We already know one of the teams that will get there. Sort of. For five straight years, the survivor of the SEC title game has played for — and won — all the marbles.
Who will that be? Hard to deny Alabama and its Darth Vader coach, Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide have the nation's best defense this side of Nebraska, and the SEC West has been weakened by that LSU bar fight.
Alabama will have to get through Oklahoma to claim another national title. The Sooners are the best of the Big 12 — soon to be the Big 9? — because of explosive skill players, beefy veterans on both lines and a friendly schedule, other than that Sept. 17 date at Florida State.
Alabama vs. Oklahoma
Sometimes you just need to forget generic and go with brand names. That's why this year we're going with Alabama vs. Oklahoma.
You'd think these stalwarts would have a long bowl history, but they haven't met since the 1970 Bluebonnet, and that ended in a 24-24 tie, so it's about time we settle that score.
The Oregon-LSU winner on Saturday will be positioned for a run. Boise State can make its case with a win over Georgia. Florida State can steal Oklahoma's poll position if the Seminoles can overcome the Sooners Sept. 17 in Tallahassee. This year, really, is the great wide open.
But let's go with Alabama-Oklahoma, schools with proud traditions that suffered in the offseason with player deaths and tornadoes.
Alabama vs. Florida State
There are opposing theories about the benefits of playing in the nation's best conference. Some argue teams get battered during the regular season, but I go the other way. Alabama should be tested and self-assured by the time the bowl games roll around, and will vie to become the sixth straight SEC school to win the BCS title.
I go less conventional with the second choice. Florida State and the ACC are both overdue for big postseason success. Jimbo Fisher's recent recruiting classes have replenished the Seminoles and pushed them back into the national conversation. Their key early test — Oklahoma — will be in Tallahassee this year and not in Norman, where the Seminoles got stomped a year ago.
Oklahoma vs. Alabama
The SEC has won five straight BCS titles and clearly is the most dominant conference in college football. And Alabama will make it there to represent the SEC again.
But my prediction for this year's BCS national champion is … Oklahoma? Yes, the same Oklahoma that last won a national title a decade ago and just snapped a string of five straight BCS bowl losses last season.
The Sooners return 16 starters from a team that won 12 games last season.
The departure of Colorado and Nebraska also means the Big 12 no longer has a title game — one less chance to lose a game before bowl season.
Once there, the Sooners will break the SEC's title string.