By Chris Dufresne, Tribune Newspapers
11:43 PM EST, December 4, 2011
The verdict has been rendered, and there will be a rematch.
No. 2 Alabama (11-1) edged out No. 3 Oklahoma State (11-1) in Sunday's final Bowl Championship Series standings to earn the right to play No. 1 LSU for the national title Jan. 9 in New Orleans.
So was the verdict wrong?
"For whatever reason, we came up a little bit short," a disappointed Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said.
"We all have to live with the system," Alabama coach Nick Saban said on ESPN's bowl selection show.
The argument will continue for days, weeks, months and perhaps years.
LSU (13-0) was the runaway winner of this year's BCS race, and Alabama seemed to have a healthy grip on No. 2 entering the final weekend.
Oklahoma State's 34-point victory over then-No. 10 Oklahoma, however, turned it into a much closer race than most imagined.
LSU finished with a perfect score of 1.000. Alabama's average was .9419, Oklahoma State's .9333.
Alabama and Oklahoma State offered compelling arguments.
The Crimson Tide's only loss was a 9-6 overtime defeat against LSU. Oklahoma State suffered a worse loss, a double-overtime defeat at unranked Iowa State.
The Cowboys, however, were champions of the Big 12, while Alabama did not win its division of the SEC. Oklahoma State also had seven wins over teams with winning records as opposed to three for Alabama.
As for the rest of the BCS games, TCU (10-2) failed to climb into the top 16 to claim an automatic bid. Michigan (10-2), however, became BCS-eligible by finishing in the top 14 and will face Virginia Tech (11-2) — coming off a blowout loss to Clemson in the ACC title game — in the Sugar Bowl.
Pac-12 champion Oregon (11-2) and Big Ten champ Wisconsin (11-2) will square off in the Rose Bowl; Stanford (11-1) will meet Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl; and Clemson (10-3) will take on Big East co-champ West Virginia (9-3) in the Orange Bowl.
Controversy is nothing new to the 14-year-old BCS. This year's race closely mirrored 2006, when the SEC and Florida argued against a rematch between Ohio State and Michigan.
Florida, after winning the SEC, claimed it deserved a shot at No. 1 Ohio State, which had defeated No. 2 Michigan by three points in Columbus.
This year, the SEC reversed course and lobbied in favor of a rematch.
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