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Saturday will simplify SEC race -- and national title picture in turn

The BCS propagandists' mantra of "every game counts" seems awfully tough to swallow when a national title contender (Auburn) opens November against an FCS opponent (Chattanooga), but the underlying logic isn't a complete crock. The current system does imbue certain regular-season games with added significance.

It may not make up for all the payday slop we have to watch in September or the gross injustice certain schools suffer every December, but days such as Saturday -- Auburn-Chattanooga notwithstanding -- certainly help. Alabama and LSU will face off in Baton Rouge to decide which one-loss SEC power can cling to its national title aspirations. Meanwhile, in Salt Lake City, TCU and Utah will play an elimination game that will decide the Mountain West Conference title. It also will (most likely) elevate the winner into a BCS bowl and leave the loser in the also-ran bowl dust. Most importantly, it will push the winner closer to a berth in the BCS title game.

Saturday also will simplify my ballot. Only one SEC team besides Auburn will remain in striking distance of the top. One top five team is guaranteed to lose, and I'll only have to imagine how four undefeated teams might fare if they played one another. The joy of the day won't make me run and hug BCS coordinator Bill Hancock, but for 24 hours, I won't be a completely insufferable pro-playoff loudmouth.

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