1. Kansas State
3. Notre Dame
8. Texas A&M
9. South Carolina
10. Florida State
Alabama won college football's national championship last season despite losing control of its destiny following an early November loss to LSU.
The Crimson Tide are back on the outside looking in following Saturday's 29-24 loss to Texas A&M at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama dropped from first to fourth Sunday night in the BCS standings, trailing the undefeated trio of Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame.
"We don't have time to be down," Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron said following Saturday's defeat. "We lost one last year and got back in the national championship, so we've got to finish out strong. Maybe some teams will fall off, and we'll get back in it."
Alabama was No. 2 in the BCS standings last year when No. 1 LSU came to Tuscaloosa and prevailed 9-6 in overtime. The Crimson Tide dropped to No. 3 behind LSU and Oklahoma State for two weeks before reclaiming the second spot when the Cowboys were upset at Iowa State.
To compete for a third national title in four years, the Tide will have to overpower Western Carolina and Auburn the next two weeks, defeat Georgia in the SEC championship and have at least two teams above them in the rankings lose. It's not out of the realm by any means, but more pieces would have to fall into place this time around.
"I think having gone through this will motivate us even more, especially with the leaders we've got on our team like Barrett Jones and AJ McCarron," receiver Kenny Bell said. "They're going to make sure the team can still see the goal. We were in the same situation as this last year, and we kept fighting to the end.
"We're going to keep fighting, because you never know what could happen."
Alabama kept fighting this past weekend, but an early 20-0 deficit wound up being too sizable.
Aggies redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel had 345 yards of total offense in vaulting himself into the Heisman Trophy chase. Manziel racked up more yards against Alabama than eight previous Tide foes -- Michigan (269), Western Kentucky (224), Arkansas (137), Florida Atlantic (110), Ole Miss (218), Missouri (129), Tennessee (282) and Mississippi State (256).
"He's a great player who extended plays for his team, and that's what he's supposed to do," Tide defensive end Damion Square said. "He executed, and we didn't."
Said linebacker C.J. Mosley: "I didn't realize how shifty he was when he was running around. He's got great vision, and he's a great athlete."
Yet Texas A&M also challenged the Tide's offense, holding Alabama to 122 rushing yards. That's the lowest total Alabama has managed in an SEC game this season.
"We had our good plays, and I would say it was about 50-50," tailback Eddie Lacy said. "Sometimes we would get loose and sometimes we wouldn't. Early on, they were getting off the ball faster than us.
"We didn't start the way we wanted to and didn't pick it up until the middle and the end of the game, and it was too late."
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...