Had Florida made an extra point 10 weeks ago, Tim Tebow and the Gators might be a win away from becoming one of the best teams ever. Even with that miss, and that loss, they look like a sure thing to be playing for their second national title in three years.
Florida defeated Alabama 31-20 in the Southeastern Conference title game Saturday to slot itself into the first half of the BCS championship pairing - that is, barring some kind of computer meltdown when the final results come out Sunday.
``I don't think there will be a lot of suspense,'' said Jerry Palm, the BCS analyst and blogger.
Oklahoma, ranked second in the BCS standings, played Missouri later Saturday in the Big 12 title game, with the Sooners all but guaranteed to meet the Gators in the title game if they won.
Tebow was near tears and promised nobody would work harder, or push his teammates more, than he would the rest of the way.
Result: Florida won its next eight games by an average score of 52-12 and moved to No. 4 in the BCS standings. The Gators have won their 12 games this year by an average of almost 35. And with a convincing-enough win over the top-ranked Crimson Tide on Saturday, the Gators are all but assured to jump ahead two, if not three, spots.
``I don't want to jinx us but we just beat the No. 1 team in the country,'' Florida receiver Riley Cooper said, figuring that an invitation to the title game in Miami on Jan. 8 was all but a formality at this point.
College football's stubborn refusal to introduce a playoff system often results in controversy and arguments, especially when there are several title-worthy teams with one loss, as is the case this year: Florida, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Southern California, Penn State.
But most of this year's BCS drama came last week when Oklahoma won the Big 12 South tiebreaker over Texas and Texas Tech to earn the spot in the conference title game. OU lost to Texas by 10 and beat Texas Tech by 44, but Texas Tech beat Texas by six to create a three-way logjam that had to be broken by the final step in the tiebreaker process - the teams' standings in the BCS.
r more, won the tiebreaker. Texas protested.
An OU loss to Missouri in the Big 12 title game was expected to open the door for the Longhorns to make the title game. If that were to happen, Texas would become the first team to play for the national championship without winning its conference since Nebraska at the end of the 2001 season.
Other teams thought to have an outside shot at a spot in the BCS game would have been Alabama, in case of a super-close loss to Florida.
``No,'' was Palm's response when asked if the Tide had any chance of a long shot rematch.
Fifth-ranked USC also was viewed as having an outsider's chance. But a 28-7 win over UCLA on Saturday hardly helped the Trojans.
``Maybe if they could have transposed the number they scored - 82 would have been much better than 28,'' Palm said. ``But even that probably wouldn't have been enough.''
The Trojans won the Pac-10 and are all but assured of their third straight ``trip'' to the Rose Bowl, where they'll play Big Ten champion Penn State.
Alabama is a likely Sugar Bowl team, with undefeated outsider Utah the Tide's probable opponent.
If the Longhorns don't make the BCS title game because of an Oklahoma loss, they'll likely play Ohio State in the Fiesta.
And that would leave the Orange Bowl with ACC champ Virginia Tech against Big East champ Cincinnati.

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