LSU locks up its title spot, Houston loses BCS bid

By Ralph D. Russo

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Dec. 3 2011 7:05 p.m. MST

LSU did its part to make sure both the Tigers and Alabama get into the BCS national title game.

Houston, however, botched its chance to become this year's BCS buster.

The top-ranked Tigers locked up a spot in the championship on Jan. 9 in New Orleans with a 42-10 victory against No. 12 Georgia in the Southeastern Conference title game on Saturday.

LSU (13-0) will be first in the BCS standings when they come out on Sunday. And this latest rout by the Tigers only fortifies Alabama's chances of holding on to the second spot.

The Tigers beat the Tide (11-1) 9-6 in overtime at Tuscaloosa, Ala., a month ago. Alabama is the only team in the country to stay within 13 points of LSU this season. Other than the Alabama game, the Tigers' closest game since September was a 24-point victory against Arkansas.

Oklahoma State, third in the last BCS standings, had one last chance to prevent an all-SEC title game by changing the minds of voters in the Harris and coaches' polls on Saturday night against Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State is fifth in both the Harris and coaches' polls, while Alabama is an overwhelming No. 2 behind LSU.

The Cowboys can claim to have more quality wins than the Tide — Oklahoma State came into Saturday with four victories against teams in the BCS top 25, Alabama has two — but their double-overtime loss at Iowa State (6-6) two weeks ago has hurt them with the voters.

At the very least, the winner of the Bedlam series will be Big 12 champion and earn the league's BCS bid to the Fiesta Bowl.

The Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference championship games were also played Saturday night.

Oregon locked up its spot in the Rose Bowl by winning the Pac-12 title game Friday night.

Championship Saturday started with an upset.

Case Keenum and No. 7 Houston were pounded 49-28 by Southern Mississippi in the Conference USA championship game, a loss that will cost the Cougars a spot in the BCS and the millions of dollars that goes with it.

The high-scoring Cougars needed to complete their perfect regular season and win the league to become this year's BCS buster, and the first team from C-USA to reach the BCS.

A BCS bid would have netted the league about $7 million dollars.

With Houston out of the picture, it TCU has a shot to go back to the BCS for a third consecutive season.

TCU, which beat lowly UNLV 56-9, would need to move into the top 16 in the final BCS standings on Sunday to earn an automatic bid, because the Big East's conference champion — West Virginia — will most likely not jump ahead of the Horned Frogs.

TCU was No. 18 in last week's BCS standings.

The Big East was first to resolve its title race Saturday. When Cincinnati beat Connecticut 35-27, it moved West Virginia into position to earn a BCS bid by winning a three-way tiebreaker between the Mountaineers, Cincinnati and Louisville.

The Mountaineers are likely heading to the Sugar or Orange bowl.

No. 11 Michigan State and No. 15 Wisconsin were playing for the Big Ten title and a spot in the Rose Bowl in Indianapolis.

No. 5 Virginia Tech and No. 21 Clemson were playing in the ACC championship in Charlotte, N.C., with the winner going to the Orange Bowl.

Houston's drop in BCS standings could also affect how the at-large bids shakeout on Saturday.

Stanford seems like a lock for an at-large to the Fiesta Bowl, and speculation was that Michigan would receive an at-large bid to the Sugar.

But the idle Wolverines need to move into the top 14 of the final standings. They were 16th coming into the final weekend.

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