to return to the Jan. 10 BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz., they needed Michigan State and Missouri to lose one of their remaining regular-season games. Even if Alabama won each of its last four regular-season games and won the SEC championship game in Atlanta to finish 12-1, its chances of jumping an undefeated team from a BCS conference to finish in one of the top two spots of the BCS standings were probably pretty slim.

But it's a moot point now, after the then-No. 5 Spartans were routed by Iowa 37-6 in Iowa City and the then-No. 6 Tigers fell 31-17 at Nebraska on Saturday.

After Michigan State and Missouri both lost, Alabama climbed to No. 6 in the BCS standings. No. 5 Utah, which defeated Air Force 28-23 on Saturday night, actually passed the Crimson Tide in the BCS standings. The Utes host No. 3 TCU in Salt Lake City on Saturday night, so one more of the undefeated teams ranked ahead of the Crimson Tide will lose this coming weekend.

The Horned Frogs, who blasted UNLV 48-6 on the road on Saturday night, moved ahead of Boise State for the No. 3 spot in the BCS standings.

Alabama fell behind the Utes because it has an average rating of No. 15 in the six computer polls used in the BCS formula. But the Crimson Tide still face the meat of their schedule, including three upcoming games against teams currently ranked in the top 20 of the BCS standings.

Alabama plays at No. 10 LSU on Saturday, hosts No. 20 Mississippi State on Nov. 13, plays FCS foe Georgia State on Nov. 18 and hosts No. 2 Auburn in the Iron Bowl on Nov. 26. If the Crimson Tide win out, they might get a rematch against No. 19 South Carolina in the Dec. 4 SEC championship game. The Gamecocks upset then-No. 1 Alabama 35-21 in Columbia, S.C., on Oct. 9.

If Alabama sweeps its remaining games, including an upset of Auburn, it's hard to imagine the Crimson Tide not finishing in the top two of the final BCS standings, which would earn them a second straight trip to the BCS National Championship Game.

Mark Schlabach covers college sports for ESPN.com. He co-authored Bobby Bowden's memoir, "Called To Coach," which was published by Simon & Schuster. The book is available in stores and can be ordered here. You can contact him at schlabachma@yahoo.com.